Our Lady of Grace Monastery, 23715 Ann Arbor Trail, Dearborn Heights, MI 48127

Newsletter No. 67 August 1st, 2015

Dear Friends,

This year is the centennial of the death of Mother Louise Margaret Claret de la Touche, the foundress of the Work of Infinite Love. She died on May 14, 1915, not on March 14 as I mistakenly wrote in the last newsletter. This year on May 14th her death was celebrated in Vische, Italy, the headquarters of the Work. The high point of the celebration was the Eucharistic Sacrifice in the new Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart, the chapel of the Sisters of Bethany. The main celebrant was Cardinal Tarcisius Bertone, the former Secretary of State of the Vatican and a member of the Work’s Priests’ Union since 1960. Six other bishops and about forty priests concelebrated with him before a packed church

This year is the centennial of the death of Mother Louise Margaret Claret de la Touche, the foundress of the Work of Infinite Love. She died on May 14, 1915, not on March 14 as I mistakenly wrote in the last newsletter. This year on May 14th her death was celebrated in Vische, Italy, the headquarters of the Work. The high point of the celebration was the Eucharistic Sacrifice in the new Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart, the chapel of the Sisters of Bethany. The main celebrant was Cardinal Tarcisius Bertone, the former Secretary of State of the Vatican and a member of the Work’s Priests’ Union since 1960. Six other bishops and about forty priests concelebrated with him before a packed church.

The cardinal in his homily said that Mother Louise Margaret’s charism was to be “a docile mouthpiece” of the merciful love of God, who is the God of Infinite Love. This puts her in “evident harmony” with Pope Francis’ way of thinking, who has proclaimed an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.

Going on to describe the various branches of the Work of Infinite Love, the cardinal added that what is important for us is to follow the example of Mother Louise Margaret in asking what the Lord wants of us and in listening to his answer.

Some of Mother Louise Margaret’s words from the book, “The Love and Service of God, Infinite Love,” TAN Books, 1987, illustrate this exemplary asking and listening:

“I must make it my aim that these three words; union, love and suffering, be the resumé of my life. I must strive to be constantly united with God by recollection and prayer, by having the eyes of my soul continually fixed on God by fidelity; to be united to my neighbour by meekness, cordiality, friendliness of relations, sweet compliance, flexibility of will; to love our Lord as my only and dear Spouse, to love Him as my greatest Benefactor, as my Principle, my End and my only Happiness; to love my neighbour as the loved object of my Beloved; to love souls as the most perfect works of my Creator; to suffer for God in soul and body as sacrifice and holocaust; to suffer for myself as expiation and necessary consequence of the faults of the past; to suffer for my neighbour as reparation, offering, propitiation, and as means of union between God and souls - Intimate Notes, Oct. 31, 1892.” (P. 53f).

“I feel myself overwhelmed with graces, and so cowardly, so wanting in fidelity, gratitude and love. Infinite Love envelops me, fills me, and bathes me in its vivifying light. Nevertheless, I am so wrapped in darkness, so bad, so indifferent. I have no courage, I am afraid of suffering.

“Is it fear? Perhaps not, for I wish for and desire suffering. What then is the matter with me? I have an immense desire to make a return of love to Infinite Love Which descends on me, by a love which I would wish to make infinite. And I am unable, my heart is too small, my soul is too weak. I suffer inexpressibly. I would wish to have millions of hearts in my hands in order to be able to open them to Infinite Love Intimate Notes, Sept. 30, 1907.” (P. 57).

Let us continue with Mother Louise Margaret’s autobiography:

“Yes, truly, I wanted to love well this divine Master and remain all his; I felt more and more attached to my vocation; therefore it was for me a very painful blow when in the first days of August I believed that they were going to send me away. Diverse circumstances came up that made me think they had come to this resolution. First of all, they made me leave the cell that I was occupying in the third dormitory and go back to the one I had when I came. Our Mistress had also dispensed me from the Office several times when I wasn’t sick. Finally, I noticed that Our Mother had not given me any corrections in chapter for two or three weeks in succession, while she had corrected my fellow novice energetically. All this, and several mysterious looks that I discovered by surprise about me made this thought enter my mind.

“On the first Saturday of August in chapter Our Mother listened to my faults and once again did not reprove me for anything. By this stroke I thought my departure had been decided upon and our good Mother was not saying anything humiliating to me in order not at all to add a new trial to that of my departure. In fact, our good Mother and our Sisters were thinking of something else altogether, but I did not know anything and Jesus who, in his merciful love, wanted me to gain a new grace through a great suffering permitted my mistake.

“On leaving the Chapter that day, I withdrew to my cell and kneeling before the crucifix I dissolved in tears. I really did not want anything but the will of God; but that I was suffering at the thought of taking off our Holy habit, being thrown back into the midst of the world, repulsed by Jesus with whom I did not dream of anything except to be united forever!

“Our Mistress, after quite some time, not seeing me come to the novitiate, came looking to see what I was doing in my cell. She found me sitting on the floor, bathed in tears. That was not at all my custom, so, very surprised, she questioned me on the spot. I was sobbing so much that I could not answer. Finally I finished by explaining myself. Our Mistress treated me like an idiot and told me that she had made me change cells because I had been too warm and that was injurious to my health and that she had dispensed me from the office because, since I didn’t sing, I was useless there.

“But, at the reason about the Chapter she laughed heartedly. Had anyone ever heard of a novice crying because someone hadn’t corrected her! She took me up to a gallery and consoled me as best she could. A good elderly Sister passed by who, seeing my red face and swollen eyes, drew near very cordially saying: ‘Poor sister, did she loose someone [in death]?’ ‘Not at all,’ our Mistress replied, ‘it’s nothing but self-love.’ This self-love, uncovered by our Mistress where I had not seen it at all, made me laugh and that cut off my sobs and dried up my tears.

“Despite all that our Mistress had done to dispel my fears, they still remained at the bottom of my soul. Several days later at the assembly after Vespers, Our Mother, after the recollections had been said, called me and ordered me to give a public report on my morning meditation. The whole Community was assembled and it was numerous. There were at that time forty-five professed sisters and more than twelve converse sisters! Every Sister worked in silence. I went to kneel before our Mother in the middle of this formidable circle and, recalling from memory, I told my morning meditation. How I thanked God for the resolution that I had made eighteen months before. How I congratulated myself on having been faithful to it despite the trouble it caused me! That morning, as usual, I had dedicated a good half of my meditation time to making a meditation according to the method, with reflections and general applications, so I was ready to give an answer.

“I still remember the subject I had taken. It was that word of Holy Scripture that the Church applies to the Blessed Virgin: ‘I am the Mother of fair love, of fear, of sweetness and of Holy Hope.’ I made my report to the best of my poor ability and, after Our Mother said a few words to me, I returned to my place. A little later when Our Mother had, according to custom, given permission to speak, our good Mistress, supposing that I ought to have been troubled by this test, approached me very maternally: ‘Oh yes, it’s a bit intimidating, isn’t it?’ ‘Oh, my Sister,’ I answered, beaming all over, ‘I was a bit sad at first, but that gave me a little jolt. If you knew how happy I am.’

“Our Mistress looked at me a little surprised. She doubtlessly did not expect this. Then, seeing that her consolations were superfluous at that moment, she withdrew and continued her work. My contentment had two causes that she did not suspect. The first was that I felt all happy that I was not reduced to lying this time as I had unfortunately done eighteen months before. The second was that, since they were giving me novice tests, they were without doubt not thinking of sending me away.

“The following Saturday at the end of recreation our Mistress took me aside and said to me: ‘It could be that you will be talked about in Chapter today. When you leave after [telling] your faults, go, wait for me in Choir. When I come to get you, you will follow me to the Chapter, you will go kneel before our Mother and you will listen closely to what she will say. If she tells you that you have been received for profession, you will kiss the ground and you will perform the ceremony of the kiss of peace with your Sisters.’ ‘And if she does not say this?’ I asked trembling a little. ‘Okay, if our Mother says that you are not received, you will kiss the ground and go pack your bags!’

“When I retired to the choir after my faults to await our Mistress, I knelt down before the Blessed Sacrament and I said to Jesus: ‘My God, I don’t want anything but your will. If it pleases you that I be accepted, I will it. If it pleases you that I am sent away, I want that, too. I knew that it was your Will that I came here. I do not know whether it is your will that I stay. I do not want to want anything, to desire anything. Inspire the Chapter with what will be most for your glory. I accept in advance all the sufferings of the religious life and all the pains of a shattered vocation and an uncertain life; I put myself in a total indifference while waiting to know your will and I promise you to accomplish whatever will be with love and with courage!

“I waited thus for quite some time; I was suffering but my soul was calm and, because it put its support only in the divine will, it felt strong and filled with peace. Finally I heard the footsteps of our Mistress; I followed her greatly moved but tranquil and, kneeling before the Mother, I awaited my sentence. She was good. Jesus really wanted me as his spouse! That was August 13, 1892; it was one year to the day that a grace of love and mercy had illumined the soul of my brother-in-law.

“From that day on my profession was complete, for nothing was lacking to my vows, pronounced seven months earlier, except the sanction of the Chapter. The ceremony, which could not take place before October 8th (The year would not be over until the 7th.), was set for the 17th, the day on which we celebrate the feast of Blessed Sister Margaret-Mary[1]. I had therefore two months to get ready.

“Some time before the holidays I had proposed to our Mother to have an embroideress come from Lyon at my expense to teach me as well as several of our Sisters gold and silk embroidery. I had already learned a bit before my entry, but I needed to increase my skill. I was thinking to make myself thereby less useless to the Community; all the more because the Sisters who had done this work before were now deceased or too aged. My proposal had been accepted.

“The day after the Assumption a Master embroideress came from Lyon for a month and we went to work joyously. I was happy to show by this my gratitude to the Community that had just admitted me with so much charity. Since they wanted me to benefit well from this month of work, I was dispensed from a large part of the exercises prescribed by the Rule.

“I was not afraid of painstaking work and this month was truly well used. I got up at 5:00. I hurried to dress and tidy up our cell and I had time before going down to prayer to learn five irregular German verbs by heart. I went to Communion at the first Mass, when I did go to Communion, which at that time was not more than about three times a week.

“At 7:30, after the Community Mass, I sat down at the embroidery frame and did not stop until 11:00. At 12:30, after recreation and the novitiate instruction, I returned to the frame and around 1:00 my study companion came to have me recite my verbs and learn five others. Because of this I learned in that month all of the irregular German verbs, which number more than 250. At 2:00 someone came to get us for spiritual reading and at 3:00, while the embroideress went for tea, I recited my obligatory Our Fathers while taking a walk. At 3:30 we went back to work until 6:00pm. I made our obligatory meditation during the first seating and at 6:30 I went for supper. They were tough days; several of my worn out companions had to give up the work. For myself, I did not fear these sedentary occupations, and my health was not affected.” (To be continued, God willing.).

Yours sincerely in Christ,

Rev. Vergil Heier, C.M.M.


1 At that time St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was not yet canonized.

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Lady of Grace Monastery,
23715 Ann Arbor Trail,
Dearborn Heights,
MI 48127
USA
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