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

Newsletter No. 68 December 1st, 2015

Dear Friends,

I do not have any news to report from the headquarters of the Work of Infinite Love since my last newsletter of August 1st, so I’ll quote a few words of Mother Louise Margaret from her book, “The Sacred Heart and the Priesthood” (P. 134-138) about that great Advent figure John the Baptist: “Scarcely has Jesus been conceived in the virginal womb of Mary, when He inspires His Mother to go in haste to the mountains and to enter the house of the priest Zachary. He is eager to communicate to John, still shut up in his mother’s womb, purity without stain and most sublime sanctity. Who then is this child who attracts Him so powerfully, and to whom He grants in advance such loving favors?

“It is the love of Jesus for His priests, for this priesthood of which He Himself is the Head. He loves them, and His Heart, throbbing with love, recognizes in the child of Elizabeth the mysterious link that is to unite the ancient priesthood, which is about to disappear, to the new priesthood, which He is about to institute.

“But, perhaps it will be said that John was not a priest. John is a priest; but, as he was to serve as a bond of union between the two priesthoods, it was fitting that he should not belong completely either to the one or to the other, and that nevertheless he should share in both.

“The Evangelist seems to take pleasure in bringing out in relief the sacerdotal character of St. John, when he draws attention to the fact that not only Zachary, but also Elizabeth, was of the race of Aaron. The message of the coming conception of John was given to his father in the Temple, in the part reserved for the priests, at the time when Zachary, offering to the Lord the sacrifice of perfumes, was in the very act of the priesthood.

“John is a priest. The temple where he fulfills the functions of his ministry is the desert. It is there that he offers a victim more perfect, without doubt, than those of the Old Law, but less excellent than the divine Victim of the New Law, for this victim is himself, which he himself immolates by the sword of rigorous austerity, a victim at the same time both bloody und unbloody.

“John is a priest. Like the priests of the Christian priesthood, he announces the good news, he preaches penance, he shows the Saviour to souls, he instructs, he enlightens, he reproves. What a fine figure of a priest is John, so free from the bonds of this earth, so pure in his morals, so ardent for truth, so zealous for souls, so strong in the repression of evil!

“It was then the profound and ardent love of Jesus for His priests which led Him to John, and which induced him to pour out the torrent of His graces into the soul of His precursor. Later on, when on the banks of the Jordan, He went and asked John to baptize Him and when He bowed down under his hand – it is true that it was in order to take the outward form of the sinner, and to make Himself like us – but it was also to render homage to His priesthood. This was a prelude to the adorable subjection which He was to have to His priests; to that obedience of love which He was to render to them, by putting Himself in their hands, and delivering Himself to their will.”

Let us go on now with Mother Louise’s autobiography:

“Some humiliating temptations, however, and painful anxieties began to assail me. I have reported this in the notebook of temptations and I shall not go back to them. The profession that I was so happy to make and that I desired so much frightened me. I sensed that I would be seized by God in such a complete way that I was terrified. I talked with Fr. Chaplain about my temptations and with our Mistress about my anxieties and, strengthened by them, I went forward in spite of my fears, always leaning on the divine Will.

“On September 15th our good Mistress fell seriously ill. This was not a small trial for the poor novice whom only one month separated from her profession and who felt her terror redoubled. The sickness would be long, and the very numerous novitiate community could not be left without a directress. On the feast of St. Michael [1] our Mother gave us my Sister M. Aloysia as Mistress. Until then I had had very few contacts with that dear Sister. Having retained the management of my money affairs during the novitiate, I had limited myself to going to the bursar’s office from time to time to turn over into the hands of the Sister Treasurer the sum of my pension or to bring her some dividends to cash. We had exchanged some cordial words; that was all.

“Two or three days before St. Michael’s Day , kneeling in choir at some distance from Sister Treasurer, an interior knowledge was given to me about the choice that our Mother was going to make of her to replace our Mistress. I experienced a little emotion, for this dear Sister intimidated me much and the expression of her face, ordinarily somber, froze me. Nevertheless, when she was given to us two days later, I accepted her from the hand of God and resolved to be as simple and confiding with her as with my Sister M. Emmanuel.

“On October 8th I entered into retreat. I would have to suffer much during it. Father should have the notebook where I wrote down the sentiments that agitated me during that retreat. I opened my heart very filially to our Mother F.M. and to our new Mistress who, because she still did not know me very well, left me rather to the direction of our Mother and Fr. Toupin. From that moment on, however, I saw sometimes surprises in our mistress that were a bit painful to me; later on I suffered much more from this, as I will relate later on.

“When someone is called to direct souls, he must not be surprised at anything. In order to open hearts, to put souls at ease, it is necessary to be acquainted with all the human miseries, as with the divine mercies, and, whether one receives the admission of temptations or sins, whether one hears the recounting of supernatural graces, it is necessary to listen without surprise and to weigh everything with wisdom. It is not always easy to open one’s heart, to let human looks penetrate there. If one sees his secrets received with words of astonishment, with surprised, scandalized, or wondering attitudes, his heart very naturally closes up and confidence disappears.

“What I appreciate so much in Father’s direction and in Father Chaplain is that they never appear surprised at anything. Whether I admit humiliating temptations or faults of my past life; whether I speak to them of the tender mercies of Jesus for my poor soul, nothing seems to surprise them; it seems that they have already experienced everything. Thus one talks to them as to Jesus himself who, never subject to any of our moral miseries, nevertheless knew them all and is never surprised at our weaknesses and never astonished at his own kindnesses!

“I made a general confession of all the faults of my life during this retreat. I wanted to make it to Fr.Toupin so that he would know me well and could direct me more easily after that. He helped me in this activity with a solicitude, a prudence and a precision for which I have quite often thanked God ever since. During this holy retreat I grasped that God had special designs on my soul. What were they? I did not know. I was terrified by this uncertainty and I went on, all trembling. I abandoned myself, however, to Jesus and offered myself to suffer all the sufferings and trials he had destined for me. I affirmed my confidence in his infinite goodness; I persuaded myself that, as God himself had led me to the religious life, He would doubtlessly give me the graces necessary to be faithful to it and to attain to the height where he wished to see me arrive.

“The morning of October 17th dawned. Day of blessing and grace! I was happy to give myself to God; to unite myself to Our Lord by indestructible bonds; but I also felt all the grandeur of the act that I was going to perform, and its solemn note, profoundly serious, dominated in my soul. Kneeling at the Communion rail I slowly pronounced the grand and beautiful formula of our Holy Vows. I saw neither the celebrant sitting in front of me, nor his assistant, nor those who were in the church and who filled the choir. I felt myself before God alone and I did not pay attention to anything else. When I had received the black veil I went to lie prostate in the middle of the choir, at the very spot where the coffins of our deceased Sisters are placed.

“The funeral pall was spread over me and while a Sister slowly sang the lesson of the Office of the Dead, ‘Homo natus, etc.’ and the choir chanted the ‘De profundis,’ I was there with my face to the ground, plunged in darkness, not hearing anything of the sorrowful psalmody, all alone before God, annihilated before his divine majesty. I turned myself over to Him with the fullness of my will, repeating only: ‘All, my God, all, I give you all. Do with me and in me whatever you wish!’ Sunk in adoration, I did not hear the holy water fall on the pall spread over me, nor the serious and strong voice of the celebrant who was calling, ‘You who are sleeping, rise up from the dead!’

“Later on they told me that a shudder then began to pass through the Sisters and especially through the students: ‘Could she be dead?’ they said to one another. The first Mistress, coming back into the choir, approached some older students placed there to see better, and tugging Marguerite Reynaud, at that time a boarder, on the sleeve, said to her in a low and anxious voice, ‘Have you seen her move?’ ‘No, Madame,’ the girls answered. There was silence in the choir. The priests down at the grill were waiting, seriously. The Sisters lined up in their choir stalls were looking at this black pall, which showed no sign of life.

“Finally our Mother and the Assistant, each taking hold of a corner of the pall, began to uncover me. I felt the cloth over me move; I returned to my senses and got up. A heavenly peace filled my soul; I approached the grill and with all the joy of my heart intoned the two verses of the psalm, ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation. Of whom should I be afraid, etc.’ All my fears were gone. The ceremony proceeded in the accustomed order. I was happy to belong to God; a divine fullness filled my heart and for the whole day I felt my soul more in heaven than on the earth.

“In the evening before returning to our cell, I went to the Novitiate. On the flower-decorated altar, at the feet of the Blessed Virgin, I laid the crown of roses that I had worn during the morning and I prayed to that Mother of goodness to be the guardian of the promises that I had made to Jesus.

“It was over; forever I was consecrated to God, united to the divine Master. Time, which destroys everything, would not break my bonds. I was dead to the world. I had left my family; I had delivered over to Jesus all that I owned: my heart, my soul, my freedom, my life. But all that was little in comparison with what the divine Master was going to give me of Himself!

“After my profession, during the first months that followed, I was almost exclusively employed in gold and silk embroidery work for the sacristy. I was working in the novitiate, a part of the day in silence and peace. From then on Jesus began to make his presence felt in an ineffable way and my heart opened to his love with an ardent avidity. I did not hear or see him, but I felt him present, as if he stayed in front of me, immovable and silent, hidden by a light curtain; I felt him alive there, near me and his divine kindnesses manifested themselves to my soul and my heart went out to Him, drawn by an invisible attraction.

“I had always enjoyed beautiful poetry, but my soul had never been powerfully enough touched, nor strongly enough seized to vibrate in a poetic vein. Nature and its enchantments, which had always touched me deeply, had not been sufficient for this; and even in the hours when an earthly love occupied my heart, this chord had not resonated. Until then no verse had come from my pen or heart, except for some comical rhymed scraps, or some pleasant epigram shot at my sister about her interminable bouts of melancholy. Jesus, on taking possession of my soul, should cause this spark to spring forth.

“In these long hours of silent work in the novitiate, during which the divine Master came to me, my soul launched towards him and my thoughts, in order to lift themselves up even to his divine majesty, tried to envelope themselves with harmony and to formulate themselves in loving cadences. My verses were certainly of no value, and I did not even write them down. I was satisfied that Jesus heard them and that his love accepted them.” (To be continued.)

Yours in Jesus and Mary,

Rev. Vergil Heier, C.M.M.
English-language Representative
Work of Infinite Love

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


1 September 29th, now the feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels.

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