Newsletter No. 53 December 1, 2010

Dear Friends,

God willing, it will be Advent by the time you get this newsletter. I therefore wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, and a spiritually fruitful Advent as a preparation for our great annual commemoration of the birth of our Savior. It brings to mind again the great love that the Father has for us in sending us his Son. “The time having come, the Word descended; He clothed Himself in passible, mortal flesh. And thus the divine dream became realized. God and man now formed but one in Jesus Christ. They formed but one Divine Person. But God is Love, and Love is insatiable of union. He dreamt of new unions, and it was the Blessed Eucharist, it was the Church, to the body of which He united His Spirit intimately; and it was the Priesthood in which He deposited His Heart” (Intimate Notes: Oct. 1906. “The Love and Service of God, Infinite Love,” p. 9). In this passage Mother Louise Margaret tells us that the great love of the Father for us passed through Jesus’ Sacred Heart into the Eucharist, into the Church, and then into the priesthood. What gifts we have been given!

The congress of the branches of the Work of Infinite Love in Colombia in July turned out well. More than 200 persons took part. See Newsletter No. 51 for the names of some of the more important guests. One participant was struck by the way the congress brought out the truly prophetic nature of Mother Louise Margaret’s doctrine of Infinite Love. It is a teaching that is coming more and more to the fore in our Church through the writings of our present pope. He has been reminding us again and again that it is love, the love of God for us that is at the root of all He does for us and asks of us.

The committee organizing the congress decided at one point to make a Holy Hour every day so that the congress would be a success. Their prayer and faith paid off. The number of participants was good. The outcome was good. Here is what the same participant as above wrote about it: “Really the participants experienced the congress as a call to Love, a response to Love, a proposal to live Love and, most of all, a pledge to respect the priesthood, which is the very Love of the Heart of Jesus, who is always alive in our history” (Luz Helena, “Finestra,” 2010/2011, No. 1, p. 18).

Another significant event for the members of the Movement of Infinite Love in the last few months was the retreat for priests that took place in Rome before the Feast of the Sacred Heart, July 11th, as part of the closing of the Year of the Priesthood. During that retreat the bishop of Cologne, Germany, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, gave a talk entitled, “Conversion and Mission.” It was about the need for priests to go to confession often so that they can be good confessors for their people. If you have not read the talk, please do so. You will be delighted. It is well worth reading.

Let us now continue with the autobiography of Mother Louise Margaret:

“Divine Providence had shown me this help, but it would still not be given to me to profit from it efficaciously. An unforeseen event would throw me into solitude and abandonment for months. The divine Master really wanted to be my only guide until that day, still far off, when He Himself would send me his chosen servant. Seven years would pass; seven years of suffering, temptations and battles before the voice of Jesus, sounding sensibly in my ears on the evening of the feast of the Most Holy Eucharist, came to speak to me, pointing out the one who should be my Father, ‘Go and open your whole heart to him!’

“Several days after the declaration of my vocation my stepfather was called hastily to the bedside of his very sick aunt. Eight days later the marquise of passed away at the age of eighty-plus in her château of Proby. Since she did not leave any children, her large fortune would have to be divided up among her nephews and, since the heirs could not get together immediately to settle affairs, it was agreed that my stepfather should go to live at Proby until autumn to watch over the servants and the numerous tenants. At that time a meeting would be held to divide up the estate. In the middle of May we received the news of this decision. My stepfather would remain in the Jura Mountains and my mother would join him there. My sister gladly followed them there. As for me, I asked to remain in Valence with Miss Plantier. I saw it as a good opportunity to accustom my mother to my absence, as well as a way to prepare myself for religious life by more recollection and prayers. But my mother would not hear of it. She absolutely wanted to enjoy me, as she said, and it was in vain that I proffered the fact that the damp climate of Proby did not agree with me, and all sorts of other good reasons. I had to give in and leave for the Jura Mountains.

“The château of Proby lies about five or six leagues from Lons-le Saujnier and is several kilometers from Bourg d’Arlay. The house, flanked on one side by a large forest of centuries-old trees, resembles an English cottage. Large lawns encircled by tall fir trees and ponds make for fresh air there. It was a charming place in hot weather, but when evening arrived, even in the middle of summer, a sort of mist came down and penetrated everything with its dampness. We got there at the end of May and stayed for six months. Shortly after arriving I began to feel a bit ill from the climate. Since the big illness I had when I was six, my lungs were emphysematous, which until then had not really caused me any suffering except occasionally. Every time I caught cold and my lungs became inflamed, I coughed easily and I had to avoid any violent movement of my arms. But with some precaution and a bit of patience, I went on and was not hindered at all. At Proby I had a feeling of suffocation almost continually and I coughed more.

“Soon a little accident increased this condition and added to my sufferings. I shared a room with my sister and there was a stove in the room whose stovepipe emptied into the chimney of the kitchen stove. One night at about 3:00AM the servants were making bread and heated the oven. I don’t know why, but all the smoke came back through the stovepipe to where my bed was. Perhaps an hour later I woke up. I was headachy, my throat was swollen and sore, and my eyes full of tears. This swelling of the throat kept me from smelling the smoke. I thought that I had caught cold or was getting a sore throat and, with this thought, I wrapped myself in my covers and did not take long to fall into a deep sleep.

“Some time later my sister also woke up. Since her bed was at the other end of the room, she had not been so completely enveloped in the smoke as I was. She smelled it immediately and, thinking the house was on fire, she jumped out of bed with a cry and opened the door with a bang. This woke me from my torpor. I got up quickly. I covered myself with a small blanket and ran to my mother’s room. I just had enough time to fall into an armchair. A bit of fresh air woke me up again, but my eyes hurt for several days. I could not smell and everything I ate tasted like smoke. These little inconveniences passed, but my tired lungs and my bronchial tubes, already quite congested, came out of this half-asphyxia in bad shape. From this time on I suffered greatly. I was often obliged to sit up in bed for hours at a time during the night in the throes of painful suffocation attacks. Toward morning violent headaches gripped me for several hours and, on getting up, dizziness followed by nausea reduced me to a pitiful state.

“Other sufferings came to join these physical sufferings. My mother found herself inactive in this house that was not her own and whose old servants went about their duties without needing to be ordered. She had few personal contacts in this place that she did not like at all. All of her natural repressed activity turned against my vocation and not a day passed without violent reproaches, tears and endless discussions coming to trouble the peace of the family. This good mother, ordinarily so tender, so attentive to my health, became almost pitiless and the sorry state I was in did not deter her. Sometimes when it was necessary to do some visiting in the neighborhood, I pleaded with her to leave me at home. The coach and the need to shop were extremely painful to me, with my coughing and my attacks of suffocation. My mother said it was mortification and no matter how much I asked to be excused she did not want to grant it to me for any reason. Thus I had to get used to it; to take long coach rides, to be friendly and smiling, and to master as best I could these sufferings and this weakness, of which this good mother made a reproach to me.

“To these pains of body and heart, which I already was acquainted with, there soon were added new pains, those of the soul. I found myself in this place without any help, too far from Bourg to be able to go there alone to receive the Bread of the Strong, and exposed to horrible temptations. Until then I had doubtlessly believed everything the Church teaches about hell and the devil, but I must admit that I did not believe at all in the exterior and palpable action of the evil spirit. I had never read the lives of the saints, where the action of the devil appears sometimes so clearly alongside of the divine action, and my mindset would have kept me from believing in what I had heard recounted about these things sometimes. One day shortly after my arrival in Proby I had seen to it that we took our walk alongside the village. It was Saturday and I wanted to go to confession, hoping to be able to go to Holy Communion the next day. All of my family was going to go by coach to a Mass too late for that in another Bourg nearby. We were taking a shortcut path that wound through the vineyards below the ruins of the old château of Arlay I was walking a little in front preparing for confession when I suddenly heard beside me an unusual voice, dry, strident and metallic-like that said to me, ‘Confession, what good is that? It is nothing. Jesus Christ never spoke about it. It is an invention of the Church.’ This strange voice, really audible, astounded me. I understood from the meaning of the words that it could not be anyone but the devil. First of all I was moved with fear. Then, lifting up my spirit to God, I firmly said in a half-audible voice, ‘I believe everything the Church teaches!’ From that moment on, all sorts of temptations so terrible and so violent that, without the special help of Our Lord and his Most Holy Mother, I would not have been able to overcome them tormented my soul. One night, for example, I was sitting on my bed suffering from an attack of suffocation and in a state so painful that I felt I could suffocate at any moment. This same dry and hard voice made itself heard at my side: ‘When someone suffers this much, there is nothing wrong with taking one’s life. Go get some air at the window. Lean over the balcony rail. You will fall down on the front steps and you will not suffer anymore!’ I turned toward Our Lord and I said: ‘My God, I want to suffer as long as you wish, as much as you wish!’

“I understood well that it would have been imprudent to speak of these sufferings of soul and of these temptations to the pastor of the village where I went to confession every two weeks. Sometimes, it is true, I went to spend Sunday in Lons, but I did not know any priest there. I put all my hope in God and I went on alone without help in the midst of these terrible storms. It was then that I began to look for support in Our Lord Jesus Christ, the divine person whom I was still keeping at a distance. Contrary to what happens to certain souls who pass from the tangible and exterior mysteries of Jesus’ humanity to the knowledge of his divinity, I was attracted from the beginning by his divinity, and it was through it that I had to go to the most holy humanity of the Savior. But my most habitual help at these times was the Virgin Mary, whom I called on in moments of danger.

“I found myself tempted on all the mysteries of the Faith and the devil proposed to me such subtle arguments that later, when talking to Fr. Raymond about some of them, he forbade me under obedience to ever tell anyone about them. Nevertheless, the need I felt for help caused me to desire strongly Holy Communion, but it was so difficult to go! I could only go to Mass on Sunday, and the High Mass in Arlay was at 10:00. When God allowed an epidemic of measles to break out in this village, my mother did not want to take us there anymore, so she brought us to the town of R. on Sundays. It was much farther away, but the Mass was at 8:30. We would leave, therefore, early and I would be ready to fast. After an hour and a half in coach we would arrive at the church just in time for Mass. As the Holy Sacrifice was beginning I would get the assistant priest to give me absolution. Then I would go to Communion. The Last Gospel was hardly finished before we had to get back in the coach because my stepfather wanted to be back home before the heat. Curled up in a corner of the coach, my eyes closed, half-sick, I would not make any other thanksgiving than to offer my sufferings to Our Lord. I would do this every two weeks when I could, and not without drawing down upon myself reproaches from my good mother” (to be continued).

In Christ,

Rev. Vergil Heier, C.M.M.

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