Newsletter No. 55 August 1st, 2011

Dear Friends,

In the March-April issue of “Betania Ut Sint Unum,” the official magazine of the Work of Infinite Love, there is an article by Fr. Pierre Vignon about Mother Louise Margaret’s part in a letter sent by her bishop to his priests to inspire them to preach the love of the Sacred Heart. Mother Louise Margaret’s bishop at the time was Matthew Filipello, Bishop of Ivrea in northwest Italy.

Mother Louise Margaret suggested the letter to her bishop in a note of February 8, 1911: “Last Friday while kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament exposed, this thought came to me. Someone has said, ‘The year 1911 will be the Year of Satan,’ or in other words the year of hatred against Our Lord Jesus Christ and his Church. There is need therefore that the friends of Jesus, his favorites, his priests make it a year of love. If you call your priests, if you unite them around you to reveal to them the Infinite Love that lives and shows itself in the adorable Heart of Jesus, if they understand that the Lord counts on them, that He expects from them His defense, consolation and glory, you will make of this year 1911, dear Bishop and venerable Father, a Year of Love.” What an idea for us priests, and for all of us! Out of these our times, which seem so like Years of Satan, we can make Years of Love!

The bishop asked Mother Louis Margaret to compose such a letter for his priests. Here are some quotes from that letter, which the bishop actually sent to his priests:

“The love of God presupposes faith, but faith does not really come alive and operative until it is animated by charity. Consequently, dear confreres, as we zealously try to enlighten minds, we ought not to forget that which can inflame hearts. Eucharistic adoration, the holy practice of frequent Communion; in a word, all that helps them [the faithful] to know and love this God-Man, this Incarnate Word clothed with all the divine perfections and, at the same time, with all human attractions, is without doubt the most effective way to attract them sweetly.

“The devotion to the Sacred Heart, in order to be effective, must not be, as happens too often, a vague, superficial and sensible devotion that concentrates only on the external object. Even if we justly can and ought to adore this Heart of flesh, true tabernacle of divine Charity and truly the Heart of God through the hypostatic union, we should, nevertheless, not stop there, but enter through the opening in this Heart to the more profound mysteries of Infinite Love.”

Mother Louise Margaret’s books are filled with such good ideas about the Sacred Heart and the love of God. They are well worth reading, or re-reading if you have already read them. There are four of them: “The Sacred Heart and the Priesthood,” “The Book of Infinite Love, “The Love and Service of God, Infinite Love,” and “The Life and Work of Mother Louise Margaret.” I have copies of all of them, and I shall gladly send them to anyone who is interested.

Let us continue with Mother Louise Margaret's autobiography;

“The English hotel where we usually stayed was still full of strangers. They could only put us up in very cramped quarters. My mother and my sister had brought enormous suitcases. Our servant suggested that, in order not to crowd our apartment too much, we put one of the suitcases in Mr. Clavier’s room. My mother approved of this arrangement but ordered the smallest suitcase to be put there. The smallest suitcase was mine. I tried to complain several times, but my mother gave her usual answer: ‘For Mathilde, that would not be proper, but for you, there is no danger.’ So every evening and morning I had to go into Mr. Clavier’s room and get what I needed. When I hesitated a little to go in nightgown and slip, my mother would say, ‘Oh, for you that’s not improper.’

“In order to better occupy his time and not to inhibit my sister in her shopping, Mr. Clavier had decided to go mornings to St. Louis Hospital to study the latest developments in the surgical field. He would meet us at the hotel or the restaurant for dinner. But soon my sister found that she also needed free afternoons, all the more because she was afraid of tiring her fiancÚ by her hesitations and endless trying on of things. My mother found a way to satisfy her that was perhaps a bit imprudent but which God doubtlessly permitted, since He made it serve His glory. It was decided, namely, that after dinner we would separate into two groups. My mother and my sister would go to the milliners, the furriers and everywhere else that had to do with cloth. Monsieur Clavier and I, we would go to the upholsterers and furniture stores to get estimates and make a first choice, to which my sister would only have to give final approval.

“I personally also had to go several places. I wanted to pick up some lessons in painting, etc. Mr. Clavier would go with me. In this way we would save time, which was very worthwhile, for we were already at the end of November and the marriage was to take place at the beginning of January.

“From that moment on, every day after dinner we would have two carriages called. My mother and Mathilde would leave in one direction and Mr. Clavier and I in the other for the whole afternoon, and we would meet again for supper either at the hotel or at my aunt’s. These long conversations made us, Mr. Clavier and I, enter little by little into a very great intimacy. While riding from one end of Paris to the other we talked. All topics were touched on: travel, art, literature, theatre, medicine, and philosophy, even religion sometimes. My type of education enabled me to speak about everything. We exchanged thoughts, which were not always in agreement, with much interest, friendly straightforward-ness, and simple camaraderie. We both laughed heartily when they took us as husband and wife in the shops.

“The most comical of all was the scene that took place at certain interior decorators. Mr. Clavier and I had chosen things as if for ourselves. We had bargained for a better price. Then we had said we would return once more to look at the things and decide definitely. This last time my mother and my sister would come along and, although I had prepared things as I knew my sister liked them, it happened sometimes that my sister and mother asked for some small change before paying. The decorators then seemed greatly shocked and would say to my sister, referring to me, ‘But Madame made her choice already. This is what Madame wanted.’ Smiling, I would then say to them, ‘It’s nothing. Do what my sister wants.’ They would do it, but grudgingly enough, and they seemed to think that I was too easily changing my mind.

“I had come to understand that my sister and my mother preferred that I not be at the reading and signing of the [civil marriage] contract. The reason, I was quite aware, was that they wished to slip into it something contrary to my interests. But I was going to give myself to God. What did the things of the earth matter to me! I acted as if I had not noticed anything and the day of the contract signing, not wanting to embarrass anyone, I said that these things bored me and I asked my mother to allow me to spend the day at my aunt’s while she went with my sister and her fiancÚ to Versailles. This good mother, of course, did not have any objection. So I passed the day with my good aunt, my father’s eldest sister, who loved me very much. In the afternoon, when I was alone with her, she spoke to me about my sister’s marriage and my future brother-in-law. Then she said to me, ‘As far as you are concerned, my dear, I guess there is no need to be worried about your future. It is all arranged, isn’t it?’ ‘Yes, dear aunt,’ I replied, ‘There is no need to worry at all. It is all arranged, as you say.’ She fell silent. Then after a moment she continued her thought, ‘He is really charming, the young man de Chamberet, and you love each other much.’ Oh, very much, aunty. He is really nice.’ As I did not say any more, my aunt did not dare to go on, and I was laughing inside about the great surprise she would have when I would announce to her my entrance into religious life. But I did not have to tell anyone my affairs ahead of time and I let everyone believe what they wanted.

“My family was supposed to pick me up on their return from Versailles but my mother, feeling tired at their 9:00 PM arrival, went directly to the hotel and sent Mr. Clavier to get me. When, after a long ride he arrived at Rue de Villiers, he saw that he had neglected to bring along the address of my aunt’s house. He had to return to the hotel to get it, so he did not get back to my aunt’s until well after 11:00. We all laughed about his adventure. He was given a cup of tea to warm up, and then we left in the carriage. We did not get to the hotel until after midnight. Even the hotel employees who were waiting up for the people returning from the theaters, seeing both of us come in so joyful at this late hour, thought we were married and therefore honored me with the title of Madame, which delighted my future brother-in-law.

“Our relationship became more and more intimate and a true friendship grew up between us. I gradually gained a certain influence over Mr. Clavier’s spirit, which soon allowed me to work on his return to God. Jesus the Divine Master of Souls wanted to use me, in spite of my misery and weakness, for this work of mercy. I began to understand Mr. Clavier and when I tried to show him in my own person Christian life and friendly piety, I did not have any other purpose than to bring this soul back to God and thereby to ensure for my sister a more solid happiness and a better and stronger example for her children.

“I had had the desire to go pray with my family at Montmartre [a shrine to the Sacred Heart], but my sister had so much to do that we kept putting it off from day to day. Finally as the day of our departure was approaching my mother saw that we did not have the time and she asked Mr. Clavier whether he would like to take me to the Holy Hill. He was always ready to take me anywhere and immediately accepted. On the day we were to go several things delayed us a little so that we were not able to leave for Montmartre until nearly 4:00 PM. It was a cold day in December and as we drove up there, Mr. Clavier and I, a violent snowstorm descended on Paris. Within seconds the city was all white, but the late hour, the snow and the cold did not discourage us.

“From the center of Paris, the Louvre and Palais Royal districts, it is a long way to the Mount of Martyrs. I had not said anything to Mr. Clavier yet about my plans to enter religious life. My mother had wanted him not to know about them until after the signing of the marriage contract. Now that all was finished, I wanted to take advantage of this long conversation that we would have together to share my plans for the future with Mr. Clavier. After having talked of inconsequential things, I told him how much I blessed God for the resolution he had made to move to Valence. Now I could leave my dear mother with more assurance, knowing that my sister would not be far away from her and, together with him, would surround her with tenderness and care. For I too was going to leave home to follow my way, as Mathilde was going to follow hers.

“I told him of the resolution I had made to become a religious, which was not the result of unreflective enthusiasm or of any human consideration. I spoke to him of this need of God that I had felt for so many years. I showed him that nothing in my education or in my surroundings could have brought me naturally to make this decision. Finally I told him everything that seemed proper to get him to understand why I was giving myself to God.

“I had spoken a long time in a serious tone. Mr. Clavier had listened to me in the deepest silence. Not one word, not one gesture came from him to let me know the impression made on his spirit. He put on an expression of complete darkness. I could not figure out anything on his face. When I had said everything, I kept quiet and we continued our ride, each one absorbed in his own thoughts. In passing in front of a brightly lit shop window, a ray of light entered our carriage and fell fully upon Mr. Clavier’s face. He was crying. Big tears fell from his eyes and disappeared in his white mustache. He was crying, he who was so cold, so serious, so energetic! This showed me his heart still more, which I had already realized was affectionate and good. These tears were an indication of suffering, not of revolt. Suffering is good, tears sanctify. I let God do His work and we continued in silence to climb the slope of the mount of martyrs.

“Nearly another half hour went by. Then our carriage stopped. Mr. Clavier got out, gave me his hand, covered my shoulders himself with a shawl and took me along toward the basilica.” (To be continued, God willing.)

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Vergil Heier, C.M.M.

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