Newsletter No. 57 April 1st, 2012

Dear Friends,

Happy Easter to all of you! God willing, this letter will still reach you before Easter. In the meantime, I pray that you shall have a blessed and profitable Lent in preparation for the renewal of your Baptismal vows during the Easter Vigil or on Easter Sunday.

One of the Easter graces we want to implore for our Church is an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Exactly four years ago, in our Newsletter No. 45 (April 1, 2008), I wrote about a letter of December 8, 2007, from the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy encouraging the bishops of the world to set up Eucharistic Shrines of Perpetual Adoration and to organize especially women to pray for priests and vocations. Now one of the Missionaries of Infinite Love, Maria Mella of Brescia, Italy, has thought up a prayer program for those who cannot go every day to Eucharistic adoration to pray for priests and vocations. She calls it a “Chain of Adoration in Our Everyday Life” (cf. “Betania Ut Sint Unum,” Nov.-Dec. 2011, p. 27).

The chain consists of a continual offering of all the joys and sorrows, sufferings and hopes of daily life as a sacrifice to God for priestly vocations and vocations to the consecrated life. This intention can be renewed every day with any number of prayers. Maria recommends the following prayer of renewal:

“Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary I offer this day of adoration and abandonment to the will of God in union with Jesus the Eternal Priest for the sanctification of the clergy and for vocations of special consecration. O Infinite Love of the Father, You have revealed yourself in Christ the Incarnate Word in union with your Spirit. Reveal yourself to men by means of the pope, the bishops, the consecrated, and the faithful through the intercession of Mary, in the spirit of the Risen Jesus. Receive, O Father, through Jesus the Eternal Priest all the love present in the world, both all that has been and all that will be, so that it may result in your glory. Have pity on me and on all of humanity. For this intention I promise to offer this day.” Such a chain could be prayed by several people, each person taking a day of the week. What a blessing such a chain of adoration would be for the whole Church!

The same issue of “Betania Ut Sint Unum” (Nov-Dec 2011, pp 14-19) had an article about the Servant of God Francis Xavier Cardinal Nguyên Van Thuân (1928-2002), who spent thirteen years as a bishop in a Vietnamese prison. When asked by his captors and his fellow prisoners why he was a Christian, he would say, “Because I love Christ’s defects!” Then he would explain that Jesus has a bad memory: he doesn’t remember our sins (cf. Lk 23:39-43). He doesn’t know logic: he spends more on the celebration of finding the lost drachma than the coin is worth (cf. Lk 15:8-10). He does not know his math: one sheep is as valuable to him as ninety-nine (Lk 15:3-7). He is an adventurer: he does not promise security, except the security of being one of his followers (Mt19: 27-29). He does not understand economics: the late worker in the vineyard receives just as much as the early worker (Mt 20:1-16). God’s ways are not our ways! Let us continue with Mother Louise Margaret’s autobiography:

“An old maid was staying there for the night and tending the fire, so we found the apartment lit and warm. We inspected in detail this cute apartment that was awaiting its guests and I placed on the bedroom chimney a little illuminated sheet upon which I had written the cute verses that Victor Hugo had written to his daughter on a similar occasion. Then we got into the carriages and we all made our entry with the other guests from the city at my dear mother’s around 9:00 PM.

“During the afternoon I had a little adventure that amused my family for a long time. I had taken off my dress to allow the seamstress to remove the velvet sleeves and collar that had been put there for Mass, and I had put on a big woolen frock coat. Since there was no one in the living room at the time, my brother and I took the opportunity to rehearse one last time our comedies for the evening. So, as in one scene, I entered the dining room energetically blowing kisses and speaking tender words to my brother, who was supposed to be my husband in the play. Now just at that moment, without my expecting it at all, you understand, there was this good piano tuner in the dining room who had just come to tune the various instruments for the concert. When he saw me and heard the tender words I was saying, he was naturally and without doubt seized with fear, jumped up from his stool, grabbed his hat and, not being able to reach the door quickly enough, all confused, ducked behind the harmonium. I did not bother to give him an explanation and, after finishing my lines, I went back to the living room. My brother, who had watched everything from the door, was in tears from laughter. The poor man! I had doubtlessly scandalized him, for he had taken everything seriously and this banter was certainly not very edifying.

“The day after the wedding, our friends the musicians who had helped with the concert came for supper at the house. Among others, Mr. Jaillard and Mr. de L. were there. Both of them knew of my plans for religious life. My stepfather had informed them, as well as Mr. Arthuis, the preceding spring. When my stepfather had told them of my resolution the first two were completely taken aback. They refused to believe it. They said they would never have expected it. As for Mr Arthuis, who knew me better, he had at first kept silent. Questioned privately by his companions, he finally said, “Oh, I’m not surprised. I thought of that several times.”

“When we returned from the Jura Mountains in November that faithful soul came to say good-bye to my mother. He shed tears as he left a house where he had perhaps expected to be received one day as a son. I did not want to go see him. Why increase his disappointment? He was too Christian to argue with God about me. He went far away with a military unit and three years later, after my profession, he [left the military and] set himself up virtuously in the world.

“I have always considered this friendship as a gift from God. For seven years the examples of his piety, the firmness of his principles, and the simple, joyous, candid virtue that he exhibited surrounded me with a Christian atmosphere that certainly did me good.

Then the day after the wedding Mrs. J. and Mr. de la L. were having supper at our home. While talking about many things, we came to discuss the theater. My mother, on saying that we were very deprived in this regard at Valence, that the actors ordinarily were terrible, and that in fact there were from time to time traveling groups that were quite good, added, this good mother of mine, I don’t know why, that we practically never go to the theater. “My daughters never like to go there. Mathilde is extremely afraid of fires since the Comic Opera disaster, and Margaret does not give the impression that she would enjoy it.”

“I smiled sweetly and said to my mother, “Good, dear mother, when both of your daughters are married off you will be freer and you will be able to do what you like!” My mother did not say anything, but let out a big sigh. Mr. Jaillard, who was sitting beside me, looked at me with sadness and sighed, too. Mr. de la L., who was seated at the other end of the table, raised his eyes to heaven and let out a third sigh. I quickly changed the subject of conversation, for this untimely allusion was already bringing tears to my mother’s eyes.

“Several days later I went to see Fr. Raymond. After my confession, he said to me: ‘It is to the Visitation in Romans that you ought to go. I know this house. There are some holy souls there. It will be good for you there.’ I bent to the will of him who was speaking to me in the name of God. I did not know Romans or the Visitation Nuns. I asked Fr. Raymond to please speak for me to the Reverend Mother. ‘Yes,’ he said, ’when you have decided on a day when you are going to pay a visit to Romans, let me know and I shall write a word for you.’ I told my mother the directions I had been given for Romans. She cried much at the thought of a cloister and declared to me that she did not want to take me there. Since my stepfather didn’t want to do it either, I asked my stepbrother to still do me this favor. He did not want to refuse me.

“On February 6th, then, we two left for Romans in cold but clear and sunny spring-like weather, and took a taxi from the station to the Visitation. Mother Françoise Mathilde Maurin, who was then in charge, and had been informed by a letter of Fr. Raymond about our visit, was waiting for me and came at once to the parlor accompanied by our dear Mother Marie Emmanuel, who at that time was novice mistress.

“They received me well, but seeing my slender build and delicate appearance, they did not hide from me that they were inclined to fear that my frail health would be an obstacle. Entering into their way of thinking, my stepbrother insisted much on the necessity of giving me special consideration and surrounding me with care. This irked me greatly, especially since he even exaggerated and that purposely, no doubt.

“Since his presence inhibited my speaking of my vocation to these two good Mothers, I suggested that he go visit the town and leave me for some time with these Ladies. But I believe that he must have received orders from my mother not to leave me for an instant, for he did not want to do so under any circumstances and I had to limit myself to talking about vague and purely exterior things.

“The next day, realizing that this had not been sufficient, I wrote a long letter to Rev. Mother in which I opened my heart in all confidence and simplicity. She was satisfied and responded to encourage me and to propose that I make a small retreat in their monastery. From that time on we entered into correspondence with this good Mother, but of course without the knowledge of my real mother. The letters to me were sent to the address of Miss Plantier.

“My mother did not let me go make this retreat before Easter. During Carnival and the Week of Firebrands¹ I had to go out into the world and do comedies as usual. After Easter there was still a grand ball with comedies at the home of a friend of our friends. They wanted to give a certain part in one of the pieces to a young man with whom I had never before acted. I detected in this a little scheme to find me a marriage partner. At that, I told our friend that I would only act in the play at his home if he himself took the part of the young man. He resisted at first: ‘Everything has already been arranged, the young man is charming, he acts exceptionally well, he wants the part so much, etc.’ I stood firm: ‘Say that it is a peculiarity of mine or my imagination, if you will, but I will not act except with you.’ He finally had to give in. The young man had to give up his role and, realizing that he had been ousted, withdrew completely and did not even show up for the evening. Doubtlessly I was impolite and not very courteous on this occasion. But should I have given the young man false hopes and allowed superfluous sentiments to germinate in his heart?

“I made a mistake at this ball through a certain spirit of levity, with which I reproached myself. Towards 2:00 AM my mother and stepfather signaled to me that they wanted to go home. I went immediately to the bedroom of the lady of the house to straighten out the box with the costumes that I had worn in the comedies. I put on my dance dress, a scarf over my head, slippers over my small shoes and, with a candleholder in my hand I went to the anteroom by a roundabout corridor.

“The anteroom was full of gentlemen. The man of the house told me in passing that our carriage had not yet arrived and that my mother and stepfather had remained in the lounge for a few minutes longer. For such a short time it did not pay for me to go back there. These gentlemen asked me to sit down among them and I found myself right next to Mr. P., who since his marriage had never talked to me or asked me to dance. A mischievous thought came to me to find out what he would do.” (To be continued)

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Vergil Heier, C.M.M.

1 A feast of lights beginning on the First Sunday of Lent

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