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

Newsletter No. 59 December 1st, 2012

Dear Friends,

Now that the Catholic Church in our country [USA] will probably suffer some kind of persecution from our president for the next four years, let us take to heart the words that Jesus gave to Mother Louise Margaret in December of 1894, which are an echo of Jesus’ words: “Do not be a afraid,” (Jn 6:20) “Pray for those who maltreat you” (Lk 6:28):

“I wish you always to receive everything from My hands with a smile, and to accept without murmur the crosses that you meet with on your path of life. I wish you always to preserve peace of mind and holy joy and to trust in Me always. Whether the day brings sorrow or joy, be always found faithful to duty. I wish you to place yourself completely in My hands like a little child. I will know how to trace out your path for you and guide your hesitating steps. Finally, in days of sadness as well as in days of joy, I wish you always to keep a smile of victory on your lips” (“Love and Service of God, Infinite Love,” pp. 112f).

The Seventh Convention of the Work of Infinite Love was held as planned in Italy from September 12-14 (cf. Newsletter No. 58). There were some surprises connected with the convention, as “Rosina” of the Missionaries of Infinite Love reported in their institute’s newsletter (“Finestra [window],” 2012/2013, No. 1, pp. 21f). Shortly before the convention began it was discovered that, through some administrative mistake, it had not been registered at “Villa Speranza [Villa Hope],” in Cassano delle Murghe. Quickly the site of the convention had to be moved to a nearby Jesuit retreat house called, “Villa Santa Croce” [Villa Holy Cross].

A second surprise shortly before the convention was the transfer of the bishop of Ivrea, Most Rev. Arrigo Miglio, to Cagliari, Sardinia. As bishop of Ivrea and president of the Priests’ Union of the Work of Infinite Love, he was scheduled to give one of the conferences at the convention. At the last minute Fr. Angelo Bianchi, the pastor of Castellamonte near Ivrea, had to step in and take his place.

A third surprise of the Convention, according to “Rosina,” was the quality of the conference given by Fr. Bianchi. It was excellent. “Jesus educates,” was its theme. In an extraordinary way Father drew a picture of Jesus’ teaching methods from the way he dealt with people and persons in the Gospels. By the way, Mother Louise Margaret did something similar in her book, “The Sacred Heart and the Priesthood.”

Lastly, Sister Catherine Cigna, secretary of the Work, wrote in August to beg us to unite with the Sisters of Bethany in prayer for a miracle through Mother Louise Margaret. They need the miracle for the beatification of Mother Louis Margaret.

(Continuation of Mother Louise Margaret’s autobiography):
“They [a maid or my stepfather] would leave me at the door [of the painter’s studio]. I would cross the large garden and meet Mr. B., who was waiting for me at the door of his studio. I would look at the sketch for a moment. Then, disappearing behind a large canvas that served as my dressing room, I would take off my cap and dress and put on my dance costume, in which my mother wanted me to be clothed for my portrait. When I was nearly finished dressing, I would go for a last look in a mirror, while talking all the while with the painter. When all this was finished, I would go sit down.

“Then an operation began that would perhaps have made me laugh if it had not annoyed me so deeply. Mr. B. would stand before me at some distance and prepare my pose. He would examine me minutely with squinting eyes. The he would come and delicately move a curl of hair, smooth a fold of lace, make a break in the satin, etc. All this would take a good quarter of an hour. Finally he would take palette and brush and begin to paint. I had to speak all this time, and about what? About art, voyages, new discoveries, and whatever. Sometimes I would let the conversation lag and my soul would go to Jesus, to Holy Communion that morning, or to the Visitation. But soon I would be called back to order: ‘You have changed expression, Mademoiselle. You must keep talking!’ Then I would begin speaking about some subject or other, quite different from my thoughts.

“In fact, my thoughts were not at all in harmony with my pink crÍpe dress and my Sunday smile. I was suffering. My mother’s numerous assaults of tenderness were continually wounding my heart. My sister’s inconceivable jealousy put me in a difficult position between her, whose alarm I would have liked to be able to calm, and her husband, whom I should have been drawing little by little closer to religion, which I personified in my family, and leading him back to Jesus Christ, by my sweetness, affection and devotedness. The most painful temptations also assailed me. My health was precarious and the sacrifice of religious life that I desired because of my faith, and which I willed because I knew God willed it for me, this desired and willed sacrifice showed itself to me in all its rigor and God allowed me to taste its bitterness.

“In July, when the portrait was well advanced, we left for the country. I ardently desired that the delay of two years set by my mother would be shortened. Several times I had tried without success to bring that about. July 16th, if I am not mistaken, during High Mass (It was a Sunday.) I fervently prayed for that intention, and I was inspired to recommend myself most particularly to St. Joseph. I entrusted everything to him. I begged him to help me and, on returning home, I tried again after dinner to shake my mother. I told her that it would be more reasonable to set my entrance to the monastery in autumn. Then it would be immediately seen whether I could survive the winter there and, if my health would not be able to withstand the hardships, I would leave while still an aspirant. On the contrary, if I were to enter in the spring I would doubtlessly pass the summer easily. They would give me the veil and, if afterwards I were not able to take the winters, I would have to give up the novice veil and habit, which would always cause the world to talk unnecessarily.

“This was a totally human reflection, which I absolutely did not dwell on at all, but I thought it would carry more weight than any other with my mother’s spirit. That’s why I emphasized it with her. In fact, with grace, on the other hand, working on her spirit, she submitted to this reasoning and, in the hope of seeing me again sooner, she allowed me to move up my departure. In agreement with Mother F. Mathilde I set the date for November 21st, feast of the Presentation of the Most Holy Virgin in the Temple and the day of renewal of vows by the whole community at the Visitation convent. That was a gain of nearly five months. What fervent thanks I gave to my good St. Joseph!

“On August 15th I was exposed to the violent temptation that I have written down in the notebook about the subject. Several days later the pastor talked to me about the pilgrimage to Paray le Monial that was to take place at the end of September on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the death of Blessed [1] Margaret Mary, and I signed up quickly to go along. I had long been drawn to the devotion to the Sacred Heart, but I did not know the Blessed at all, and Venerable[2] Father de la Colombière even less.

“I was not very desirous of making this pilgrimage and, besides, I did not have anyone to accompany me. Nevertheless, the pastor insisted, saying that, since I would soon be entering the Visitation, it was absolutely necessary that I go. My mother, on her side, was saying to me, ‘Of course! Take trips; go wherever you like, have a good time, take advantage of your freedom. You will soon enough be shut up behind the grill.’ I saw the will of God in what was being said to me. I wrote to Miss Plantier to ask whether she could accompany me and, upon receiving a positive answer, I wrote to the chancery to reserve two tickets, and to Paray for two hotel rooms.

“The pilgrimage from the Drôme was to depart on September 24th, I remember well. The day before, such a fearful storm fell on the countryside that we could not get started. Finally, when the storm abated some the next day, we left for Valence, and on the following morning, accompanied by dear Miss Plantier, I joined the pilgrims from the Drôme.

“On returning from Paray four days later, I wrote in a notebook the account of my pilgrimage, an intimate account of the sentiments of my soul and of the holy emotions of the pious trip. I passed my notebook on to dear Miss Plantier, from whom I had nothing to hide, and she immediately asked permission to make a copy in order that she, too, could revive those dear memories. I gave her permission, on the condition that she would not show it to anyone. Two months later, on entering the monastery, I burned the notebook along with other papers.

“Two years passed. On the day after my profession my mother was in deep grief at the remembrance of the pall that she saw me under the evening before. Miss Plantier, who was caring for her, did not know how to console her. To distract her at least from her pain, she found the copy of my notebook about Paray that she had and gave it to my mother to read. During a visit that she paid me shortly afterward, she confessed her indiscretion. Poor dear Miss! I forgave her because of her good intention. In any case, what should it have mattered to me? I was dead to the world and all things!

“My mother, after having read and re-read the notebook, had it read to my stepfather. My stepbrother claimed it and kept it for a long time. (He had returned to God by then.) Now my mother keeps it as a souvenir of her daughter and does not want to give it up for anything in the world. I shall not undertake therefore to tell the story of my pilgrimage to Paray again. If Father[3] wants the details, he has only to ask my dear mother for the notebook. She will not be able to refuse it to him. I remember that there is a sentence in that notebook, whose words are no longer present to my spirit, through which Father would be able to see that the great idea of the priesthood already dominated my soul. I recounted in the notebook the temptations with which I was assailed on my return from Paray. I shall not return to them.

“On October 17th the feast of the Blessed took place at the Visitation of Valance, preceded by a triduum of sermons preached by Rev. Fr. Chopin, S.J. I followed it, uniting myself heartily to the festivities being celebrated at Romans, which I could not attend. My mother, knowing that it was a Jesuit who was preaching, requested me to go ask the Père for the address of one of my Jesuit relatives, whom we did not know but whom she desired to get to know. I admit that it irritated me a little to go meet the preacher for this, but Miss Plantier, who always accompanied me, was in great form and saw no difficulty in this.

“After Benediction on the 17th we went to the sacristy of the Visitation to ask for the Père. They told us he was in the parlor. We went there. They told us he had just left for the chaplain’s quarters. I wanted to abandon the matter, but Miss leaped up in the direction of the chaplain’s quarters, drawing me in her train into a tangle of black hallways that I had never seen before. I said to Miss, ‘If the Père left so quickly, it was doubtlessly because he was tired. We don’t need to bother him.’ Still running, she answered me, ‘We shall not stop, because your good mother wants it...’

“Finally we arrive at the door and ring. Someone lets us in, and the Rev. Père comes with a lamp and, very amicably he makes efforts to have us sit down. I asked for my bit of information. It was soon given. Dear Miss, in such good spirits until then, hid and said nothing. Being very much embarrassed for having had the Père called for such a small matter, I began to speak to him of his sermons, of the Sacred Heart, and finally, just to have something to say, I told him that I was going to enter the convent soon. He asked me a few questions about this, I recommended my family to him, particularly my brother-in-law, who was unfortunately estranged from all religious practices and did not have the Faith.” (To be continued.)

Yours sincerely in Christ,

Rev. Vergil Heier, C.M.M.

[1] Now St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

[2] Now St. Claude de la Colombière

[3] Rev. Alfred Charrier, S.J., her spiritual director

1 The “Exercises” of St. Ignatius Loyola. Manresa, Spain, was where he wrote the book.

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