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

Newsletter No. 64 August 1st, 2014

Dear Friends,

This year Bethany of the Sacred Heart, the women’s religious community that Mother Louise Margaret Claret de la Touche founded, is celebrating its centenary. With a decree of March 19, 1914, His Excellency Matteo Filipello, Bishop of Ivrea (near Turin, Italy), authorized Mother Louise Margaret to open a new Visitation convent in Vische. During the reign of Pope Benedict XV (1914-1922) the convent was separated from the Visitation Order and changed into a religious community of its own called, “Bethany of the Sacred Heart.”

Mother Louise saw the community as the “hidden root” of the Work of Infinite Love through its prayer and immolation for priests. The Sisters of Bethany retained the rule of the Visitation nuns, with some changes, and were cloistered like the Visitation nuns, which was the Order to which Mother Louise belonged before she founded the new convent. After Vatican II the sisters became a contemplative community without full canonical cloister, but they are still dedicated to prayer and immolation for priests.

In Vische they have a center where they offer hospitality to priests, but also to lay people, who can go there at any time for rest and renewal. It is a place of prayer, peace, and love. Fr. Rodolpfo Reviglio said in his pamphlet, “The Future of the World is Love” (Dearborn Hts MI, USA, 1992, p. 5), “The silence of Bethany gives the impression of a divine presence.”

Here is another testimony about Bethany by the present rector of the diocesan seminary of Ivrea, Rev. Roberto Farinella: “The Sisters always receive us, today as then [when we were seminarians], with great affection and offer us the necessary space to remain in the presence of the Lord.

“What a joy to visit their convent, walk in the park, stop for prayer in front of the shrines of the saints, and enter the church! Desirous of embracing the will of God and of being priests according to His Heart, the demands of the priestly vocation matured in us and we were attracted by the contemplative witness of the Sisters and of their sacrifice for the mission of the priests.

“We saw and we believed. We met persons who spoke words of faith and hope to us. So many times we prayed humbly in their church, the one in the Small House [first convent of the Sisters], or in their chapel to thank the Lord for all this and to ask him to help us to spread the good news that had taken root as a seed in Vische” (“Betania ut sint unum,” Mar-Apr 2014, p.11).

So the Sisters continue to be what they were meant to be from the beginning: “For the Pope, bishops and priests of the Church what Bethany of Judea was for Our Divine Lord and His Apostles, a place entirely devoted to their interests” (“The Life and Work of Mother Louise Margaret,” Tan Books, p. 212).

Now let us go on with Mother Louise’s autobiography:

“On July 15th Rev. Fr. Chopin, while passing through Valence, had the idea of going to see Dr. Clavier, who, as you remember, had treated him the year before. Meanwhile Fr. Chopin had gone to his family in the Jura and had found out there that my brother-in-law was his fellow countryman. That gave him one more reason for going to see him. My brother-in-law and my sister received him extremely well and had him stay for dinner and, as Fr. Chopin was young, very intelligent, amiable, and a poet, they soon connected intimately. After dinner when my brother-in-law was alone with Father, the conversation turned to religion. Irenaeus presented his objections, which Father doubtlessly tried to refute, but without any real success. Nevertheless, when he left, Father had the impression that a day would come, and not so far off, when this soul would finally return to God. That day was, in fact, quite near.

“Less than a month later, on August 13th, grace mysteriously completed its work of enlightenment. Without wishing to wait a day, this soul, re-conquered for the Faith, went to be cleansed in confession and on the morning of the 14th he united himself with his God, after twenty years of revolt and unbelief. Irenaeus had written to me immediately. Knowing well the profound joy that this news would give me, he had wanted to tell me about it as soon as possible. I received the letter on the morning of the 15th. Our Mistress, on handing it to me, hinted at its contents. I went to read it before the Blessed Sacrament. Sweet tears ran down from my eyes and, to show Jesus the immense gratitude of my soul, I promised him to be more faithful than ever, to be more generous than ever in embracing sufferings and sacrifices for his love.

“While at Paray-le-Monial the year before, I had been inspired to dedicate my brother-in-law to the Sacred Heart and to promise to have an ex-voto placed in the basilica when he would convert. I did not want to put off fulfilling my promise and, with our Mistress’ permission, I myself painted the ex-voto on parchment, which can still be seen in the Sacred Heart Side Chapel of the Basilica of Paray. I had Prof. Foucher make the drawing. He was the professor of illumination who had given me lessons in Paris. It has the Good Shepherd carrying his lost sheep on his shoulders, with this sweet text: ‘Rejoice with me for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ It was a great consolation for me to be able to do this small work.

“It was finished in time for my taking the habit and I showed it to my brother-in-law on that day. He was very moved and spoke to me again and again of his conversion and, attributing to me a bigger part in this work of divine Mercy than I really had, he manifested to me his vivid recognition of the good he believed I had obtained for his soul.

“Several years ago my brother-in-law went to Paray. There he saw his ex-voto again and showed his thankfulness to the Good Master by receiving the Sacraments. Since that August 13, 1891, Jesus has given me the happiness of seeing this dear soul persevere in the Faith and in piety. Despite his twenty years of error, he is now more fervent and more solidly Christian than my sister and my mother, and I pray God to preserve for my nephews the incomparable teachings and example of a truly Christian father.

“On September 5th I was received in Chapter for my investiture. I was profoundly happy and I resolved to use the few weeks separating me from the ceremony to prepare for this act, which, although not a binding engagement, is nevertheless a first connection of love with Jesus. Something happened to me in this interval that wrung from me many tears. The day of the Exaltation of the Cross, the 14th, I don’t know what happened during Mass. After the elevation I was preparing for Communion when I found myself so withdrawn into myself that I totally lost consciousness of the things around me. During this time I received particular lights about humility, about the abasement that the soul should have before God. Until then I had not yet understood well what humility was. When I came to myself I saw that Holy Communion was being distributed and that the last of the Sisters was at the Holy Table. I went there in all haste, but I arrived too late. The priest had already returned to the altar. I returned to my place, regretful of my missed Communion.

“Nevertheless, the good Sister Sacristan, feeling sorry for this poor candidate who did not know enough to come on time, talked to the altar server and she came to tell me to go to the Holy Table at the Last Gospel and Fr. Toupin would give me Holy Communion. I did as she told me. Now Sister Assistant, who was down at the bottom of the choir, and hadn’t noticed anything, gave the signal to intone the hymn and leave in procession as soon as the Mass had ended. The Sisters closest to the grill who saw what was happening refused to sing and made signs to the Assistant. The result was a bit of disorder and confusion. Once I had received Our Lord, I returned to my place, the Sisters intoned the hymns, and I left at the head of the procession, according to my rank as the first one.

“But our good Mistress had seen everything from the gallery and I found her at the bottom of the stairs in front of the choir waiting resolutely for me. She seized me by the wrist and motioned me to a corner in front of the choir. ‘Go,’ she told me severely, ‘make your thanksgiving.’ I obeyed. I knelt down in the little corner of the altar with my face to the wall and, while the procession continued, I was seized by such great confusion and by such a fear of being sent away for having caused trouble in the ceremonies that I began to dissolve in tears. Then I went to take refuge in the chapel of our Holy Founder, crying hot tears all the while. When the procession had returned and the last Oremus had been said, the signal was given and I left with the others.

“Once again I met our Mistress at the foot of the stairs. She looked at my face, all red, and my puffed eyes and told me sharply, ‘Come along to our Mother.’ With that blow, I thought I was lost. I thought our Mother was going to scold me strongly enough and, instead of the Holy Habit, which I was preparing to receive with so much consolation, she was going to give me a sentence to leave. Thus it was not without trembling that I followed our Mistress.

“Our Mother, on seeing me enter, smilingly regarded my distressed condition. She said nothing about my stupidity. She simply showed me the parchment of my ex-voto, which had just arrived from Paris. In fact, it was only for this that our Mistress had sent me to our Mother. I was beginning to quiet down and forget somewhat my emotions of that morning when, after recreation our Sr. Sacristan, with a serious face, said to me, ‘Sister, don’t do what you did this morning again. Fr. Toupin doesn’t like that.’ I thought Fr. Toupin would be quite angry with me and, as I had become extremely timid by that time, as I said, it was not without apprehension that I went to confession the next time. This good Father, however, did not say anything about it. It was not until a month later that he laughingly said to me, ‘Well, well, you had a good trial last month. But I was very happy to give you Holy Communion!’

“On September 3rd1 my little preparatory retreat for investiture began. I made it in joy. Jesus let the very sweet radiance of his love and consolations penetrate my soul, doubtlessly in order to strengthen me on his way. It seemed to me that I was about to begin a new life. The past faded more and more into the distance and seemed to me nothing more than a dream, far off and already confused. The future I left to God. The present? It was Jesus, bending down lovingly toward me and drawing me to himself.

Monsignor, whom I hoped would be present, could not come and it was the good Fr. Claudon who presided and gave the usual sermon. A particularly painful incident occurred several moments before the ceremony. The day before, my mother had expressed before my father-in-law the disappointment of not being able to embrace me the next day. He went immediately to the Vicar General [of the diocese] to ask permission for my mother and my sister to enter the monastery just for the time of the ceremony. Fr. Claudon had agreed without difficulty. So my father-in-law, on arriving at the parlor in the morning, requested that the door be opened immediately for my mother and sister, alleging as a reason the permission given. But our Mother Françoise Mathilde had not understood it that way and, although this was done in several of our houses, the custom had not at all been introduced to this one, so she did not want at all to give consent. She was afraid to create a precedent and sent me to tell my family that she was not authorizing this entrance.

“My stepfather, already very unhappy with my vocation, which he took seriously, and my investiture, entered in a great huff. He paced up and down in the parlor, gesticulating and repeating that the wish of the Vicar General should be respected, that he had the right to permit entrance, etc. Fortunately my mother acted very reasonably. She took my side and finally calmed my stepfather down a bit. My brother-in-law, my sister and my brother Hermand had also come. They all were very moved to see me in my white dress, my last worldly dress. My good and dear Mother cried much during the Mass and the ceremony, but the good Master gave her the grace to make this first sacrifice with peace and resignation” (To be continued, God willing.)

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Vergil Heier, C.M.M.

1 Mistaken date. It seems that it was October 3rd..

To sign up for this Newsletter please write to;Fr Vergil Heier
Lady of Grace Monastery,
23715 Ann Arbor Trail,
Dearborn Heights,
MI 48127
Alternatively please use contact form on this page and we will forward your contact details.



Comments or questions  

Spam prevention code

Please enter this spam prevention code here below:

Copyright © InfiniteLove.ie

tumblr visitor

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional   Valid CSS!