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

Newsletter No. 65 December 1st, 2014

Dear Friends,

Once again we are in Advent, the season of preparation for Christmas. Mother Louise Margaret did not write much about the birth of Jesus. Her mission was to reveal to priests Jesus in His public life. Yet she did write about it in her conference of November 30, 1912 to her Sisters, while she was mother superior. It is great meditation:

“We shall enter tomorrow into that holy time of Advent, during which everything speaks of the depths of the humility of the Word made Man. In the mysteries of His public life in His Passion, there are indeed many humiliations for the Son of God; but we feel His words full of grace and truth, we see His miracles, we admire the greatness of His patience, of His sacrifice, of His superhuman virtue.

“On the contrary in the mysteries which the Church proposes to our meditation during Advent, there is none of that. It is abasement, the most complete humiliation, - the weakness of infancy, silence, apparent inaction. In becoming man, God, in the words of St. Paul, ‘emptied Himself.’ If, at the first moment of His life on earth, the Word had assumed the form of a perfect man with fully developed intellect, full of wisdom and knowledge, the humiliation would not have been so complete. He has willed to descend to the lowest depths of humiliation in order to conquer our pride, and that through incomparable love and mercy.

“In the beginning, God had made all things in the most perfect order. In heaven above, God, the supreme Lord and Master, but also the Father infinitely good and liberal, reigned supreme; on earth below was the creature, humble, grateful, under an obligation of obedience, of a filial, loving obedience. The authority of God and the submission of the creature were but the expression of reciprocal love, and exchange of delights and of the purest and sweetest sentiments. Pride and the spirit of independence came and destroyed this beautiful order. God remained in His glory, but the creature, because he attempted to ascend too high, fell so low that he remained incapable of raising himself up.

“Then, in order to restore all things, God decided to go in search of His creature in the depths of his misery. The word ‘emptied Himself’ in order to restore us to our original status by His grace. He abased Himself in order to raise us up. He made Himself little in order to make us great, He was silent in order to teach us to speak with wisdom; He became weak to strengthen us, poor, to detach us from earthly goods. He became man, a Doctor of the Church has not been afraid to say, in order to make us gods, and that, in order to bring us near God, to establish us in His friendship, to regain for us the happiness which we had lost.

“Do we think sufficiently that we owe the restoration of our nature and the just hope which we have of eternal rest and glory to the humiliations of a God, to His adorable condescension for our weakness and our misery? If we meditated sufficiently on this, if this truth were a living force in our minds, our aversion to humiliations would disappear, we would understand that there is nothing more befitting us, as well as more glorious for us, than to enter on the way which the Word of God has trodden before us in order to save us.

“Let us meditate well on this thought during Advent. Let us enter with greater courage and generosity on that way of humility and abasement which is so repugnant to our ignorant nature, for the medicine which is to cure us is often distasteful to the poor, unconscious sick person. Can we not do in little what God has done in such a complete and excessive manner for love of us, in order to show our gratitude” (cf. “The Love and Service of God, Infinite Love,” pp. 74f)? Merry Christmas!

Herewith another installment of Mother Louise Margaret’s autobiography:

My good companion Maria took the habit at the same time as I and we two candidates were a picture of contrast that still makes our Sisters laugh when they remember it. Maria was a good child of the Haute-Loire, [1] with a rosy face, round like the moon, and so well proportioned and of such a beautiful appearance that, with her well-starched white muslin dress, her frilled bonnet, her crown of roses and her First Communion veil she looked somewhat like a bell dressed for baptism. And what made her look even broader, was that it had been decided to have her put on her new tunic, made according to our Rule, under her white garments in order to shorten the time of the investiture! Next to her, I looked very much like a stream or little puff of smoke, I think, with my very tight white satin dress with train, my veil of tulle netting enveloping me in a cloud and my small diadem of orange tree twigs.

If our Sisters were laughing at the contrast, I myself was very consoled to see my companion so robust and so fresh. To me she seemed to have the health of two and that this was a compensation for the Community, to which I did not bring anything except weakness and misery. Her innocence also charmed me and I offered her to Our Lord as compensation for my sins and the great infidelities of my past.

- My Lord, how happy I was to get out of this worldly clothing, this lace, these jewels, this gaudy dust that dazzles so many eyes and deceives so many hearts, and to put on again these blessed Clothes! My veil, all white, all pure, all enveloping, fluttering in the wind like the wings of a dove, especially charmed me. For the whole time of my novitiate I had a genuine devotion to my dear veil; in the evening I folded it with respect; in the morning I kissed it with love; I took care that it remained really white; I would have liked to keep it always.

After my investiture I continued my novitiate with new courage. Since my entrance I had, by the way, made it a habit, not to stop at difficulties and to pass over them resolutely without considering them too much. This seemed to me to be the shortest and surest way. I thought that all my companions would be thinking the same way and I confess that I was extremely surprised, even, I would say, a bit annoyed to hear our Mistress speaking so often about returns upon oneself. For my part, not judging other souls except by myself, I was telling myself, “Why then so much coming back to this? What is there to think so much about myself? I should like it a lot more if they would speak to us a little about Our Lord! My mother and my grandmother, who were the only souls that I had known well then, were outspoken, simple and straightforward. I had seen little of girls up close, and their confusion of spirit, and their infinite and indefinite returns upon themselves were also completely unknown to me. Later I realized that the words of our good Mistress were far from superfluous and, once I was put in charge of the novitiate, I myself had to come back often to the same matter. I noticed very frequently this singular disposition of spirit that surprised me so much in those first years. It is less a fault, I think, than a false disposition that stems often both from temperament and from the type of education, but it blocks very effectively the enthusiasm of souls, and I grasped how necessary it was to combat it.

By a very special grace of Our Lord my health held up marvelously not only during the two months of my wait but even during the nine months of my postulancy. Not a cold, not a sickness stopped me, so that people began to feel assured in my regard and during the summer I left our cell over the sanctuary to go to the third dormitory to join the other Sisters of the novitiate. At that time no stove heated the dormitory and the cells were directly under the attic and it was extremely cold there in the winter. When the bad season arrived I began to suffer from the cold. It was thought that I would be able to manage with the clothes given by the rule and I myself, hoping to get used to it, put up with the inconvenience it caused me.

At the beginning of January I was seized by stiffness in the legs to such a degree that in the morning I had great difficulty in going down steps to go to prayer and I was obliged to cling to the banister. I did speak about it once to our Mistress in a joking way. She did not pick up on it. Even so, my feelings of illness increased and on January 19th our Mistress, seeing me more oppressed than usual and hearing me cough frequently, sent me after vespers to the infirmary, bypassing the assembly.

About five o’clock I felt sick and asked permission of the infirmarian to go to bed. During the night a violent feeling of suffocation seized me. I never felt anything like it before. I sat up in bed. I was not getting any air. It seemed to me that I was going to die. Nevertheless, this calmed down a little and I was able to go back to bed. When the infirmarian found me with a high fever in the morning, it was decided to have me move down to the infirmary. The trip down and the movement gave me new feelings of suffocation. They grasped that I was seriously sick.

A doctor was sent for and a telegram was sent to my brother-in-law. In order to relax everyone, I started to speak of my death. I submitted to Our Mother what I wanted in my will. She approved and wanted herself to be my secretary for it. So I dictated my will and signed it and, once the temporal things were in order, I did not bother with anything but the spiritual. I was happy to die, to go meet Our Lord, all the more, since Our Mother had offered to let me pronounce my Holy Vows conditionally, that I would therefore be able to appear before the eyes of Jesus as his spouse and to be received into his Heart as such. Toward 5:00pm the two doctors arrived, at the same time. They found me in a bad state.

Influenza had caused a serious pulmonary congestion. Since morning no reagent had been given to me. The extreme delicateness of my condition and the bad state of my lungs made the danger worse. After their departure, they came to tell me that Fr. Chaplain was coming to hear my confession. I understood that the opinion of the doctors was not favorable and I prepared for death. I confessed my sins quite simply. During my five-day retreat I had made a sufficiently extensive confession to Fr. Toupin; he knew me well. I regarded myself as quite miserable but, I don’t know why, I was not afraid. I entrusted myself to God like the small child entrusts itself to its mother and, presenting all my faults to the good Master, all my past filled with miseries and my present sometimes so lax, I was saying to him, “Behold all that I have done and all that I am; but I expect all from your mercy.” After confession Fr. Toupin told me that he was going to return to bring me Holy Viaticum and to allow me to pronounce my holy vows.

Before matins at about 8:30 Jesus came, accompanied by all the community. A small altar had been set up in my room, Fr. Toupin placed the Holy Ciborium amidst burning candles and flowers and, approaching my bed, he addressed me with an exhortation all filled with piety. He came to read from the breviary the Hymn of the Virgins from matins of the feast of St. Agnes and he gave a commentary to it that was so appropriate for the circumstances that all of our Sisters were moved. When he had finished speaking, I, according to the Rule, asked pardon of our Mother and of my Sisters. Then Fr. Toupin approached, holding the divine host in his hands, and there, in the presence of Jesus and His priest, surrounded by our Sisters, I pronounced the abbreviated formula of my vows.

In exchange for this promise, conditional for the community but which I made unconditionally for myself, Jesus gave Himself to me. Hardly had I received the sacred body of the divine Master, when everything disappeared from my eyes. I lost consciousness completely of everything around me; the altar, the burning candles, the voice of the priest who was reciting the last prayers, the voices of our Sisters who were answering the prayers; all this ceased to exist for me and I found myself transported where, I really wouldn’t know how to say it, to a place of repose and peace alone with Jesus! What happened, I don’t know; but I felt myself penetrated by an infinite sweetness that not only filled my soul and all of my faculties but, flowing down all the way to my members, brought to them a general well-being; a sort of relaxation and sweetness so excessive that, finally, I came to myself. The Blessed Sacrament, carried by the priest and accompanied by our Sisters, departed to the chant of the Benedictus. (To be continued.)

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Vergil Heier, C.M.M.
English-language Representative
Work of Infinite Love

1 West-southwest of Lyon.

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