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

Newsletter No. 76 September 14, 2018

Dear Friends,

It is in the middle of summer and the summer heat is still with us. But I have time to write to you. So I shall put together another newsletter.

The Italian magazine of the Work of Infinite Love, “Betania Ut Sint Unum,” has stopped publication. Not long ago the Sisters in Vische sent a letter to that effect. I believe it was the only printed publication of the Work at this time.

I have not seen the sisters’ new chapel in Vische, but they say it is very beautiful. Some time ago they showed pictures of it in their magazine. Whenever they have a service of some kind at the monastery of Vische, they hold it in that chapel. The celebration shown in the magazine was from March 25, the feast of the Annunciation, in 2014. It was the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Bethany of the Sacred Heart and the Work of Infinite Love (cf. Betania Ut Sint Unum, May-Aug. 2014, pp.10-14).

If any of you ever want to visit Vische, it is a small Italian village north of Turin on the way to the Valle d’Aosta. Valle d’Aosta is a ski area. I visited the sisters there once back in the days when I was the secretary for our congregation in Rome. It’s a beautiful place. If you can take some time to see it, you will enjoy it. It has the “small house of Infinite Love,” which was the first convent of the sisters of Bethany of the Sacred Heart.

This is the house seen by Mother Louise Margaret in vision several times before she actually laid eyes on it. She wrote on November 1, 1899, “Sunday, turning to God in prayer, I found myself all at once carried in spirit to an unknown place; I saw a road bordered on one side by several houses and on the other by small low walls. One of these houses was shown to me as if it were a convent of the Visitation and, as I looked at it, everything disappeared and I found myself intimately united to God in a great silence and a great simplicity.”

When she actually came to the house for the first time on March 11, 1914, she recognized it as the house in her visions. Her companion Sister Margaret Reynaud wrote: “This is what happened at Vische. The owners of the small villa situated at Via Lamarmora 32, in the Alberetto quarter, took us to see the property. Arriving at the threshold of the entrance – the owners had already gone in – I heard Mother Louise Margaret say in a low voice, ‘Oh, it is the little house.’ She remained at the entrance as if blocked. Believing that she felt tired, I turned toward her asking her whether she had need of anything. ‘No, she answered me, but it is the little house that I saw. Yes, it really is: the mountains, the walls, the houses, the road.... Yes, it really is!’ Then making the gesture of opening her arms in full length, she added: ‘But the house was... (She pointed to the little villa, the one inhabitable house.) Her gesture indicated a length and a distance” (cf. Betania del Sacro Cuore, Mar-Apr. 2014, pp.6-9).

Here is the first installment of the translation of the “Notebook of Temptations,” which was written by Mother Louise Margaret under obedience to her Spiritual Director, who wanted to find out whether the movements in her soul were coming from God or from the devil. It is usually published together with Mother’s autobiography:

I did not elaborate more on the temptations of the devil during my stay in the Jura, first of all because I was under pressure to finish that history (her autobiography), as much because it cost me much to write it as because Father had told me last October (1904) that he was giving me one year to do it, a year that is already well advanced. And then I was thinking I would have to come back to these temptations several times again in the course of the narrative. But because Father wishes it, I shall re-unite here all that treats of temptations since the beginning up to the present. About the way they got started I believe that I made note in the last notebook (of the autobiography); nevertheless I shall say all again so that all will be noted together.

One day I was going to Arlay to go to confession, in May or June ’89, when a voice resounded at my side, which I believed to hear with my ears and which told me that confession was nothing but an invention of the Church and that Our Lord had not spoken about it. To which I replied that I wished to believe all that the Church teaches. I believe that I heard this voice sensibly two times. This first time noted above and the second time one night when I was suffering much from suffocations when the same voice told me, I remember it well, that there was nothing wrong with taking one’s life when one suffers too much; that I would not have to do anything but lean over the balcony and let myself fall and then I would suffer no more.

Without answering the devil I turned toward God and protested to him that I wanted to suffer indeed all that he wished and as long as he wished.

The other temptations that I had were in the form of thoughts that pursued me and tired my spirit. They were not thoughts that I made myself, it seems to me, but ideas presented to my imagination, which I did not accept willingly and indeed refused with all the energy of which I was capable.

I was often tempted about Holy Communion, the devil suggesting to my spirit that Our Lord was not really present there, and making use of a certain argument to which my ignorance did not find anything to answer except that I wished always to believe what the Holy Church teaches. This argument was that the Apostles’ Creed did not say anything about Communion or the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Also a quantity of thoughts against the divinity of Our Lord came to me. The devil tried to represent him to me solely as a very intelligent man. Not knowing anything, I did not try to discuss with myself nor with the devil and on all occasions I limited myself to clinging closely to Holy Church, repeating always the same thing that I wished to believe and do believe all she teaches. Sometimes I also said: For eighteen centuries so many persons more intelligent, better instructed, and more virtuous than I have believed all that. Will I be able to make any difficulty in believing it, I who am nothing but misery, ignorance and sin?

At the same time a crowd of temptations against my vocation also came to me. The devil represented to me that it would be a waste of time to try to enter a convent; that I would never have enough health, that I would be sent away and, being obliged to return to the world, I would find nothing but confusion and disdain. With the grace of God I did not fail to resist and I said: Okay, if they send me away and I have confusion, all the better! I would be very content! It will be what I need!

It was not that humiliations were pleasing to me naturally. Quite the opposite, but I wanted by this to repulse the attacks of my enemy and then I knew by the example and the words of Our Lord in the Gospel that suffering and humiliation are good.

It was on hearing what the devil had suggested to me regarding Holy Communion and the Creed that Fr. Raymond and later Fr. Toupin forbade me to ever speak to anyone about my temptations. It is still the reason that, if Father had not now given me the obedience, I would not have written anything about this, nor of anything that will follow.

I ask pardon of Our Lord and of the Blessed Virgin for the horrible things that I am going to write and which I never wanted to keep in my spirit. I have of all this a much less clear remembrance than of things of my life which I recalled often enough later. I have tried, on the other hand, not to stop at all those thoughts that terrified me.

The devil tried to persuade me that Our Lord was not God; that the mystery of the incarnation was not true, that the Thrice Holy Mother of Our Lord did not remain a Virgin, that the Angel Gabriel was just some man who misused the innocence of Mary; that no proofs are had for what the Church says about all this.

These thoughts caused me an extreme disgust and a very painful suffering of soul. I turned away from them as energetically as I could, forcing myself to raise up my soul above these things, I would go to adore Our Lord and I would beseech him to help me, as also the All pure and Holy Virgin to strengthen me and not to permit me to fall into sin. It always seemed to me that these thoughts were independent of my will and my spirit and that I did not remain in them willfully. What made me suffer so much in this was, being in the Jura, I could not open up to anyone and I was obliged to manage all alone in the midst of combats so new and so frightening.

When I returned to Valence Fr. Raymond gave me a rule on this point that helped me much. He said: “The fact that you suffer from these temptations, that you would rather not have them, that from the moment they present themselves to you and as long as they last you have true pain and real suffering of soul, is a sign that you do not consent to them.” God having given me in his goodness a naturally clear spirit and one not easily deceived, I was always able to see this, at least it seems to me, in regard to temptations against the Faith.

Sometimes I had all these thoughts against the all Divine Sacrament all the way to the Holy Table, where however I never failed to go out of obedience and the intimate sentiment of great need I had of the help of Our Lord. Always once I had received the Holy Host, all these bad thoughts stopped and I felt a very complete Faith and a great peace.

When these temptations began, it being in the Jura, I was not reading any bad books for at least two years and indeed I don’t remember having read anything before that about similar topics to those that were being proposed by the devil. I was then reading ordinarily the meditations on the Gospel by Bossuet, which I liked very much.

When I left the Château de Proby to go to Lons le Saulnier in October my temptations began to diminish. They even stopped tormenting me shortly afterward. I did not experience them in the months that followed, although I often heard my brother-in-law speak to me of his doubts then.

From the time my sister’s marriage was decided, on our departure from the Jura, I had not stopped praying to Our Lord to convert Mr. Clavier.

I had felt at Montmartre, as Father will see in the notebook (of my autobiography), that Our Lord was giving me this soul so that I could suffer and work for it. It came to my mind then that the devil had persecuted me so much in the Jura only because he understood that I was the little instrument that God wished to use to win this soul.

This consideration led me to act and suffer with still greater courage to bring back my brother-in-law to the faith. Having much influence over his spirit, I used it to straighten out certain of his ideas that were not right on various points that touched upon religion. He made me very simply share in his objections and, although I was of a complete ignorance, Our Lord helped me to say certain words to him that little by little broke him down.

Never did his objections give me the slightest temptation. On the contrary, they seemed to strengthen my Faith. The teachings that he enunciated were all materialistic and atheistic. He explained everything by the chance coming together of molecules. These teachings seemed so foolish to me that they did not have the power to leave an impression on my spirit. It was likewise never on this point that the devil tried to destroy my faith. The desire to lead back this soul to God would help me much a little later on to embrace with courage the first difficulties and sufferings of religious life. I had the joy of seeing his conversion at the end of my postulancy, and painting the ex voto myself that was meant to preserve the memory of that conversion in the basilica of Paray.

To the temptations against the Faith were joined temptations against chastity in the winter of 89-90. At first they were imaginings of unseemly things that presented themselves interiorly to my spirit, images of nudity and several other things of the same kind, which I had not thought about up to that time. Nevertheless in the beginning this did not come again to trouble my senses, or to provoke sensible impressions. (To be continued.)

Yours in Christ

Rev. Vergil Heier, C.M.M.

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