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

Newsletter No. 77 February 25, 2019

Dear Friends,

Greetings to all of you who are part of the Work of Infinite Love and admirers of Mother Louise Margaret Claret de la Touche! This newsletter will bring you a continuation of the “Notebook of Temptations,” which Mother Louise Margaret wrote at the request of her spiritual director, Fr. Alfred Charrier, SJ.

We are nearly finished with translating and publishing in this newsletter the “Notebook of Temptations,” so I wrote to the Sisters of Bethany of the Sacred Heart in Italy to obtain some other work of Mother Louise to translate into English for publication in this newsletter. Instead, the Sisters sent me a short biography (160 pages) of Mother Louise Margaret in Italian entitled, “Ho Il Sole nell’Anima” [I Have the Sun in My Soul], by Paolo Redi (pen name).

In the preface, Bishop Luigi Bettazzi, retired bishop of the diocese of Ivrea, Italy, where the Sisters live, says that this work of Paolo Redi is a study of the psychology of Mother Louise Margaret and the times, in which she lived.

By the way, there is already a biography of Mother Louise Margaret in English entitled, “The Life and Work of Mother Louise Margaret,” (234 pages) written by Fr. Patrick O’Connell, published in 1950, and reprinted by Tan Books in 1987. You can order a copy of it from Tan Books. I also have a few copies of it.

We accept donations for this newsletter. It is you, the readers, who finance it and pay for its mailing.

Let us continue with the “Notebook of Temptations:”

In the months of July and August 1890 my temptations against the Faith came back very painfully. I was in the country. Fr. Raymond had forbidden me to say anything to the pastor of les Arbods, to whom I had to make my confession every eight days. At that time I was going to Mass every day and communicating several times a week, and sometimes I had horrible temptations against the real presence up to the moment when I communicated.

Yet always from the moment I received Our Lord, a profound peace came into my soul, I felt myself all bruised by the combat that I had fought, but all filled with confidence in Our Lord. On the 15th of August in the afternoon while returning from Vespers, I suddenly felt my imagination so filled with impure images that I suffered more than I can say. My senses and my flesh were also subjected to the impression. This was the first time this happened to me and I had such a terror of offending God in this torment that I would have loved to die. I took my rosary and, pacing swiftly up and down in my room, I called the Blessed Virgin to my aid so that she would preserve me from sin. It seemed to me that my will resisted and did not want anything else but to be pure and to please God, but I had a great fear that these impressions that at the same time I felt in my flesh might leave in me some manner of filth.

Nevertheless, during this form of temptations I did not hear the devil, nor did I see him. It seems to me, in as far as I can remember, that the devil acts on the imagination and that it is the imagination, troubled by the images, that in turn troubles the senses and excites the revolt of the natural passions. It seems to me that I have never felt on my body an exterior act of the devil, but it is true that sometimes afterwards it happened that I felt first of all the impressions of the flesh before my imagination was troubled, so that it was the movements of the flesh that brought the images to the spirit.

Maybe I don’t use the terms that I should to explain this, but it’s because I don’t know of any others. This great temptation of August 15th lasted maybe all together two hours, but the great general trouble was perhaps about one half hour. In these temptations I always went to seek help near the Blessed Virgin, calling her to me as an infant does with his mother, without taking time to say complicated prayer formulas.

On returning from our pilgrimage to Paray le Monial at the end of September 1890, I was attacked by a very violent temptation. On our arrival home Miss Plantier, who had accompanied me, was telling my mother about the events of our voyage. Being absent at the moment, I did not know what the dear miss said to my mother about the young lawyer who had made the voyage with us. Be that as it may, this good mother began to talk to me again about marriage and to implore me to marry the young man, if I liked, and she tried to persuade me that I ought to remain in the world to do good and convert my brother-in-law.

I fought energetically and defended my vocation, but a little later when I returned to my room, all the old thoughts against my vocation came back. I asked myself whether I should not follow the wish of my mother, whether that was not the will of God, and whether that young man had not been providentially placed on my path. Finally, using all the most beautiful pretexts, the devil so enveloped my soul that perhaps I was about to fall, when a vague thought of all that Our Lord had done to have me for Himself came to light in my soul.

Pressed on the one side by the temptation, yet seeing on the other hand a small light in the depth of my soul drawing me to God, and not knowing what would happen in the extreme trouble of my soul, I fell on my knees, and with my arms in the form of a cross in the middle of my room, I let out a desperate cry to Our Lord. Then I had the inspiration to renew my vow of chastity. I did so.

Immediately everything stopped. I felt inundated by the purest and sweetest consolations of soul. A heavenly peace followed on this frightful storm. I remained some time on my knees, inundated with divine joys and more than ever resolved to belong to God alone. This was my last temptation in the world. Less than two months later I entered the monastery.

During my first months in the novitiate I had small temptations to leave two or three times, as Father will see in the text of my autobiography. But I did not feel the action of the devil at all until the spring of 1892, i.e. a year and a half later. Then I was tormented again by impressions contrary to chastity, especially during the night.

I was a novice at that time and when I got up in the morning and put my dear little veil on my head I felt horror toward myself and I was afraid that I gave horror to our Lord by such a terrible contrast. I did not dare tell our Novice Mistress, but I told Rev. Fr. Toupin everything. He reassured me. Regarding the fear I had when I was supposed to go to Communion immediately after torments of this kind, he gave me this sweet word: “Oh no! Do not stay away from Communion for that reason. On the contrary, go with confidence. When you get out of the mire, go to the Holy Table to breath perfumes.”

Toward the end of my novitiate in August 1892, I don’t know whether it was the devil who suggested it to me, but I was seized with great fears about my commitments, which I was going to assume by my profession. During the month that preceded it and still during my profession retreat, the devil made efforts to get me to withdraw, telling me that I would never have the courage to persevere.

Toward the end of my novitiate in August 1892, I don’t know whether it was the devil who suggested it to me, but I was seized with great fears about my commitments, which I was going to assume by my profession. During the month that preceded it and still during my profession retreat, the devil made efforts to get me to withdraw, telling me that I would never have the courage to persevere.

I answered that, since Our Lord had drawn me to his service, he would give me the grace to persevere in it. The devil presented to me, at least I have always believed it was he, that when I would make profession, God would have more rights over me and perhaps he would ask for things very painful to nature, and that it would be better not to give God so many rights over myself. To act contrary to the evil spirit, I made acts of abandon to God and I told Our Lord that I wanted to be entirely devoted to Him and that I accepted in advance whatever he could ask of me.

Several days before my profession I wrote a paper in which I accepted in advance whatever the Good God would wish for me, even the most painful things. I took it to our Mother François Mathilde, and I also copied it more or less into a small notebook that I had at that time. From then on the temptations ceased.

If I had in my hands the small notebooks in which I wrote at that time, I would be able to give more exact dates. I don’t remember very well. About a year after my profession our Mistress, Sister Mary Aloysia, who had taken over this responsibility at my profession, began to change completely in her sentiments toward me, and became very hard. This got worse and worse over seven or eight months. I bore it as gently as I could, but I suffered very much from her behavior.

I still had temptations against purity from time to time, i.e. rather torments than temptations, for they did not lead me to desire evil or to do it, but they caused me much pain, as I always was afraid to become less pure in the eyes of God because of them.

I told our Mistress about it several times to practice humility, and because it seemed to me necessary to tell everything to those who are in charge. Our Mistress would say things to me in this regard that caused me great pain. Mockingly she would say to me: “You have temptations like these and then you come and say that you unite yourself to Our Lord in prayer, that you want to go to Communion, and that the Holy Host has perfumes. How cute…!” She deprived me of Holy Communion as often as she could, while Fr. Toupin, on the other hand, told me to go often and he had given me one more day to go, i.e. every Friday. This divergence in direction made me suffer so much that Our Mother ended by telling me not to open myself anymore to our Mistress. She only persecuted me more for that, thinking perhaps that it was on my own that I no longer showed her as much confidence.

One evening, I don’t remember the date very well anymore, it was at the end of summer 1894, I believe. On entering our cell in the evening during Matins, I believe I saw on the chair next to my bed a singular beast. I don’t know whether I saw it with the eyes of the body. It was extremely ugly and altogether strange. At first I was afraid, but then, thinking that perhaps it was the devil, I made a big sign of the cross and recommended myself to Our Lord. Immediately I did not see anything anymore and I slept quietly.

I believe it was several days later that Our Mistress reprimanded me regarding an order that I had not understood and, at the end of the reprimand, she slapped me in the face. I took it on my knees as best I could, but afterwards I felt the blood boil in my veins. On top of all that, the devil came and, perhaps a half hour later, as I passed on the steps in front of the cloister door, he said to me, if I remember correctly: “After such a thing you can well ask to leave. They should have warned you before profession that things like this would happen. You are free, your commitments are invalid!” I recognized immediately that it was the devil that spoke this way. I think I immediately renewed my vows and I resolved to go tell our Mother everything. Afraid of lacking in courage, I wrote everything out and in the afternoon I took it to our Mother.

I think I remember that from the moment that I had renewed my vows on the stairs, all the interior agitation stopped, and a little afterwards I told Our Lord that I forgave our Mistress with all my heart and I myself asked pardon of the good Master for having been so prideful.

A month later Our Mother withdrew the Mistress of Novices and gave us as director our present Mother, Mary Emmanuel, who already had been our mistress when I was a postulant and for almost all the time of my year of white novitiate. The year following, during the winter of 1895-1896, the temptations against the Faith returned to me from time to time. I always felt them as absolutely independent of my will and, I don’t know how to explain it, as all together exterior. It was as if someone next to me, but not in me, had said things against the Faith, against Holy Communion. (To be continued)

Yours in Jesus and Mary

Rev. Vergil Heier, C.M.M.
For the Work of Infinite Love

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