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holy souls would have to bare their of anguish, where her children suffer breasts, as it were, to every kind of in meekest patience the just penalty suffering, spiritual and temporal. of sins, nor do they know the intenNo use, she mentally exclaimed, this sity of love whereby she follows them is going too far; it is not this that thither, offering prayers and holy God wants of me."
deeds and the tremendous sacrifices But it was this that God wanted of in their behalf. It might be well her, and for this he gave her the will worth their while to ponder deeply and the power. In Paris, in the year upon the meaning of Mère Marie's 1856, her work began. She began life—upon God's visible manifestait smarting under the anguish of tion of blessing on it—upon the exseparation from her home; she began terior and interior holiness which it poor in this world's goods and characterized it. Is all this the sign with her mind entirely in favor of of a mistaken belief? not taking as part of the active re- According to Eugénie's ideas, we ligious works of her order any which are told, an order devoted to the could bring payment. She and her Holy Souls was to have nothing to first companions tasted poverty's do with means less absolutely dicup right swiftly. “Water has to be rected to its end than works of bought at Paris, as well as other mercy; it was to rely upon him things. These ladies had to limit who feeds the birds of the air, and themselves to a pennyworth a day of clothes the lilies of the field, for the that necessary of life. Their shawls necessaries of life, of a life entirely were turned at night into blankets. devoted to poor sufferers on earth One chair was all the whole set of and the poor sufferers on the other rooms had to boast of; the need of side of the grave. But it was to be seats was supplied by the purchase also a life which, in measure as it reof two narrow wooden benches. lieved the pains of others, seemed Eugénie's strength broke down, and to accumulate them for its own in her severe neuralgic pains returned unison with him who carried our with violence.” But still the little sorrows. The playful child, the band persevered, and well did the “strong, healthy, high-spirited, and faith of the foundress testify to the highly gifted girl” of Lille, was to fitness of her name in religion, Mère taste before death every trouble that Marie de la Providence.
she dreaded most. She herself had The pen pauses while thought said, “Amongst the things I was busies itself with the wonderment as most afraid of—that did not into what impression such a life as this volve a sin—there were five I particmakes upon men who utterly deny ularly dreaded: to have to leave that prayers for the dead are of any my family; to found the communisuse at all, and consider them as try; to have nothing to depend on " Romish errors,' or upon those who for the support of my daughters; to think of their dead as happy and get into debt; and to have a cancer. safe in some middle land of peace, Well, by God's goodness every one where a pious aspiration for their of these has happened to me." repose may follow them, but not by And to add to all other trials, reason of any special need for prayer France was a scene of torturing susin which those souls may be placed pense and distress. On the 1st of before they can appear in the awful November, 1870, Mère Marie writes: presence of him whose eyes are too “The Commune is proclaimed, so pure to behold evil. They do not they say. But I will not disquiet know the intensity of faith whereby myself about anything. I rely on the Church holds as an integral part the Divine Heart of our Lord. He of her communion a shadowy land will take care of my poor daughters. I am suffering martyrdom. This is How shall we cease to tell of her as it should be. This is the proper closing days ? How choose from all way of celebrating the seventeenth that union of life in death with her anniversary of my first thought re- Master's final anguish the portions garding my dearly loved souls to be inserted here? As she looked in purgatory. Yes! on this day, upon the blood flowing from the just seventeen years ago, our Lord wound that was killing her, she used inspired me with the thought of to exclaim, “My God, how glad I founding this community. How am to shed my blood for you! To many favors I have since received! accomplish your blessed will. Tesus And, if I had faith enough to feel on the cross suffered more than I it, what an immense mercy my suffer- do. O, will of God, will of God, ings are. To-day I feel as if I were these words give strength to bear on fire ; my hands are burning. Je- everything.' sus, I want nothing but that your “Even when crushed by bodily will should be done. O Jesus, my suffering, Mère Marie found strength master, let every pain be an act of in her ardent charity to direct, and love soliciting the deliverance of a even sometimes to prepare food with soul in purgatory."
her own hands for the poor whom That was her life-thought. "We her nuns continued to visit amidst all say every day in our office for the the horrors of the siege. She used dead," such was her teaching, “sac- to send out every day soup to the rifice or oblation thou wouldst not, sick, and watched over all the details but thou hast given me a body. connected with the relief of the
Then said I, Behold I come.' Yes, wounded. December was marked let us repeat, ‘Lo, I come to work by increasing pains and an increasall my life by prayer, by suffering, ing fervor of love, which struck all and by action, for the deliverance of those who approached the voluntary the souls in purgatory, and I come victim of her devotion to the Holy for good and all,'".
Souls. On the festival she used to On All Souls' Day, 1870, when her say, 'For me there are no feasts bodily malady was like slow torture, now but those of eternity; here she said in the evening, the clock I can do nothing but lose myself having stopped, thus making her in the depths of. God's will.' At think, perhaps, of the long, sleep- the close of that terrible year of less night before her, “How unfor- 1870, and the beginning of 1871, tunate! we shall not hear the clock which opened amidst such dire castrike, and shall not be reminded to lamities, she said to her spiritual chilmake the sign of the cross. I suf- dren assembled round her bed: fer for the souls in purgatory; that 'Cling to the Cross, our only hope. thought helps me to bear my illness. Life is short, eternity endless. Let I can only satisfy my longing to help us think only of eternity. The docthe souls that God loves by suffering tor having pronounced that she for them. I believe that during might die at any moment, Père Oliseventeen years I have had no other vaint proposed to her to receive exthought than this. I love to help treme unction. She agreed to it the souls in purgatory, for God's with a joy that lighted up her dying own glory is interested in their re- face. After receiving the last sacralease. This is a time of grace," ment, Mère Marie de la Providence she said, “ a time of expiation and accomplished the act which the rule of merit; we shall be very foolish if enjoins upon all religious persons on we let it pass without profiting by it, their deathbed. She placed herself not for ourselves, but for the souls at the feet of all her sisters, and diswho expect so much from us." tinctly and earnestly, though some
times interrupted by the difficulty of We have recorded certain trials breathing, she humbly begged for- which she had dreaded, and which giveness for all her failings, and the had all befallen her. She had truly faults by which she had scandalized dreaded them, but it is to be borne or grieved them. Père Olivaint in mind that she had not asked to then said : 'It is time now to address escape them. One thing, however, your last recommendations to your she had asked, "to die well prepared, daughters.' Upon which she made without any definite expectation of an effort to raise her voice, and ut- her decease, yet immediately after tered these words: 'Let them con- receiving absolution.” And as was tinually increase in zeal for the Holy often the case in her life of dependSouls in purgatory, and in the spirit ence upon God's providence, the of their order; let the houses of answer came signally to her earnest China, Nantes, Brussels, and Paris, prayer. On the seventh of February be one in heart and soul.' • And all she made confession and received the future foundations also,' Père absolution, but without a sign that Olivaint added, with a kindly smile. she thought her death imminent. • Charity, that is what I recom- After that absolution she did not mend,' the dying founder ejacu- speak again, but slept peacefully, and lated ; and her director, who was from that sleep, without another well acquainted with her thoughts, word, she passed peacefully into the added, “And the interior spirit, sleep of death. without which there can be no true She had said once, “You ask my religion, and, indeed, no Christian idea of heaven. It is love! love ! life. From that day to the 6th of love! On earth we can love deeply, February, the era of her death, Mère indeed, but our hearts are always Marie received the Blessed Sacra- crying out that they cannot love ment every day. The 19th of Jan- enough. In heaven it will not be so. uary was the anniversary of the foun- Our love will then be without limit, dation of the community. On that because we shall love God purely, day she said : “ Almighty God has and our hearts are made for him." showered blessings on our society; She had said also, “We often it is right I should suffer a great make acts of faith, hope, and charity, deal. ... Oh, if you did but know but it does not often occur to us to what I feel—that it is entirely his make acts of joy. And yet it would work, and not mine! He has chosen be very pleasing to God if, for inthe most wretched of instruments to stance, we sometimes said to him, effect his purpose. Blessed be God!' My God, how glad I am that I belong To the end her mind remained per- to you." fectly clear, and pious ejaculations When for that heart of love a bar rose to her lips, especially the words against sin or fault or imperfection • Jesus, eternal joy of the saints !' was forever placed by death, may not • It is strange,' she remarked, “how its first act have been to cry, - My continually present to me are those God, how glad I am that I belong words.' The cry of our Blessed to you?'' Or was this soul, that had Lord's agony was also ever bursting given its all for the holy souls, alfrom her heart. 'I can no longer lowed to enter purgatory-not to pray, or even listen to prayer,' she suffer—but by a special grace of God often said, “but I can still say Fiat;' and with the rosary of the Curé
was the constant repetition on the beads of the Curé
d'Ars of the words, Fiat Fesus. We used to hear d'Ars in her hands, she repeated on her continually reiterating this devotion. The spirit
of her whole life was in that prayer. Rapid were every bead, ‘Jesus, fiat.' "*
the strides of the terrible disease which was hurry
ing her to the grave. She kept it a secret as long * In 1870 she began to use (writes one of her nuns) as possible; only a few intimate friends knew of its what she called her “spiritual chloroform." This existence. She used to call it her hidden treasure.
to take home with her joyously a prophecy of King Edward the Conhappy company of those for whom fessor, may not be far distant, when she had lived on earth, with them to she shall once more be Catholic, gain the blessed vision of God's face what myriad souls shall find themforever, with them forever to “ lovę, selves with the heroic act of charity, love, love ?"
how many descendants of the men It is peculiarly natural to follow who wrought three hundred years Mère Marie after death, for her life ago the awful deformation of Enghad been spent in and for purgatory land shall vow themselves to a lifeduring seventeen years here.
long reparation in the order of the Judged by the narrative before us, Helpers of the Holy Souls ! it was a singularly simple life. This God's own glory is interested in spiritual mother left but four founda- their release. tions of her order-in Paris, in God's glory—what but this is the Nantes, in Brussels, in China. An- key to the mystery of vocation ? other has been gained since her Where human wisdom would have death for England. As yet the seed called a bereaved and aching heart is small compared with what Mother to found an order for their dead, Barat in her long lifetime sowed. God turned to his glory in this But what it will be as it becomes respect a life marked by sunshine more widely known one may prayer- and buoyancy. And he chose a fully and lovingly fancy, not so much bereaved widow, from whom parents measuring its future growth by the and husband and sister had one by thousands of aching or broken hearts one been taken, to found in the that mourn their dead, as by the Western world a great branch of those desire for reparation which shall one Sisters of Charity whose life and day waken in lands that, casting away works are peculiarly characterized by the Catholic faith, have cast off with the active spirit of their first founder, it the very thought of a middle state St. Vincent de Paul. How should of sufferings, and have dared to rob it make us distrust our own judgment the dead of what pious souls had left and our own will, and be content to be a perpetual memorial to man- with that will of God, which meekly kind to intercede for them.
accepted, gives indeed the strength When that day comes in England, to bear everything! a day which, viewed by the dying
LET dotards grieve for childhood's days,
And only those look back
Betrays a shameless track :
For ever passed away ;
I'm thankful for to-day!
As ever branches were,
They wave their arms in air ;
That they have sung for aye,
Is “God is here to-day !”.
Or leaf upon the tree,
As sweetly sings to me:
Can chase disease away,
That hide the earth to-day.
Invite us to rejoice;
But raise a thankful voice;
In years removed for aye,
As lovely are to-day.
Alone are fraught with joy ;
The structures of the boy:
Of pictures far away,
In wonders of to-day.
Pronouncing fate unjust,
Low trailing in the dust,
Nor own so weak a sway,
And thank Him for to-day !