No Lack of Joy and Perserverance in Difficulties
The Servant of God showed to a heroic degree the virtue of strength. According to the world, she was weak, deprived of all the things which mark the strong and mighty in the world, but she was strong through the strength of God. In her the word of the Apostle was reflected: “I am strong in Him Who strengthens me.”
She drew this virtue of strength from a spirit of faith and her ardent love for God. Thus she became strong in her responsibility. At first she tried to know it well; she took advice. Once she knew the responsibility, she was uncompromising in its accomplishment. As a child, she was aware of how she had to help her parents. Although she had a frail health, she did for them all the small services she could; in the same way she considered it her duty to be instructed in the Christian doctrine, but she had great difficulties and she fought firmly and constantly to discover the “hidden manna”. As an adolescent, she was obliged to work hard in the fields and she did it without neglect. As Foundress and Superior General, she did not let responsibilities or difficulties of any kind get her down.
Mother Alphonse Maria showed herself untiring in work. Father Reichard could say: “Incessantly, she feels an irresistible push to her duties as Superior. She not only does not escape meeting anyone, she also feels the urge to do more, despite temptations of disgust she feels”.
Father Busson: “She is steadfast in the accomplishment of her duties. When the demon tries to distract her from them, far from listening to the temptation, she goes on doing good with an even more intense fervor”.
Though she was suffering, she often traveled because an urgent call of duty demanded it.
She was heroically patient in her illness. She did not let one complaint escape her, despite the duration and intensity of the trial. “During my constant sufferings, I incessantly remembered what I had asked of God in my childhood: that I could keep my heart pure, that I would reach holiness and that in everything I would accomplish God’s holy will, and I often thought: ‘O, willingly I want to suffer if only I reach this’”. She patiently continued suffering physical pain all her life.
The Servant of God was patient in insults, contempt and opposition, as mentioned above in N° 81.
She shows heroic strength of mind in the midst of spiritual aridity and fears. Already at an early age she proved this: “Already as a child I hid my inner pains and complained only to God.”
At the age of 17, when suffering from aridity, contempt and the whole trail of emotional distress, she said sighing: “Oh Jesus, even if I do not pray well, I will still continue praying because my confessor told me to.”
During a period of aridity, she turned to Jesus: “My Jesus, although I do not feel any love for You in my heart, I am willing to remain faithful to You until my death. Teach me how I must use this kind of suffering”.
Father Reichard testifies: “She remained faithful and constant in this suffering and continued accomplishing God’s will”.
Father Busson: “Subject to this trial, the sick girl became more patient, more resigned every day.”
She had to endure humiliations by the demon, who tried to trouble her, to frighten her, who threatened her visibly oppressing her with curses and blasphemies. She pulled herself together, thus recognizing that it was the tempter, she took her cross and found calm and peace again. She also taught her Daughters how to behave towards Satan: with contempt. “He will flee, embarrassed.”
The Servant of God showed a joyful soul in the midst of adversities in order to edify her neighbor. Everybody who approached her testified to this. She also said in her instructions: “What a good example to the world do the persons give who in their hard sufferings are calm and subdued, who do not complain, suffer with patience and silence and receive everybody approaching them with joy and serenity.” “Your sufferings may not make your faces or your thoughts sad. Always fight within yourselves against sadness for the edification of your Sisters and of everybody who sees you. Calm, serenity and joy appropriate to the children of God.”
The virtue of fortitude in the Servant of God became especially visible when it was about bringing glory to God and the salvation of souls. With obedience and respect, but with unshakeable firmness, she fought against the reluctance which Father Reichard felt to start a work which, humanly speaking, was doomed to failure; she pursued the construction without swaying, although interiorly she was filled with fear given her awareness of her weakness and nothingness. So she directed this work as a prudent and at the same time audacious pilot. She was eager to expand the scope of her activity.
In this regard, Sister Lucrétie testifies: “One day, Father Reichard tried to moderate the Mother’s zeal asking: ‘What, another new house?’ The Servant of God was coming into the refectory in the moment when this sentence was read: “Thus the name of God must be extended over the whole Earth”, she took the book and went to the Superior. ‘Have a look, Father, God wants our work, which is His, to be extended. So please have the goodness to agree.’”
- The Servant of God was persevering. She fought so well against her own senses that one did no longer see any stubbornness in her, but an unshakeable will to reach God through practicing virtue, however without rigidity. She incessantly asked for this perseverance: “I constantly prayed sighing interiorly to obtain perseverance”.
She persevered above all in prayer and never had a doubt about God’s help, no matter how long He delayed in granting her His graces. She said: “We will continue to pray and will never stop until exhaustion.”
- The virtue of fortitude of the Servant of God was especially visible in the silence she knew to keep in all painful situations, unless her duty required her to defend the interests of the Congregation and the Sisters. She was heroically faithful to the rule she had been given by Our Lord: “Suffer, be silent and pray.”
- She learned not to be dependent on what others thought of her. As a child, her zeal to win other people for Jesus Christ and to reprimand the evil she saw was great, although for that she was despised and made fun of. She was tempted to keep quiet; but she said: “To see to it that God is not offended and the salvation of souls is assured, I fulfill my duty. This must be done, even if the whole world despised me”.
She also had the temptation to shorten her devotional practices in order not to appear as eccentric in the eyes of her brothers and sisters, but instead she asked “her heavenly Father to grant her perseverance”, she kept quiet and endured the mockeries. In the church, she felt such an interior devotion that she could not hide it exteriorly.
She was tempted to distract herself so that others might not notice it, but instead she prayed like this: “Oh Jesus, my Divine Spouse, why should I be against Your holy will in order to please the world? No, that will not happen. I do not wish to please the world but You; and if I do not please the world, what does it matter to me if only I please You.”
- The Servant of God tried all her life to teach others the virtue of fortitude so that they may detach themselves from the world and its false goods: Her brothers and sisters, the surroundings, the many visitors confirm this.
She constantly exhorted her Daughters to fight the world and fight themselves, and she showed them the strategic lines of the battle: “Fight with courage. Be like soldiers who every day return to the battle with the same boldness. There should be no weakness, no cowardly self-pity, always do the contrary of what your natures tell you to. Live as if in constant martyrdom”.
These powerful instructions appear in the letter she addressed to those who expended themselves in the care of cholera patients. After having exhorted them to the total sacrifice of themselves out of love for Jesus Christ, she begged them to close their ears to any human praise in order to please God only.