Saturday, May 22, 2010
Every once in a while, the Holy Spirit slips a book into my hands and it has such a deep influence on me, that my life becomes changed for the better for having read it. Several years ago I purchased a wonderful book by Gina Loehr called “Real Women, Real Saints.” It was the composite of many wonderful women who were each called upon to draw the world closer to God in their own unique ways. A few weeks ago, I was praying to learn God’s will for me in my vocation as wife and mother and to show me how to draw my family ever closer to God and to deep devotion towards him, when I remembered reading about Elisabeth Leseur in Gina’s book.
Elisabeth Leseur was a Frenchwoman who lived from 1866-1914. She was a devout Catholic who was married to an atheist. Her husband and his atheistic friends would tease and criticize Elisabeth for her faith. She decided that she would not antagonize them, but rather, kept her faith inside and released it into a journal. She offered up all of the sufferings that she endured, both from the torment of her husband with whom she was deeply in love, and from her many physical sufferings that resulted in her death from breast cancer, in a pact with God. The gist of the pact was that her sufferings would bring about a change in her husband so that he would return to Catholicism and become a priest upon her death. Her husband, Felix, read her diary after she died, and he did indeed, convert and become a priest. Elisabeth Leseur’s cause for canonization continues to be investigated today.
Her journal, “My Spirit Rejoices”, was published by Felix. In it, I found many quotes that caused my own spirit to rejoice. In this Catholic laywoman, I found a kindred spirit who could reinforce my need to take all things to God and to maintain a joyful presence for my family and the world around me. What follows are some of the quotes from her journal that most moved my heart. It is my prayer that they will move your heart as well!
Elisabeth Leseur Quotes from My Spirit Rejoices
“My present trial seems to me a somewhat painful one, and I have the humiliation of knowing how badly I bore it at first. I now want to accept and to carry this little cross joyfully, to carry it silently, with a smile in my heart and on my lips, in union with the Cross of Christ. My God, blessed be Thou; accept from me each day the embarrassment, inconvenience, and pain this misery causes me. May it become a prayer and an act of reparation."
“A few moments of meditation and recollection each morning in the presence of God transforms and perfumes the whole day, like flowers cast about when night comes, whose fragrance at dawn anoints everything they have touched.”
“It is a difficult task, a heroic effort, to bring forth the thought that is in us, but we must do it, breaking our souls as we might break a sacred vase so that others may breathe the divine perfume.”
“Silence is sometimes an act of energy, and smiling, too.”
“When blood no longer flows from an open wound, to the indifferent eye it seems that healing is near. Nothing could be more wrong; the wound that no longer bleeds is the one that will never heal.”
“What good is confiding one’s pains, miseries and regrets to those to whom one cannot say at the end, “pray for me”?
In the book "Selected Writings of Elizabeth Leseur" edited and translated by Janet Ruffing, there are a collection of letters written to friends and family members. In a letter to her Goddaughter as she was preparing for her First Communion, Elisabeth says:
“With the Church, I believe that the whole structure of our moral, national and social life is based on the family, and I am convinced that everything done for the family enhances the greatness and strength of peoples and societies; on the other hand, they are irretrievably destroyed as soon as the family, the cornerstone of the structure, is attacked.
Thus, you will do all you can to strengthen in every way respect for family life. Later on, when you have your own family, you will make your home a warm and lively center of influence, and you will be a guiding spirit for those who live in the light that you spread. You will be a friend and companion to your husband, and a guide and model of moral strength to your children. You will possess that precious treasure…a serenity and peace of mind that nothing can destroy, neither trials nor losses, since God is their source, and God gives them sometimes in proportion to our own sufferings.
This is one of those mysterious compensations, unknown on a purely human level but known only to God who alone reveals the secret.
You will develop the habit through daily effort and the help of God’s grace to “possess your soul in peace,” to be gentle and lovingly composed in your attitude toward events, people and life itself. Sometimes managing to smile requires true heroism; may your smile, whether thoughtful or joyful, always do good.”
Elisabeth Leseur, a married lay woman, is a perfect role model for all married women who strive to serve their husbands and families through silent service and non-stop prayer.