“What is urgent is the evangelization of a world that not only does not know the basic aspects of Christian dogma, but in great part has lost even the memory of the cultural elements of Christianity.” Pope St. John Paul II

        Boston Catholic Journal                   “I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy.” Pope Benedict XVI

Suggested Reading:


The Problem
of Evil

The Problem of Evil: Exonerating God

Exonerating God


CCD

CCD: Crisis in Catholic Doctrine

Crisis in
Catholic Doctrine:

the Grave State of Religious Education in America



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Saint Colette ... from a Monastery Garden
 

A Consecrated and Cloistered Nun in a Monastery Garden

Reflections on our Life in Christ through the Heart of a Consecrated and Cloistered Nun

 

 

Each day we bring you reflections from a Consecrated and Cloistered Nun which help us to see our way forward though difficult — and even wonderful — occasions in our lives. She is the Bride of Christ — We suggest that you listen to her carefully. It may be the very reason that you have come to this page ... although you could not have possibly foreseen it — but God did.
 

Dear Little Hearts,

Thistles! Every garden has them, thistles in one way or another — and every life has them. In order to reach and pick that which is beautiful we often have to fight our way through thistles, thickets and thorns. But it is worth the effort when we attain our sought for prize: the bloom of beauty, His love and truth.

We all know how tenacious thorns and thistles can be; like sin it can cling and impede our way forward. But if we take up the hoe, if we take up the sword of the Spirit, His Word, we can with His grace penetrate through all barriers into the Light. God may leave the thistles in the gardens of our souls for a time, and they too can serve His purpose, it means we have to fight, make an act of the will to chose HIM ...

Jesus and Mary our Mother have gone before us through the tangled thorns of this world. Let us follow in their footsteps.

In humility and love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,

Sister MM

 



 

Dear Little Hearts,

Each of us has an image, a symbol that reminds us of Heaven — our real home. For some it may be a rose, for some a Lily ... but for me, it is the Butterfly. Is there anything that can surpass the beauty of the great Monarch Butterfly when it returns to its place of birth from whence it began ... to see a tree covered in Butterflies with clouds of them yet still airborne is truly awesome.

In England we do not have Monarch butterflies, but we do have many beautiful species, the Red Admiral, The Peacock, The Blue, to mention just a few.

Here in the monastery garden we have quite a few so called, ’Butterfly Trees’ otherwise known as Buddleias’... to see these symbols of freedom and life is pure joy.

Why? Apart from the fact that they are so delicate and beautiful, they have long been the Christian symbol of the Resurrection: their metamorphosis of changing from Caterpillar to Chrysalis, to Butterfly is a beautiful and striking analogy for us.

Before this metamorphosis, the Caterpillar simply lives to eat! It is tied to earth. Within the Chrysalis, however, it undergoes a transformation, and finally emerges, not to cling to earth but to fly heavenwards ... a new creation, a new being.

That is our path too ... for we too are attached to the world — but we can, under God's grace, undergo a mysterious and beautiful process of transformation. Yes, it requires effort ... cooperation with God ... but ultimately, if we persevere, we too can be freed from attachment to everything worldly ... and will, when finally released from the last thread of attachment that holds us back, fly unto God ... unhindered, unfettered ... free! It is no wonder that Butterflies are often released at weddings and funerals a sign of NEW LIFE!!!

When you see a Butterfly let your soul be raised up to God in praise for the life you will yet have in HIM ... for we are made for Heaven and must ever journey onwards and upwards.

In humility and love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,

Sister MM

 


 

Dear Little Hearts,

Always look beyond appearances to the reality! How often we find that what appears dead is so ... dead. But how often we discover the reality that it is not: it only appears so. If we look much deeper, with God in prayer, we will see and understand far more than often deceptive appearances.

Nature can so often teach us this lesson; it encourages us to look beyond superficial appearances. We should apply this wisdom to our relationships with others.

Looking at a picture we see may only see dry earth, apparently barren and lifeless. And then we see moss adhering to a stone in an otherwise barren desert.

All growth, be it plant life, animal life, human life, yes and our spiritual life — has its times and seasons. It has a time when it is full of promise and it grows, it blossoms, blooms ... and then fades and appears to die. A period of dormancy follows. All of these stages have their blessings and passing sorrows.

We look again at the dried up residue of the moss on the stone, and behold! Touched by rain it again sprouts forth in a deep greenness ... and LIFE!

Let this give you hope when in your own life things seem to be dead, decaying and without promise ... Beneath the appearances — precisely because it is a living plant, a living person — there is life.  God is, at first, secretly, and then openly at work.

In humility and love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
 

Sister MM


 



 

Dear Little Hearts,

Do you remember as a child being fascinated by ‘time’ — by the time clock of the Dandelion plant that was plucked for us by a parent and which we then puffed upon the ball of seeds and blew the time away? It was fun to count time and to blow it away ...

But as we grow older we often become both enchanted with and also afraid of time.

Time is a precious gift, it passes all too soon, and we must use it well if we are not to feel that life has passed and we have not done or been that which God asks of us. The right time is now, this present moment, it is all we truly have.

Our time is the best gift we can give to another: time to be present to them, to listen to, to serve, and to love others. Time given willingly is healing and speaks both in words and in the silent pauses to the other: "I care, I love you!"

Let us resist, "blowing time away"— that is wasting it on things of no consequence; things that do not in any way help us on our journey to God.

We cannot hold back the advance of time. One day the clock will stop and we will have no more time on earth. When that moment comes let us be found living in love for Him, living in His Will that we may know the timelessness of His Eternity.

In humility and love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
 

Sister MM


 


 

Dear Little Hearts,

Expectation and fulfillment ... so often we have expectations of something or someone that do not become what we had hoped or anticipated.

We naturally presume that given certain elements, certain circumstances, what we had thought something would turn out to be — what in fact we had even visualized months ahead does not correspond with the reality ... which can be something totally and unexpectedly different.

Take these beautiful ‘flower heads’:

        

 They started out as Leeks (a vegetable) that we anticipated would in due time be something simply suitable for human consumption ... instead, with the heat of the sun and the lack of rain, they ‘bolted‘ and became these stunningly beautiful flower heads.

 There are so many disappointments in life, and it is vital that we learn to cope with them, with Christ, never apart from Him and behold, for there always is the good  within.

 Life ... all life, has a movement of its own despite what man may try to manipulate, and it is the virtue of humility that brings us to accept and respect the              manifestation, the reality so divergent from our expectations, even if it is something we would not have wished.

 All praise to our God, for these flower heads look stunning in a floral arrangement in which, contrary to our expectations, a humble leek would not. Thank you     Lord!

 It’s all a path of trust — a trust that God will provide even the good we do not anticipate!


In humility and love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,

 

Sister MM


 


 

Dear Little Hearts,

The right path, the path well trod, is one of the surest ways to God! It is the one that the Holy Spirit has let His light fall upon: He is the "Giver of Life" and as such, the narrow path He illuminates for each of us inexorably leads to life, to the fullness of life — which is in Christ.

Monastery Pathway

 

 Very often — perhaps most often — this light shines upon and is reflected back to us through prayer and the reading of Sacred Scripture. However, prayer and Scripture reading can sometimes become so familiar that at times we lose the initial inspiration, the fervor, that first brought us to it. In times of spiritual dryness and struggle we can be tempted to look elsewhere for something new that we hope will give us LIGHT when the path marked out by the Holy Spirit becomes dim and unclear and we seem to have lost our way.

 This can be of value only if it is the Holy Spirit that has inspired us to do so. If it is simply our changing, wavering and restless moods, then it is not likely to; we will simply close the book with resignation and become discouraged.

 God leads each soul differently and there are many paths of prayer, but that which has brought ardent devotion to the heart and soul is the one we should remain with. In times of suffering it will be the path well trod, the familiar that will arise from within our souls and help us to be in genuine communion with the Lord.

We can never exhaustively know His Divine Word, for it is ever ancient and ever new, and what the Spirit will illuminate at one point in our life may well differ at another.

The path may at times look different, when the sun shines, when rains fall, morning tide, eventide ... on each occasion the path looks somewhat different ... but it is the same path, and the path well trod leads somewhere ... ultimately to Someone, and it is not endless.

When I walk on the path in the monastery garden I know from experience where it is leading — and it is the same with prayer, the path well trod in which I know and have ever found the basic direction will always lead me to my God.

He is, after all, the WAY ("the Truth and the Life") ...follow Him.


In humility and love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,

 

Sister MM

 


 

Dear Little Hearts,

Walking in the Garden of the Lord, one is surrounded by so much beauty ...beauty of the flowers, beauty of the fallen seed, the majestic trees, the struggling grass.... and so many birds on the wing; various garden mammals: squirrels, rabbits and sometimes a stoat or mole. Creation can be so uplifting and so healing if we will simply take the time, ever so briefly, to reflect upon it ... and to breathe in the air....
 

But one soon comes to the garden Cross, ever a reminder of the presence of human suffering in this world. It is a place to stop, to reflect...and to pray. Amidst the splendor of creation it is a beautiful but painful reminder of the Great gift of Jesus Christ Our Saviour, Who gave His life upon the wood of the tree, that we would be reconciled to the Father and come to know and ultimately to inherit eternal life

Cross in a Monastery Garden

The heart and eyes cannot help but be thankful for this symbol, the Cross, without which we become too self-absorbed and how easy it is to allow human suffering to recede from mind and memory!

Each day we must pause and stand before the foot of a Cross ... and Him Who hangs upon it. IT is the Great Sign that saves us, and even beckons us, for our lives should be lived in love for others ("As I have done, you must do also"), and where there is love there is always suffering ... that was His path, and because the servant is not greater than the Master, if we belong to Him it is ours, too.




 

In humility and love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
 

Sister MM

 


 

Dear Little Hearts,

The garden of the Lord has many voices, it sings many songs of praise, but it also discloses many sorrows ... on the wings of the Spirit God will whisper what He will, and He brings to mind, what He wills...

So in the midst of life — life in abundance in the garden — there is also the remembrance of death, and this is a good, too, for we as Christians should live with the joys and sorrows of this world in our hearts and prayers.

A fallen bird, a tree that has died... the very existence of the enclosure cemetery reminds us of those who mourn and grieve in the world over the death and dying of others.
 A Feather

All souls are precious to us... and yet, GOD always has the last word; the garden speaks, God breathes within our souls over loss in our lives, for out of death new life will spring forth, and ever He gives us hope in the beauty that yet awaits us in the Garden of Paradise.

   Death is not the end. Imagine ... a breath beyond and we shall see Him face to face.




 

 

In humility and love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
 

Sister MM

 



 

Dear Little Hearts,
 

This picture of Saint Clare praying in our monastery garden is very usual in posture and makes us reflect upon its message ... her message.

It speaks both  of Saint Clare’s humility and oneness with creation and her desire to pray wherever she found herself. She was so alike to our Father Saint Francis who composed the The Canticle of the Creatures, which is unspeakably beautiful and powerful in its simplicity.

It is a song of creation, of God and of man, but when we consider that Saint Francis composed it in his extreme poverty and blindness makes it all the more powerful. This shows how a soul truly surrendered to God and His will can praise God in all circumstances, in all seasons and at all times, so let us, like Saint Francis and Saint Clare "Praise God by our life":

It is a song of creation, of God and of man, but when we consider that Saint Francis composed it in his extreme poverty and blindness makes it all the more powerful. This shows how a soul truly surrendered to God and His will can praise God in all circumstances, in all seasons and at all times, so let us, like Saint Francis and Saint Clare "Praise God by our life":

 

         The Canticle of the Creatures

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,

   Yours are the praises, the glory, and the honor, and all blessing, To You alone, Most High, do they belong, and no human is worthy to mention Your name.

Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun, Who is the day and through whom You give us light.
   And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor; and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars, in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.
   Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind, and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather, through whom You give sustenance to Your creatures.

   Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water, who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom You light the night, and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

   Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.

Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love, and bear infirmity and tribulation.

   Blessed are those who endure in peace

for by You, Most High, shall they be crowned.

   Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whom no one living can escape.

Woe to those who die in mortal sin.

   Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will, for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks and serve Him with great humility. ( St Francis)

 

In humility and love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
 

Sister MM

 


 

Dear Little Hearts,

Let us impart blessings one to another. A blessing is so infrequently encountered these days ... and yet it is a practice at the heart of Holy Mother the Church and of Catholic families for over 2000 years! In this holy gesture made with the Sign of the Cross, we invoke God Himself when we bless another, and implore all His gifts and protection — so needed in these days of persecution: the persecution of the Church, of Christians throughout the world, and of Christ Himself.

Especially dear to us in cloistered life is the Blessing of Saint Colette, which we share with you below:

"Jesus-Maria-Anna

I pray that the Blessed Holy Spirit will always keep you in his holy grace and lead you at last to eternal glory.
Saint Colette
May the Father in his Mercy,
the Son, by his holy Passion,
and the Holy Spirit, the fountain of peace, sweetness, love and all consolation
come down upon you and remain with you always."


                                                                         ( The Blessing of Saint Colette)
 

In humility and love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
 

Sister MM

 


 

Dear Little Hearts,

Our Holy Mother Colette is also invoked by those who have physical growth problems.

Colette, born miraculously to her aged parents Margaret and Robert, was at 14 somewhat stunted in growth and is recorded as having the body of a nine year old and this was of great concern to her parents, on account of their age as to what would happen to Colette when they died.

Colette herself was happy enough but it troubled her to see her parents concern, and so she obtained permission to make a pilgrimage to Our Lady at the Shrine of Notre De Brebieres, she made the pilgrimage on foot.

Saint Colette
She touchingly and trustingly asked Our Lord, “Lord, do you wish me always to be so small?”... and petitioned Mary to help her grow , with this prayer, now so well known:

“Lord if it is for Your glory and my salvation that I remain always so small, it is alright with me, for I prefer that You make me tall in Paradise instead of this world — but if it should please You to give pleasure to my father by making this little body of mine grow, Your Holy Will be done.”

 A miracle occurred when she stood up: she had grown by several inches.

Oh how pleasing is the simple prayer of a child to her heavenly Father & Mother Mary.

Whatever we may lack in the way of health, mobility, character, let us also say, “Lord make me tall in Paradise” ... for in the new world of God all things will be made new.
 

In humility and love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
 

Sister MM

 


 

Holy Mother St Colette
Pray for me, for the gift of Life!



Dear Little Hearts,

Many of you may not be familiar with the devotion to Saint Colette for those who desire to conceive new life. A short story, perhaps, will be helpful:

Colette is in many ways the “Pro-Life” Saint. Down through the ages couples have looked to her for help, asking her prayers that they may be blessed with a child.

Saint Colette  We receive so many prayer requests from people who have the problem of infertility which can be the cause of much unseen suffering. Weekly we offer the blessing of Saint Colette with a Veil Relic, placed upon both men and women who so desire to have a child.

  But do you know why Colette is entrusted with such a great and womanly mission?

 In the year 1380 Margaret Boellet was in her sixtieth year, she was twice married and barren. Her husband Robert was also greatly saddened by the fact they had no children. Each year this couple went on pilgrimage to a Marian Shrine in the area placing this intention before the Mother of God.

 These two good and holy people also prayed to Saint Nicholas, for whom they actually built a little home shrine, and they implored Saint Nicholas, who was a true lover of children, to intercede for them. It seemed an impossible situation. Margaret was 59 years of age and past child bearing, but in faith they prayed and promised Saint Nicholas that if they had a son they would call him Nicholas.

On January 13th 1381 A miracle occurred: Robert and Margaret were handed a bundle of joy by the midwife! A GIRL!

On receiving the babe into her arms Margaret exclaimed, “Nicolette”..... her husband Robert agreed, “She shall be called Nicolette”, which of course is the feminine form of Nicholas, the shortened form, of which is "Colette". It is truly a "Nick-name" in this case!

Our patron Saints most often chose us, rather than our choosing them. But that is another story for another time.


"Jesus-Maria-Anna

I pray that the Blessed Holy Spirit will always keep you in his holy grace and lead you at last to eternal glory.


The Blessing of St Colette

May
the Father in his Mercy,
the Son, by His holy Passion,
and the Holy Spirit, the fountain of peace, sweetness, love and all consolation
come down upon you and remain with you always."

 

In humility and love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
 

Sister MM

 


 

Dear Little Hearts,

Our Holy Mother Saint Colette had thought that she would live out the rest of her life as an anchoress or recluse at the Abbey Church of San Pierre. Colette was very happy despite the demonic attacks she experienced — but that is always the path of those who sincerely seek God.

Many came to the wicket at the Anchorage, people from all walks of life, the mighty and the lowly; they came for counsel and prayer. Children were brought to Saint Colette for healing and for prayers. This vocation within a vocation was to last a mere three years, but it was a time of growth and affirmation for Colette. God wanted her for an even greater purpose. She had a vision of Saint Francis in which God again made it clear to her that His will was that she be instrumental in
reforming the Franciscan order.

Gold PoplarSaint Colette was astounded and distressed by this vision and she passed through great inner turmoil and restlessness, she found within herself every excuse under the sun as to why she couldn’t do it. But God is ever persistent and He allowed her another powerful vision and miracle in which a tall golden tree grew in the anchorage, and it was surrounded by many little trees. Colette knew perfectly well what the meaning of the dream was: she would be that tall tree, that foundress and reformer of many communities represented by the smaller trees. However, she tried to hide and still persisted in her resistance to God.

 This very human reaction to God's manifest will makes Colette so lovable and so human and it is an attitude we can all understand.

 But then God also allowed a vision to Father Jehan, and that really put the cap on things, so to speak. He had seen a young girl working hard in a tangled, weed ridden vineyard, tenderly clearing the way and attending to the plants ... and Father Jehan was told that the young girl was Colette.

 Saint Colette must have felt overwhelmed! A short while after revealing this vision to Colette, Father Jehan died.

There followed a very human reaction from Colette ... the whole idea was nonsense, a temptation from the devil, she, Colette, a reformer? And of the Franciscan Order no less ... NONSENSE !

(see tomorrow what God's next move was)
 

In humility and love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,

Sister MM

 



 

Dear Little Hearts,

God in his goodness allows to some of those whom He has called to a great task, the gift of a beautiful, fruitful, and spiritual friendship. Such a gift cannot be underestimated. it is more precious than all this world can hold ... such was the man who now enters our scene, Father Henri De Baume.

Henri de Baume was a Franciscan friar, an intellectual, a very capable man, a man of great personal holiness. Henri de Baume was deeply disturbed by the state of the Church and its divisions, coupled with the fact of the state of the Franciscan Order and Religious life in general.

Regarding the two Popes (one in Rome and the other in Avignon during what has been called the "Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy", the Clergy of France had been assembled four times to discuss the situation of the double papal claims....the situation caused great anguish to some clergy and laity alike. Many looked to Henri De Baume for solutions, guidance and advice. By 1405 Friar Henri could bear it no longer. He decided to make pilgrimage to the Holy Land to pray for light and guidance. His plan was to travel over France to Marseilles and then by boat to Syria.

Avignon, which he passed through on the journey, had its own recluse: Maria Amante, and he went to consult her about his pilgrimage and to ask her prayers for this intention, the Schism in the Church

What he heard from Maria Amante was not what he expected or even wanted to hear — good heavens what was God up to? Maria told him that there was in Corbie in Picardy another anchoress called Colette Boellet and she was called to restore the Franciscan Order to its original practise and fervour. Furthermore, he, Father Henri de Baume, was to assist her in the reform! ... The Holy Land was off; it clearly was not God’s will. No, he was not to go, rathe,r he was to assist Colette.

Henri thought the whole thing ridiculous and preposterous: especially concerning a young woman whom he had never heard of, and inwardly he resisted this idea fiercely.

But God can be so persistent, and the Holy Spirit can make us pliable even when we resist God’s will. Gradually Henri’s resistance was broken down ... did he not himself have a great desire for the reform of the Franciscan order?

After much prayer and reflection Henri visited his friend, the influential Countess Blanche de Geneve, who gave him an introductory letter to the Baroness Brissay in Besancon, a very wealthy and childless widow, who engaged herself in charitable works and who would be supportive of the reform.

Baroness Brissay was extremely sympathetic and supportive of the initiative of the reform and accompanying her entourage was Father Henri who was appointed as chaplain to the group before they set out for Corbie.

(to be continued)

Saint Colette is a saint who so understands the struggles of our times, all this confusion in the Church took place with a back drop of wars and conflicts — sound familiar? It is.
 

In humility and love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,

Sister MM


 


 

Dear Little Hearts,

Father Jean Guyot, the parish priest of Corbie stepped forward, informing Colette that the personages with him had travelled many miles to see her. He turned to the elderly lady and said, “ Madame I present to you our recluse, Colette Boellet", and turning to Colette he said, “This is her Ladyship, The Baroness de Brissay", and indicating the Franciscan friar, "and this is Father Henri de Baume."

Saint ColetteWhat followed was one of those beautiful moments given by God to his saints and lovers; a moment beyond human explanation, for the bonds in the Spirit are stronger than any human or earthly ones, for these bonds are created are for Gods plans and purposes.

 Colette knew without hesitation the moment she saw Friar Henri de Baume that here was God’s will manifested for her, that it was this friar who was the one who would help her with the reform of the Franciscan order, (it was a friendship that was to last 30 years)

On an impulse Colette ordered the door of the anchorage to be thrown down! Well, imagine the surprise of all present, not least Father Guyot the parish priest of Corbie who had been present at the enclosure ceremony.

The company entered the little room and Baroness Brissay was brought to tears by the poverty and simplicity of Colette.

Colette and Henri de Baume, under the power of divine inspiration, faced each other and from their hearts chanted the praises of God, for both knew that this occasion was, very clearly, His most holy will.

At this point Colette withdrew into her little oratory to pray, and from the life written later by her contemporary, Sister Perrine, we have the actual prayer that Colette offered to the Lord in the oratory.

“I dedicate myself in health and in sickness, in my life , in my death, in all my desires, in all my deeds, so that I may never hence forth except for your glory, for the salvation of souls and towards the reform for which You have chosen for me, from this moment on, dearest Lord there is nothing I am not prepared to undertake for love of you”

Did God take her for her word? 100%!

(to be cont)


In humility and love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,

Sister MM

 



 

Dear Little Hearts,

However Colette was well aware that she now needed to pass through a legitimate process with the Church. In order to realise this call to reform the Franciscan Order she needed to be dispensed from her vow of enclosure at the Abbey anchorage. Colette then proclaimed, “I have been ordered by a higher authority to break down this door (the door of the anchorage) but I have no authority to come out”.

Obedience was a vow that Colette always cherished, and was to later recommend it to her sisters,

“Above all other virtues I recommend to you obedience”.

So Colette would do nothing without the blessing of the Church.

The decision was made, Colette must go to the Pope himself and ask permission to enter the Second Franciscan Order, the Poor Clares, with the purpose of reforming it and renewing its fervour. But first of all, Colette needed an annulment of her vow of enclosure.

Colette committed to paper this statement.

Saint Colette writing

 “As soon as the dispensation is granted, we must go directly to the Holy Father and lay everything before him. It seems to me the best thing that your Ladyship and Father Henri should do is take this document straight to Cardinal De Chalant yourselves. We will get much quicker action of your Ladyship is there in person”

 So Friar Henri De Baume, Baroness de Brissay and her entourage set out on the journey to Paris to see the Papal Legate. Cardinal de Chalant received them warmly and he agreed, then directing the Bishop of Amiens to send one of his vicars to Corbie to examine Colette’s motives for wishing to be dispensed from her vow. The result was very favourable, the examiner was well satisfied, obtaining the legates authority he gave Colette her dispensation.

 But where there is the presence of a crown, there is also the Cross, and all these events were not without deep pain and suffering.

The People of Corbie were indignant and upset at the thought of ‘their’ recluse leaving them and showed their disapproval. More painful to Colette was the fact that the Abbot of the Benedictine Abbey of San Pierre, Dom Raoul De Raye whom Colette regarded as a father figure, and who had taken on her guardianship when Colette’s father Robert Boellet died would have nothing more to do with her and sadly the two never met again.

But ... such is the cost of discipleship!

NEXT: Off to see the Pope!
 

In humility and love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
 

Sister MM

 


 

Dear Little Hearts,

The Benedictine Abbey in Corbie Picardy — farewell Corbie for now !

And so like the great Saint Francis of Assisi had done before her, Colette now set out to make the long journey from Corbie to see and present her case to the Pope !

It was August 1406, Colette, Fr Henri de Baume and the Baroness de Brissay and her entourage set out upon the long journey to Nice, where Pope Benedict X11 was
residing.

The many persons of status and not that Baroness de Brissay introduced Colette to on the way were to prove a support and gave assistance to the reform.

The journey took them a month, finally arriving in Nice, Colette was lodged in a Cistercian Monastery of nuns until the audience with Pope Benedict XIII could be arranged.

Pope Benedict XIII
As Colette went forward to meet the Pope, he startled everyone around him by falling to his knees (the original accounts do not say, he knelt down, but that he fell down on his knees).. considering the state of the church at the time Colette must have been like a breath of new wind and hope.

When the Pope was assisted up off his knees, he approached Colette and took the scroll on which were her written requests.



 

“To follow the apostolic and evangelical state according to the primitive Rule of Saint Francis by entering the second order (the Poor Clare’s).

To be authorized to undertake the restoration and reformation of the Orders which St Francis had instituted.”


After several meetings Pope Benedict granted her requests.

However many of his cardinals were not so enthusiastic, there was an outbreak of fever in which many members of the opposition died ... no wonder that the survivors amongst the cardinals changed their minds and came to the conclusion that they could not oppose Colette further lest they opposed the very Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ itself.

This was like the episode of 1209 when Cardinal John of Saint Paul had told the cardinals who were opposed to Saint Francis’s Rule of life could not be lived, they were saying the Gospel could not be lived.

In so many ways Colette was truly to walk in the footprints of Saint Francis, he who had been her original inspiration. Colette’s enduring courage is so impressive for the love of the God-man, Jesus, for love of the Franciscan spirit she was to give herself selflessly for so many years.

Tomorrow we will attend her investiture as a Poor Clare! ... at last!

 

In humility and love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,

Sister MM


 



 

Dear Little Hearts,

To a soul intent on consecrating herself totally to God, within a specific charism, one cannot imagine the joy it is to receive upon ones head the veil of consecration. It is like unto the joy the wedding ring that her sister counterpart in the world would receive ...it gives a sense of total belonging to Christ, a woman veiled, belongs... and she belongs to someone.

Colette had already worn a Franciscan habit for some years, having been a member of the Third Order Regular, but now the new woman was to made complete ... The veil is the outward sign of her profession and dedication.

The Pope made a very solemn public ceremony of her investiture and profession as a Poor Clare. He invited many of the greatest figures in the church at the time. He himself preached a very beautiful and profound sermon, praising the apostolic and evangelical life she wanted to embrace.

It was October 1406, Benedict received Colette into the Order of St Clare, accepted Colette’s vows, placing upon her head the veil, girding her with the cord, and giving her a copy of the Rule of Saint Clare. He then blessed her and declared her Abbess and Mother of all who would accept the reform.

All the cardinals and others secular lords, and the Father General of the Order of St Francis declared they had never seen the Pope officiate with such solemnity.

Pope Benedict X11 entrusted Colette into the hands of Father Henri de Baume to provide for all her needs, thus he the Pope was being obedient to the very Rule.

Saint Colette of Corbie"Because by divine inspiration you have made yourselves daughters and servants of the Most High King, the heavenly Father and have espoused yourselves to the Holy Spirit, choosing to live a life according to the perfection of the holy Gospel, Resolve and promise for myself and for my brothers to always have that same loving care and solicitude for you as I have for them."

We know today through the internet and media what a joy it gives Church members when they have received a gift from the Pope, a Rosary, a Gospel...... so imagine what Colette must have felt like receiving the very Rule of Saint Clare from the Pope ... she was to live out every word upon its pages so faithfully. The Rule is as it were the map for our life as Poor Clare’s...

Put succinctly within its pages was all Colette wanted, the opening words of the Rule are:

In the name of the Lord begins the form of life of the Poor Sisters. The form of life of the order of the Poor Sisters that Blessed Francis established is this: to observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, by living in obedience, without anything of one's own, and in chastity.

Saint Clare, the unworthy servant of Christ and the little plant of the most blessed Francis, promises obedience and reverence to the Lord Pope Innocent and his canonically elected successors, and to the Roman Church.

More on this next time !
 

In humility and love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,

Sister MM

 


 

Dear Little Hearts,

When the ceremony of investiture was over, the Pope personally addressed himself to the "Little Handmaid" Colette. He spoke with great affection and exhorted her to be prudent and to be a true and fervent religious. The Pope generously offered to support Colette and provide for all her needs.

However there was one thing that Colette had not bargained for, and that was of being appointed Abbess. She had wanted to serve as a simple sister, without the position of Abbess. Colette was not pleased by this appointment but again for the glory of God she had to surrender her own will and cling to God's. This was her poverty in action: not to do her own will but the will of the One who had given her the original call and inspiration, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The task ahead of Colette was anything but easy. Indeed it was a most formidable one. It is easier to form a foundation from scratch that it is to bring about an effective reform and restoration to an existing community. Human nature does not of itself like change; this entails insecurity and many will resist it.

One can see why God placed Friar Henri in Colette’s life, to support and encourage her, for it seemed like a superhuman task: she, Colette, had no monastery, no sisters, and not one single follower...!

The friars from the first order had drifted from Saint Francis’s love of Lady Poverty. Ecclesiastical honours and intellectual achievements had altered their course. The Poor Clare’s, too, had lost sight of the Privilege of Poverty which Saint Clare had persuaded 2 popes to ratify.

In France, Blessed Isabelle, sister of St Louis 1X had founded a monastery at Longshamps for "Noble Ladies"!

Despite the high reputation of the monastery, the fact that Blessed Isabelle had obtained permission to own property and own revenues made her way of life very different from the complete poverty which Clare had fought so hard to keep. Many monasteries followed Blessed Isabelle were called Urbanists, after the Pope who had granted the princess her exceptions.

But Colette knew that for her the call was to follow in the footsteps of the Poor Christ and the humble mother, Saint Clare.

Saint Colette on Horse-drawn CarriageAnd so the company set out from Nice, the Baroness de Brissay and her entourage, Father Henri and Colette. Colette was compelled by a desire to return to Corbie, her place of birth, and begin the reform there, for the people of the town had been so much to her and indeed she had caused them pain, now she would return and share the joy of her mission with them.

However, in light of all that has occurred in recent months Colette felt the growing strain and when the company reached Nevers she fell ill with a very serious fever. When near to death, Saint Colette had a vision of Our Lady and was restored to health. The Baroness nursed Saint Colette through all this trial while Father Henri ministered to her spirit.

At Besancon Baroness Brissay returned to her home. It was a tearful parting, for she was never to see Colette again. But the Baroness generously allowed her attendants to escort Father Henri and Colette onwards, homewards to Corbie!

What awaited her there? We will see next.
 

 

In humility and love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,

Sister MM

 


 

Dear Little Hearts,

Saint Colette and Father Henri are now once more on the road again ... but this time to Corbie!

Corbie! The town of her birth how much Saint Colette must have looked forward to seeing her home town, and meeting once again those familiar faces, many of whom had come to the wicket at the anchorage to ask her for prayers and counsel, she had given herself totally in prayer and penance for the people of Corbie. Well, we too follow in the footsteps of the Master, we follow a crucified Lord and just as our Blessed Lord had said concerning Himself, "No prophet is accepted in his own hometown", we now find true of Saint Colette — far from welcoming Colette back with open arms, she was greeted with both anger, hostility, and silence; the townspeople were indignant at her return, they who once had adulated Saint Colette and held her in high esteem ...now turned their backs upon her and Father Henri ... how fickle is the heart of man.
Saint Colette on Horse-drawn Carriage
Saint Colette and Father Henri went from door to door, to the dwellings of old friends ... and found, so to speak, that there was no room at the Inn! The parish priest Father Guyot regretted the response of the people, but feelings were strong against Colette.

 And so Father Henri and Saint Colette set out for the great Benedictine Abbey at San Pierre, basically with the intention of seeing her old guardian Dom Raol de Raye. When the two pilgrims arrived they were told that the Abbot was not in, nor would he be in. The meaning of this was clear to Saint Colette and she thanked the porter graciously and departed. How painful this rejection must have been When one considers how much the Boellet family had done for the town of Corbie and its poor. It was hard love indeed. But rejection was what the Master suffered and can we, his servants and handmaids, expect any better?

 That no one was going to offer them hospitality was evident and in the end Father Henri took Collette to an old abandoned quarry in the vicinity. Father Henri told Colette in all simplicity this was all that he could provide for her. He would find some makeshift accommodation in Corbie and pray and wait on God.

Saint Colette accepted it without any hesitation; this, to her, was a visitation of Lady Poverty, and was she not — were they not — on a mission to restore the Franciscan Order to a greater love of poverty?

But was this her monastery? Was this her future? ... It is precisely when we think that we have come to a dead end that God enters ... and works!

Let’s see tomorrow what He does!
 

In humility and love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,

Sister MM


 



 

Dear Little Hearts,

We may be sorely tried, but we are never tried beyond our strength. God is good and God is merciful and He gives the gift of friendship when and where He will.

In this utter poverty of being ‘an Abbess of a (monastery) a disused quarry’, God sent to Colette her two faithful childhood friends, Marie Senechal and Guilemette Chestian. They were the only two in the whole of Corbie who showed Colette compassion, understanding and support. “We want to join you, we want to enter your reform” ... this must have been like music upon Colette’s heart and it showed great trust and confidence from her two childhood friends, who then became her first postulants.

There is a beautiful vignette recorded of Marie and Guilemette sitting in the Quarry reciting the beautiful words taken from the book of Ruth:

 "And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God ..."

 Saint Colette had been authorized to begin the reform in Picardy, but a prophet is never welcome in his or her own home, as Jesus Himself said, so she told Guilemette and Marie that she would attempt the establishment of a monastery of the primitive observance in Amien and then in Noyon.

 And so the little company, Colette, Fr Henri, Marie and Guilemette, set out with this intention, but they very soon discovered once more that they were not wanted and again there was, so to speak, no room at the inn. Both the sisters at Amien and Noyon were quite content with the life they were leading with all its relaxations and they didn’t want to be reformed ... thank you! Somewhat reluctantly and disappointedly the little band once again returned to the Quarry outside Corbie.

In justice it should be noted that not all Poor Clare Monasteries of that period had fallen into lax ways and those that to those who had been faithful Colette was full of praise.

But all was not lost! Fr Henri and the Holy Spirit were to come to the rescue!

(to be continued)

Sister MM


 


 

Dear Little Hearts,

 

 Saint Colette of CorbieWhen the somewhat disillusioned little band had returned from Amiens and Noyon to Corbie, Sister Colette turned, as usual, after God, to Fr Henri for guidance and advice. As always Father Henri turned up trumps!

When Father Henri had seen the miserable reception that Colette had received in Picardy he secretly sent a message to Pope Benedict, asking permission to  begin the reform in another part of France. He had also sent a second dispatch to his brother Alard de Baume in Savoy, asking his brother if he would            accommodate Sister Colette and the two postulants in the De Baume castle until he, Henri, could make better plans for their future.

Alard de Baume loved his brother Henri very much, and said he would welcome them all with open arms, but he had great personal concerns since his wife was nearing the end of her pregnancy and was very ill.

When Colette, Marie, Guilemette and Fr Henri arrived at the De Bauma Castle they were met with a distraught and suffering Alard, his wife was in labour and dying.... it seemed hopeless.

Alard looked desperately at Sister Colette; would she, would they, please come and pray for his wife.

The party made haste to the bedside to find Madame de Baume deathly white. Colette approached the good woman, took her hand, and placing her other upon her forehead slowly traced the sign of the Cross while praying upon her cold forehead.

A miracle occurred: Madame de Baume showed a response, Colette then asked to go to the Chapel where she prostrated herself full length on the floor and prayed.

Sorrow was turned into joy one hour later, with the sweet sounds of a baby crying. The child had been born safely and was perfect and Madame de Baume, although exhausted, was alive and showing signs of progress. What joy rang out! Alard ordered all the lights to be put on in the castle: he had a new daughter ... she was named Petronilla!

It is this miracle that is the origin of the cult of St Colette as a patron of expectant mothers.

Baby Petronilla came to be known by her pet name, Perrine.

How great is the providence of God! Perrine was eventually to become a sister herself and be Colette’s secretary. We owe her so much, as it was Sister Perrine who was enough to write a notebook with her knowledge of Saint Colette which is one of the main foundations for books written about Colette today. But more of Perrine tomorrow.

 

In humility and love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,

Sister MM

 



 

Dear Little Hearts,

The miracle of the birth of little Petronilla, who was soon called by the diminutive name of Perrine, had a far reaching effect, the news spread like wild fire about the countryside. Colette’s fame increased and from word of mouth the news was whispered of the power of her prayer and the subsequent miracle of Madame De Baume’s safe delivery.

But back to the storyline.

Saint Colette and Baby

 Alard De Baume was a good man and a generous one, he was so overwhelmed with joy and thanksgiving at his wife’s recovery and the birth  of his beautiful daughter that he implored Colette to accept his castle as a monastery and to use it until they could obtain another  property.

 Colette did not want this at all — no, no no ... but she would accept one of the wings of the Castle for the time being.

 Colette chose the least embellished and simplest of the quarters and there set up with Guilemette and Marie, her 2 postulants, her first  'community’. Colette drew up an order of the day and began teaching them the fundamentals of a Poor Clare Life.

 Goodness draws goodness, heroic example draws followers, and soon Alard De Baume’s two older daughter, Odile and Mathilde, both asked their father if they could join Colette and become Poor Clare’s, Alard readily gave his permission.See how God gives the increase? Colette now had 4 postulants!

Sister Colette taught her daughters how to chant the Psalms and the little annex rang out with their sweet voices. Soon, very soon, several other young women came to join the reform. God was blessing them in abundance, and His Will was manifest. All her life Colette loved the Divine Office, loved the Psalms and very early on, the night office of Matins was established. Indeed it had been Pope Benedict himself who had given Colette at her profession her breviary.

It became more than apparent that Sister Colette and her noviate must have a real monastery.

Colette’s intention was again to approach Pope Benedict, but the Countess Blanche of Geneve came to the rescue by generously offering the little community a part of her castle at Balme.

Encouraged by Fr Henri, Colette accepted this offer.

When the moment of departure came, Alard and his wife wept to see them leave, bidding goodbye to his daughter Odile & Mathilde, and of course Saint Colette. It had been a blessed and grace filled time but God was calling this holy band onwards and upwards.

Fr Henri had a least 10 young women to guide and shepherd upon the journey to Balme. They were to remain at the Castle of Balme for about 3 years, but that was not the end, it was only the beginning of the reform.

(More to come)
 

In humility and love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,

Sister MM


 


 

 

Dear Little Hearts,

Onward on our journey with Saint Colette!

In addition to the permission Pope Benedict granted To Sister Colette and her followers that of founding a community at Balme was also issued an authorization on January 27th 1408 for Colette to take over possession of an old community of Poor Clare’s at Besancon. The community there followed the mitigated rule and had no vocations for so many years; indeed they had dwindled down to just 2 sisters. Part of the agreement was that these two elderly sisters were to be provided for by Colette and her community.

In fact Colette did not go to Besancon until two years later as she desired to establish the life at Balme and to ensure its stability.
Saint Colette and Baby
But in 1410 accompanied by Countess Blanche the little band set out for the monastery at Besancon.

On arrival Colette explained to the two sisters the nature of the life she wished to establish at the monastery, but leaving them free to either stay of join another community. One names sister Odile decided to stay, the other Sister Simonette decided to leave and go to the Bernadine’s. The monastery was neither large nor luxurious, and this pleased Colette no end, but when she discovered that certain revenues were attached to the monastery she disposed of them as her heart desired that they live totally upon the providence of God. She had after all invited Lady Poverty to dwell among them , soon many other young girls sought admittance to the community.

Several miracles were attributed to Colette about this time, one of them was the raising to life of a baby girl who was stillborn and whom Colette raised to life, the girl was called Colette Prusette. Many years later she herself was to become a Poor Clare at the community at Besancon, and even later she became an Abbess of another community.

More soon on miracles at Besancon ...
 

In humility and love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,

Sister MM

 



 

Dear Little Hearts,

Dear Little Hearts,

The miracle of the birth of little Petronilla, who was soon called by the diminutive name of Perrine, had a far reaching effect, the news spread like wild fire about the countryside. Colette’s fame increased and from word to mouth was whispered the news of the power of her prayer and the subsequent miracle of Madame De Baume’s safe delivery.

But back to the storyline.
         
                                             Saint Colette and BabyAlard De Baume was a good man and a generous one. He was so overwhelmed with joy and thanksgiving at his wife’s recovery and the birth of his beautiful daughter that he implored Colette to accept his castle as a monastery and to use it until they could obtain another property.

Colette did not want this at all, this was their home, no, no no, but she would accept one of the wings of the Castle for the time being.

Colette chose the least embellished and simplest of the quarters and there set up with Guilemette and Marie, her 2 postulants, her ‘first community’. Colette drew up an order of the day and began teaching them the fundamentals of a Poor Clare Life.

Goodness draws goodness, heroic example draws followers, Alard De Baume’s two older daughter, Odile & Mathilde, both asked their father if they could join Colette and become Poor Clare’s, Alard readily gave his permission....So now... see how God gives the increase? Colette now had 4 postulants!

Sister Colette taught her daughters how to chant the psalms and the little annex rang out with their sweet voices, soon, soon, several other young women came to join the reform, God was blessing them in abundance, his Will was manifest. Colette all her life loved the Divine Office, loved the Psalms and very early on the night office of Matins was established. Indeed it had been Pope Benedict himself who had given Saint Colette at her profession her breviary.

It became more than apparent that Sister Colette and her noviate must have a real monastery.

Colette’s intention was again to approach Pope Benedict, but the Countess Blanche of Geneve cam e to the rescue, she generously offered the little community a part of her castle at Balme.

Colette encouraged by Fr Henri accepted this offer.

When the moment of departure came, Alard and his wife wept to see them leave, bidding goodbye to his daughter Odile & Mathilde and of course Colette. It had been a blessed and grace filled time but God was calling this holy band onwards and upwards.

Fr Henri had a least 10 young women to guide and shepherd upon the journey to Balme and they were to remain at the Castle of Balme for about 3 years, but that was not the end, it was only the beginning of the reform.

 

In humility and love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,

Sister MM


 

 Boston Catholic Journal

 

 

 


 


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