the Carmel

Preparatory Notes of Sr Marie-Madeleine

Deposition of Sr Marie-Madeleine (1910) written by Mother Isabelle, because the Sister was almost illiterate.

When I entered the Carmel I found Sr Thérèse of the EJ mistress of novices. From the first days until her death, I never felt drawn towards her in a sensitive way, I even fled from her and I had to make her suffer a lot. I don't think I made him feel any consolation for me.
She understood very well my unwillingness in this respect, but she did not abandon me for that, on the contrary, she did not stop pursuing me.
When it was my turn to dry the dishes, she often managed to come and wash them, in order to talk to me alone; she showed me confidence, in order to give it to me also for her.
When she told me to go with her at an agreed time, I often went into hiding, instead of going with her. So she was looking for me, and when she couldn't find me, and then she met me, she said to me: "I looked for you and I couldn't find you. "I answered her coldly: "I was busy". And she kept her calm and smiling face in this circumstance. If I was not attracted to her, it was not lack of esteem. On the contrary, I found her too perfect: if she had been less so, that would have encouraged me. She seemed extraordinary to me and out of place. Besides, she would not have wanted anyone to become attached to her in a natural way.
Yet she showed me a great deal of kindness; when I had my paronychia, which made me suffer a great deal, she contrived to distract me, to amuse me.

What kept me away from her too was that I found her too enlightened, I was afraid of being guessed, especially when I had been bad, I was afraid that she would read my soul!
She always had the same face, I never saw her in a bad mood, I never could guess in her a feeling of anger against me, however her advances were never repaid. On her deathbed she said to Mother Agnès of Jesus speaking of me: “You will tell her that in Heaven I will pray for her, and that I will love her as much as the other novices”.

She was so mortified that when we had leftovers in the kitchen that we didn't know who to give to, we sent it to her and she ate it without complaining.
She used to tell us (the sisters of the white veil) "you should never taste a dish unnecessarily..."
One day, I pointed out to her that her dress must have bothered her: "I didn't notice it" she replied. His shoes were almost always in poor condition, the Sister in charge of mending them, left him his alpargates all twisted which must have tired his feet. She was not treated like a patient, and lacked the care that her condition required; however, I never heard him complain; it seemed that the more she suffered, the happier she was.
I remember seeing her one day, with a big abscess in her mouth, doing some paint work: looking at her so peaceful, you would never have believed she was in pain. She also often had her hands cracked with frostbite and didn't seem to notice it. She preached to us this love of suffering. She told us that we must anticipate sacrifice, mortification.

It gave an apostolic purpose to these yearnings for sacrifice. She told us "We should like to suffer for priests: the more work, trouble, suffering of all kinds you have, the happier you should be. The good Lord will ask us to account for the priests we could have sanctified and whom we have not sanctified, because of our cowardice, our infidelity. Let us not waste one of our small sacrifices for them".

This zeal, she also deployed it vis-à-vis us: "Whatever might happen to me, she said, I would tell you the truth. I prefer anything to leaving a soul in the ignorance. One day when she was with me doing the dishes, someone came to tell her that Mother Marie de Gonzague had just made a terrible scene. My Sr. Thérèse of the EJ left saying: "If Mother Agnès of Jesus wants it, I will write him all his truths. I will leave the Cté if necessary, I would prefer that to letting her damn herself." And she was surely exposing herself to being obliged to leave the Cté, but Mother Agnès of Jesus prevented her from doing so, otherwise she would have done it!
In her humility, she always felt she was treated fairly well, even too well sometimes: I remember that one day she reproached me because I had made her a soup just for her, telling myself that she could very well be satisfied with that of the Cté. As a few days later, I started again, she showed me a real pain. She was already very ill at that time.

There was a sister in the kitchen who didn't like her and spoke of her with a kind of contempt. When she saw her coming to the wash, she said, "See her coming, she's in no hurry! When is she going to start washing?...She's a good for nothing!" And when my Sr Thérèse of the EJ who had heard her, or who saw in her eyes what she thought of her, entered the laundry room, she gave a beautiful smile to my Sr St V.... without show the slightest sorrow or the slightest resentment. She occupied herself by preference in doing good to those from whom she expected neither joy, nor consolation, nor tenderness. Yet she had a sensitive and affectionate heart. One day, she said to me: "Oh of course, thinking of our Mother (it was then Mother Agnès of Jesus) I felt a sword of pain, because I thought that after the death of Mrs. . Marie de G. there is a sister who will make her suffer a lot..."

Another time, I was able to judge how supernatural his love for our Mother (Mother Agnès of Jesus) was. He had just had a violent scene with Mother G. and as I was complaining about our Mother, my Sr Thérèse of the EJ said to me: "I am jubilant, the more I see her suffer, the happier I am! Ah Sr. Marie-Madeleine, you do not know the price of suffering, if you see the good it does to her soul!
On occasions like the ones I am talking about, she never absented herself from a Cté exercise, not even for a moment to comfort her sisters. It was only when they sent for her that she came out to restore peace.

In her great spirit of faith, she constantly reminded us that we must see God in our Mother Prioress, Marie de Gonzague.
It seems to me that she had everything needed to direct souls and make us become saints: we saw her doing everything she said, so her word had authority for us. When questioned, she always thought for a moment before answering, and she always arranged things for the best so that the good God would be happy and the creature too. His decisions were very clear, they were also very fair. She indeed loved justice very much and said to us: "Recognize your faults, but also see the gifts of the good God, and use them for his glory".

I also noticed how quiet she was, avoiding unnecessary words, closing the doors carefully as recommended before she began to speak, and telling us to speak quietly. I wanted to talk to her one day in a place where it is not allowed to do so, she refused to answer me; nor did she speak during the great silence, as it is written...
One day, in the direction of where I was telling her useless things, she said to me: "We are both wasting time, let's go!"
I also noticed his faithfulness in leaving everything at the first stroke of the bell, to go to the Cté exercises.

One day when I was near her, in her cell, she said to me in a tone that I cannot reproduce: "The good Lord is not loved! He is so good! Ah, I would like to die!" And she burst into tears. I looked at her stunned, wondering what extraordinary creature I was facing, not understanding how one could love God like that.

I also remember having seen her one morning dragging herself to Mass (at 8 o'clock) where she was to take communion. She was so tired that she seemed ready to get sick. She would never have wanted to miss her communion.
One day, knowing his fear of spiders, I said to him on purpose: "Look at this spider!" She corrected me and told me that lies, even happy ones, do not suit nuns, that you must always tell the truth.
In our little novitiate celebrations, she asked for the most discreet role; but they made her do the most beautiful ones, which she did so well, on the pretext that they would go well with her hoarse voice! (she had a sore throat).

Sr. Marie-Madeleine