Sunday, 28 August 2011

Mother Mary-Aloyse of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, O.SS.R. Superior of the Monastery of Bruges [2] (Brugge) 1822-1889

Chapter IX.
The Superior. - Her religious virtues.

Mother Mary-Aloyse brought a very serious preparation to the exercise of her new responsibility: a profound piety, a knowledge of affairs, a perfect devotion and a well-tested virtue.

On this last point, it is of benefit to listen to one of the Sisters who knew her best. “The spirit of sacrifice,” says Sister Mary-Anne-Thérèse of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, “was, in my humble opinion, the distinctive character of her soul. Abnegation and forgetfulness of self became in her like a second nature. These two virtues were often the subject of her exhortations to novices while she was their mistress, and the community when she became their Superior.

“Her faith was lively and efficacious. She did not want her Daughters to have a faith which was no more than just a simple sentiment. When one of them said to her one day following a high Mass, “Oh how much I love the chant of that beautiful verse Et homo factus est!”, the Reverend Mother replied to her, “Are you then making an act of living faith in the mystery of the Incarnation?” - This faith showed itself in her maintaining herself in choir, in her piety when she was chanting the Divine Office, and in her zeal for the observances of the least of the rubrics. It was manifested above all in her devotion to the Most Holy Sacrament. During her retreats, she loved to remain before Jesus, veiled in the Eucharist. One day when speaking of the hermitages which are often mentioned in the lives of the first Carmelites, she exclaimed, “They have their hermitages, but we have the Tabernacle!” One day a religious was tempted by discouragement. She said to her, “Why don’t you just go up to Our Lord exposed in the Oratory and ask Him if He could ever abandon you, when He let Himself be taken captive for love of us.”

“She was very sensitive to the outrages offered to the Divine Host of the Tabernacle. If she learned that a sacrilege had been committed, even if it was in a distant country, she would immediately celebrate a Mass in reparation to the injury done to the Most Holy Sacrament.

“Following the example of Saint Alphonsus, she loved to go during the afternoon rest-time and pick some violets, which she then placed straight away on the altar in the Oratory.

“The Redemptorist Fathers of Tournai kept seven lighted lamps before the Holy Sacrament. When our Mother learned of it, she wanted to imitate them, and supported by many benefactors, she did not delay in realising her project. The seven lamps in the sanctuary are therefore a permanent witness to her devotion to the Eucharist.

“As a true daughter of Saint Alphonsus, the Reverend Mother Mary-Aloyse had a special devotion to the Passion of the Saviour. When she became Superior, she had a very beautiful bas-relief placed in the Oratory, representing the agony of Our Lord in the Garden of Olives. She had a great stone sculpture made for the convent garden, representing Jesus bearing His cross. She also increased the number of crucifixes placed in the corridors of the Monastery. She also sought to elevate our hearts and spirits more and more towards our divine Redeemer. To excite us to make reparation for the blasphemies which so cruelly wound the Heart of Jesus, she had some pictures of His Holy Face placed in the church and in various parts of the convent. Every week a lamp would shine before them from Thursday afternoon to Friday evening.

“Our venerated Superior also witnessed her faith by her devotion to the holy relics, the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) and holy water. She had a remarkable ability for making reliquaries. How great was her joy, then, when she had custody, for a period of time, of Saint Alphonsus’ pectoral cross! She allowed it to be venerated, not just by her Daughters, but also by all the Redemptorists who visited Bruges.”

Her Hope. - She expressed herself entirely in this prayer that she composed on the basis of the advice given to her by the Ven. Father Passerat, and which this great Servant of God annotated with his own hand.

“My God, I firmly believe that You are all-powerful, infinitely good and faithful to Your promises. You have said that You will refuse nothing of what is asked of You in the name of Jesus Christ. You are able to make me a saint: I ask it in the name of Jesus Christ and through His merits. I would like You to accord me this grace. You cannot fail in Your promise. I also wish You to grant me the ability to correspond faithfully to the lights, inspirations and graces that You will accord me (I have no doubt of this) so that I may become a saint, a great saint, a true bride of Jesus Christ, a fervent Redemptoristine who has all power over Your heart, to obtain everything I am requesting for Your glory. Finally, I wish to love You absolutely with all my heart and also be greatly loved by You. I wish to become so agreeable to Your eyes that I can console Your heart from the outrages that it receives every day.” - The Venerable Father Passerat wrote the following lines in his own handwriting, after this prayer. “From Your goodness and greatness I have an even more heightened idea of how I, earthworm and poor sinner that I am, can dare say to You, I want this grace, without You being offended by it, but are rather honoured by it, oh great God. Tell me: who am I and who are You!”

“The Reverend Mother’s hope had, moreover, passed through the crucible of tribulation. For a rather long time, at the beginning of her religious life, she was assailed by scruples and interior pains. Her obedience to her director (who was then Father Paul Reyners) saved her. From that time on she had a very maternal compassion for souls afflicted in that way. It so happened that one day, a young religious often tormented by her fear of having failed at poverty, went to see her. She accused herself of some trifling wastefulness in her manual work, and added, “In the world, I would never have stolen, but in the convent I often commit little acts of theft.” The good Mother explained things to her and calmed her down. But some days later, meeting up with the same Sister and finding her probably still a little bit worried, she said to her pleasantly, “What have you stolen today?” The little joke completed what reasoning had begun. The temptation disappeared and never returned.

“Finally we would like to indicate the Reverend Mother’s confidence in the divine Providence. Some days before her last illness, she went for a walk in the garden with the community. Seeing the trees being violently shaken by the wind, she said to us, “This is a good example of life. At certain moments everything is agitated in us and around us, and we think that all is lost, but at the moment willed by God, everything calms down and falls back into order. Never lose sight of this Providence which governs us.”

“This confidence attracted great graces to her. Often, when the occasion to do a fairly considerable good work was offered to her charity and zeal, she would receive unexpected help which she had asked for only from our Heavenly Father. We can be sure, without fear of being wrong, that this virtue was perfected even more in our Mother when she passed under the direction of the Rev. Father John Kockerols, in 1874. This eminent religious, this Father of our community, said one day that he could not be even ten minutes in prayer without feeling dominated by the thought of God’s Providence.”

Her love for God. - This love was very noticeable in the Reverend Mother Mary-Aloyse. All her works and her holy life were based on her faith. The will of God was the mover of all her actions, and was also her consolation in her sufferings.

“Just remember”, she said in her final days to a converse Sister, “just remember that holiness does not consist of a communion or a way of the cross, but in fulfilling the will of God. The most holy works harm our souls if they are done outside the will of God. You will understand this later on. I shall ask our good God and Saint Alphonsus to enlighten you about it, and when I am in heaven, I shall ask it even more urgently because of the love I have for your perfection. I shall bear you in my heart to Paradise.”

To this tender love for God, our good Mother added piety to the Saints. She professed a particular devotion to the Most Holy Virgin. Above all she loved to invoke the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows. This last point is quite remarkable. The Mother of Sorrows is always particularly dear to those who most greatly love Our Lord and pray for the salvation of souls.

Saint Joseph, the saint with the kind and tranquil heart, “the father of cordial love”, was dear to her also. She loved to invoke him in all the spiritual and temporal needs of the community. Her devotion to this good Saint was candid and simple. Around the neck of a little statue of the holy Patriarch she hung a letter one day in which she expressed her difficulties and desires to him in entire confidence.

The heart of this true daughter of Saint Alphonsus beat strongly for this great Saint. She loved him as her Father and holy Founder. She loved and propagated his works, which are so pious and so clear. She inculcated his teachings in her daughters. Above all she loved to preach to them her own zeal for the salvation of souls, and it was with a profound joy that she saw the Rev. Father Bloete give an entirely apostolic character to the solemn Octave of Saint Alphonsus, preached every year in the Monastery chapel. What joy she had when she learnt that many sinners were converted during these days of salvation, and how much she loved to reward in her own way the Fathers who preached the exercises there! She would obtain for them the relaxation of being able to go and spend a day by the sea at Ostend to recover their strength. (Great progress has been made since then, and even Bruges has become a seaport!). And so a certain proverb soon became true, “It is through the Mother of Bruges that we go to the North Sea.” *

The good Mother honoured Saint Gerard and blessed Father Hofbauer with a tender devotion. These great servants of God recalled so many memories and blessings to her! And another remarkable thing! Among Saint Alphonsus’ first companions, she especially venerated Father Alexander de Meo, of whom the holy Doctor said that his wisdom gave an idea of God’s wisdom.

She often recalled the venerable Father J. Passerat in her conversations. His great virtues and his admirable teachings often furnished her with material for pious dialogues, but what she also loved in him were his social virtues and his good education which added so greatly to his true piety.

Every Order has its devotions and its prayers, and its chosen customs. Mother Mary-Aloyse loved those of her own Order. Speaking just now of just prayers, she wished to preserve them intact and facilitate their usage. To this end she assembled in a little volume all the exercises of piety which are in use in the Redemptoristine Institute. She published them in 1887, on the occasion of the first centenary of the death of Saint Alphonsus, under the title of Manuel de prières à l’usage des Religieuses du T. S. Rédempteur (Manual of Prayers used by the Religious of the Most Holy Redeemer). Mons. Faict, the Bishop of Bruges, approved them as “excellent”, the Most Rev. Father Mauron declared them to be “very well done” and the Most Rev. Father Kockerols, in a prefacing letter addressed to the Reverend Mothers Superior of the Redemptoristines at Bruges, Malines, Louvain and Soignies, demonstrated clearly their incontestable utility.

We have already admired in our good Mother her love for the poor. She loved them tenderly and sought to help them in every way. And so she was happy to see her daughters, on her feast day and offer for them some manual work or surprises intended to help the poor. And also, with the same intention, she also set up a little clothing room to which she sometimes had recourse, in winter for example, in favour of her own daughters.

Poverty and obedience, these two principal virtues of religious life, also shone out with a supreme brightness in the life of Mother Mary-Aloyse. “She loved poverty, as the Rule said, even more than worldly people love their wealth, and she had the ambition of being poor in everything. What she had for her own use was marked with the coin of poverty, which is a detail rather rare among people who are very generous to others. However, this generosity had its limits. “During her forty-six years of religious life,” says a well-informed witness, “she refused herself the satisfaction of sending the least picture to her family, and if, on the approach of death, she gave her own folk some poor little prints, it was only on the insistence of her religious niece, and after having obtained permission from the Most Rev. Father Kockerols, the extraordinary confessor of the community.

Her obedience was no less edifying. Once elected Superior, she followed the advice of the Most Rev. Father Kockerols about her personal conduct with a perfect submission, and this man, so wise and so reserved in his judgements, paid a resounding tribute to this humble obedience.

Her humility was genuine. Her attraction for a life hidden in God never deterred her from courageously fulfilling her duties, but in carrying out her obligations to her best ability, she paid no regard or indulgence to herself. She never let her family know about the responsibilities she had in the convent, and if they learnt one day that she had become the Superior, it was through her niece, already a Redemptoristine at that moment. Never at any time did she boast of her position to grant herself privileges or exemptions. It cost her extremely dear, she avowed one day in private, to preside over the Chapter of faults. She would then go and pray for her Sisters and abase herself before God for her own faults.

There was no lack of people who asked her for her blessing, in the parlour for example. She would get out of it all good-naturedly, “May Jesus and Mary bless each one of us!” she would reply, and that was all. This was a little touch worthy of the Little flowers of Saint Francis of Assisi. In July 1886, the Reverend Mother Mary-Anne-Joseph, the Superior of the Redemptoristines at Malines, came to Bruges with her Mother Vicar (Sister Mary-Marguerite, still living) with the purpose of discussing some points relative to the Institute with Mother Mary-Aloyse. She was received at the door of the cloister by this dear Mother, accompanied by her counsellors. The good Mother from Malines could not wait to prostrate herself at the feet of Mother Mary-Aloyse, but she in her turn went down on her knees, and the benediction turned into a fraternal accolade. Then the good Mother led her dear visitors into the recreation room, where the community welcomed them with the chant of the Ecce quam bonum (Behold how good).

Such were the sweet virtues which were practised at the Monastery of Bruges. Under the influence of such examples, all hearts opened to confidence and to the love of Jesus and Mary, and the practice of the most difficult virtues were despoiled of their harshness to give way to the love of our divine Redeemer and His most holy Mother.

* There is an untranslatable pun in French here. Mère (Mother) sounds exactly the same as Mer (Sea): “It is through the Mère (Mother) of Bruges that we go to the Mer (sea) of the North.”

This necrology is translated from Fleurs de l'Institut des Rédemptoristines by Mr John R. Bradbury. The copyright of this translation is the property of the Redemptoristine Nuns of Maitland, Australia. The integral version of the translated book will be posted here as the necrologies appear.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Mother Mary-Aloyse of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, O.SS.R. Superior of the Monastery of Bruges [2] (Brugge) 1822-1889

Chapter VIII.
Mother Mary-Aloyse is named Superior of the Community of Bruges. Her charity towards the Redemptoristines of Italy. The correspondence with the Most Rev. Father Mauron. His Lordship’s visit to the Monastery of Bruges.

The death of Mother Mary Philomena, (13th December 1878) was a very serious blow to the community of Bruges, but Providence never fails to put a balm on such wounds. Mother Mary-Aloyse was chosen to replace her much venerated predecessor, and the whole community had but one heart and soul in transferring to the newly-elect all the affection that they had shown to their late Superior.

As soon as she was appointed, the Reverend Mother Mary-Aloyse, as a true daughter of Saint Alphonsus, wrote to inform the Most Rev. Father Mauron, Rector Major of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. She received the following reply from him:

Villa Caserta, Rome, this 19th February 1879.
My Reverend Mother. - I have received your letter of 6th February, which brought me the happy news that you have been elected by an unanimous vote to succeed Reverend Mother Mary-Philomena, of happy memory, as Superior. She governed your Monastery so well for so many years. God has clearly manifested His will, so He will not fail to assist you with His graces and lights.

“In the name of Saint Alphonsus, I give you my blessing in your position as Superior, with confidence that a good spirit and observance will be preserved and grow more and more, under your direction, at this holy Monastery.”

Mother Mary-Aloyse had already sent some monetary help to the Redemptoristine convent of Saint Agatha. The Most Rev. Father Mauron thanked her in these terms:

“I sent your letter on to the Mother Superior of Saint Agatha, together with an Italian translation, and added 25 francs from yourself, which I had surplus to the 200 you sent me at Christmas. Attached is the letter from the Superior of Saint Agatha, in which she tells you of the death of one of her nuns. This poor Monastery is in danger of being suppressed sooner or later, because the law here states that when there are no more than six professed nuns, the Government has the right to send them away; and it is now twenty years since they were forbidden to admit other nuns.

We hope that Saint Alphonsus will not permit this; but if this convent ever comes to be sold by the Government, we will have to do everything possible to save it from the hands of whatever individual wants to buy it. I have already spoken about this to the Bishop of Saint Agatha.
“I bless you and also all the Sisters of the Community, and I am in Our Lord Jesus Christ
“Your devoted servant.
“Nic. Mauron, C. SS. R.” [23]

This letter was not the only one which the Most Reverend Father Mauron wrote to the new Superior. A man of proverbial wisdom, he was overjoyed to find in Mother Mary-Aloyse the qualities of discretion, charity and apostolic zeal which accorded so well with his own temperament. Some of his letters shed a profound light on the generosity of the good Mother. We shall cite some extracts from them.

On 6th July 1880 (the year of the expulsion of the religious Orders from France), the Most Rev. Father Mauron wrote:

“I am happy to be able to grant you Father Kockerols as your extraordinary confessor, according to your request, in spite of his nomination to the office of Provincial

“I have been brought to satisfy your wishes because of the great good that he has done in your Monastery, and also to enjoy the spiritual advantages that you have promised me in this case. In fact I have great confidence in the prayers of your good community, and I am counting on them, not solely during the promised novena, but during the whole year.

“Pray a great deal also for our Fathers and your fellow Sisters in France who are the butt of persecution. Recommend them greatly to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour and our holy Father Saint Alphonsus. The evil is so great and universal that God must intervene and make it end. I await this divine intervention with confidence.”

On 4th January 1882, on the very eve of the heart attack which almost brought him to the love of his children, the Most Rev. Father Mauron dictated the following letter.
“I would like to thank you, you and your excellent community for the New Year good wishes that you have sent me, and above all for the prayers and holy communions that you have applied to me and wish to apply to me as well in the future. I feel more than ever the need to be sustained by your good prayers, as my age is advancing with my infirmities, my powers are diminishing from day to day, and in contrast, my work-load is increasing all the time.”

Next he promises them the help of his prayers, and then he adds, “I also want to thank you with all my heart for the 200 francs which you were kind enough to send me for the poor Redemptoristines in Italy. It is me they turn to for their refuge in all their distress, and it is you who are their great providence. I am continuing to gradually distribute to them the sum of money which you sent me for them above all. These good Sisters are very grateful to you. They beg me every time to express their gratitude to you and assure you of their prayers.

“I bless our good God for the excellent result of the mission at Bruges which our Fathers have just given. Monsignor the Bishop, [24] whom I went to see during his trip to Rome and who immediately visited me in return, is full of praises for our Fathers. He also spoke to me about your Monastery in the most favourable terms.”

Next he encouraged her to entrust herself entirely to God regarding her responsibilities as Superior, which had just been conferred on her again, and gave her advance news concerning a future history of the first Redemptoristines. [25]

A year later, on 4th January 1883, Father Mauron wrote, “Tomorrow, it will be a year since our good God came to visit me. In the first days of my illness, I never thought I would ever see this anniversary. I believed on the contrary that my end had arrived. Our good God wanted it to be otherwise, and this grace, I am deeply convinced, I owe uniquely to the fervent and incessant prayers, and the sacrifices which were made for me in your Order, as well as in our own Congregation. Your excellent community had a large part in this work of charity and devotion towards me, and I would like to express my deepest gratitude.”

The venerable correspondent adds, “I had the happiness a few weeks ago of having a very private audience with the Holy Father (His Holiness, Leo XIII). His Holiness welcomed me with extreme benevolence. He brought me into his apartments, with my crosier in my hand, and invited me to sit down beside him. The Holy Father gave me an order not to fall ill, and I am trying my best to obey him. Finally he asked me to transmit his blessing to all the children of Saint Alphonsus scattered across the face of the earth.”

The same letter informs us that the community of Bruges had now reached 42 sisters.

Finally a letter dated 22nd February 1884 attests to the generosity of Mother Mary-Aloyse and her Community and becomes quite an eulogy:
“I have just received your good letter of 18th instant, in which you tell me you are sending some monetary help to your fellow Sisters in Italy, and also to the Villa Caserta. I received this sum the day before a letter from the Very Rev. Father Kockerols. According to your intention, my Reverend Mother, I shall be sure to distribute the 4000 francs intended for the Sisters of Italy, according to the circumstances and needs of their Monasteries. I shall certainly recommend them to pray for your Monastery of Bruges, which is so generous towards them, and in particular for good Sister Mary-Joseph and her family. I am persuaded that they will do this with the greatest fervour.

“As for the sum of 2000 francs, which you have been kind enough to give as a gift to myself, I thank you for it most sincerely, my Reverend Mother. It is a real act of providence for us, which will allow us to push a little ahead with the costly constructions which have been imposed on us by the municipality of Rome.

“I would equally like to express my deepest gratitude for the considerable help that you have organised from our Province in Belgium, both on this occasion and on many others. Your assistance, as the Most Rev. Provincial has told me, have been mainly used for the establishment of the Students’ House at Beauplateau and for the support of a certain number of young men. And thus, my Reverend Mother, you will have a large part in the fruits of salvation which the present and future Belgian missionaries are producing and will produce in souls. May our good God reward you a hundred-fold, in this world and in the next, for your generous assistance!

“As for me, I pray every day for your fervent Monastery, so that it may always remain as it is now, a nursery of souls agreeable to God and His true saints, occupied totally in loving their divine Spouse and conquering souls for Him from the depths of their cells. To this effect I bless Your Reverence and all your good community and in particular your good Sister Mary-Joseph.

We can see how happy Father Mauron was to say “thank you,” but the moment was not far away when he was able to come in person to the community of Bruges to give them his blessing.

This favour was accorded to the pious Monastery in 1884. The Most Rev. Father Mauron, now frail, but eager to visit the Provinces of Belgium and Holland, and the French Communities taking refuge in these countries, left Rome at the end of July of that year. He braved the fatigues of this long journey to go and reassure the anxieties of his children in person. So many reasons brought him to pay a visit to the Redemptoristines of Bruges, that he gave them a special place in his itinerary, and on 24th August these good religious received the happy news that in a couple of days, His Lordship would be amongst them.

“We hastened,” says the narrator of this memorable visit, “We hastened to put the final touches to our preparations for his reception, which were begun a long time beforehand. The cloisters were decorated with coloured paper-chains, artificial flowers and natural shrubs. A great statue of the Most Holy Virgin was placed near the staircase, as if to invite Mary to preside over our feast. Various banners, graciously disposed, expressed our filial love for our most Reverend Father and our welcome to him. In the main chamber of the community, tastefully decorated, the statue of Saint Alphonsus could be seen in his pontifical habits and at his feet the Saint’s pectoral cross enclosed in a reliquary.

“Finally the 26th August arrived. At about 2.30 p.m. in the afternoon, the community assembled in the main parlour. Half an hour later, which seemed like eternity, the joyful sound of the church bell ringing three times announced the arrival of our Father to us, and some minutes later, as we knelt at his feet, we received his holy blessing with an inexpressible emotion.

“After dinner, the Most Rev. Father Mauron visited the Monastery. At the given signal, we formed two rows in the cloister. The door of the enclosure opened and His Lordship walked through, with his companion on the journey, Rev. Father John Kannengiesser. When he arrived at the main room of the community, this Reverend Father stopped before the statue of Our Father Saint Alphonsus. “Here’s Father!” he exclaimed with a charming simplicity. Then he picked up the Saint’s pectoral cross, touched his forehead with it and kissed it tenderly. When His Lordship was seated, we sang some verses for the occasion, which seemed to please him greatly. Then the Reverend Father spoke to us about our holy vocation, the origins of our Order, the first Mothers, and especially Mother Mary-Colomba, whom Saint Alphonsus held in great esteem. It was to her that Our Lord revealed that all those who die in the Institute will be saved, and consequently, His Lordship added, all Redemptoristines and all Redemptorists faithful to their vocation, for, at this time, the Congregation and the Order were spoken of under the single name of Institute of the Holy Redeemer. The Most Reverend Father spoke to us also about the present state of our different Monasteries. We listened to him, charmed by his goodness, simplicity and joy, and astonished by his prodigious memory. When he got up to visit the convent, some of our Sisters who were suffering from deafness or some other infirmity, knelt down before him with a touching confidence to receive his blessing. This recalled the Gospel scenes, and if our dear sick sisters had been the object of a visible miracle, could we not have doubted that the blessing of a saint, received with such a lively faith, would obtain a special grace for them to bear away their illnesses with love?”

The Most Rev. Father Mauron then visited the Monastery. “Each Sister,” says the narrator, “urged him to visit their cells and give them his blessing. This good Father accepted our wishes and had some simple words for each one of them, such as the Saints say, and which penetrated their souls with their sweet unction. The simplicity of our cells pleased him. 'There is nothing surplus,” he exclaimed, “so you may be completely at peace.' This was a witness which made religious poverty even more dear to us. His Lordship also blessed the Educands and the Novices. He addressed a few words to the Novices on the virtues which are proper to them. In the library, our Reverend Mother told him, as she pointed out the shelves containing the works of Saint Alphonsus, 'This is the well from which our souls draw the most.' - To which the Most Rev. Father replied, 'You are right. Those who read these books and put them into practice will certainly become saints.'

“In the Choir of the Holy Family, the crib attracted His Lordship’s attention. 'It’s charming!' he said, and did not stop looking at it. Next, turning towards us, he said very kindly, 'Be the asses in the stable, not to cry out or stamp your feet, but to warm the Infant Jesus.' Then the Reverend Father finished visiting the convent.

“The following day, we had the happiness of assisting at His Lordship’s Mass. He offered the holy sacrifice at the altar of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. In the morning he had long discussions with the Reverend Mother about the interests of the Community. In the afternoon, the Reverend Father entered the enclosure, accompanied by the Most Rev. Provincial John Kockerols (who had arrived the previous night at Brussels from his voyage to Canada) and Rev. Father Kannengeisser. While visiting us, he gave each one of us a printed leaflet containing some maxims by Saint Alphonsus, and a relic of his coffin, the precious souvenirs of a saint, given by another saint, and which we shall preserve with a double veneration.

“However, time was passing. Before leaving us, His Lordship finally said the following words to us, 'My dear Sisters, I shall meet you again, not on earth, but in heaven. We shall all meet again there if we live and die faithful to our vocation. While we are waiting, let us do here below what we shall do up there one day. Let us accomplish the holy will of God on earth. This accomplishment will cost our own nature, but in heaven, it will procure for us an uncontaminated and unending joy.'

On the 28th, the Feast of Saint Augustine, all the Sisters communicated for the intention of the Father General, then they all went to the parlour to receive his blessing for the last time.

This visit, it was clear, left them all deeply filled with gratitude towards God and their good Superior, who had obtained this benefit for them. For Mother Mary-Aloyse, these were days of great consolation. The Most Reverend Father Mauron had scarcely arrived at Wittem when he wished to thank her, and he did it in terms worthy of a successor of Saint Alphonsus.

“The Most Reverend Father, “wrote Father Kannengeisser, “ has taken away from his visit to your Monastery the most happy memory. He is delighted above all to have satisfied himself that the spirit of prayer reigns there. And this is Saint Alphonsus’ very own spirit. The more it is developed in your Monastery, the more abundantly graces will descend from heaven, not simply upon you, but also upon the poor sinners whose advocates Saint Alphonsus has constituted you to be.”

On 1st January 1885, the Most Reverend Father Mauron gave Mother Mary-Aloyse some news about his trip, and added:

“A short while after my return to Rome, I had the honour of a long audience with the Holy Father. His Holiness was informed about my journey, and asked me if I had been to see your Monastery of Bruges, which he remembered very clearly. [26] The Holy Father is very satisfied with it and has asked me to pass on to Your Reverence and to all your fellow Sisters his apostolic blessing.”


[23] Our readers will be pleased to read the letter from the Superior of Saint Agatha. What could be more touching than this exchange of charity on the one hand, and gratitude on the other?
Monastery of Saint Agatha of the Goths,
“This 16th February 1877
“My dear Sister in Jesus Christ and Reverend Mother Superior,
“We have received the most wonderful consolation in receiving the beautiful picture of your good and holy Mother, the late Mother Mary-Philomena. She seems very much alive, as we hope that she is in reality now in heaven for all eternity. I thank you most cordially for this beautiful gift.
“Jesus wishes to purify all His Spouses left on earth, by calling to Himself first one, and then another of them. May His holy will always be accomplished! We too have lost one of our Sisters, our good Sister Mary-Jeannette of the Heart of Jesus, aged 75 years. After only seven days of an illness, whose sufferings she endured with great patience, she died on 29th January in the most perfect peace.
“She was very devoted to Saint Alphonsus and had a limitless charity towards the poor, and was happy to fast from time to time so as to send her whole portion to the Tourière as alms for her dear poor. I pray you to make the Suffrages prescribed by the Rule for the repose of her soul.
“Also please pray for us too, as the death of each nun fills us with sadness, at the thought that this house founded by Saint Alphonsus will soon cease to exist. Pray to our good God to put an end to these great tribulations, so that we may have the consolation of leaving others here after us to praise and love the Lord.
“Today we received 25 francs from our Most Reverend Father General, a gift of your charity to the poor daughters of Saint Alphonsus, your Sisters who are totally devoted to Jesus Christ. Together with all my Sisters I thank you a thousand times, and I ask Saint Alphonsus to reward you as you desire and deserve, as it is he who knew our needs and inspired you to help us.
“Dear and beloved Mother Superior, I rejoice greatly in your fervour; let us love Jesus greatly upon this earth, so that we may love Him much more in eternity. Let us love each other with the love of the divine Spouse, and let us remain united in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in whom we hug and kiss you all.
“Your most affectionate Sister in Jesus Christ,
“Sister Mary Crucified of the Holy Nails.!
[24] Mgr Faict, Bishop of Bruges.
[25] This history appeared a few years later under the title of: Les premières Rédemptoristines (The First Redemptoristines), by Father F. Dumortier. It was the Monastery of Bruges which paid for it to be printed.
[26] The Holy Father, when he was Nuncio at Brussels, made the journey to Bruges to assist in the procession of the Holy Blood. On this occasion he paid a visit to the Redemptoristines. The Monastery Chronicles record this visit thus.
“On 9th May 1844, Mons. Boussen, the Bishop of Brussels, accompanied by Mons. Pecci, the Papal Nuncio, and Mons the Bishop of Ghent, attended for our benefit, after which they paid a visit to our Reverend Mother Sister Mary-Alphonse of the will of God, and asked to see the whole Community. Monsignor the Nuncio showed a great deal of interest in our worthy Foundation and had informed himself with great pleasure about the convents of our Order in Italy. These respectable personages then presented themselves at our new convent, which they visited in detail, examining especially the foundations and walls of our future church. Rev. Father Paul Reyners provided answers to all their questions."

This necrology is translated from Fleurs de l'Institut des Rédemptoristines by Mr John R. Bradbury. The copyright of this translation is the property of the Redemptoristine Nuns of Maitland, Australia. The integral version of the translated book will be posted here as the necrologies appear.

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