Sunday, 9 October 2011

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

Chapter XI.
The death of Mother Mary Aloyse – The Tribute paid to her Memory.

The teachings which we cited in the preceding chapter were not all known by the community. However, the Sisters greatly desired to make their last farewells to their good Mother and receive her last recommendations. The Most Rev. Father Kockerols, who was consulted in this regard, shared the same thoughts and let the invalid know that she owed her daughters this supreme satisfaction.

So on 5th December, the community assembled in Mother Mary-Aloyse’s room. And when she saw them all thus around her bed of sorrows, she could not restrain her tears.

“Pardon me,” she said forthwith, “if you see me weeping like this, my dear Sisters. It is because of the love I bear you.”

Making an effort to control herself, she continued, “Yes, it is the love that I bear you which brings me to address a few more words of farewell to you.

“Be saints, all of you, and great saints. To do this, you only have to be faithful to all the duties of your vocation, and you will be so forever if you quite forget about your own selves. Forget your own selves so as to occupy yourselves only with the glory and interests of Jesus.

“Be great in your spirit, in your heart, in your requests. When you suffer, do not be forever thinking of your pains. Try to forget them and imagine the sufferings of Our Lord instead, and then you will see that your own are nothing in comparison. Sometimes it is a little disagreeable remark which wounds us, perhaps a look, a little ambition, a little susceptibility, a tiny trifle. Forget it. It is not right to let such things turn you away from Our Lord Jesus Christ by making you worry about yourselves. Instead of wasting your time being upset, just say, “I am going to sacrifice it so as to give souls to Jesus Christ.” They are only minor pinpricks. If they make you suffer, say, “All the better, I am going to offer this up to Our Lord.” In appearance, they are nothing, they are petty trifles, but in the eyes of God, they mean a lot, they are very great. And believe me, you will be greatly rewarded at the time of death. You have to have experience of it to be able to understand it. When you spend your whole life trying to forget about yourself for the sake of Jesus Christ, at the time of your death, this good Saviour lifts a corner of the veil which still hides Him, and what delights He gives to the soul, when He lets her glimpse His marvellous beauty!”

The Reverend Mother interrupted herself for a moment to give free course to her tears. Then she continued, “Ah, my dear Sisters, I have always loved you more than you have ever been able to understand, and if sometimes I have brought sorrow to your hearts, it has only been, believe me, for love of your souls, for the sake of your great good, and to attach you to Jesus Christ alone.

“Yes, seek for just Jesus alone, and be great in your thoughts. When you go into His presence, do not go there always thinking of yourselves, or speaking about yourselves. Do not go there to ask for a long list of little things, but think of Our Lord, of His interests, for the salvation of souls. Do not go there so much to recite a whole quantity of litanies and prayers, but rather to ask for some real virtues so as to win souls for God. You will then obtain much more, and that will weigh very differently in the balance. Be great in your affections, love Our Lord well, the most holy Virgin, and Saint Alphonsus. Be always closely united to your Superiors through respect, affection and confidence, and remain just as strongly united among yourselves. Love the Congregation a great deal. Have great love for the poor. So suffer generously for Jesus Christ in both your great and small trials. Forget your own selves in order to think only of Him and of souls.”

The Reverend Mother insisted on this capital point of religious life. “My sufferings are very great,” she added, “I suffer a great deal, but I look at Jesus, I think of His Passion, His sufferings, and I force myself not to think of my own, so that I consider only His. Do not forget, my dear Sisters, that we ourselves are not the aim of our vocation: it is God and souls.” - “You will do this, won’t you?” she said, turning to those who were listening to her. “Promise me that you will forget your own selves in order to become Saints?” They all replied in a single voice, “Yes, good Mother, we promise you.” - “Oh well,” replied the invalid, “now I am tranquil and consoled. I shall never forget you and I shall bring all of you in my heart to Paradise. If you are very faithful, we shall be reunited there one day and sing together like Saint Thérèse.” - And the good Mother, gathering her strength, sang out loud: Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo (I shall sing the mercies of the Lord in eternity). - “I love all of you and I shall take you all with me to Paradise.”

The moving dialogue continued. Turning now to the novices and the educands, she told them, “And the novices? And the educands? Do they also promise me? Will they also be faithful?” They all replied straight away, “Yes, Reverend Mother!” - Then she said, “My children, understand the happiness of religious life. It is immense. It has, no doubt, its pains and sufferings, but God rewards us for it greatly at our death, and the sufferings of the world are also great. Be on your guard for anyone amongst you who wishes to leave, because I shall come back to retain her.” - And making allusion to their habits, she added smiling, “I would like to see all these dark little heads become white.”

Then that was all. The good Mother wanted to give her daughters a last blessing. She did it using an image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, which she then kissed devotedly. Then the Sisters left her, bringing from that touching scene an ineffaceable memory.

However, her last days were approaching rapidly. The Most Reverend Father Kockerols, the Reverend Mother’s director, did not fail to assist her in her last moments. A short note from him has been preserved, which breathes the joyous confidence he had in the final combat: “Please tell the Reverend Mother that I have not forgotten her for a moment before God, that I bless her most cordially, that we are all praying fervently for Jesus and Mary to support her right to the end in this great and wonderful combat, that her guardian angel, if he could perspire, would sweat great drops in the effort to record her merits, that she must hold firm to obedience and patience, and that her name is written in the Book of Life. So let her be reassured. Let her keep her presence of spirit, and I shall be there to help her soul fly away to the third heaven.”

No more than Father Olivaint, the Most Rev. Father Kockerols too did not admit that one died reluctantly. A death peacefully and joyfully accepted was in fact the nature of the death of Mother Mary-Aloyse. The zealous director had prepared her for her last journey. On 17th October he administered her the last Sacraments. Some weeks passed by, with the invalid lingering constantly between life and death. Finally on 11th December, the Rev. Father Kockerols was called urgently. He arrived with enough time to address some kind words to the dying Mother and encourage her one last time. This was a supreme consolation for her. Some instants afterwards, her agony began. It was neither long nor painful. On 12th December, at 10.45 in the morning, this good Superior peacefully rendered her soul to God. A heavenly calm immediately spread over her face, and then everyone could approach her, not merely without fear, but also with an interior joy, on her funeral bed where she rested.

The funeral notice was composed by the Most Rev. Father Kockerols. We have decided to give in full:

Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Alphonsus
Pray for the repose of the soul
of the Very Reverend
of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
in the world Miss
Isabelle-Fulvie-Albertine Fabri,
Superior for eleven years of the Monastery
of the Most Holy Redeemer at Bruges,
born at Sény on 22nd October 1822, deceased
piously at
Bruges on 12th December 1889, in the 46th year
of her
religious life and the 44th of her holy profession.

She was full of faith and the Holy Spirit. Acts V. 6.

Jesus Christ is my life, and death to me is a gain, Phil. 1. 21.

I shall willingly give everything I have and I shall even give my own self for your souls, “ Cor. XII, 15.

Until the moment of her death, this Mother, who was more admirable than we can say, and worthy to live eternally in the memory of the good, encouraged her children with a great wisdom and firmness, allying a male courage to the tenderness of a woman. 2 Mach. VII, 20, 21.

Do not forget the teachings of your Mother. Prov. I. 8.

Let the Sacred Heart of Jesus be loved everywhere. (100 days indulg.).

Blessed be the holy, immaculate and most pure Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. (300 days indulg.)

R. I. P.

The universal sorrow and regrets that this sweet death provoked were the best commentary on this pious notice, but of all the tributes of veneration that were paid to the deceased, the most important we think was the funeral eulogy given by the Most Reverend Father Kockerols to the assembled Sisters. We reproduce it the same way it was received by a religious in the Monastery. These praises, given by a man who ordinarily was so reticent, are a singular testimony to the virtue of she who merited to receive them.

(Father Kockerols Eulogy will follow on the next posting.)

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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