Sunday, 27 April 2014

Mother Marie-Cecilia of the Child Jesus, O.SS.R. of the Monastery of Gars (1834 – 1890)

Born Angela Druffel

Angela Druffel was born at Wiedenbruck in Westphalia on Christmas Day 1834. She felt herself attracted towards the religious life during the exercises of a mission, but she did not make her choice until she had visited several convents. The Institute of the Redemptoristines pleased her above all the others, and she entered the Monastery of Marienthal on 21st November 1854. The holy habit was given to her the following year on the same day, and in 1856 she took her vows on the same day as the feast of Saint Cecilia, her patron in religion.

What distinguished good Sister Marie-Cecilia first and foremost was her admirable calmness, her recollection, her regularity and a maturity quite unusual for her age. Moreover, suffering had already made its mark upon her, by means of premature fasts in her youth. But her strength of soul made her overcome every fatigue. Miserly with her time, she consecrated it entirely to the duties of her state and to prayer, continually nourishing her spirit and her heart with good thoughts, and profiting from everything to acquire the treasures of the soul. Moreover, the Lord led her by the way of spiritual joy, and the heavenly Spouse habitually gave her His interior assurances, which, as Saint Teresa says, makes us fly rather than walk in the way of perfection.

Her love of prayer, recollection and silence was also the soul of the government of Mother Marie-Cecilia when she was elected Superior. At the same time there could be seen radiating from her person a great prudence and a very delicate charity both in her words and in her judgements, with a great humility and a wise distrust in her own illumination. She was still the Superior when the Convent of Marienthal went up in flames in 1877. Meeting one of the Sisters in the corridor while the convent was all in flames, she said to her with an admirable submissiveness: “This is the will of God, we must be resigned to it. What has happened to us happily is not a venial sin.” These were sublime words which show us all the greatness of her faith. Moreover she attributed this trial to her own sins, but in it we can admire her profound humility even more. In the temporary exile which followed this catastrophe, she showed herself at her very best, sustaining all her Sisters by her maternal charity and her unshakeable confidence in God.

After having been the Superior at Marienthal twice, she was appointed in 1884 to fulfil the same functions at the Monastery of Gars [1] in Austria. It was at the end of her triennium that she manifested the symptoms of the illness that was to bear her away. This illness was long and painful, but she sanctified it by a continual prayer and an unchanging patience. In her last days especially she felt as though she was being devoured by an interior fire. “I would never have thought,” she said sometimes, “that a human creature could suffer so much.” The ardour of her love for God here became even more admirable. With what edification did we not hear her often repeating these beautiful words: “My Jesus who is so good, I thank you for these sorrows!”

Her merit was all the greater because her constantly unwell state made her suffer even more than anyone could see. In her last years, her state became a veritable Purgatory, but her constancy was never shaken. On the night preceding her death, she could be heard offering up this admirable act of love, well worthy of a daughter of Saint Alphonsus: “My God, I wish to suffer as much as You wish, and I wish to suffer not so as to escape Hell, not to acquire Heaven, but simply out of pure love for You, since You merit us suffering for You, and You wish it so. O my God, as often as I make a movement of my finger, then as often do I wish to renew the act that I have just made.” Then, turning towards the Sisters, she said: “God is so good!. How many graces have I not received from Him!”

She invoked her guardian Angel with confidence, and Saint Cecilia, her patron saint, but the thought of Jesus crucified was her thought of predilection: “I have been served so well,” she would say, “but Jesus has no one to serve Him!” It was with these beautiful sentiments that, after receiving the last sacraments of the Church, she peacefully rendered her soul to God on 10th May 1890. At the beginning of the month, she had received this devise on that day as her lot to put into practice: Confidence in the mercy of God! It is this mercy that she now sings forever, we hope, in the splendours of Paradise.
[1] ] The house of Vienna gave birth in 1839 to that of Stein, near Donon. The revolution of 1848 suppressed these two houses and the Redemptoristines of Stein moved to Gard (Bavaria). On 2nd August 1854, the day of the feast of Saint Alphonsus,the community was solemnly installed in its new Monastery.

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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