Greetings from Pittsburgh! We are several weeks into the new school year and Joe is already grading chemistry papers! The start of the new school year tends to be one of the busiest times of the year for us with many extra activities. I asked our friend and French author Bernadette Chovelon if she would write a reflection for us for October. I never ask our guests writers for a theme, but just ask that they include some words of Elisabeth. Bernadette’s reflection could not have come at a better time for us. A few months ago the local Catholic high school we support, unexpectedly lost its long time guidance counselor, a woman we knew well. We find comfort in the words of Elisabeth.
Elisabeth Leseur faces the death of a loved one
Elisabeth had a dear younger sister, Juliet, who died of tuberculosis. She was near her until her last day, April 13, 1905. Before that, she had prayed often for her healing. The Lord did not answer her.
I chose this beautiful text full of hope and Faith because one day all of us are, or will be, crushed by the death of a loved one. Elisabeth shows us a path of prayer and positive acceptance.
She writes: “O my God, you did not grant the deepest prayer from my battered heart, or rather, you answered differently and better. All that I so ardently desired for my beloved, all the joys, health, and love that I hoped for her and all the life that I prayed for, even her final happiness, all these you have given to her in taking her to yourself. I cannot believe that my constant ardent prayers, and those of others for her, and all the sacrifices offered and so much suffering accepted could all be useless. I do not believe that all her sufferings and grief, ended by a holy death, could be without fruit. If she was denied earthly happiness, if she knew bitter and sad separations, and if in the end she was taken from us, it is because a better life awaited her on the other side. The God of love prepared for her a joy beyond her suffering, and God wanted her to enjoy all good and beauty and to give her his light; God… purified her and so she could approach the holiness of God.
[…] I suffer because she whom you took was my true friend and the gentle confidant of my faith and thoughts; because I spent some of the best hours of my life with her; because I loved her like a sister and like a beloved child at the same time; because we prayed, suffered, and loved together; and because her affection belonged to my life, my happiness, my heart.
[…] Felix’s love and my dear ones’ affection have been my share in human happiness, a share so great that I give thanks for it and accept my moral and physical trials […]”
Elisabeth Leseur – Selected Writings, July 4, 1905 – Paulist Press (pages 80-81)
Bernadette is a Doctor of Letters and former teacher of French as a foreign language, mother of five children, grandmother and great-grandmother, and the author of several books on married spirituality, including the bestseller “Aventure du mariage chrétien : Guide pratique et spirituel” co-written with her husband Bernard in 2002. She wrote about Elisabeth and Felix Leseur in her 2015 book, “Élisabeth et Félix Leseur: Itinéraire spirituel d’un couple”. Bernadette has also given many interviews on Christian marriage, including a recent 2015 interview, “The Spiritual Adventure of Christian Marriage” available on YouTube at the following link.
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With our gratitude and prayers,
Jennifer and Joe MacNeil