Saturday, February 8, 2014

Hidden Suffering and Redemptive Love

Mother Yvonne-Aimée de Jésus (Yvonne Beauvais), Augustinian Canoness, Hospitaller of the Mercy of Jesus, of the Monastery of Malestroit in Brittany, France. Born on the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in 1901, Mother Yvonne-Aimée died at 49 years of age on 3 February 1951.
Beloved of Jesus
Mother Yvonne-Aimée’s life was indescribably rich . . . in the most bitter sufferings and in an avalanche of the most astonishing charisms. From the time of her girlhood she knew of Our Lord’s tender love for her. She believed in it. She trusted it, and she staked her life upon it. She was, in the truest sense of her name in religion, Aimée de Jésus, the Beloved of Jesus.
An Intercessor
Mother Yvonne-Aimée’s intercession is powerful. From her place in heaven she is, like Saint Thérèse, her own special friend, attentive to all the prayers addressed to her. She responds graciously, willingly, generously, and promptly to those who ask her for help. In a word, she is in heaven as she was on earth: a dispenser of the Divine Hospitality, of tenderness, mercy, healing, and joy.
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A Victim of Violence
It is all to the credit of her spiritual son, Father Paul Labutte, that, after more than fifty years of silence, he chose to reveal one of the most painful secrets of her life. On 10 August 1925, three men ambushed Yvonne Beauvais, then twenty-four years old, in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt. The three men beat Yvonne, and tortured her. One of the three, a depraved priest, whom she had previously tried to help by addressing to him a warning from Our Lord, violated her. Yvonne lived for some time thereafter in anguish. The reprobate priest later repented of his crime and was converted.
Father Labutte chose to write of this episode in the life of Yvonne-Aimée, believing that victims of similar crimes would take comfort in seeking the intercession of one with a personal experience of their suffering.
Her Care for Priests
Beginning in her early twenties, Mother Yvonne-Aimée had a particular mission to priests. Ever respectful and discreet, she was sensitive to priests in moral distress and in temptation. She readily took on herself the temptations and sufferings of priests. She calmed many a troubled conscience, dispensed wise motherly advice, and communicated joy and hope to priests haunted by depression and tempted to despair. Many times she was sent by Our Lord to deliver a message to priests in the throes of temptation or spiritual combat.

To my brother priests and, in particular to those among them enduring emotional or spiritual sufferings, as well as to those struggling with depression and weariness, I recommend recourse to the intercession of Mother Yvonne-Aimée.

Father Paul Labutte, borrowing a line from the famous French literary critic, Charles du Bos, said of Mother Yvonne-Aimée, with all due proportion, what Du Bos said of Our Lady: “There will never be but one way to come to know her; it is by addressing her. No sooner does one call upon her than she reveals herself by answering.” Personally, I can attest that this is true.
Gaston Courtois and Other Priests
Among the many priests who sought her out was the Abbé Gaston Courtois, Fils de la Charité. The Abbé Courtois exercised a profound influence over the French clergy between 1930 and 1950. It was said of him that he was priestly “to the very last fibre of his soul.” Mother Yvonne-Aimée referred priests in difficulty to the Abbé Courtois. He, in turn, entrusted priests, especially those in need of a real conversion of life, to her. The Abbé Courtois wrote of Mother Yvonne-Aimée:
Only those who were very close to her know to what point she suffered, in a great spirit of Redemption, most especially for priests.
The Impressions of Two Great Abbots
Dom Marie-Gabriel Sortais (1902-1963), Abbot General of the Trappist Order (O.C.S.O.) considered Mother Yvonne-Aimée a great Superior who built all her work on the rock of faith. Dom Sortais remarked Mother Yvonne-Aimée’s gift for pacifying and opening up souls. Until his death in 1963, Dom Sortais kept her photograph on his desk; it was the only photograph of a woman, apart from one of his own mother, that he allowed himself to keep.
The Abbot of Solesmes, Dom Germain Cozien (1921-1959), personally helped while hospitalized at Malestroit, by conversations with Mother Yvonne-Aimée, observed that she was marked by “the sense of prayer, of liturgical beauty, of praising God, in the school of the Church.” And he added: “All the life of Mother Yvonne-Aimée was under the influence of God.” Yvonne-Aimée was not afraid of expressing her friendship. To Dom Cozien she wrote in 1939:
I say it to you simply: I miss your presence. It is so when the Lord permits and seems to want a bond between souls. My prayer, then, will join yours in your dear abbey, which I loved, and love even more now. Did you not feel that also, my Very Reverend Father? May the Most Sweet Lord Jesus be thanked for having sown this joy of heart and soul on my path. Say to Him in the morning when He is all yours, when you hold Him in your hands (how fortunate you are!) even at the risk of prolonging the elevation a little bit, oh, say to Him, Give her, O Lord, Your light, Your strength, and Your mercy.” I have such need of light to know what I must do; of strength, to follow through generously; and of mercy to repair the mistakes that I make.

More here from Dom Kirby at Vultus Christi