Friday, October 8, 2010

The Martyr of Filial Respect

"The days were gone when Mme Bisiaux [Yvonne/Sr Angélique's mother] used to train her child tenderly to piety. Her daughter's vocation seemed to have 'eradicated from her heart its last religious fibers.'

Yvonne was forbidden access to the parish church during the week and her mother tirelessly took up to watch in the town grocery store in order to have an eye on the church door. Yvonne received Holy Communion only at the price of heroic effort. When it was possible for her to do without her breakfast in spite of her mother's surveillance, she informed the good and devout parish priest who in spite of his great age rejoined her at the chapel of the Sisters of Nevers, sometimes around eleven o'clock or noon. Canon Parinet, later recalling his memories of Yvonne Bisiaux, said he was deeply edified by her greatness of soul, her perfect limpidity, and her ardent love for Our Lord. But these occasions were rare and Yvonne, famished for her God, needed to be comforted by an exceptional grace of prayer to face the daily difficulties of her life.

From Mme Filhoulaud, to whom we owe the greater part of the Souvenirs of Yvonne's sojourn at Bourganeuf, we learn of violent scenes supported 'with angelic sweetness and submission' by her who rightfully has been called 'the Martyr of Filial Respect.' No title could better characterize Yvonne's attitude and merit at home, for a Bourganeuf as at Paris, those who were with her attest that she never complained no matter what were the incoherences, the constraints and the harshness of which she was the victim. For example, when asked one day to play the piano, she began a religious melody, and 'her mother interrupted her rudely with abusive words.' Yvonne stopped without saying a word and played something else.

Her sweetness seemed even excessive to certain people who did not fathom its supernatural origin. Others were always disconcerted by the delicate and warm tenderness with which, to the very end, she enveloped this mother who appeared so unsympathetic. 'Treated with the greatest brutality,' attests Mme M, 'Yvonne ever docile, amiable and smiling, used to call her mother 'Little mama with a heart of gold!' However, she couldn't help but see and feel.'

With a respectful silence, she concealed the maternal wrongs and her own suffering: proof of her filial considerateness and strength of soul. But it is time now to raise the veil from this family trial. 'In a period when the sense of the hierarchical family no longer exists, God raised up Yvonne as a model and placed her in the most difficult circumstances to remind Christians who are tempted to forget it, that parents, no matter what their natural worth, are to their very last days God's representatives to their children.' (Extract from the account drawn up by Father Jacques de Jésus, ocd on Sr Marie-Angélique.)


And in a letter to Mother Thérèse of Jesus, July 11, 1912: 'As for mama, I put my whole heart into accomplishing the IVth commandment.' In fact, Mme F confirms that Yvonne gave 'an example of such admirable filial love that only divine grace and the love of God could raise it to this height.' One friend, indignant at the mother's behavior on certain occasions, exclaimed one day: 'That's the limit, do something!' A protest at once gentle and firm stopped her: 'But she's my mama!'

After all, it's not a question of putting this poor Mme Bisiaux on trial, for she had her good hours even though these were tributary to her temperament. It must be emphasized that in her daughter's life she played her role as an unconscious instrument of a truly beautiful work: the sanctification of a  privileged soul. In this light, the unreasonable demands and event he maternal caprices assume values as means. 

Yvonne's rare merit consisted in always profiting supernaturally from this rude treatment, regarding her mother by the light of faith illumined by love."

-- Flame of Joy: Mother Marie-Angélique of Jesus, ocd

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