Marie-Paule, a Model of Love and Prayer
by Sister Louise Hélie
Sr. Louise Hélie
In her introduction to the book Marie, Les Éditoriaux, Marie-Paule wrote in 1976: “The Army of Mary is a movement of prayer and action. To pray is to look at God and the world with love, to maintain communication between God and the world. At the same time, it is discovering God in His mysteries, remaining constantly attentive to His Word through the language of meetings and events. Faithful to the eloquence of events, then it is the time to go into action.” (Marie, Les Éditoriaux, p. 7)
In these difficult and corrupt times we live in, no one has looked at God and the world with as much love as Marie-Paule has, doing so to such an extent that God told her one day: “THE LOVE OF GOD IS SO STRONG IN YOUR HEART THAT YOU CAN NO LONGER CONTAIN IT.” (White Book III, p. 130) And no one has been able to “maintain communication” between God and the world as much as she has. During her whole life, she has passed on God’s will to men and entrusted to God humanity’s needs. Thus, Marie-Paule was able to pray better than all, and it is with good reason that we can invoke the Lady of All Peoples as a “model of prayer”.
“TO LOVE IS TO KNOW”
As a consequence, even in prayer, Marie-Paule is our model par excellence, and she teaches us to pray through the account of her Life of Love. In her Easter letter in 2003, she wrote these words of light: “To love is to know.” Thus, the more we get to know someone, the more our love for him or her can increase. And the more we love that person, the more we want to know all there is to know about that person, even to the slightest details. That is true on the natural level and it is just as true on the spiritual level. However, in order to get to know someone well, we must take the time to meet with this person and especially to talk with him or her. Many marriages break up today because of a lack of dialogue between the spouses. Many conflicts between parents and children could be avoided if they took the time to talk to each other and get to know each other, if each one were to take the trouble and the time to admire the other’s work, appreciate his qualities, his virtues, his efforts... and, by loving sufficiently, learn to pardon his mistakes.
The same is true with God. How can my love for Him grow if I do not get to know Him, if I do not take the time to talk to Him? To pray is to talk to God. The author of Divine Intimacy defined prayer in these words:
“Prayer is essentially an intimate conversation with God in which the soul seeks His presence so that it may speak with Him in a friendly and affectionate way. It is a child talking with its Father, a friend conversing with his Friend. From its nature, then, prayer is something intimate and interior. ‘For me,’ said St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, ‘prayer is an uplifting of the heart, a glance toward heaven, a cry of gratitude and of love in times of sorrow as well as of joy.’ (St, I I) In this perspective we must understand the traditional definition of prayer: the raising of the mind to God, and not only the mind, but also, and especially the heart. Prayer may be a silent movement of the mind, or simply a cry, a request, a colloquy; in these latter motions are verified the other aspects of prayer: a pious conversation with God, and a confident request for His graces.
“Whatever form it takes, true prayer is not complicated or constrained; it is the breath of the soul that loves its God, the habitual attitude of the heart which tends toward God. The soul seeks Him, wants to live with Him, knows that every benefit, every help, comes from Him. Thus, spontaneously, without even thinking about it, the soul passes from the simple elevation toward God to the prayer of petition or to intimate colloquy, to arrive finally at the transport of the heart, the glance toward heaven. Prayer understood in this way is always possible, in all kinds of circumstances and in the midst of varying occupations; furthermore, for a soul who really loves God, it would be as impossible for it to interrupt prayer as it would be for it to stop breathing. We can thus understand how everyone, even those living in the world, can fulfill the words of the Gospel: ‘Pray always.’ (Lk 18:1) The one condition necessary is to have a heart capable of loving; the stronger and more vigorous this love is, the deeper and more continuous will the prayer be.” (Divine Intimacy, pp. 437-438)
1988, Army of Mary Center, Quebec City - Marie-Paule, praying in her room before the statue of Our Lady of Fatima given to her by Sister Sainte-Jacqueline of the Sisters of Charity of Quebec.
THE POWER AND STRENGTH OF PRAYER
And what love was stronger and more vigorous than that of Jesus, of Mary and of Marie-Paule, they whose love is truly divine? As we observe their life on earth, we can see just to what extent prayer formed like the fabric of their whole life. And how much they needed to feel the Father’s Love in their exile on earth, tossed about and wounded as they were by Satan and also by all the lack of love continuously inflicted upon them by their neighbor!
Talking to Peter one day, Jesus said:
“ ‘I often do that [go out early in the morning], to raise My spirit and be united to the Father. Prayer is a strength for oneself and for others. We achieve everything by praying. If we do not receive a grace, which the Father does not always grant – and we must not think it is due to a lack of love, instead we must believe that it is the will of an Order which governs the destiny of every man for a good purpose – prayer certainly gives us peace and contentment, to enable us to bear so many vexing things, without going off the holy path. It is easy, you know, Peter, to have a clouded mind and an agitated heart because of what is around us! And how can a clouded mind or an agitated heart perceive God?’
“ ‘It’s true. But we do not know how to pray! We are not capable of saying the lovely words You say.’
“ ‘Say the words you know, as best you can. It is not the words, but the sentiments with which they are uttered that make your prayers pleasant to the Father.’ ” (Maria Valtorta, The Poem of the Man-God, vol. I, p. 330)
That confirms these other words Jesus said to Gabrielle Bossis:
“One single Our Father said by a saint is more powerful than a great number of prayers said without love. Put love in your words like an outpouring of your heart; then your words will console Me. Is it not your joy to give rest to your God?” (Lui et Moi, vol. I, p. 88)
PRAYER, A REST FOR GOD
This joy of being able to give rest to God is accessible to every human being and it does not even imply that one’s prayer has to be perfect. In volume II of the White Book, Mother Paul-Marie indicated: “At Communion time, I was anxious to receive Jesus. Now, shortly after having received Him, I deplored the distractions which made me forget His arrival and I asked forgiveness for them. Right away, I ‘heard’: ‘HERE I AM RESTING. I AM IN YOUR HEART WHICH WAS WAITING FOR ME.’” (White Book II, p. 30) Consequently, it is the disposition of the soul and the love in our heart that give rest to Christ, and not the activity of our psychic body where the one commonly referred to in French as “the scatterbrain of the house” resides, to our great despair at times!
As Sons and Daughters of God, we have the privilege of being able to dialogue with each one of the five persons of the Quinternity. The more we will contemplate them, the more we will listen to their words, the more we will admire their actions and activity, the more our love for them will increase and the more we ourselves will become Love. Along with love in our hearts, there will come the benefits attached to it: sacrifice, obedience, generosity, joy...
However, “we must not believe that in order to treat intimately with God and to show Him our love, it is always necessary to do so by means of words. On the contrary – and this happens spontaneously with progress in the spiritual life – we will often prefer to be silent in order to fix our gaze calmly on the Lord, to listen to Him, the interior Master, and to return Him love in silence. The manifestation of our love thus becomes less lively and impetuous, but it gains in depth what it loses in emotion and outward appearance. We express our love tranquilly, but the movement of our will toward God is much firmer and more serious.... We stop to contemplate God in silence and love.... The more the soul contemplates God, and the more it falls in love with Him, the greater need it feels to concentrate its love in total generosity.” (Divine Intimacy, p. 453)
There you have the total generosity found in the lives of the saints and especially in the lives of the Redeemer and the Co-Redemptrix. A generosity in all areas: their time, their strength, their health, their talents... They went so far as to give to God their reputation, their affections, their will... in an obliteration or annihilation that is limitless. Sister Denise Agnès, whose life is related in Life of Love, vol. VI, said: “When we make an offering of ourselves, it is a gratuitous giving, without any thought of reward.” (Life of Love, vol. V, p. 292) In order to reach the point of being able to say that, one has had to learn to love!
For a few years, every Saturday morning after the Mass celebrated at her place, Marie-Paule would generously give a spiritual talk to the retreat participants from Spiri-Maria.
THE WOMAN, “LOVE AT THE HEART OF THE WORLD”
In an article in the paper Le Royaume (no. 212, p. 4), I indicated the role and nature of the woman who is called upon “to be love at the heart of the world”. Since prayer and love are so closely bound together, as we have seen above, the woman should then have a very special capacity for prayer. And that is in fact the case. In The Poem of the Man-God, Maria Valtorta reported an interesting conversation between Jesus and His Apostles about prayer and women. Here is what she wrote:
Jesus says: “ ‘They, being holy women, will work many miracles of conversions through their prayers.’
“ ‘Bah! Will women pray to the extent of working miracles!’ grumbles Nathanael.
“ ‘Do not be narrowminded like a scribe, Bartholomew. What is prayer, according to you?’
“ ‘To address God by means of the formulae known to us.’
“ ‘That and much more. Prayer is the conversation of the heart with God and it ought to be the habitual state of man. Women, because of their more retired lives than ours and because of their affective faculties that are stronger than ours, are inclined to such conversation with God more than we are. They find comfort to their sorrows in it, relief in their work, which is not only the work in the house and in procreating, but also in tolerating us men, they find what wipes their tears and brings peace and joy to their hearts. Because they know how to speak to God and they will know even better in future. Men will be giants in doctrine, women will always be those who support men and the world with their prayers, because many misfortunes will be avoided through their prayers and many punishments will be withheld. They will thus work miracles, invisible in most cases and known to God only, but not less real.’ ” (The Poem of the Man-God, vol. II, pp. 677-678)
PRAYER, THE HABITUAL STATE OF MAN
As Jesus explained it so well, prayer ought to be the habitual state of man. Unfortunately, our fallen nature has caused us to lose the natural attraction we should have for prayer. Some days, it weighs on us and requires an effort. Jesus and Marie-Paule, who did not cheat with their human nature, also experienced this, whether it be Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross or the many rosaries requested of Marie-Paule during the night with her arms out in a cross at times when she was sick and exhausted. No, prayer was not always easy or pleasant for their human nature. But their love made them look beyond the effort and see the good that would result from it for themselves and for souls.
Marie-Paule wrote in 1984: “The value or merit of a person is not to be found in the brilliance or grandeur of his actions, but in ‘THE WEIGHT OF HIS ADORATION’ or of his true love.” (Le Royaume, no. 25, October 1984, p. 16) Therefore, can we have any idea of the weight of adoration Mother Paul-Marie is depositing on “God’s scales”? Although she herself is totally divinized, she continues to pray to God for souls. Even if she is seriously ill, the power of her prayer has not in any way lessened. As she herself said: “It is the offering of suffering or pain which is the best prayer of the one who no longer even has the strength to hold a rosary. God is so good!” (Letter to the Daughters of Mary, March 2007)
And since prayer leads to action, let us be assured that when God’s hour will have come, there will be no lack of work for everyone! In the meantime, let us love the Lady, and pray with her and for her.
Sister Louise Hélie, O.FF.M.