I want to give joy to God every day
I’ve always been a cheerful person, but since my perpetual vows I’m more assertive in singing “The Lord is my joy.” My life, like the life of other people, consists of difficult and joyful moments, but I know that the Bridegroom is with me, that the Holy Spirit supports me, that there is no sorrow that Jesus couldn’t dissipate. With this in mind it easier to endure the longing for homeland and family, and to overcome language difficulties and one’ own weaknesses. The certainty that God is my Father, and that He wants what is best for me, brings me joyful confidence, even in accepting the difficulties. In any event, in light of the word of God, I try to discover the Lord, and with Him the good which is far greater than the evil that I feel.
In order to become a more joyful disciple of Jesus, I – as an Annunciade Sister – have two precious models:
The first is Mary. In the church at our monastery in Grąblin there is, placed next to cross, a beautiful bas-relief of Our Lady, at which side are inscribed her 10 virtues practiced by the Order of the Annunciade. The “most sorrowful” is listed last among them. How much must she have suffered, looking at her crucified Son! When I contemplated this image, a question arose: could Mary feel joyful in this tragic moment? A priest explained to me: “Mary was happy at the foot of the cross. Since she always fulfilled the will of God, she was fully united in love with Jesus, even in suffering.” She is a model for all of us in difficult and humanly hopeless moments. Joy is born out of perseverance in love near the Bridegroom.
The second model is St. Joan de Valois, our Founder. I feel deeply moved as I read her biography. How must she have felt when her frailty was complicating her unhappy personal and married life, leading to the annulment of her marriage to the French king! Yet, despite numerous grievances and humiliations she never despaired. Quite the opposite: she remained amenable and spread goodness. Was she happy? Gazing at Mary, St. Joan learned to live in an intimate relationship with Jesus, to draw from Him the strength for living; to accept His will, and to forgive. She found her joy not in the possession of worldly goods, but in God.
With the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joan I want to give God joy every day, singing the Magnificat!
Sister Mary of St. Louis, OVM
In Grąblin community she is the Sister-in-Charge (in the Annunciade monasteries this title corresponds to that of Mother Superior).
She was born in Brittany, in a devout Catholic family. Being trained as a nurse, she was thinking – like most young girls – about starting a family with a large brood of children. She worked in a hospital in Paris. One would say that she had a comfortable life: her own apartment and a car, friends, and support of the loving parents. However, she was visited by doubts as to whether that was what she really wanted and was looking for. It felt as if something was amiss …. a loving husband, perhaps?
One day she met a woman-patient who – despite illness – radiated joy and peace in conversations and bestowed her smile on everyone. When the moment of that woman’s discharge from the hospital came, she saw her putting on a habit. Sister Mary of St. Louis retained in her memory the image of this joyous religious and the many wise words she said in their conversations.
When a year later the same Sister – Sr. Mary of the Divine Peace who is presently living at the convent in Thiais – was admitted to the hospital again, Sr. Mary of St. Louis used every spare moment to talk with her and to get help in discerning her proper way in life. In the person of that patient she found a spiritual director.
When that patient left the hospital, Sr. Mary of St. Louis decided to go for a few days to Thiais, to see what the monastery life was like. To overcome all fears, she took along a friend. In prayer and meditation on her life a moment came to stand in the truth before God: “I’m a nurse, but who am I to be?” In her mind she saw an image of a dark room the door of which stood ajar. A bright light shone behind that door, but fear did not allow her open this door wide. She thought that, perhaps, Sr. Mary of the Divine Peace could help. She kept coming back for council, spoke of her doubts and problems. Sister Mary of the Divine Peace attentively listened to everything, lent her books on spirituality, and tried to help anyway she could, but most of all she recommended prayer and silence – for God speaks in silence.
While praying in the chapel during her second stay in the monastery, she realized something very important. She understood that thus far she was carrying out her own vision of life, her own desires, and plans. At that moment, she said to God with full awareness and devotion: let Your will be done. The image a dark room re-appeared, but this time the door opened itself and the light flooded not only the room, but also the Sister’s heart. All problems vanished. This joy and pervading love demanded an answer. All became clear: she had to offer herself to the Lord and become a nun. However, this emotional declaration needed quieting down and continued discernment of her vocation. At that time, the prioress in Thiais was Mother Mary of St. Francis of Assisi, who had the gift of discerning people. She would look into someone’s eyes and see what was in that person’s heart. She advised Sr. Mary of St. Louis listening to her inner self and finding out if the Lord Jesus was truly calling her to His service.
When Sr. Mary of St. Louis returned to the monastery with a decision that her place was at the Annunciade Order, her whole life changed direction. She quit her job and informed the parents about her decision. Everyone was surprised. Although her parents prayed for vocations to the priesthood and religious life, they did not suspect that they were praying for that grace for their own daughter. However, they did not object, and she could begin the trial period at the monastery in Thiais. She chose this Order, because she always believed that God has chosen that place for her to bring her closer to His Mother. Sister Mary of St. Louis entered the Order 20 years ago and never regretted it since. She says that everyday brings her joy in doing the will of God. After her perpetual vows she spent 11 years in a monastery in Menton. For three years now she’s been serving in Grąblin as the Sister-in-Charge.
Glory be to God for this great witness!
Sister Mary of Divine Mercy was born in the beautiful countryside near Versailles to the parents who have been long hoping for her arrival. As she recalled, her Mom prayed to God with hope, asking to send her children and promising to have them baptized in the Catholic Church and brought up in the principles of faith so that they always knew that God alone could give them true life and protection in all the difficulties.
When the longed-awaited daughter was born, they surrounded her with love and all good things. She had a happy and carefree childhood showered with a lot of gifts. One of the memorable gifts received after her First Holy Communion was a comic book about the life of St. Therese of Infant Jesus. The person of the Saint made such a great impact on the little girl that she wanted to imitate the life of the Saint and to have – like St. Teresa – something that would belong to Lord Jesus alone. Prompted by her innocent imagination, she chose a drawer in the cabinet, where she kept things that she judged the most beautiful, for example: the drawings and flowers, and she rejoiced at the thought of offering these things to Jesus.
In France, children of 12 reaffirm their faithfulness to the Church through the so-called act of profession of faith. It is a celebration to which the girls wear white dresses and cover their heads with veils. Although for many children this time is marked by a crisis of faith and discouragement caused by life’s difficulties, the Lord did not abandon the child who trusted Him in the year of her First Holy Communion.
At age of 16, she made an important discovery: God is close to man. He understands everything; one could talk to Him about one’s problems; and unlike humans, who cannot always be relied upon, He would never fail. In her youth, Sr. Mary of Divine Mercy devoted a great deal of time to different sports and was very fond of getting “healthily” tired. One day, after training she decided to go to church, where she found joy and peace, which was a new experience.
Once, doing some shopping at the Carrefour store, she saw on the shelf “The Story of a Soul,” and remembered her fascination with St. Therese of Infant Jesus. Thus, she bought that book and begun reading at her first opportunity. Getting to know the life of the Saint, her experiences during the Sacrament of Confirmation, she conceived such a longing for experiencing the presence of the Holy Spirit that she immediately telephoned her pastor to have her prepared for the Sacrament. That was a very happy day in her life for she knew that she wanted to give everything to God and to become a nun. But it was only in her senior year at school that she announced this desire to her friends. Three months after high school graduation her Mom fell ill and was dying. Mom’s sister put on her pillow an image of the Merciful Jesus. In praying the Chaplet, Sister Mary of Divine Mercy regained peace of mind and confidence that her mother was in the arms of God; this trust in God’s mercy helped her in dealing with this untimely death.
After graduation, the Sister studied nursing, but continued to think about joining the Religious Order. Her spiritual director advocated patience and prudence and proposed to take a vacation first. In the spirit of obedience the Sister decided to go with a friend to the seaside. This friend was to find the accommodations, and quite unexpectedly she chose the convent of Annunciade Sisters in Normandy. There they saw up close in the life in a religious Order, full of joy, love for the Mother of God, prayer, and work.
On her return to Paris and taking up work at the hospital, the thought about the Order kept coming back, but she could not decide which Order she wanted to join. Prolonged periods of reflection before the image of the Merciful Jesus and earnest pleading for indicating the right place did not remain unanswered. Yet the Sister had her own desires, wishing for an Order with an old tradition, as well as the Marian and contemplative charism. Jesus heeded to these desires: when after the prayers the Sister began looking for something among the papers on her desk, she found a folder from the Annunciade convent. She took this as the God’s answer and – filled with gratitude – she arrived at Thiais, where she began her postulate. Because she loved the Merciful Jesus she wanted to assume the name of Mary of Divine Mercy. Although there was another nun in the Order that had such a name, the Lord Jesus has given the Sister another beautiful gift: she obtained permission to use the name. Following her perpetual vows, in the spirit of obedience she accepted the proposal to go to Polish and arrived in Grąblin 2009, where she remains.
Sister Mary of Divine Mercy serves at the Grąblin monastery as secretary, sacristan, and nurse.