Clemence Lucienne Dubois was one of the holiest women I had the pleasure of knowing; she also happens to be my Great Grandma (I am not prejudice or anything like that)! I have blogged on her influence in my life in several posts, but I owe her a great deal of who I am today. Although only a little over five-foot-tall, she was feisty and was always ready to debate someone on the Catholic faith; she reveled in it. When the Mormons and Jehovah’s witness came to her door, she would invite them in, while most of us “normal folk” just say, “I am Catholic” and shut the door. While they were on a mission to convert her, she had her own planned operation to convert them. I respected exceedingly her courage, when family members tried to oppose Church teaching, she never wavered in the dogmas; she was often outnumbered, but she held her own.
If a movie was on at a family event and it had bad language or impure scenes, she directly voiced her opinion even if she was the ONLY one in the room with this belief, and despite the consequences making her the subject of ridicule. I observed her in silence in these situations, and to this day when I have my own debates, I think of Grandma Dubois; I ponder in my mind, “if Grandma were alive and, in this predicament, she would say this or that, too.” I am also five-foot- nine and if she was small and bold, there is no excuse for me. She took me to my very first Latin Mass and it was through her that my devotion to Mary blossomed. It is symbolic, because those two things (namely, Mary and the Old Mass) make up my entire spirtuality. In fact, she also taught me how to pray my first Holy Rosary; when I was about ten years old, I opened the door to the guest room she was staying in (without knocking) and even though she was well passed seventy-years old, I found her on her knees praying the beads. I told her I was sorry for intruding, but instead she said, “do you want to learn?” I remember, as clear as crystal, getting on my knees with her…eager to begin.
It was comical as I began praying the Hail Mary’s with her and she said, “you only pray the second half of the Hail Mary”, as I had not yet known anything about these beads that would later change my life. I vividly remember hearing the Fatima prayer for the first time, “save us from the fires of hell”; it was the only part I could remember besides “Oh my Jesus” when I tried to keep praying the rosary by myself for the years to come. It must have been the Joyful Mysteries we prayed together, when I walked in on her, because for the rest of middle school and all of high-school I only prayed the Joyful Mysteries, with the best of my ability, each day thereafter until my sophomore year of college. I was THAT ignorant, but do not Jesus and Mary love the incompetent? I chuckle, looking back, when I would pray the rosary during class in high-school, instead of focusing on school-work; not entirely sure if Mary approved or not?
A year before entering Carmel she passed away; as the family were going through her house (treasure chest of all things Catholic) I happened to read a note she left of, “all these books may go to Phyllis’s bookstore, after Jade takes what she wants”. I was incredibly touched; she must have remembered, when I was young, how my Mom and I would come over to her house and as Grandma and Mom spoke, I snuck off to her little office filled with Catholic books, to look through them. Always believing I was being sneaky, and “thinking” she would not notice, when I should have known that Grandmas have eyes in the back of their head, too!
Grandma’s WAY OF PERFECTION copy!
I remember shuttering every time I saw the book titled, the devil, on her shelf. I was afraid of Satan because I knew he existed; now I take Our Holy Mother’s view of him, when she was sleeping in the middle of the night, she sensed his presence, woke up and said, “oh, it’s just you?” and went back to sleep. Grandma Dubois bought me my very own copy of Angels and Demons and it was her who also sent me home with a Saint Michael statue. It is incredible, when I look back, to see how she truly equipped me with armor to combat powers and principalities at that young age. From the Latin Mass, devotion to Mary, giving me scapulars and miraculous medals… how I wished she were alive when I entered Carmel so I could have thanked her for her impact, in cultivating, what I hope to be a Carmelite Anchorite vocation because I believe with everything that I have, that if Our Lady never had her in my life, I would not have a vocation at all.
I firmly believe Our Lady acted in and through her, to keep my path straight! She had a specific presence where I immediately felt at ease- at home when I was around her; I did not have to hide anything. Does not this sound like Mary? I believe Grandma Dubois gave me a definite sign however, and her blessing, from heaven recently. In 2017, I did in fact, gather all the books she left behind that I could take with me, and that I knew I would read, and gloried in the notion that they belonged to that saintly woman. A miraculous medal of hers I also found; a year later it turned completely gold when it started out silver. I like to believe that was her since she never was able to see me off before entering the cloister. What was that BIG sign, though?
Everyday, as a novice in Carmel, the sisters are expected to read three pages from Our Holy Mother’s (Teresa) Way of Perfection. A Mother Superior, in whom I believe to be a very special soul (now in Australia where she founded another Carmelite foundation), had the feast day of Saint Mariam of Jesus Crucified. That being said, it was encouraged, as much as a I disliked skits and plays (I mean, I left the world and its “theatre”, why were we engaging in this ALL the time?), to perform something for Mother Mariam. I sensed a pull toward Our Holy Mother Teresa; I knew I needed to perform something with her as the focus.
Since we were required to read three pages a day, I decided to memorize three pages and pretend to be Our Holy Mother; I recited it in front of Mother Mariam and the community. I called the skit Dialogue of Our Holy Mother; it’s not as though I had to dress up as Teresa; we all were Carmelites, so I merely only needed to hold a quill in my hand as I spoke, dimmed the lights, played soft Gregorian from the Carmelite Monks of Wyoming. The backdrop had a simple writing desk with a skull on it as I proceeded to reenact Chapter Eleven. Every night, in Carmel, before laying down my head to sleep I would recite this chapter and count it as my three pages, after performing that skit. Something about it seemed… crucial in my own “way of perfection” and it only made sense later.
What was remarkable, when I left Carmel, I went back to visit Chapter Eleven. I stopped reciting it when I left the Carmel of JMJ, and overtime, I forgot about the chapter all-together and no longer memorized it, sadly. But maybe it was God’s providence that I forgot it, because when I went back to my Great Grandma’s own copy of the book a few weeks ago, I noticed how she underlined dozens of sentences in the very chapter I memorized; the ones that meant something to her.
The words in this next sentence, that Grandma underlined, which was also the very section that stood out to me the most in the entire chapter, as I remember reciting it with great feeling, were as follows:
“Let us remember our holy Fathers of past days, the hermits whose lives we attempt to imitate. What sufferings they bore, what solitude, cold, [thirst] and hunger, what burning sun and heat!”
I was utterly astounded, and consoled, when I saw how she singled out the word “hermits”. It was all I needed to see, to believe, that she had given me her blessing long ago, without even knowing it. In my heart I know and believe that this precious, and ancient call, to the desert of the anchorites will be worth the wait. For my own personal sanctification I believe there is no other way to trod; I presume I could enter another Carmelite community so I could stop all this waiting and “unknown”, but I recall a loved priest, Father Jackson, recently telling me how if the chosen path we are called to is easy, we are most likely doing something wrong.
Therese said she knew the will of God by the desires He placed on her heart, and well, I desire to leave all, including community life, to suffer for the Immaculate Heart, the Church and the proper consecration of Russia. If, as in the first few chapters of Way of Perfection, we read how Our Holy Mother wanted to strengthen the rule of Carmel precisely due to the evils of the protestant revolution, how much more urgent is it, in our times, for souls to live perfect lives to battle the protestantism that has seeped its way into the Catholic Church? With Our Holy Mother’s blessing, I would like to lay down my life for the restoration of the Church, tradition and liturgy and see the triumph of Mary’s Heart in THIS lifetime. Let us take up arms and fight for the ONE, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church!
Continues to treat of mortification and describes how it may be attained in times of sickness.
These continual moanings which we make about trifling ailments, my sisters, seem to me a sign of imperfection: if you can bear a thing, say nothing about it. When the ailment is serious, it proclaims itself; that is quite another kind of moaning, which draws attention to itself immediately. Remember, there are only a few of you, and if one of you gets into this habit she will worry all the rest- that is, assuming you love each other and there is charity among you. On the other hand, if one of you is really ill, she should say so and take the necessary remedies; and, if you have got rid of your self love, you will so much regret having to indulge yourselves in any way that there will be no fear of your doing so unnecessarily or of your making a moan without proper cause. When such a reason exists, it would be much worse to say nothing about it than to allow yourselves unnecessary indulgence, and it would be very wrong if everybody were not sorry for you.
However, I am quite sure that where there is prayer and charity among you, and your numbers are so small that you will be aware of each other’s needs, there will never be any lack of care in your being looked after. Do not think of complaining about the weaknesses and minor ailments from which women suffer, for the devil sometimes makes you imagine them. They come and go; and unless you get rid of the habit of talking about them and complaining of everything (except to God) you will never come to the end of them. I lay great stress on this, for I believe myself it is important, and it is one of the reasons for the relaxation of discipline in religious houses. For this body of ours has one fault: the more you indulge it, the more things it discovers to be essential to it. It is extraordinary how it likes being indulged; and, if there is any reasonable pretext for indulgence, however little necessity for it there may be, the poor soul is taken in and prevented from making progress.
Think how many poor people there must be who are ill and have no one to complain to, for poverty and self-indulgence make bad company. Think, too, how many married women — people of position, as I know — have serious complaints and sore trials and yet dare not complain to their husbands about them for fear of annoying them. Sinner that I am! Surely we have not come here to indulge ourselves more than they! Oh, how free you are from the great trials of the world! Learn to suffer a little for the love of God without telling everyone about it. When a woman has made an unhappy marriage she does not talk about it or complain of it, lest it should come to her husband’s knowledge, she has to endure a great deal of misery and yet has no one to whom she may relieve her mind. Cannot we, then, keep secret between God and ourselves some of the ailments which He sends us because of our sins?
The more so since talking about them does nothing whatever to alleviate them. In nothing that I have said am I referring to serious illnesses, accompanied by high fever, though as to these, too, I beg you to observe moderation and to have patience: I am thinking rather of those minor indispositions which you may have and still keep going without worrying everybody else to death over them. What would happen if these lines should be seen outside this house? What would all the nuns say of me! And how willingly would I bear what they said if it helped anyone to live a better life! For when there is one person of this kind, the thing generally comes to such a pass that some suffer on account of others, and nobody who says she is ill will be believed, however serious her ailment. As this book is meant only for my daughters, they will put up with everything I say.
Let us remember our holy Fathers of past days, the hermits whose lives we attempt to imitate. What sufferings they bore, what solitude, cold, [thirst] and hunger, what burning sun and heat! And yet they had no one to complain to except God. Do you suppose they were made of iron? No: they were as frail as we are. Believe me, daughters, once we begin to subdue these miserable bodies of ours, they give us much less trouble. There will be quite sufficient people to see to what you really need, so take no thought for yourselves except when you know it to be necessary. Unless we resolve to put up with death and ill-health once and for all, we shall never accomplish anything. Try not to fear these and commit yourselves wholly to God, come what may.
What does it matter if we die? How many times have our bodies not mocked us? Should we not occasionally mock them in our turn? And, believe me, slight as it may seem by comparison with other things, this resolution is much more important than we may think; for, if we continually make it, day by day, by the grace of the Lord, we shall gain dominion over the body. To conquer such an enemy is a great achievement in the battle of life. May the Lord grant, as He is able, that we may do this. I am quite sure that no one who does not enjoy such a victory, which I believe is a great one, will understand what advantage it brings, and no one will regret having gone through trials in order to attain this tranquillity and self-mastery.
Post in honor of former “Sister Mary Guadalupe” (Emma) who is entering another Carmel in Texas, today, and who passed on her copy of Divine Intimacy to me before her entrance and for her more than generous donation of $2500. I cannot thank this dear soul enough; pray for her as she receives a new religious name today on Our Holy Mother’s feast day!