The Cross and the Lily

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A Date to Remember

It was 5 July, 1922. Twenty-one year old Yvonne Beauvais was on holiday in a centuries-old backwater monastery in Brittany, far from the glamour and febrile excitement of Paris. She had been sent there to rest, and to recover her compromised health. The "mother" in charge of hospitality assigned Yvonne to Room Number 3. It would soon become well known as a place of tremendous graces and frightful spiritual combats.

On this particular 5 July, Yvonne had withdrawn to her room and been in bed for about ten minutes. She recounts what happened then.

I distinctly heard my name: --Yvonne! I turned my head towards the fireplace, whence the voice seemed to have come. There was no one. Thinking that I was mistaken, I lay down again and tried to sleep.
A second time I heard: --Yvonne! I became afraid, very afraid. I put my head under the covers and began to recite the Our Father aloud. Having come to the words, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us," the voice made itself heard again: --Yvonne!

The Cross

I knelt on my bed and, from the side of the fireplace, I saw a brightness . . . nothing natural was causing it. Then a cross appeared, while a voice of extreme gentleness said: --Do you want to carry it? --Oh, yes, Lord, I replied. The voice continued: --Be an abandoned soul. Accept the trials that I shall send you like the greatest graces and the greatest favours and graces given to the souls I love. Accept them without complaining, without examining the nature of them or how long they last, without making much of them. Pay no attention to what will mortify you or humiliate you. Look at me, I love you. Is that not enough for your heart? -- Ah, yes, Lord, I answered, --I love you.

Yvonne did not, all the same, want to be taken in by a delusion. She was wary of spiritual pitfalls and things out of the ordinary.

--Is it really you who deign to speak to me and to be concerned with your little creature? Tell me, Jesus, is it really you?

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The Lily

She received a sign to confirm that what was happening was no dream.

Then I saw a hand draw near to the cross, pick the flower of a lily and give it to me. At that moment I experienced a transport of joy and of love that nearly made me faint. It seemed to be very brief, only my soul was filled with peace.

On 12 July, following the advice given her, Yvonne went to Vannes to see Father Crété, an austere Jesuit known for his holiness and discernment. In her journal she writes only this:

I went to Vannes to see Father Crété. I am very happy that I opened myself up to him. Ah, thank you, Jesus! I am happy to offer my sufferings for priests. My lily is still on the fireplace.

Astonishingly, without having been placed in water, the lily remained fresh and resplendent in Yvonne's room. On 13 July, a voice said:

--I am taking back my lily to pour forth love into other souls.

When Jesus Asks for Love

Yvonne, grasping the significance of these mysterious events, wrote to Father Crété:

Oh, what inexhaustible tenderness, what tireless goodness Jesus has for his little creature. [ . . .] His divine love penetrates me to transform me altogether. I want to work at this without stopping. I want to be what Jesus asks me to be: an abandoned soul.
One might say say that to each suffering, to each little act of love, Jesus responds to me with more love, with more of his largesses. Jesus is not waiting for me to enter eternity to fill me full. One might say that he is in a hurry to come and take his weak little creature for himself. It seems that he has need of her love, as if he felt himself all alone, isolated.
Yes, my Father, I want to delight Jesus, to love him tenderly. I want that he should know delight, to fix his divine gaze in my eyes, to hear my heart beat close to his, to take me in his arms and hear me call him by the sweetest and tenderest names. I want to wipe his tears if he is sad, and cause him, by my caresses, to forget the hurt that is caused him.

For Priests

One might be inclined to dismiss Yvonne's words as nothing more than the sentimental gush of a twenty-one year old girl who had, in fact, less than a year earlier, broken off her engagement to be married. It would, however, be a mistake to read Yvonne in a romantic or sensual register. Her tenderness for the Lord Jesus cannot be separated from her readiness to walk the path of littleness, humility, and suffering. She does not separate the cross from the lily. Her suffering and her love go out from herself to become fruitful in the souls of others, notably in the souls of priests. She further writes to Father Crété:

I am all weakness, he will be my strength. I am not afraid of the cross he has presented me. I will suffer with all my heart for the intention you recommended to me: for priests!

Among the many souls called to pray and suffer for priests, Yvonne-Aimée emerges as one in whom Our Lord displayed, in the highest degree, his readiness to enter into relations of an ineffable intimacy and tenderness with souls to abandon themselves to His cross and to His love.

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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