September 26th is also the feast of Saint Thérèse Couderc (1805–1885), an old friend of mine. Immensely humble, the foundress of the Religious of Our Lady of Retreat in the Cenacle suffered calumny, rejection, betrayal, and endless humiliations without becoming hard and bitter. Just look at that face! She remained serene and confident in God. Mother Thérèse Couderc was, to use her own favourite word, utterly livrée, that is, handed over to God. In her honour, I decided to translate a page of her writings today. Here it is:
What does it mean to hand oneself over? I understand the full extent of the meaning of the expression, to hand oneself over, but I cannot explain it. I know only that it is very vast, that it encompasses the present and the future.
To hand oneself over is more than to devote oneself, it is more even than to abandon oneself to God. To hand oneself over is, in fine, to die to all things and to oneself, to have no more preoccupation with self apart from keeping oneself always turned toward God.
Again, To hand oneself over is is to seek oneself no longer in anything, not in things spiritual, nor in things temporal; it is to seek no satisfaction for self, but only God’s good pleasure.
I must add that to hand oneself over is also that spirit of detachment by which one holds onto nothing: not to persons, nor to things, nor to times, nor to places. It is to adhere to everything to accept everything, to submit oneself to everything.
You will perhaps think that this is very difficult to do. Get this straight. Nothing is easier to do. Nothing is sweeter to put into practice. The whole thing is to make once and for all a generous act, saying with all the sincerity of one’s soul: “My God, I want to be all yours. Deign to accept my offering.” That says it all. Be careful thenceforth to keep yourself in this disposition of soul and not to pull back from any of the little sacrifices which may serve to our advancement in virtue. Recall that you are handed over.
I pray Our Lord to give the intelligence of this expression to all the souls desirous of pleasing Him, and to inspire them [to practice] so easy a means of sanctification. Oh! If only one could understand ahead of time the sweetness and the peace that one tastes when one no longer places any reserve in the way of the Good God. How He communicates Himself to the soul who seeks Him sincerely and who has known how to hand herself over. Let one experience it and one will see that happiness is there and that, without it, one searches for happiness in vain.
The soul that is handed over has found paradise on earth, since she enjoys that gentle peace that is part of the happiness of the elect.