Second Notebook – Paragraphs 551-560
551. How great should each one’s love for the Church be! As a good child prays for the mother it loves, so also should every Christian soul pray for the Church, its Mother. What then should be said of us religious who have especially committed ourselves to praying for the Church? How great, then, is our apostolate, hidden though it be. All our little daily nothings will be placed at the feet of the Lord Jesus as a propitiatory offering for the world; but in order that our offering may be pleasing to God, it must be pure. And for it to be pure, the heart must be freed of all natural attachments, and all its affections must be directed towards the Creator, loving all creatures in Him and according to His will; and, acting thus, each with a zealous spirit will bring joy to the Church.
552. In addition to the vows, I see one rule as most important. Although all the rules are important, I put this one in first place, and it is silence. Truly, if this rule were to be observed strictly, I would not worry about the others. Women are very fond of talking, but the Holy Spirit does not speak to a soul that is distracted and garrulous. He speaks by His quiet inspirations to a soul that is recollected, to a soul that knows how to keep silence. If silence were strictly observed, there would not be any grumbling, bitterness, slandering, or gossip, and charity would not be tarnished. In a word, many wrongs would not be done. Silent lips are pure gold and bear witness to holiness within.
553. But I want to speak immediately of a second rule; that is, speech. Keeping silent when one ought to speak is an imperfection and sometimes even a sin. And so, let all the sisters take part in recreation, and the superior should not dispense them from this except for a matter of great importance. Recreation is an opportunity for getting to know one another. Let each sister speak her mind in all simplicity for the edification of the others and not in a spirit of superiority nor, God forbid, in a quarrelsome manner, for that would not be in keeping with perfection and the spirit of our vocation, which should be especially characterized by love. Twice a day, there will be a recreation of one half hour. But if a sister breaks silence outside that time, she must accuse herself before the Superior at once and ask for a penance, and the Superior should punish these offenses with public penances, or else she will answer for this before the Lord.
554. Enclosure. (note112) No one may enter the enclosure without the special permission of the Ordinary and under very special circumstances, such as the administration of the Sacraments to the ill in order to prepare them for death, and for the burial rites. There also may be need of letting in a workman to do some repairs, but for this a specific permission will be required. The door to the enclosure will always be locked and only the Superior will have the key.
555. The use of the parlor. None of the sisters will make use of the parlor without special permission of the Superior, and the Superior should not permit frequent visits. Those who have died to the world should not be going back to it, not even through conversations. But if the Superior thinks it right to permit some sister to go to the parlor, let her observe the following directions. She herself should accompany the sister, and if she cannot do so, she should arrange to be replaced by a sister who will be bound to confidence and must not repeat what she has heard, but who is to inform the Superior of everything. Conversations ought to be short, unless there is permission for extra time for the sake of the person who has come for the visit. However, the curtain is not to be drawn aside, except for very special cases, as for example when a mother or father urgently asks that this be done.
556. Letters. Every sister may write sealed letters to the Ordinary to whom the house is subject. For any other letter, permission is required, and the sister shall hand the letter unsealed to the Superior. The Superior is to be guided by the spirit of love and prudence, and has the right to send or withhold the letter, in the light of whatever is for the greater glory of God. However, I would like very much that such communications be as rare as possible. Let us help people by prayer and mortification, and not by correspondence.
557. Confession. Both the regular and the extraordinary confessors for the community will be appointed by the Ordinary [Bishop]. (note113) There will be one regular confessor, and he will hear the sisters’ confessions once a week. The extraordinary confessor will come once every three months, and each sister is obliged to see him, even if she makes no confession. The two confessors will hold their posts in the convent for three years. Then there will be a secret vote, and the Superior will submit the results to the Ordinary. The confessor can be re-appointed for an additional three years and even a third three-year term. The sisters will make their confession through a locked grille. The conferences to the community will also be given through a grille, covered with a dark curtain. The sisters will never talk among themselves about confession or the confessors; rather, let them pray for them that God may give them the light to direct their souls.
558. Holy Communion. The sisters should never talk about who goes more and who goes less frequently to Holy Communion. They should refrain from passing judgment on this subject which does not concern them. All judgments in this matter belong exclusively to the confessor. The Superior may speak to a sister, not to inquire why she is not going to Communion, but simply to make confession available to her. The superiors should never dare to enter into the domain of the sisters’ consciences. The Superior may sometimes arrange that the community offer Communion for a certain intention. Each sister should strive for the greatest purity of soul, so that she might receive the Divine Visitor every day.
559. On one occasion, when I entered the chapel, I saw the walls of a building in a state of disrepair [a torn down building], (note114) The windows were without panes, and the doors had only frames with no paneling. Then I heard these words in my soul: This is where the convent will be. I was a little disappointed that these ruins were to be the convent.
560. Thursday. I felt urged to undertake as soon as possible the task which the Lord was asking of me. While making my confession, I was holding to my own opinion over that of the confessor. At first, I did not realize this, but when I was making my Holy Hour I saw the Lord Jesus as He appears in the Image, and He told me that I must repeat to my confessor and my superiors everything He says to me or asks of me. . . . and do only what you receive permission to do. And He gave me to know how displeased He was with persons who are self-willed, and I recognized that I was one of these. I saw this shadow of self-will in myself, and I threw myself in the dust (note115) before His Majesty and, with a broken heart, begged His pardon. But Jesus did not let me remain in this state for long. His divine gaze filled my heart with such joy that I have no words to express it. And Jesus gave me to know that I should ask Him more questions and seek His advice. Truly, how sweet is the look of my Lord; His eyes penetrate my soul to its most secret depths. My spirit communicates with God without any word being spoken. I am aware that He is living in me and I in Him.