Yvonne–Aimée de Jésus: July 2013 Archives

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On 113th anniversary of the birth of Yvonne Beauvais (16 July 1901), the future Mother Yvonne-Aimée de Jésus, I want, once again, to recommend to the readers of Vultus Christi the little invocation that Our Lord revealed to her at Malestroit in 1922.

The picture to the right is her own work. Some judge it sentimental and too sweet. It has been, nonetheless, an invitation to confidence and hope for the little and the childlike. Our Lord Himself told Yvonne-Aimée to depict him as a little Child, a King of Love whom no one would fear to approach. A crown of lilies rests upon His Head, for He is the King of Virgins and the Restorer of innocence to those who give Him the burden of their sins. In His right hand He holds the olive branch that signifies healing and peace, and with His other hand, He points to His Sacred Heart, all aglow with merciful love.

As for the little invocation, for countless souls it is a healing balm, a fountain of living water in the heart, a inextinguishable flame in the darkness. Pray it today: O Jesus, King of Love, I put my trust in Thy loving mercy.

Those who know me
have a boundless confidence in my mercy,
and trust me to resolve even the most difficult situations
with a love that is at once tender and mighty.

Pray to me with confidence then,
for I am the King of Love, and I want to be recognized as such.
I rule in souls, not by coercion, but by my most sweet love.
I rule as a Child King,
with gentleness and with an affection that is wholly divine.
I am not a tyrant, nor will I force my rule upon anyone.

I am the Child King who comes in the guise of a beggar,
seeking the hospitality of one heart after another.
To those who welcome my rule,
I impart warmth and light,
food and drink,
a glorious raiment,
and a share in my kingdom forever.

Make me known as the King of Love,
as the little poor One who waits to be admitted into your company,
and welcomed into the midst of you,
there to rule, not by might, but humbly and with an infinite compassion.

If souls knew my kingship for what it is,
they would submit to me in an instant,
and I, in response, would fill them with happiness in my presence.
Love me, then,
and allow me to love you with my Royal Heart.
It is a great thing to be loved by the Heart of a King,
and I am the King of all that is, that was, and that will be.
My Heart is yours.
Give me your heart in return.
Thus will our friendship be sealed in heaven and on earth.

From In Sinu Iesu, the Journal of a Priest

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The Anniversary of a Heavenly Friend

July 16th is the 112th birthday of one of my dearest heavenly friends: Mother Yvonne-Aimée de Jésus (Yvonne Beauvais), Augustinian Canoness, Hospitaller of the Mercy of Jesus, of the Monastery of Malestroit in Brittany, France. Born on the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in 1901, Mother Yvonne-Aimée died at 49 years of age on 3 February 1951.

Beloved of Jesus

Mother Yvonne-Aimée's life was indescribably rich . . . in the most bitter sufferings and in an avalanche of the most astonishing charisms. From the time of her girlhood she knew of Our Lord's tender love for her. She believed in it. She trusted it, and she staked her life upon it. She was, in the truest sense of her name in religion, Aimée de Jésus, the Beloved of Jesus.

An Intercessor

Mother Yvonne-Aimée's intercession is powerful. From her place in heaven she is, like Saint Thérèse, her own special friend, attentive to all the prayers addressed to her. She responds graciously, willingly, generously, and promptly to those who ask her for help. In a word, she is in heaven as she was on earth: a dispenser of the Divine Hospitality, of tenderness, mercy, healing, and joy.

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A Victim of Violence

It is all to the credit of her spiritual son, Father Paul Labutte, that, after more than fifty years of silence, he chose to reveal one of the most painful secrets of her life. On 10 August 1925, three men ambushed Yvonne Beauvais, then twenty-four years old, in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt. The three men beat Yvonne, and tortured her. One of the three, a depraved priest, whom she had previously tried to help by addressing to him a warning from Our Lord, violated her. Yvonne lived for some time thereafter in anguish. The reprobate priest later repented of his crime and was converted.

Father Labutte chose to write of this episode in the life of Yvonne-Aimée, believing that victims of similar crimes would take comfort in seeking the intercession of one with a personal experience of their suffering.

Her Care for Priests

Beginning in her early twenties, Mother Yvonne-Aimée had a particular mission to priests. Ever respectful and discreet, she was sensitive to priests in moral distress and in temptation. She readily took on herself the temptations and sufferings of priests. She calmed many a troubled conscience, dispensed wise motherly advice, and communicated joy and hope to priests haunted by depression and tempted to despair. Many times she was sent by Our Lord to deliver a message to priests in the throes of temptation or spiritual combat.

To my brother priests and, in particular to those among them enduring emotional or spiritual sufferings, as well as to those struggling with depression and weariness, I recommend recourse to the intercession of Mother Yvonne-Aimée.

Father Paul Labutte, borrowing a line from the famous French literary critic, Charles du Bos, said of Mother Yvonne-Aimée, with all due proportion, what Du Bos said of Our Lady: "There will never be but one way to come to know her; it is by addressing her. No sooner does one call upon her than she reveals herself by answering." Personally, I can attest that this is true.

Gaston Courtois and Other Priests

Among the many priests who sought her out was the Abbé Gaston Courtois, Fils de la Charité. The Abbé Courtois exercised a profound influence over the French clergy between 1930 and 1950. It was said of him that he was priestly "to the very last fibre of his soul." Mother Yvonne-Aimée referred priests in difficulty to the Abbé Courtois. He, in turn, entrusted priests, especially those in need of a real conversion of life, to her. The Abbé Courtois wrote of Mother Yvonne-Aimée:

Only those who were very close to her know to what point she suffered, in a great spirit of Redemption, most especially for priests.

The Impressions of Two Great Abbots

Dom Marie-Gabriel Sortais (1902-1963), Abbot General of the Trappist Order (O.C.S.O.) considered Mother Yvonne-Aimée a great Superior who built all her work on the rock of faith. Dom Sortais remarked Mother Yvonne-Aimée's gift for pacifying and opening up souls. Until his death in 1963, Dom Sortais kept her photograph on his desk; it was the only photograph of a woman, apart from one of his own mother, that he allowed himself to keep.

The Abbot of Solesmes, Dom Germain Cozien (1921-1959), personally helped while hospitalized at Malestroit, by conversations with Mother Yvonne-Aimée, observed that she was marked by "the sense of prayer, of liturgical beauty, of praising God, in the school of the Church." And he added: "All the life of Mother Yvonne-Aimée was under the influence of God." Yvonne-Aimée was not afraid of expressing her friendship. To Dom Cozien she wrote in 1939:

I say it to you simply: I miss your presence. It is so when the Lord permits and seems to want a bond between souls. My prayer, then, will join yours in your dear abbey, which I loved, and love even more now. Did you not feel that also, my Very Reverend Father? May the Most Sweet Lord Jesus be thanked for having sown this joy of heart and soul on my path. Say to Him in the morning when He is all yours, when you hold Him in your hands (how fortunate you are!) even at the risk of prolonging the elevation a little bit, oh, say to Him, Give her, O Lord, Your light, Your strength, and Your mercy." I have such need of light to know what I must do; of strength, to follow through generously; and of mercy to repair the mistakes that I make.

My Own Experience

Almost thirty years ago, after having tried for a very long time, as most monks do, to practice the ceaseless prayer of the heart, providentially I came upon an out-of-print French biography of Mother Yvonne-Aimée, and learned of her Little Invocation, "O Jesus, King of Love, I put my trust in thy merciful goodness." One day, kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament without trying to think of anything in particular, I realized, to my surprise, that Mother Yvonne-Aimée's prayer was repeating itself ceaselessly and effortlessly in my heart. I found myself praying the Little Invocation at every waking moment and even during the night, in a way similar to the practice of the "Jesus Prayer" by monks of the Eastern Church. Over the years, the grace of ceaseless prayer by means of the Little Invocation has not abated. It is always there: a gentle murmur of confidence bubbling up deep inside.

As a newly-ordained priest, I often gave the Little Invocation as penance to those who came to me for Confession. Individuals from all walks of life began attesting to the graces received: graces of inner healing, of victory over persistent and deeply rooted habits of sin, of trust in the mercy of Christ, and of a ceaseless prayer of the heart.

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The Little Invocation

O Jésus, Roi d'Amour,
j'ai confiance en ta miséricordieuse bonté.

O Jesus, King of Love,
I put my trust in thy loving mercy.

Mother Yvonne-Aimée received the inspiration of the Little Invocation in 1922. The invocation began to spread almost immediately, first within her own Order and among patients in their hospitals, and then, especially during World War II, on a world-wide scale. Before long, persons praying the Little Invocation began witnessing to the graces and favours they received. In 1932 the Bishop of Vannes, France, approved the prayer for his diocese. The following year, Pope Pius XI indulgenced it for the Augustinian Canonesses of the Mercy of Jesus, for their sick and for all those hospitalized in their health care facilities. Pope Pius XII renewed the favour, and on December 6, 1958, Pope John XXIII extended it to the universal Church.

Mother Yvonne-Aimée cherished the Little Invocation to Jesus, King of Love; she wanted to make it known and see it spread because such was Our Lord's own desire. In a letter requesting that Pope Pius XI indulgence the prayer, she wrote:

It is so sweet, so strong, so rich, this little invocation . . . This invocation is appreciated by the sick; it consoles them. They love this prayer because it appeals to the Kingship of Christ Jesus, to His Love, His Mercy, His Goodness; in some way, it compels us to trust. It condenses our familiar invocations to the Sacred Heart and sums them.

In 1927, Mother Yvonne-Aimée had little cards printed in order to spread the prayer. In 1940, during World War II, in order to make the prayer even better known and loved, she had a medal struck. She drew an image of the Child Jesus, King of Love, which has since been distributed around the globe. Her drawing is naive and sweet; let the art critics say what they will, it appeals to the little and the poor, to the weak and the fearful, and has a way of touching their hearts.

Mother Yvonne-Aimée had but one aim: to draw souls to trust in the Heart of the Child King, to hope in His merciful goodness, and to abandon to Him all their worries, their fears, their cares, and even their sins.

More information on Mother Yvonne-Aimée de Jésus and on the invocation, as well as images, statues, and medals of Jesus, King of Love, may be obtained from Silverstream Priory's Confraternity of Jesus, King of Love.

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Yvonne-Aimée Makes Herself Known

It was July 9, 1956. Someone entered the life of Julian Green (1900-1998) in a most unforeseeable way. Green's sister Anne, who had remained in Paris and was to join him in Mareil (Seine-et-Oise) a few days later, arrived in Mareil, bringing with her an article by Colonel Rémy that she had torn out of a magazine picked up in her hairdresser's. The article was about the Augustinian of Malestroit, Mother Yvonne-Aimée de Jésus (1901-1951). Mother Yvonne-Aimée had died only a few years earlier in 1951 after a lifetime of extraordinary love: Jesus' love for her, and hers for Him. Her life was marked as well by charismatic manifestations of all sorts, including the stigmata and, alas, by frightful persecutions and assaults from below.

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A Connection

What most fascinated Julian Green about Mother Yvonne-Aimée was that, for twenty years, she was directed by the Jesuit Father Crété, the same priest who prepared him for reception into the Catholic Church at the age of fifteen, and wanted to see him become a Benedictine monk in the Isle of Wight. Green never really got over the bitter disappointment he caused Father Crété by not leaving the world for the cloister.

Discovering the close bond between Father Crété and Mother Yvonne-Aimée, and the prodigies and signs wrought by God through her, Julian Green had an inner certitude that Father Crété had asked the holy nun of Malestroit to pray very specially for him.

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When a Saint Takes an Interest in a Soul

The fact that Mother Yvonne-Aimée, of whom he knew nothing previously, entered his life, in this way, only days after the decisive confession of his "second conversion", and at a time when he was experiencing an compelling spiritual tension in his life, convinced Julian Green of the grace of her intercession for him. Yvonne-Aimée pursued him into his desert. She made herself known to him in order to help him break free of the bonds of sin that, for so long, had held him enslaved in a moral torment. Julian Green began to pray to her, and in his absolute break with a sinful past, recognized the proof of her action.

Chastity and Charity

Julian Green always secretly longed for holiness. He knew, all the same, that "one is not necessarily holy because one is chaste." He recalled the line of the old poet William Langland that, "chastity without charity is enchained in the very pit of hell." For Green, charity was everything. "God," he said, "has given us but one heart only to love him and to love men." Julian Green desired chastity because, almost without being able to articulate it, he wanted to be a saint. And he wanted to love as God would have him love.

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.

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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