The Green Booklet and the Renewal of Religious Life

The reactions

The publication of this document provoked an avalanche of reactions both enthusiastic and indignant. As early as April 21, 1946, (the April issue of Vie Spirituelle), Little Sister Magdeleine noted:

"The 'leaven in the dough' written exclusively for the Little Sisters - and which appeared in the press without my consent - was beginning to draw strong reactions for and against. I was appalled and sought how to calm public opinion".
For enthusiastic readers, her writing was a ray of hope; it announced the great moment of the Council. But we could not imagine that.

In the meantime, religious authorities feared the consequences of this manifesto. Thus in Lyons Bishop Rouche received Little Sister Magdeleine with the words,

"You have really done it this time. Now all young priests are going to use the ideas you set forth in your article, 'The yeast' in order to take all kinds of liberties." (Letter from Little Sister Magdeleine to Father Voillaume, 14.6.1946).
Cardinal Gerlier shares those fears.

"He deplores especially the term 'to obey intelligently'."
A priest reproaches Little Sister Magdeleine bitterly:
"How could you think of writing such revolutionary pages.... It is spreading throughout seminaries. What harm you will do with all this!"

But others, including Bishops, have different opinions. Little Sister Magdeleine writes:

"Bishop de Provencheres, our new Archbishop, has said that he approves of everything, but that we had to speak of it with great tact and charity " (April 25, 1946).
The support of Bishop de Provencheres, who would become the Ordinary of the Little Sisters, never failed Little Sister Magdeleine. A few years later, with great smiling benevolence he would write:
"I believe that your way of saying things contains something that is new and that is what makes it difficult to categorize you" (1960).

Coming back on the storm that she unwittingly unleashed, Little Sister Magdeleine wrote:

"My testament, 'the leaven in the dough' is making its way. But there is no right balance between the enthusiasm and the condemnation. Many religious women reacted in the first way; that was a consolation for me. " (June 2, 1946).

Many young girls recognize that this religious ideal responds to their aspiration and they come knocking at the door of the Tubet. One of them writes:

"I still remember with such emotion the enlightenment I received when I read that. Someone was expressing what I was feeling in the depth of my heart. I was 18 years old then and searching, hesitating between the Carmel, the Trappistines or... the working mission! Reconciling a contemplative life with a sharing of the working-class conditions became possible when you listened to Little Sister Magdeleine" (Unpublished testimony, March 12, 1998).

There were fewer than thirty Little Sisters when "Leaven in the Dough" was published; seven years later they were ten times more numerous, and in 1957 they numbered 600.

Because of the phrase

"This is my testament",
some readers thought that the author was dead! Moreover Little Sister Magdeleine wrote to a friend:
"Poor foundress... I must depart for Paradise very quickly, since my testament is already published".