Following Jesus of Nazareth

Insights of the heart

Whatever the objective reality of these experiences, whatever the criticisms to which they might render her prone at the level of human sensibility (criticisms, which she was quite prepared to accept), they were undoubtedly the result of an extraordinary love for God. Equally undoubtedly they had a profound effect upon the spirituality of the congregation because they were the foundation for so many of Little Sister Magdeleine's subsequent intuitions and 'insights of the heart'.

They had  taught her that true holiness lay in becoming very little and very recollected, they had taught her the nature of true humility learned though weakness, failures and faults, especially those made externally visible.  She had learned that it was not vital to do great and spectacular things from a baby who carried with him a message of vulnerability, gentleness and weakness and who in turn called forth tenderness and concern in others. In particular the ‘incorporation’ of the Christ child into her centred her spiritual life on a particular aspect of the life of Jesus and pointed the way to the special focus of the congregation she founded. 'Always remain', she was to direct her sisters, 'Little Sisters of no account, and when you are tempted to forget that, look at the crib of Bethlehem and the tiny child Jesus who was the true founder of the Little Sisters of Jesus.' ‘A special light has come to us from the manger of Bethlehem’, state the Constitutions of the Little Sisters of Jesus, who are to maintain the ‘tiny newborn baby of Bethlehem’ as the source of their spirituality.

The phrase, ‘of no account’, came to her as she huddled with another Little Sister in the bitter cold on the back of a lorry surrounded by oil and petrol cans during a trek round France, giving talks to spread the message of Charles de Foucauld and raise money to extend the building at le Tubet to house her growing noviciate. She loved it because ‘the smaller one is, the more audacity one has’. She wanted, she decided, her sisters to be the kind of Little Sisters who were of so little account that they could be anywhere without shocking anyone; in the holds of ships, military trucks, tents, hovels; who could go anywhere without anyone thinking of offering them comfortable chairs or offices but who would be equally at ease in a luxurious aeroplane or drawing room ‘because they are so small that no one will even look at them’. ‘Small, as tiny as the little Christmas Bambino, like the humble workman of Nazareth – so small that even disdain and the experience of being overlooked no longer touches them.’