My Discovery of Little Sister Magdeleine

Interior journey

With the wisdom of hindsight there is always the danger of imposing too much logic, too much method on the sequence of ideas. I have on several occasions been asked what my method of working is. The truth is that I have no method. It is more a question of stumbling along without really knowing where I am going. Perhaps that is why I could in some small way understand what Little Sister Magdeleine meant when she spoke so often of 'following blindly'. But when recently I came to look again at the notes I made on Little Sister Magdeleine before coming here for the first time, I was struck by the fact that I had underlined the words: 'love', 'be like', suffering', 'humanity', the 'infant Jesus' and then I had put a large question mark. In fact, I was almost more struck by what was not expressed in Little Sister Magdeleine's book than by what was.
The same was true of my first interviews with some of the Little Sisters. Almost without exception the Little Sisters I met talked very spontaneously about Little Sister Magdeleine's humanity, about the events of her life, her simplicity, about how exacting she could be, about her spontaneous and sometimes even fiery temperament, about her preoccupation with details, about her attachment to the habit, about how she would welcome a tramp in exactly the same way as a cardinal, about her journeys, about her audacity and about her remarkable faith....
They confirmed that there was something truly extraordinary about her. When I asked what colour her eyes had been, many were unable to say. They spoke instead of the penetration of her gaze, the same gaze that Little Sister Magdeleine herself had described as a means of communicating love.
And when I asked the Little Sisters why they had entered the Fraternity and how it was that they had even been able to sign a piece of paper confirming that they were prepared if necessary to die of hunger, they often spoke of their first meeting with Little Sister Magdeleine, of her charism, of a spirit that they sensed in her.
No one spoke to me unprompted of Little Sister Magdeleine's prayer life, of her spirituality, of the deep source of all that she had accomplished despite and even through her human weakness. No doubt this was for very positive reasons - out of consideration for an outsider of unknown religious convictions. Perhaps too, it touched upon the desire to be human before religious and to be the leaven in the dough, a desire which attracted me greatly but which also called into question my own preconceptions about the religious life, preconceptions of which I had been previously unaware.
Nevertheless the omission was striking. The impression prevailed that there had been a part of Little Sister Magdeleine which had not communicated itself very readily, even to those who had been closest to her.
I remember very well in the course of my first meeting with Little Sister Jeanne, who tolerated my clumsy questions so patiently, remarking that I felt that Little Sister Magdeleine must have had an inner life which had not found its expression in her books, or even perhaps verbally.