Letters to Young Girls

23 - “I Remember!”


écrit

PUBLICATION DATE

09 . 05 . 2024

Rubric

Letters to Young Girls

23 - “I Remember!”

Author

The Daughters of Mary

Je me souviens!

Dear Friend,

Mathilda is visiting her grandparents and curiosity prompts her to open the big book lying on the table in the solarium: “Thérèse Sauvageau – A Witness to Our Past – Complete Works”. The first thing that catches her eye is the captivating illustrations, oil paintings by the author. There are so many authentic details in those scenes from the past! Her grandfather then explains to her that, by means of very lively and sometimes funny short stories, this book presents the life of the Quebec ancestors who lived between 1850 and 1950.

Livre avec une rose

In fact, the few paragraphs Mathilda read were enthralling. Throughout those pages, by means of likeable characters, the author leads her readers to discover the habits, the customs, the traditions, the activities, the trades and the work of those who built up our country. Simple but happy people, their faith in God and their nobility of heart impelled and sustained them. Mathilda was suddenly carried away into this era, so rich in meaning and values, as her grandfather, drawing from his own memories, was proud to recount some personal anecdotes about this past of which the subjects in the book reminded him.

Canada, a young country a little more than 400 years old, began to develop with the arrival of French and British settlers. We could say that, for about 300 of those years, its inhabitants were faithful to the Christian and Catholic values that impelled its founders from France. The reality of the soul was known and the people were attached to the principles of true happiness. There was respect for religion, for what was sacred, for the family and the older generation; work, well and honestly done, was valued and important, as were mutual aid, charity and the giving of self.

It was in such an atmosphere, imbued with faith in God, that Marie-Paule also lived her youth. Afterwards, it was with sorrow that she witnessed very disturbing changes for the future of society. What was happening? She wrote:

The ardor of our French forefathers would instill in Canada a love of the faith and a love of country. A colony grew in the shadow of the church spire. Souls opened to true joy, to the values of the love taught by valiant, religious people who left their country in order to form a strong people….

Suddenly, the world betrayed its faith, dropped the practice of religion, turned its back on hope and lost the love of Life…

Families broke apart; the begetting of children was refused; fidelity was rejected; children were left to themselves, insecure, without any sense of beauty, of heaven and its mystery, etc. A tidal wave swept over even the best families.

(Le Royaume, no. 110, March-April 1996, p. 2)

Safeguarding the noble values passed on to us is always a battle, a battle that begins in us and forces us to make a choice between an exalting ideal or following the easy path.

Pope John Paul II was well aware of this. He exhorted Canadians to “rediscover the essential values for an upright life and for human happiness.”

He told them: “Canadians have an incomparable treasure to offer. Therefore, they must protect what is profound, what is upright and what is good and worthy in their heritage.”

The best thing there is in our heritage is truly the attachment our ancestors had to their faith in God and His Commandments. Thus, in order for the future to be beautiful not only for our country, but everywhere in the world, we would have to have the courage to commit ourselves to promoting its beauty by rediscovering the principles which, in the past, made the generations happy.

Wherever God has wanted you “to take root”, whether this is in Quebec or elsewhere in the world, it is up to you, then, to safeguard and bring to fruition the heritage of the faith and the Christian and Paulian values which your good parents are passing on to you. Together, let us work towards preparing a better world because, then, our life will shine forth with the wonderful values which our love of God will indicate to us.

Main avec un germe en terre

While not giving in to nostalgia for “the good old days” and looking more to the future instead, Mathilda’s grandfather said to her:

You know, the great Quebec poet and storyteller, Félix Leclerc, wrote a beautiful sentence to describe the typical settler who crossed the ocean to come and build our beautiful country. He said: ‘He is the seed, he is valuable because he is the one who will sow over there.’ There is still something to be sown, over there, further on, in this future which the young people must prepare.”

Then, sententiously, he added: “Once upon a time, there was a blessed grain called Mathilda. It fell in good earth. Being faithful to its roots, it will then sow its seeds in the new world of peace and love.” And after a moment of silence, his gaze far off in the distance, as though to envelop all the blessed grains, all the young people who belong to Marie-Paule, he murmured: “If these wonderful young people want to, because one has to want it!

                  The Daughters of Mary


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