Letters to Young Girls

30 - The Golden Rule


écrit

PUBLICATION DATE

27 . 06 . 2024

Rubric

Letters to Young Girls

30 - The Golden Rule

Author

The Daughters of Mary

La règle d'or

Dear Friend,

When the bell rings at lunchtime, Mathilda’s joyful group of friends gathers at the cafeteria. Today, Philip, a boy who is sometimes rather arrogant, joins the group. They are talking about different things when Charlene arrives with her lunch.

Philip, who sees her coming, says in a mocking tone, “Here is Charlene with her ‘load of wool’ on her head!” Of course, he is referring to her curly, frizzy hair, and the witty and unexpected play on words produces peals of laughter.[In French, the play on words is with her name ‘Charlène’ where ‘Char’ = ‘cart’ and ‘lène’ is pronounced the same as ‘laine’ or ‘wool’.] Encouraged by the laughter of the others, Caroline, a girl in the group, adds a comment while mercilessly imitating her: “And it’s because her ‘load of wool’ is so heavy that she walks with her head bent like this and looks at us over the top of her glasses.”

Ornement doré

Mathilda thinks they are funny even if she is quite conscious that the teasing is going a bit too far and that it is not affectionate and positive towards their classmate. Charlene, for her part, is ill at ease. Lowering her head, she remains serious, hurt. She eats her sandwich quickly, silently, sitting at the end of the table, and then she leaves, as she came.

When she gets up and leaves, even more stooped than usual because of the moral suffering, Mathilda realizes more keenly that, perhaps, Charlene felt humiliated by the group’s attitude and mocking. Maybe it wasn’t said maliciously, but we suspect that Philip and Caroline are not very sympathetically inclined towards Charlene, so it doesn’t bother them too much to ridicule her. Poor Charlene! She did not choose to have coarse, frizzy hair and she will have to live with it all her life, while striving to accept herself as she is! But the damage is done! And unfortunately, Mathilda had a part in it, in a way.


Not to do to others what we would not want them to do to us” is a principle of life which all the great religions of the world have passed on and of which Jesus also reminded us in the Gospel.

It’s called “the golden rule”. Thus, to adopt it in our everyday life means that we will necessarily make great progress along the way of charity.

Rose or

As a young girl, Marie-Paule heard in her “a little voice” which urged her to “be good”. She wrote: “This voice which exhorts me to ‘be good’ helps me to acquire a greater love not only for God and Mary, but also for my parents, my brothers and sisters, and my companions.” (Life of Love, vol. 1, chap. 3, p. 39)

Be good”, is that not applying the golden rule, that is, not letting our words or attitudes be hurtful to others? Is it not also to do to others what we would like them to do to us? In the next few weeks, we encourage you to think about this rule and examine how you put it into practice. It can lead you very quickly to a perfect charity towards your neighbor. And you too ought to listen to the voice of your good angel who says to you: “Have confidence, be good, my child.


During the French course that follows, Mathilda notices that Charlene is sad and doesn’t look at her. As time goes on, her uneasiness increases at the thought of what her classmate could be feeling, since she is more vulnerable than the others because of her personality, her appearance and her short mop of hair.

At the end of class, Mathilda musters all her courage and goes up to Charlene, her heart throbbing. – “Listen Charlene, I think you were hurt by what we said at lunchtime.”

Pretending to ignore her, Charlene continues to gather her things without a word, and then, unable to take it any longer, she bursts out: “What would you say if everyone laughed at you and at your hair? I thought you were my friend, but I was mistaken. You laughed with the others and you even let them make fun of me.

That’s true! Mathilda laughed, even if a voice inside her said that it wasn’t very kind to poke fun at someone in this way. Charlene’s answer shows her, painfully and more keenly, the thoughtlessness of her attitude towards her. Now, she too feels very badly.

Trois roses or

Shamefaced, she apologizes: “You’re right. I can understand that you were humiliated. I regret having laughed. I regret that things turned out as they did. You know that I really like you?” And with a bit of a smile in order to lessen the tension, she adds (and this time affectionately, which makes things easier to accept): “… even with your woollen hair! No, I’m not joking; I ask you to forgive me, if you still can.

Charlene looks at her… over the top of her glasses! The look these two companions gave each other was charged with regret and suffering, each with her own. But, in the end, it was also a look filled with a fraternal and sincere brotherliness.

Then, encouragingly, Mathilda adds: “My cousin Colombe’s husband always tells me that we have to be able to laugh at ourselves. Don’t you think that with a ‘load of wool” we would have enough to be able to “knit” some disarming replies the next time, so that they will then leave you alone? In the end, you mustn’t let yourself be sheared…; oops, I meant you mustn’t let yourself be taken advantage of!” The two friends burst out laughing, while sunshine gently returns in their hearts.

The Daughters of Mary


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