The life of those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High may be called a Hidden Life, because the animating principle, the vital or operative element, is not so much in itself as in another. It is a life grafted into another life. It is the life of the soul, incorporated into the life of Christ; and in such a way, that, while it has a distinct vitality, it has so very much in the sense, in which the branch of a tree may be said to have a distinct vitality from the root.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Meeting the "Queen of England"

Reflections on
the Life of
Madame Jeanne de la Mothe Guyon.

At this period of her life [around eight years of age] an incident occurred, which seems to require some explanation.

The period of which we are now speaking, was subsequent in time to the great Civil War in England, which resulted in the death of Charles First, the establishment of a new government, and the expulsion of the surviving members of the royal family. Charles had married Henrietta Maria, the daughter of Henry Fourth, and sister of Lewis Thirteenth of France. In consequence of the unfavorable turn of the Civil War, she fled from England to her own country in 1644; residing for the most part, in sorrow and in poverty, in the Convent of Chaillot, at that time a village in the neighborhood of Paris, but now making a part of the city itself. She died in 1669; and it is worthy of notice, that her death furnished occasion for one of the most celebrated of the Funeral Orations of Bossuet.

Some years after her flight from England to France, this distinguished person visited the city of Montargis. And when we recollect, that the family of M. De La Mothe held a high rank in that city, and especially when we consider that there were probably some common grounds of religious sympathy and attachment, it will not be surprising that Henrietta Maria should have honored them with a visit. This statement will help to explain an incident which we find in her early life.

It is related in her Auto-biography, that, while she was at the Seminary of the Ursulines, she was frequently sent for by her father, who was desirous of seeing her from time to time at home. On one of these occasions she says that she found at her father's house the Queen of England; a circumstance which would seem very improbable, except in connection with the historical facts which have just now been mentioned. This seems to have been in the year 1655, or about that time. She was then near eight years of age.

My father told the Queen's Confessor, that, if he wanted a little amusement, he might entertain himself with me, and propound some questions to me. He tried me with several very difficult ones, to which I returned such correct answers, that he carried me to the Queen, and said to her, 'Your Majesty must have some diversion with this child.' She also tried me, and was so well satisfied and pleased with my lively answers and my manners, that she not only requested my father to place me with her, but urged her proposition with no small importunity, assuring him that she would take particular care of me, and going so far as to intimate, that she would make me Maid of Honor to the princess, her daughter. Her desire for me was so great, that the refusal of my father evidently disobliged her. Doubtless it was God who caused this refusal, and who in doing so turned off the stroke, which might have probably intercepted my salvation. Weak as I then was, how could I have withstood the temptations and distractions, incidental to a connection with persons so high in rank?
After this interview with a person, signalized by her rank and her misfortunes, she went, back as usual to the Ursuline Seminary, where her paternal half-sister, to whose kindness her father had particularly entrusted her continued her affectionate care.

But her authority was limited; she could not control, in all respects, the conduct of the other girls who boarded there, with whom the younger sister, Jeanne Marie, was sometimes obliged to associate, and from whom she acknowledges, in the account she has given of her life, that she contracted some bad habits. She ceased to be entirely strict and scrupulous in the utterance of the truth; she became in some degree peevish in her temper, and careless and undevout in her religious feelings, passing whole days without thinking of God. But happily she did not remain long under the power of such vicious tendencies and habits. Her sister's unwearied watchfulness and assiduity were the means, with the divine blessing, of recovering her from this temporary declension. And she remained at the Seminary some time longer, always making rapid improvement when she was in the enjoyment of good health, and conciliating the esteem of her associates and instructors, by her regular and virtuous deportment, as well as by her proficiency in knowledge.

— edited from The Life of Madam Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 2.

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