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  • How do we feel when we see the drawing?


    Do we look at it? What does it make us want to do? Do we feel close to these children? Both of them? Or do we give one of them priority? What can we tell them?


God spoke to my heart in these terms: Be careful, my daughter, to never let the fire I lit in your heart go out...the fire that now carries you so fervently into my service (HO p. 53).

This describes Jeanne de Lestonnac when she was around 12 or 13 years old. She was an adolescent with wishes and hopes for her future. She lived in an extremely turbulent political, religious and family environment.

Jeanne received a solid education thanks to the humanist cultural teachings provided by her mother, Jeanne Eyquem de Montaigne, the sister of Michel, the author of the "Essays of Michel de Montaigne".

As a child she also came into contact with the faith of the Reformed Church during a stay with one of her mother's brothers, a fervent Calvinist. But her father, Richard de Lestonnac "always defended his daughter from the surprises of a dangerous education […]. Michel de Montaigne worked alongside him […] and used his beautiful genius to keep his niece on the side of truth […]. He accepted this task with pleasure, as he was charmed by the beauty of this girl's soul" (HO p. 49).

When speaking about this period of her life, Jeanne would later recall the way in which God acted toward her. He helped her when she was a fragile child by sending her the support she needed in the form of people who took care of her. And she loved to remind herself of this verse from Psalm 124: "Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped."

But Jeanne quickly developed a difficult relationship with her mother, whose natural affection as a mother no longer resonated for her. Madame de Lestonnac was surprised at her daughter's opposition to her teachings and began to understand that she could no longer win her over to the Calvinist cause. She decided to distance herself from her daughter. "The mother's tenderness diminished, and her misguided policy became confounded. She could no longer stand her daughter. Although they continued to live together, they progressively experienced a great separation — a separation of the heart" (HO p. 53). But Jeanne did not love her mother any less.

Although she suffered from this situation, Jeanne participated in receptions held for young people in Bordeaux and enjoyed attracting attention for her wit and beauty.

However, a slow change began to come over her. She was struck by the words of Father Auger and had been deeply impressed by Teresa of Ávila for some time. She received word of the work carried out by this woman who, through the strength of her faith, was reforming the Carmelite Order in Spain by calling upon nuns to return to the essentials: an undivided love for Christ the Lord. Jeanne hoped for someone similar in France. "How, she wondered, is it possible for a girl in Spain to do what they say she is doing, and would it not be possible to do the same in France"  (SM p. 9).

Jeanne thus became more reserved and thoughtful. "She became increasingly convinced that life was happening elsewhere. She did not know where, but it was not in the salons or the elegant and frivolous events which she had enjoyed. Perhaps it was outside, in the streets where misery reigned. Perhaps it was among humble, ignorant people. Or perhaps in the silent, welcoming peace of a monastery.... This idea would slowly catch on, until it became a deep inner longing" (CM p. 28).

Marie's presence began to accompany her and to become an important part of her journey of faith. Amid her inner turmoil of intuitions, troubles and aspirations, Jeanne felt deeply drawn to prayer. In these private moments, when she expressed to the Lord her deep wish to give herself to Him and to work in His service, she received an immediate answer to her requests in the form of these words, which echoed in her heart:

Be careful, my daughter, to never let the fire I lit in your heart go out...the fire that now carries you so fervently into my service (HO p. 53).

Words that clarified and helped her understand that the time had not yet come for her to dedicate herself to the Lord.
Words that taught her that she would find herself in situations that could extinguish or diminish her inner flame if she did not nurture it.
Words that prepared her to take paths that would seem to go against her intentions, but that led her to believe that God Himself was guiding her.

And thus continued the Holy Spirit's slow education of Jeanne, teaching her to become discerning, to respond intelligently and generously to the calls of the present time while cultivating the fire of love that provides heat and light to all those who approach it.

Extract of the book "Pray 15 days with Holly Jeanne de LESTONNAC, niece of Montaigne".

written by Colette de Boisse, odn and Françoise Lacaze, odn. Ed. Nouvelle Cité.

How can I maintain this fire that the Lord lights in each of us in a unique way?

"I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?"

Luke 12:49


The fire in the Bible is the symbol of the experience of God and His presence: a bush burning with fire (Exodus 3:2), the fire on Sinai (Exodus 19:18), the pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21), the fire of Elijah and the prophets burned by the love of God.
Fire is also a symbol of purification: Jesus announces that the Kingdom of God will come as a purifying fire separating the righteous from the sinners.
For Luke the Evangelist, fire is still a symbol of the Spirit: let us remember the tongues of fire on Pentecost...the fire that also burns in the heart of the two disciples at Emmaus.
Jesus announced that He has come so that the world may be purified by the Holy Spirit and kindled by the fire of His love.