A loving mother – too loving, alas! like nearly all mothers – confided to a priest her fears for the future of her daughter, a sickly, sensitive, affectionate child, whom the least trial seemed to overwhelm. Oh! said the mother, I cannot bear the thought of seeing my daughter exposed to suffering, if I could…
You would take her share of trials in addition to your own. Is it not so? interrupted the priest; but you forget that this is a selfish desire!
Yes, my child, but unintentional on your part, and consequently without sin… Look towards the sky.
And he pointed out to her the silvery clouds through which the blue sky, and the stars which sparkled like the precious stones in a crown, were visible.
And the mother, hiding her face in her hands, burst into tears. I understand you, Father; I only thought of the road, forgetting the goal.
Oh! no, I do not wish to take from my child her share of suffering, since suffering with Christ leads to heaven [Col 1:24]. No, I will not remove from her path the thorns which pierce her feet, because you tell me that those thorns become luminous rays which form the glory of the saints?
But, nevertheless, Father, it is very hard.
But if I cannot prevent her suffering, can I not, at least, alleviate it?
You can, my child, by teaching her yourself how to bear one’s suffering well.
There was a momentary pause, and then the priest said, with emotion:
Refrain from some of those ardent caresses which you lavish upon her… Not to receive quite as many will be no loss to her and profitable to you. By these you satisfy your heart without adding anything to hers but an increase of sensitiveness. It leaves her heart but too open to slight impressions.
The visible action of Providence proves every day to us that God does not like too clingy a love, even when it is most legitimate.
Give her the tools, but do not take the work away from her to accomplish it for her
Pressing your lips on her forehead, murmur the name of Jesus. Such a kiss will strengthen your soul and hers. Jesus at your appeal will descend into her pure heart, and will sustain her.
Do not grant her all her desires, and above all do not give her immediately what she too eagerly presses for… this will teach her to bear contradictions easily without being provoked, to wait without becoming impatient, to want for something without believing it lost.
Should she be discontent at times, do not rush to eagerly to fulfil things for her… There is an excess of sensibility in her heart which might spoil it, if it has not an outlet through the openings made by sorrows which one encounters as part of this earthly life.
Lead her by the hand to the foot of the crucifix, and, there kneeling, pray with her for a few moments, then embrace her… God has done his work; do yours, poor mother!
Place in her hand the component parts of what she needs, in order that she may prepare them herself and learn to understand what trouble is; point out her work for her, teach her how to do it, but do not do it for her.
Impose upon her each day a well-defined task, and require rigorously that she accomplishes it, in order to teach her not to be bored but to be occupied. Occupation strengthens the soul.
There is more to life than just emotional sentiments
Never excite her sensibility too much, lest some day, when she is older, the object of that sensibility being changed, it may trouble and disquiet her heart.
Procure for her but rarely books [and other entertainments] which are only filled with sentiments, they are no more virtue than the white or golden clouds which we admire in the atmosphere are heaven. These will lead her to believe that there is no other virtue but that which is emotional.
Teach her, finally, to do without you and to lean fully on God, in order that, when the time comes when you must leave her, her heart may not be without support.
When the heart of a young girl has no longer her mother, and knows not how to turn to God, it falls and becomes bruised and sullied.
And you, mother, learn to do without your daughter. The priest became silent, and, joining his hands, prayed…
– From: Golden Grains, Eighth Edition, H. M. Gill and Son, Dublin