Elisabeth and Me (1910)
By the time this volume appears, I shall have left the world, and entered the seminary.
My beloved wife, Elisabeth, prayed incessantly for my return to the Catholic Faith. Daily for this intention, she offered up all her sacrifices, trials, sufferings, and at the end,
even her death.
But she did this secretly, because when we married,
I was profoundly anti-religious. I had been raised Catholic
but lost my faith in medical school.
I searched for weapons against Catholicism. I set myself to attack Elizabeth’s Faith, to deprive her of it, and — may God pardon me! — I nearly succeeded.
Then, in 1913, she was struck by cancer, which for 10 months was her Calvary until she died, just 48 years old.
I have, since Elisabeth’s death, learned to appreciate the power of her silence. God heard the constant prayer it concealed, and completed the conversion begun in me by her influence and by my reading her Journal, which I found after her death, and which I present to you here.
It shows how Elisabeth endured terrible afflictions, comforted others, never complained, and looked to the Eucharist and to prayer and self-sacrifice, for the support she needed.
When I think that I was foolish and criminal enough
to try to destroy the Faith that lifted her so high
and sustained her so powerfully!
To what a Hell would I have reduced her
and condemned myself at the same stroke!
A great many people attended her funeral. They expressed such real and unanimous emotion that the priests assisting at the service were utterly astonished: “Who was this woman? We have never seen such a funeral before!”
After Elisabeth’s death, when everything seemed to collapse around me, I came upon the Spiritual Testament
she had written for me, and her Journal, too.
I read and reread them, and a revolution took place in me. There I discovered that Elisabeth had concluded with God a pact, vowing to exchange her life for my return to the Faith.
I remembered that one day she had told me
with absolute assurance:
“I shall die before you.
And when I am dead,
you will be converted;
and when you are converted,
you will become a religious.
You will be Father Leseur.”
And so from her Journal I perceived clearly the inner meaning of Elisabeth’s existence, so grand in its humility. I came to appreciate the splendor of the faith of which I had seen such wonderful effects.
The eyes of my soul were opened. I turned toward God,
who called to me. I confessed my faults to a priest
and was reconciled to the Church.
Elisabeth had led me to the truth, and even today, in my inmost being, I continue to feel her guiding my steps
to a more perfect union with God.
Fr. Felix Leseur, O.P.(ca. 1940)
Elisabeth’s Journal is my daily reading.
It is a book of rare beauty. The designs of
God’s Providence are shown plainly in
Elisabeth’s life and work.
I am convinced that by reading these pages
many torn hearts will find the means
to endure with courage the sacrifices
which have been imposed on them.
I now, therefore, give to you
these precious pages:
I pray that the Holy Spirit will spread them
far and wide and that they may help to work
in as many souls as possible the renewal
they have accomplished in my own soul.
Fr. Felix Leseur
* Felix’s words are adapted from In Memoriam,
his 1917 introduction to Elisabeth’s
Journal et pensées de chaque jour.