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ST. MONEGONDES, A RECLUSE AT TOURS

SHE was a native of Chartres, and honorably married. She had two daughters, who were the objects of her happiness and most ardent desires in this world till God was pleased, in mercy towards her, to deprive her of them both by death. Her grief for this loss was at first excessive, and by it she began to be sensible that her attachment to them had degenerated into immoderate passion; though she had not till then perceived the disorder of a fondness which had much weakened in her breast the love of God, and the disposition of perfect conformity to his holy will above all things and in all things. A fear of offending God obliged her to overcome this grief, and she confessed the divine mercy in the cure of her inordinate affection which stood in need of so severe a remedy. However, resolving to bid adieu to this transitory treacherous world, she, with her husband’s consent, built himself a cell at Chartres, in which she shut herself up, serving God in great austerity and assiduous prayer. She had no other furniture than a mat strewed on the floor on which she took her short repose, and she allowed herself no other sustenance than coarse oat bread with water which was brought her by a servant. She afterward removed to Tours, where she continued the same manner of life in a cell which she built near St. Martin’s. Many fervent women joining her, this cell grew into a famous nunnery, which has been since changed into a collegiate church of secular canons. St. Monegondes lived many years a model of perfect sanctity, and died in 570. She is named in the Roman Martyrology.

The loss of dear friends is a sensible affliction, under which something may be allowed to the tenderness of nature. Insensibility is no part of virtue. The bowels of saints are always tender, and far from that false apathy of which the stoics boasted. “I condemn not grief for the death of a friend,” says St. Chrysostom,1 “but excess of grief. To mourn is a part of nature; but to mourn with impatience is to injure your departed friend, to offend God, and to hurt yourself. If you give thanks to God for his mercies and benefits, you glorify him, honor the deceased, and procure great advantages for yourself.” Motives of faith must silence the cries of nature. “How absurd is it to call heaven much better than this earth, and yet to mourn for those who depart thither in peace,” says the same father in another place.2








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