"When the little Jesus comes into my heart,
I must always tell the Blessed Virgin
to keep Him there."
----Anne de Guigné
Part 1, Family Life
Little Anne and Jojo were followed by two sisters in three years, Madeleine and "Marinette" [Marie-Antoinette], the youngest of whom became the godchild of her oldest sister, Anne, which pleased her very much. Her happiness was short-lived for a few months later, this devout father died on the battlefield, but not before having gone to Confession the very day before. Captain de Guigné had previously written these words on a small card, knowing of the dangers of war:
"I bless Anne, Jacques, Madeleine and Marie-Antoinette." He had offered his life in service to country and for his children. His sacrifice was accepted by Heaven for Divine grace was to flower in his family, most especially in "Nenette". It was a sad day for the Guigné family when, on July 29th, 1915, the news was brought to them that they would see their dear father no more. When Nenette's mother told her what had happened, the little girl looked long at her with big, sorrowful eyes. All at once Nenette became a very serious little girl. She was only four years old. But she was the oldest in the family and now she must help to take care of mother, who would miss father very much.
Her father must have prayed hard for his little girl, for Nenette made up her mind to be good from that day on. She knew that to be good meant to please her mother and that if she pleased her mother she would please God to Whom her father had gone.
All day long she tried to be thoughtful and to remember what she had been told to do. But most of all, she tried not to want her own way and not, to be selfish. She did her best to please Jojo and her sisters so that they, too, would be good. Jojo was too young to understand what had happened, so she would have to say to him over and over again, "Please, Jojo, let's be good. Mother is so sad."
Often in the middle of a game Nenette would run up to her mother, if she saw her look sad, and whisper in her ear, "Mother darling, don't cry, Daddy is in Heaven. He is so happy. He is happy forever. He will never be sad again." She would often lie awake at night waiting for mother's good-night kiss so that she could say a few words to make mother happy. "Mother dear," she would then say, "just think, Daddy can still see us, he loves us, and some day we will go to him. So don't be sad any more."
In many ways, Nenette tried hard to think of others. She never teased her brother and sisters any more, but did what they wanted. When she was playing games she would let them choose the game they wanted, or she would take the part no one else wanted.
The faith which makes it possible for us to accept suffering in view of our redemption, does not, all the same, do away with that suffering. Madame de Guigné did not weep as one who had no hope; but the painful loss after six years of a happy marriage left her in very deep sorrow which remained a long time.
"If you want to comfort me, you must be good," Mamma said with tear-filled eyes. Nenette understood that, although she was still so young, she could help to soften her dear Mamma's sorrow. In the depths of her soul, where the cross had just opened an abyss, she could hear another mysterious but very strong voice----that of the Holy Ghost. And the child answered "Yes" to His promptings. In her little heart, the Divine virtues infused by Baptism were awakened. Between God and this child's soul would soon exist a union of perfect love.
Two weeks after the death of Captain de Guigné, a solemn Mass was celebrated in the church of Annecy-le-Vieux. Anne attended it with her godmother, Aunt Jeanne. After Mass, her aunt continued her prayers for a while. A little later she said to her godchild, "Maybe this is a little long for you. Would you like my Rosary?" Anne r plied very sincerely, "Oh no, Aunt Jeanne, I'm talking with little Jesus." And her aunt saw that she was gazing intently at the Tabernacle.
When she was only four, Nenette had already wished to receive Jesus. She had often spoken to her mother about her First Holy Communion and she had often asked her mother to tell her about the good Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. She understood well, young though she was, that bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ at Holy Mass.
One day when she was out walking with her grandfather, he explained all this to her. They passed by a wheat field in the country. Many wheat heads were lying in the path on which they were walking. Nenette picked them up and filled her little pocket with them.
"Do you know, Nenette," asked her grandfather, "what is made from wheat?"
"Tell me, Grandfather," said Nenette.
"The farmer takes the wheat to the mill where it is made into flour. We use this flour to make bread. We also use flour made from wheat to make the hosts, the white hosts which the priest offers at the Mass," answered grandfather.
"Do you know, Nenette, what becomes of the hosts at the Mass? Little Jesus comes, He hides Himself in the white hosts and they become Jesus."
How happy Nenette was when she heard these words. How she wanted her dear Jesus more and I more.
Her mother had taught her many things at home, so Nenette was soon ready for her first confession. She prepared with great care, for, as she said, she "wished her heart to be as pure as a lily for Jesus."
When someone asked Nenette if she was afraid to go to confession, she said sweetly, "ah, no, why should I be afraid? The priest takes the place of God. I will tell him everything." She was only five and a half years old when she said this.
The days passed quickly and Nenette was very busy keeping her heart ''as pure as a lily," and doing many little things to please the dear Jesus in order to be ready for His coming. A few weeks before Christmas, the Sister at school said to the children, "Soon it will be Christmas. Little Jesus is coming into the world in a manger filled with straw. Who would like to make Him a soft mattress?" All the little hands went up except Nenette's; she began to cry.
"Why are you crying, little Nenette?" said Sister.
"Because I don't know how to sew," sobbed the poor child.
"Never mind, Nenette, you will make the little gift for the Infant Jesus in your heart. This mattress in your heart will be filled with feathers to make it soft. You can make each feather with a sacrifice or an act of love. You won't be able to see your gift, but the little Jesus can see it."
"Oh, I understand now," said Nenette, and she started to work at once. She made many, many sacrifices as gifts for Jesus Whom she loved so much.
You can imagine how happy Nenette was on the great day of her First Holy Communion. After Jesus came into her heart, she knelt without moving. Later, she told her mother what she had said to little Jesus: "I told Him that I love Him; then I spoke to Him about you and the others. I asked Jesus to make them good. I also talked to Jesus about my sins, and then I told Him that I would like to see Him." Nenette made Jesus a great promise on that day. This was her promise:
"MY JESUS, I LOVE YOU, AND TO PLEASE YOU,
I PROMISE TO OBEY ALWAYS."
We will soon see how Nenette kept her promise. On this great day she was so happy that often she stopped what she was doing, squeezed her hands together, and whispered, "Oh, thank you, Jesus for coming into my heart."
To go to Holy Communion was now the biggest joy in Nenette's life. If possible she would have
liked to go every day. The church was far away; therefore, she could not do this. In order to make
up for not receiving her precious Jesus, Nenette often told Him how much she wanted Him to come into her heart and how much she loved Him. She made many Spiritual Communions. On a card she wrote a promise to receive many Spiritual Communions.
"MY DEAR LITTLE JESUS, IN ORDER TO PLEASE YOU, I PROMISE TO MAKE A SPIRITUAL COMMUNION EVERY DAY."
One morning when Nenette saw a friend of her mother's pass the house on her way to church, she called to her, "Oh, are you going to Mass? Please will you take me with you?"
"Certainly," said the lady, "if your mother does not mind."
Nenette quickly ran to Mother to get permission and then, full of joy, skipped along beside her friend. The lady smiled when she saw her happy face.
"Do you like going to Mass?" she asked.
"Oh, yes! I love to go to Mass very much. And, then, you know, it means one more Holy Communion."
About a year and a half later, Jojo received his First Holy Communion. Many times before the happy day came, his sister would say to him, "Oh, my Jojo, you will be so happy when little Jesus comes into your heart. You cannot imagine how lovely it is!"
Nenette was happy to have Jojo go with her to the Communion rail. The day before, she would often remind him to get his heart ready and she would help him to say little prayers of love. One day when Jojo and his sister went to Mass alone, Nenette helped her little brother make his thanksgiving just as Mother did when she was there. She put her arms around him and slowly and softly whispered to him the sweet and simple prayers that she always said to Jesus. Jojo said each prayer after Nenette with his hands folded tight and his eyes closed. Don't you think the dear Lord must have been much pleased?
When her sisters made their First Holy Communion, Nenette also helped to prepare them. She made a pretty little booklet all by herself which she gave to Leleine. Here and there on the pages she drew tiny flowers. On the first page, she drew a chalice with a host and wrote below:
O JESUS OF MY FIRST COMMUNION, I LOVE YOU.
On the second page, she wrote:
O JESUS WHO HAS GIVEN ME MANY GRACES ON THIS BEAUTIFUL DAY, I LOVE YOU.
On the third page were three short but sweet prayers:
JESUS, I ADORE YOU. JESUS, I LOVE YOU. JESUS, I THANK YOU.
Then on the last page, she wrote her sister's name and the date.