2, Loving the Good God
STORY OF A LITTLE GIRL:
NENETTE DE GUIGNÉ
[ANNE DE GUIGNÉ]
SISTER MARY VERA, S.N.D.
SISTERS COLLEGE OF CLEVELAND
P. J. KENEDY & SONS PUBLISHERS
With Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1935
Little by little, Nenette became more like Jesus. It did not happen all
at once; oh, no, she worked hard each day. She kept this thought in her
mind, "Jesus must live and grow in me." To do things that were hard for
her became her great joy. She called them her sacrifices. "We have many
joys on this earth," she said, "but they do not last; the only joy that
lasts is to have made a sacrifice." With each sacrifice she made an act
of love, and, then, offered it to Jesus.
Mother Saint Raymond, who was one of the Sisters at school, read to the
children the story of Nellie
of Holy God, a pious little girl who died when she was four and a half
years old. The children loved the story and some thought it was nice to
die young because one would then surely go to Heaven.
"If you die right after Baptism," said one, "you will go straight to
"But I should be afraid to die," said another.
"I would like to become a big lady and to have little children like my
mamma, and to live a long time," said a third.
"Yes, but what if you commit sins? If you die now, your heart is pure
and you will not have to go to Purgatory," added another.
Mother Saint Raymond looked at Nenette, who had said nothing. "And
what do you think, Nenette?" she asked. All the children turned to
Nenette, who answered sweetly, "A long life is a blessing because then
we can suffer much for Jesus."
All day long, Nenette tried to make sacrifices and to suffer in
ways. But it was hard and sometimes she forgot. One afternoon the
nurse-maid showed an envelope to the children and said, "Who would like
to have a picture?" "I! I! I! I!" cried each one. The pictures were
pretty and the children loved them; but there were only three. The
nurse felt sorry because she wanted to make each one of them happy.
"Who is willing to make a sacrifice?" she asked with a smile. Everybody
was quiet. No one said a word for almost a minute. They all looked at
the pictures. At last a tiny little voice said, "I will." It was not
the voice of Nenette. She had lost the chance to make a sacrifice.
Although she received her picture, she thought to herself, "I have not
made a sacrifice," and her little face became sad. From that day on,
Nenette made up her mind never to wait, not even for a moment, when she
had a chance to offer something to her good God. And she kept that
For the Feast of Corpus Christi, Mother used to allow Nenette to pick
as many flowers in the garden as she wished to bring to the Sisters,
who used them on the altars for the beautiful day. One year Mother,
Nenette, Jojo, and the little sisters brought armfuls of the prettiest
flowers they could find in the garden. The Sisters were very happy. As
they began placing them in vases for the altars, Nenette whispered to
one of the Sisters, "Sister, I would be so happy if I could make a
bouquet for little Jesus. May I help you?"
"Oh, yes, my little Nenette," Sister answered. "Here, take a vase, and
fill it with flowers."
"Thank you, Sister," said Nenette.
She chose the prettiest flowers for her bouquet. Once Sister heard her
say to herself softly, "I wish I could work always for the good Jesus,
always, always! I love Him so much!" Her bouquet was lovely.
"Will you place it very close to Him?" asked Nenette, as she gave it to
"Yes, my dear," replied Sister Johanna, as she showed her the place.
"Here, very close, so that it will almost touch Him." Nenette was
The Blessed Virgin Mary found a big place in the heart of Nenette; she
loved to think of Mary especially at the foot of the Cross. She felt
that since Mary had suffered she would surely know how to help others
when they were suffering. Once when her nurse-maid had received bad
news and was sad, Nenette drew a lovely picture for her. It was a cross
with many rays around it under which were written these words:
"MARY STOOD WEEPING BENEATH THE CROSS UPON WHICH HER SON WAS NAILED.
GIVE ME THE GRACE TO WEEP WITH YOU."
When Nenette gave her the picture, she whispered, "I will say many Hail
Marys to the Mother of Sorrows for you." She often said to the
nurse-maid, whom she called Demoise, "We ought to suffer for Jesus,
because He suffered for us." At another time she wrote a note to her,
which said, "Jesus was on the cross and He suffered for us without
complaining; therefore, we should also suffer for Him without
Whenever her dear Mother was in trouble, Nenette would throw her arms
around her and kiss her tenderly while she tried to console her by
saying, "Mamma do not be sad. If God wants this to happen to us, it is
surely for our best."
If God wants this to happen to us, it is
surely for our best." Then she would run to the Blessed Virgin and pray
for her Mother.
Jesus saw how bravely Nenette was trying. H
e knew she needed His help
and His grace, so He came to her very early in Holy Communion. Most of
the children in Nenette's class were seven years old; she was only
five and a half. But she knew the catechism and she understood all that
a little child ought to know about Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. She
passed her examination just as well as the other children and even
better. So the happiest day in her life was set for March 26, 1917. On
this day Jesus came into Nenette's heart for the first time to teach
her how to love Him more and more.
Madame de Guigné relates, "Almost every day, as soon as Nenette
Jacques were able to understand, I would tell them some edifying story
from the lives of the Saints, or even more often a parable from the
Gospel, which would be followed by a little moral within their grasp.
Anne would look attentively at me and engrave all my words in her mind
and heart. She would not make any comments, but frankly and seriously
accept the doctrine and counsels. Certain passing movements of joy
could be noticed in her bright eyes when she learned that, like the
Saints, she could prove her love to God by accomplishing her little
childhood duties to perfection. She would then strive to put the
beautiful things she had learned into practice: she wanted to imitate
Anne de Guigné fully understood that love does not exist unless
is a union between two wills, and that this union supposes many
sacrifices. Two years later she would write, "A child who disobeys her
parents and teachers, a child who is moody, jealous and lazy will serve
God badly, will not do His Will. Obedience is the sanctity of children."
To help her in the formation of the children, Madame de
turned to Mademoiselle Madeleine Basset, a young lady from a good
family who was seeking a position. Her favorable influence soon
reinforced their mother's. Mademoiselle Basset quickly became Nenette's
confidante and friend. "Demoise" was the affectionate nickname that
Nenette had for her tutor.
Mademoiselle Basset said: "On January 17, 1916, it was my
joy----I should say my grace----to meet little Anne. She was then a
girl almost five years old, with brown eyes, a sweet, profound gaze,
and ash blonde hair. A lovable little girl without any shyness, but not
bold either. She already seemed to possess a wisdom beyond her age. She
came to say good day to me in an unaffected and natural manner that I
had never seen in a little child. I was struck by it. I was won over."
Anne's governess readily saw that the heart of her student
was full of kindness without measure, much meekness and
self-abnegation. At first she thought this child had been endowed with
such a kind nature from birth; she received quite a surprise on
learning through the confidences of Anne's mother that, quite the
contrary, she had been turbulent, bad-tempered, impassioned, and
jealous. Nenette's conversion did not
exclude daily struggle, the beautiful combat
of that of a child to master herself and please Jesus.
Demoise was to become the happy witness: Among the four children,
little conflicts would inevitably arise
over a toy, a picture, a little nothing. Anne had not yet reached the
point of altogether renouncing her legitimate claims. Even so, she
ingeniously avoided arguments and disputes. Soon she would rise above
this stage and attain total renouncement of whatever pleased her, in
order to please others.