A Mysticism of Kindness: The Biography of "Lucie Christine"
Swan, Laura, Magistra
A Mysticism of Kindness: The Biography of "Lucie Christine" by Astrid M. O'Brien. University of Scranton Press, 2010, 230 pp., $25, ISBN 978-1-58966-206-3.
"Lucie Christine," meaning Light of Christ, was the pseudonym for the French laywoman, mother and grandmother, Mathilde Boutle (1844-1908). Mathilde's many spiritual journals were preserved by her daughter, Melanie Le Touzé, who subsequently gave them to the Adoration Réparatrice sisters after her mother's death. One of Mathilde's cousins was a member of this new order and Mathilde became an agrégée or lay associate.
O'Brien has crafted a thoughtful biography of a quiet mystic who remained within her social milieu as wife (to an abusive drunk), mother and friend. A modern sensibility will recognize the quiet wisdom and strength of one seeking to observe beloved religious traditions in a hostile political and social environment, and to raise children relatively unharmed by a drunken father. While snippets of Mathilde's diaries are included as part of the biographical process, this book, unfortunately, is not Mathilde's diaries themselves. In my correspondence with O'Brien, she advised that Mathilde's diaries were hand-written in poor notebooks with purple ink, and one of the Adoration Réparatrice sisters recopied the diaries, including her confessor's comments - 2, 395 pages worth. Unfortunately no one has translated these into English. Hopefully someone will undertake this project soon. Mathilde's diaries are the rare account by a married woman of her own visionary experiences (that has survived and been unearthed anyway).
Mathilde writes in her journal:
...how to illuminate for them this sweetness, this wondrous peace, this mystery, this all which reveals itself to the soul without the soul being able to say how; how to obey the Holy Spirit, this fire that I feel in my soul and which wishes to give of itself, to extend itself. …