This month Books

An incandescent correspondence with Mary. A new book by Anne Lécu, an odyssey of the soul

26 September 2020

“As a child, I talked a lot with you. I remember coming to beg you in a church while I was on holiday to ask you to heal a relative of mine with kidney stones that were hurting him. And then, growing up, I left you, frightened by the devotees who betrayed that young, lively face I loved about you. It took me a long time to follow from within the footsteps of the little people of the believers and to approach you without fear of betraying either those who trust in you or those who cannot stand plastic virgins and derived objects”. Thus begins the first of the twenty-nine letters addressed by Sister Anne Lécu, a French Dominican nun and doctor in prisons, to the Virgin. This correspondence, this song of the soul, of one woman to another, composed in a language that is both simple and poetic, is not only theologically precise and psychologically and spiritually profound. It is an odyssey where you walk with Mary, where you hear her laugh and cry, from the Annunciation to the Assumption, where you cry and breathe with her. “To write to you in this way”, whispers Sister Anne Lécu, “is to drink from the pure source of a wild stream”. [1]

And this wild water is movement, far from the hieratic and mellifluous representations of the Virgin. “There is a tense thread between the expression ‘traveler of God’ which, in the Decalogue, does not cease to accompany the people on their journey of liberation and on their long march towards the promised land, and the Word who became flesh in your belly”, she writes. “Yes, Mary, you have become the holy Ark carrying it, and you invite us to make our lives holy arks”. Observing Mary, the nun asks herself: “Sometimes I wonder if I am still waiting for someone to come and place your son in my hands. I wonder if I wait long enough, if my thirst is still constant, or if time has extinguished it. You must have been very moved, Mary, to see the reaction of Simeon, that old man who was waiting for the consolation of Israel. Perhaps it is this state of mind that one needs to have in order to receive the only Son in ones own hands: to wait for the consolation of the world, to spy on it as if it our life was at stake”. It is sometimes said that a good book is the one that in turn  makes you want to write. Anne Lécu’s correspondence goes further: it opens a friendship with Mary, “to all those women and men who want to sneak into it”. It is therefore difficult to close these letters without having, in turn, the thirst to address a mother “who looks death in the face”, a “older sister who teaches us the life of the disciples”, a daughter of Israel who resembles every woman of this people, a faithful and upright woman, “standing up in the night to pray in the name of all those who sleep”.

by Marie Cionzynska

 [1] À Marie, Lettres, Anne Lécu, Cerf, September 2020