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We must learn to stop and dare to drink the Word of God


Avec l'aimable autorisation d'Anne-Claire Cassan.

Caroline Moulinet - published on 06/06/23

Anne-Claire is married and has five children. In her fourth pregnancy, she discovered she had a degenerative illness, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. She shares with Aleteia the journey she takes every day.

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease isn’t the first ordeal Anne-Claire has endured. When she was only 18 years old, her mother was called back to God, and then her father a few years later. It would be understandable to ask, “Why so many trials for one person?”

Anne-Claire has accepted it with deep faith:

I discovered my illness during my fourth pregnancy, whereas women are generally affected around the age of 20. Men are affected even earlier. I really think that the Lord preserved me. He prepared me to accept my illness. I know now that I will go through other trials, but that the Lord will always be there for me. I’m equipped to walk the path He has set before me.

Looking back on her life, Anne-Claire sees the wonder of God’s action. Her book “Je me déploierai dans ta faiblesse” (“I will manifest myself in your weakness”) is filled with her desire to allow others to gain time to be better equipped to live. She shares her own experience: 

When I was 18 years old, I didn’t accept the death of my mother. I hardened my heart. I put God aside. I had to hold on for my dad, to continue my studies. It was my husband who brought me back to God. He took me to a church, and that day I experienced a personal encounter with the Lord. The words I heard were intended for me, and they opened my heart. This God, whom I was blaming for all the evil I was going through, was telling me that he loves me and he was inviting me to open up to his help.

Accepting her limits

Anne-Claire was an active person who never asked for help. After the death of her parents, her desire to do things for herself was exacerbated. “With my illness, I was forced to stop, to stop relying on my own strength, to accept that I had reached my limits. I could only raise my eyes to Heaven and cry out to the Lord.

Anne-Claire would like to warn everyone to stop and take the time to live. “My body suffers continuously. Starting in the morning, I’m obliged to take breaks. Now I realize how precious these moments are. I could do without the pain, but having the opportunity to have the time to dive inside myself and pray is a real gift.

She continues:

If my testimony could serve as a trigger for people to look for the presence of God in them … He only asks to act in us, but for that to happen, we must learn to stop. We must dare to drink the word of God. We must accept to let Him act.

Today, society puts personal well-being first, and that’s good in the sense that we mustn’t allow ourselves to be locked up in our wounds, to become hardened. However, we shouldn’t stop there. Well-being, yes, but then we must be able to look towards others, to give in turn. My illness forces me to ask for help and I discover how good it is to do so. By refusing to ask for help, I was depriving the other person of an opportunity to become a saint. By asking for help, I appeal to the goodness of people, and therefore to the presence of God in them.

Sowing seeds of God’s light

Anne-Claire is particularly fond of St. Ignatius and St. Therese of Lisieux, who taught her to value the little things:

I marvel at all the little lights from God in my daily life. You have to take the time to look back over your life, to look and see these treasures. We mustn’t carelessly put them aside or ignore them because they’re beyond us and can therefore be a little frightening. They’re a reserve of consolation when a more painful time comes. These everyday moments are my hope. The Kingdom of Heaven is already here among us, in a simple look or a gesture of consolation.

I believe that the Lord will give me everything I need when the time comes.

The more I advance on my path, the more I feel a deep peace and a true joy. At the beginning I used to rant. I suffer from a degenerative disease. (…) I’m losing my abilities little by little, but I’m not losing what makes me who I am. I know that I will continue to decline. If I focus on what I’m losing, it’s hopeless, but I want to live! I believe the Lord will give me everything I need when the time comes.

As a wife and mother, Anne-Claire wants to reach out to youth as well as mothers. Her illness doesn’t allow her to work. She doesn’t bring income to the home, and she has no showy deeds to present to the world. Yet, she is sowing: She shares the light of God with those around her, starting with her family.

Anne-Claire with her husband

What do I have left? I don’t have my mother or my father anymore, but I still have their piety, their sense of effort and commitment. My success will not be in the money, the furniture, or the fame that I will leave to my children. I hope to be able to leave them an example of will to go forward without being crushed by trials. A testament that you can be smiling and bright and give of yourself, even when you have lost so much.

She goes on with a special consideration for mothers: “Mothers should not underestimate their value. Faith is received at baptism, but it must be activated, and mothers must rediscover the meaning of their mission: to bring their children to God.”

She also makes an appeal to young people: “I have wasted so much time. Everyone is loved by God, and young people should stop looking at social networks where everyone is identical. Everyone is unique! Let young people look for what makes them different, what makes them unique. The Lord will help them. ‘Become what you are and you will set the world on fire,’ wrote St. Catherine of Siena.”

Anne-Claire chose to write to bear witness. More than trying to convince people, she wants to remind the world of its need for transcendence. “Human beings want to manage everything, to explain everything, to control everything, but it’s good to hold on to mystery, to accept without understanding everything. That allows us to remain humble.”

She cites an example of this humility:

The example of the novices that my contemplative aunt was in charge of surely influenced me. These women apparently have no role in society, and yet when I visited them as a child, such light emanated from them! What matters is that each person is in their place. Some are called to great deeds, some are not, and Jesus wants to come and visit each one personally.

In this slowdown caused by her illness, Anne-Claire finds the necessary silence that allows her to let the Word resonate within her. “Faith and hope give great freedom. Freedom from what others think, freedom to go where the Lord calls. Each path is unique.”

And it is indeed a path, the path of a life towards Heaven, accompanied by Jesus and Mary.

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