Letter of St Colette to the Lady Marie Boen (or Bohun)
End of 1442?
Since this letter is in the archives of the Colettines of Ghent, we may presume that Marie subsequently joined the community. The use of the title Lady (Dame) suggests that Marie had been married and as Colette was reluctant to receive widows and says so in her constitutions this may well indicate Colette’s openness to all whom God may call.
To my dear Lady, especially beloved in Jesus Christ, Marie Boen (of Ghent)
Dear Lady and especially loved in our Lord Jesus Christ,
As much and as humbly as I can and may, I recommend myself always to your good grace and to your devout prayers and supplications before our Lord Jesus Christ; begging you to take ceaseless care to go from strength to strength in his most perfect love, remaining continually, strong and virtuous in his most holy and worthy service, for to those who set out on this way is promised the kingdom, but it is to those who persevere loyally that the crown will be given. And as long as we are in the present life innumerable perils are commonly found, which are indeed to be feared, especially our enemies, the world and the flesh which day and night wage war on us in diverse ways. Against these we must arm and defend ourselves, for it is needful for us to conquer them if we do not want to be overcome ourselves, and, as Saint Paul says, we cannot have the victory without a battle nor a crown without a victory. And because of ourselves we can do nothing without the aid and grace of the Lord, neither do good nor resist our adversaries, there is need for us to return to our good and true Master, our Lord Jesus Christ, and beg him to equip us with his weapons so that we can the more surely overcome. These weapons, among others with which he was armed in this poor world , while bringing about and fulfilling the mystery of our redemption in the face of these three adversaries were: against the world, true and holy poverty from his birth until his death stripped naked on the cross: against the flesh , pure, holy and perfect chastity of heart and body, born and conceived of a pure Virgin Mother: against the enemy, perfect humility and true right up to his death and all in perfect charity. And whoever is thus armed can go forward into battle with sure heart. In short, these are the weapons with which he has wished to equip those men and women whom by means of his grace he has wished to call into his service, and who have wanted to follow him in the worthy evangelical state and the holy apostolic life. And I beseech him in his infinite goodness always to watch over and guard you completely, and so to enlighten you with his grace, that you may serve him without end and love him in that state which is most pleasing to him, and fight for him loyally under his Church. Thus you will be able to love him everlastingly and reign in his glorious heavenly palace, in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
Your unworthy handmaid who prays for you,