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Carre

    Caroline Barbara Colchen was born on 8th April 1829 at Metz in France. Her parents were Francis Dominique Victor Colchen and Elizabeth Charlotte Simon. Mr. Victor was a solid Christian, devoted his time and efforts to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Caroline’s mother Elizabeth’s practical spiritual life was based on 'Introduction to the Devout Life' and the 'Imitation of Christ'. She used to make vestments for the poor priests. She educated her children with strict principles.

    When she was twelve years old, her parents sent her to the boarding of the Visitation nuns, thus had the formation according to the Salesian Spirituality. She had her own defects like obstinacy, pride and imposing her will on others. But she was deeply devout with a strong will to fight against her evil tendencies. Her leadership qualities were visible and many children were influenced by her. The sisters noticed that Caroline was a privileged child and needed prudent direction. She had a special aptitude to counsel others. When she was still in the boarding, she had the desire to become contemplative Carmelite. But her spiritual director Fr. Jegou did not encourage her for it and so after her schooling, she remained at home and her mother prepared her for the position she was to occupy in society.
At the age of twenty, she married a cousin, Paul Carre whose career at the military school of St. Cyr had been unusually brilliant. Although only four years senior to his young wife, he was a staff officer and an aide – de – camp of General Rewbel. Gifted at natural science and philosophy, he was not a practicing catholic; a musician and an artist, he was a man of harsh character, whose will had to be a law to those around him; he was more over ever ready to engage in argument especially on those subjects of which he was a master.

MMC     Twenty years old and three months of marriage and nothing else to expect: “Should I stay? Should I return home to my parents? If I stay, it will kill me, for I am too sensitive to bear this life.” The next moment she listened to the voice of grace: “If I die, that won’t be such a misfortune if God wills it, I will it too.” Deliberately and generously, this young wife offered herself as a victim for the salvation and sanctification of this man whom she loved as herself and to whom God had united her.

The methods she used to win her husband:
    Intelligent and detached from self, Mrs. Carre realized that only a life of irreproachable devotedness and a perfectly even temper could soften the man she has decided to win for God. The young wife needed a lot of patience and tactfulness. To please her husband she by no means, his intellectual inferior, strove against a frail constitution to make their Paris home agreeable: she studied music and other things intensively to provide him with entertainment and uncomplainingly wore herself out to accompany him on his long walks through Paris and to the numberless receptions which their position constrained them to attend. Steady promotion meant continual changes of domicile; they sojourned in Metz, Strasbourg, Paris, Rouen, and the hardships involved were offset for Madame Carre by the joy she found in her family to which she devoted herself heart and soul.

    Of her four children, three of them died at an early age, however only one survived childhood, the one for whose sake they were later to revive a family title in adopting the appellation ‘de Malberg’. This son Paul, was as a youth difficult to manage and not interested in learning. In character he was like his father, never bothered about his soul. But through the prayer of Mrs. Carre, after having had a fall from the horse, gradually became very sick: having suffered much, willingly expiating for his past life, he died in1885, like a saint. Mr.Carre’s return to the religious practice was a source of joy to the wife who had prayed for it so long.

Meeting of Fr. Chaumont and Thereafter:
    During the early years of her married life Madame Carre has felt the need of spiritual guidance and ardently prayed for a director to help her to realize her spiritual aspirations. It happened that a young priest, a spiritual son of Mgr. De Segur, had recently come to the ‘Fashionable church’ of St. Clotilde in Paris. After her confession, urged, however, in spite of herself, she found in Fr. Chaumont the guide she sought, but only after long consultation with her brother, a Dominican, did she give her soul into his charge. Fr. Chaumont had worked out the teaching of St. Francis de Sales in its application to the lives of people living in the world of his day; had in fact, made a ‘Rule of Life’ based on the ‘Introduction to the Devout Life’. He had already tried out his rule with some of his penitents when providence brought Madame Carre to his confessional. She made a preliminary retreat and adopted the Rule, a thirst as she had for a life of perfection. The formation she received from Fr. Chaumont was firm and vigorous.

Madame-Carre-de-Malberg1     Fr. Chaumont decided to form an association for women living in the world, who would strive for their own holiness and that of others. They were to practice the three evangelical virtues but without making vows. Charity was to be their special character and amenity their habit. By prayer and good works they were to help the clergy (auxiliaries of priests). Members, whether married or single, were to live in their own homes and to continue with their ordinary occupation.

The Foundation of the society:
    The association was started on 15th October, 1872. The first three Daughters were Madame Carre, Mrs. Mort and Mrs. Sallard. Madame Carre, the first Directress of the group, took the name Sr. Jane de Chantal. The association would be known as 'Daughters of St. Francis de Sales'.

The end:
    Madame Carre suffered from cancer towards the end of her life.  In the Spirit of Jesus, she learned to love the will of the Father which she actively sought and ardently accepted. Health and sickness, gain and loss, success and failure, joy and sorrow, serenity and anxiety all of these welcomed with the same words: “Behold the hand maid of the Lord”, meaning but one thing, to be possessed by God, to lose herself in Him. Thus, she practiced the ‘holy indifference’ all along her life. She said “I so love above all else His adorable will and His good pleasure that I do not know how to want anything else.” Her unspeakable Calvary lasted until 28th January, 1891; she finished the holocaust she had offered God in peace and tranquility.

Carre