Alfred Louis Charles de Musset-Pathay (1810 – 1857) was a gifted young man who became a famous French playwright, poet, and novelist. Recently I read something about his life that gives food for contemplation.
He never married, but had several relationships which did not last. Like many Romantic poets and authors, his life was disordered and dissolute, and some of his works reflect a gross discrepancy between the longings of his heart and how he actually lived. However, God knows all things, and we must leave the judgment in His righteous hands.
Some time before his death, de Musset-Pathay was seriously ill and was nursed through that illness by a Sister of Mercy. When he recovered she gave him two presents – a piece of worsted work she had knitted at his bedside, and a penholder of coloured silks with the motto “Pensez à vos promesses” (“Remember your promises”). We can only guess what they spoke about while he was ill, but perhaps he promised to live a God-fearing and more useful life.
Sadly that did not occur, but he kept these presents, and when he lay dying he asked that they should be put with him into his coffin. There they lie to this day, in the grave visited by many people from all over the world in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
For us who live, now is the time to “Remember our promises”
Perhaps, like the thief on the cross, de Muset-Pathay found grace to receive forgiveness on his death bed, and could enter eternity knowing the mercy of Jesus Christ towards all who are truly repentant of their wasted lives. But for us who live, now is the time to “Remember our promises” and receive the grace God wants to give to be able to keep His commandments in this life which bring real blessing to us and to others.
Promises must not be made superficially but, having made them, it is written that God loves the man “who swears to his own hurt and does not change.” (Psalm 15:4). Let us “remember our promises” and seek God for His “abundantly available help” to keep them in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1).
Have we made promises to one another in our marriage vows? Have we made promises to God through baptism? Then let us remember our promises and the joy we had when we made them. Our joy only increases when we seek to obey God’s will in our trials, and not follow our natural tendencies to avoid suffering. God is faithful to keep His promises, and whoever calls on the name of the Lord (for help to do what is right) shall be saved (Joel 2:32). If we find grace to renew our vows to God and one another, the joy can even be greater.