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The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur Week 1 of 12 – Book Club

July 30, 2013 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

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The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur Week 1 of 12

The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur is one of my all-time favorite books. Elisabeth was an amazing role model for both husbands and wives alike – a beautiful example of one who leads with grace, humility and love, speaking volumes through her silence rather than through lectures and admonitions.  With great passion, she placed God and her devotion to her husband before all else, despite his efforts to belittle her faith.

The following was taken from the back of the book:

The Remarkable Writings of an Apostle of Faith in a World of Unbelief

This inspiring book gives you a splendid example of how to live as a Christian in a secular environment that can be indifferent or hostile to your Faith. For Elisabeth Leseur had two great loves: God and her husband, Felix. Felix loved Elisabeth as well; yet to their mutual sorrow, he couldn’t share the life of the Spirit that Elisabeth cherished.

Occasionally the happiness of their life together in upper-class Parisian society was shattered by Felix’s frustration and impatience. How could such an intelligent woman waste her time, as he saw it, with ignorant superstitions? Sometimes he and his friends would even ridicule and mock her faith.

But Elisabeth loved Felix too much to allow their home to degenerate into an emotional war zone. She realized that confrontations and arguments were useless; she chose instead to keep quiet and pray for Felix. In her secret diary, which you now hold in your hands, she recorded how she used his efforts to destroy her faith as means to grow in love for him and for God.

Throughout their life together, it grieved Elisabeth to think that Felix might be separated from her for all eternity because of his rejection of God. For her, life in Heaven wouldn’t be happy without him. Yet when she died prematurely, Felix was still an unbeliever.

The story doesn’t end there. When Felix found this diary, he discovered how Elisabeth’s whole life borne witness to the truth of the God she loved.

In time, Felix was transformed by the diary and his memories of Elisabeth. He became a Christian and, later, a priest. Now she may even be declared a saint. Elisabeth’s diary and spiritual writings (all included in this one volume) map out for you a path to marital harmony and greater love for God – especially if you love someone who stands outside the Faith. Let Elisabeth’s two great loves, and her faith and perseverance, inspire you now.


We plan to spend twelve weeks on The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur (The Kindle Edition can be found here). Below is our prospective schedule:

Week 1: In Memoriam, by Felix Leseur (p. xiii – xliii)

Week 2: The Journal, Part I, through end of November 28, 1901 (p. 3-21)

Week 3: December 18, 1901 – End of July 4, 1905 (p. 21-51)

Week 4: October 2, 1905 – End of “July – August 1907” (p. 51-79)

Week 5: August 23, 1907 – End of March 17, 1911 (p. 80-106)

Week 6: April 9, 1911 – End of February 20, 1913 (p. 106-133)

Week 7: Holy Thursday, March 20, 1913 – End of Spiritual Testament (p. 133-145)

Week 8: Daily Thoughts (1899-1906) (p. 147-187)

Week 9: A Call to the Interior Life – End of Litany to Obtain a Conversion (p. 189-208)

Week 10: Monthly Spiritual Retreat – End of Preface to the Little Treatises on Hope and Peace (p. 209-234)

Week 11: The Little Treatise on Hope – End of Seek and Follow Your Vocation (p. 235-262)

Week 12: Nourish Your Soul with Holy Communion – End of Book (p. 262-290)

Please join us as we delve into the most inspirational journal we’ve read since The Journal of a Soul by Blessed Pope John XXIII! OK – it’s the only journal we’ve read since then. Regardless, trust me when I tell you that we are in for a beautiful ride!

Happy Reading!


Note:  Weeks One and Eight have slightly longer assignments. It was difficult to divide these sections, but please don't let their lengths intimidate you. In light of these longer assignments, I've scheduled shorter assignments for Weeks Two and Seven, so you’ll be able to stay caught up by perhaps fudging the lines a bit. Regardless, we’ll discuss the readings as scheduled.


Reading Assignment:  Week 1: In Memoriam, by Felix Leseur (p. xiii – xliii)

Discussion Questions:
  1. Have you read this book before?
  2. Any comments you'd like to share before we get started?


Read more: Previous Book Club Posts

For More Information on the Book Club:

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About Vicki Burbach

Vicki Burbach is a wife and homeschooling mother of six children ages four to sixteen years who relishes the calm inspiration of spiritual reading amidst the roller coaster of life. A passionate convert to the Faith, Vicki is an avid reader who started the book club so she could embark with like-minded bibliophiles on a spiritual journey through some of the greatest Catholic books ever written. She is author of the new book How to Read Your Way to Heaven - A Spiritual Reading Program for the Worst of Sinners, the Greatest of Saints, and Everyone in Between. You can also find her at

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  • Antonette Bielstein

    Read ahead 🙂 looking forward to this study and prayerful that I too can be a beacon for my family in the transformation I am preparing for in this study – thank you for placing on the reading list

  • Mary Anne

    I’m looking forward to reading her book. I think this saint was instramental in bringing my husband back into the faith, too, as I prayed to her frequently for my own husband.

    • justamom

      That is one reason why I am looking forward to re-reading this book!

  • jrbarrytx

    Just received the book last week and I am totally excited to get started on it since I am in a Protestant family and have learned to avoid confrontation and I too do not want our home “to degenerate into an emotional war zone” as you put it. Thank you for choosing this!

    • Vicki

      I can think of no better inspiration in your situation than Elisabeth Leseur. I look forward to reading your thoughts as we get into the book!

  • Camila

    Hi Vicky,
    I’m looking forward to this study. Thanks for doing this – really. I think this book will be incredibly helpful.

  • Jeanette

    I’ve already been into this book…sorry, I couldn’t wait and I’m amazed at Elisabeth Leseur’s level of spirituality…the Holy Spirit is an excellent teacher!

    • LizEst

      Ditto! I already started as well. I have to read when I can. Sometimes, there is not a lot of time to do this.

  • Sister Anne Marie

    I needed to special order the book, and when i picked it up from the bookstore the cashier took a peak at it and commented that he wanted to get his own copy! I have begun reading it and look forward to the discussions that will be coming each week. God’s Peace!

  • Michele

    I am looking forward to this discussion I have owned this book for about three years now and have never made the time to read it.

    • Deborah Rentler

      I did too Michele. I am hoping the group discussion and reading plan help me to finish the book and get the most out of it.

      • Michele

        We’ll keep each other encouraged Deborah! Happy reading!

  • Jennifer Burton Brannon

    when will we start reading?

    • RobinJeanne

      Starting now.

    • LizEst

      See week 1’s assignment above. We will discuss this reading next Tuesday.

  • RobinJeanne

    I’m so looking forward to this book and I pray the Lord gives me the grace to percevere steadily with the weekly reading assinments. This will be my first true on line book study.

  • firstclarkgirl

    I have finished the first reading assignment. What an amazing woman! What a great role model for all of us! I am looking forward to reading more about Elisabeth and reading the comments. Thank you, Vicki, for suggesting this fine book.

  • Carrie

    I purchased this book and had only gotten into the first few chapters. Looking forward to begin again with the group.

  • Cynthia52

    This will be my first book with the book club, and am very much looking forward to it.

    • LizEst

      Welcome Cynthia. We are happy you will be joining us. God bless you.

  • Chris J

    I have read this book several times before, but never in a group. I am looking forward to discussion. I was struck over and over again by how Elisabeth embraces suffering for the sake of the conversion of her husband. It gives me hope for the conversion of those in my life I pray for, even if I don’t see the results of my prayers this side of heaven.

  • Teresa

    We read this for Catholic Book Club at my parish in Boise, Idaho. Everyone loved this book and in addition to being inspirational, found it to be of great practical help and wisdom. Looking forward the insights and comments from all who are going to read this with CSD book club.

    • LizEst

      …and we’re looking forward to you sharing your insights with us as well. God bless you Teresa.

  • Tdwunder

    Being the only Catholic in a Protestant family, I believe I’ve found inspiration in this wonderful soul!

  • Deborah Rentler

    I joined the book club several months ago, but until now haven’t had time to participate. When I saw that you were reading this book and knew I had it unread and on my shelf, I just had to join in. Looking forward to the discussion.

    • LizEst

      Happy you plan to participate! There’s nothing like having other companions on the journey! Because of the book club, I have read some things that I had not read before…and reread some material I had read previously and gotten more insight from that, as well. God bless you, Deborah!

  • dbar94

    I want to be able to participate in this book club but for whatever reason I cannot figure out how this works. Is there a separate place where everyone who is reading the book goes to to talk about it! Also in the list above it does not state what dates are for the certain chapters. Please help clarify how this is set up. I have joined my disqus but how do you use that site for this book club? I’m quite confused and to be honest have never done an online bookclub before. Thank you for your time 🙂

    • LizEst

      Welcome dbar94! We are happy to have you join us. Let me try to help you a bit.

      1. You need to go to this link and join the book club: Follow the instructions where it says: “How can I Join the Club?”

      2. You need to also sign up to receive the newsletter for this site:
      This newsletter will tell you about all the posts that are new to the site that day (sometimes two or three new posts a day). Every Tuesday, on the newsletter, there will be a direct link to the book club’s discussion for that day. Just click on that link.

      3. Next just follow the schedule above. For example, tomorrow we will begin our first discussion of the book and we’ll discuss the first reading, which is Week 1 in the schedule above: pages xiii to xliii. In the case of this book, the assignment does not go by chapters. For the most part, the reading assignment is given by the dates in the journal.

      4. Join in the discussion on Tuesday, or whenever you have the time to join in.

      5. You can always go to the home page of this blog and scroll down the page. Look for the column, on the right hand side of the page, about half-way down called “Recent Posts.” Then look for CSD Book Club. Look for the most recent posting of CSD Book Club and click there. That will take you right to the discussion.

      Hope this helps. If you have more questions, feel free to ask them. We will do our best to assist you. God bless you, always.

  • Crystal

    Just finished the Memorium… what a wonderful testimony to the graces received with prayer and suffering. Her husband shares her history of putting up with all of his intellectual, political friends who are not Christian,mainly of whom are atheists. Elizabeth responds with caring, openness, joy. She doesn’t preach or defend her faith, she lives with love. Pope Francis would be proud of her!
    Sometimes I find it tempting to keep close to those who share my faith and values. I am sure this book will encourage me to reach out to everyone, maybe especially those who do not have the blessing of faith. I am excited to read more.

  • GAartist

    Haven’t read this …but looking forward to it. Read the Memoriam last night. Wow, what an inspiring woman.Woke up early this morning and couldn’t wait to start chapter 1………..Loving it.
    I missed the last biographical book ‘Journal of a soul’. (though I had it on my shelf.) The timing wasn’t right and I had too much preparing to do for CCD to that much additional reading. …But I wasn’t going to let this one slip by.

  • Marianne

    I am new to the website and book club and I find it fascinating the way the Lord will lead us to things such as these to enrich our faith, if we allow Him to. As I was reading the Memoriam, I was struck by the thought, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Felix’s regret at the way he had criticized Elizabeth’s faith is both poignant and honest. He really did not know that he was turning his back on the beautiful gift of life with the Lord and it gives me hope that the prayers I say for friends and loved ones who are away from the church are being heard and answered in amazing ways. After all, Felix became a priest!

    Looking forward to reading the next assignment 🙂

    • LizEst

      Welcome Marianne! We are happy you have come to the website and the book club. Thanks for your comment…we look forward to more. God bless you!

  • Oneillj

    I have not participated in these book clubs in the past but have started reading this book and have been drawn into the humility and holiness of this women.
    Praise be Jesus Christ for such inspiring holy women.

    • LizEst

      Welcome, Oneillj! We are happy to have you participate and we’re glad you have started reading this book on this humble and holy woman. God bless you!

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