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Les articles. 1 - profil biographique de Thérèse

 

 

 

The articles. 1 – biographical profile of Thérèse

 

 

ARTICLES FOR THE CAUSE OF THE SERVANT OF GOD THÉRÈSE OF THE CHILD JESUS AND THE HOLY FACE, CARMELITE NUN OF THE MONASTERY OF LISIEUX

[28r] FIRST PART

1 – It is a fact that Marie-Françoise-Thérèse Martin, in religion Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, was given the Order by the Mother Prioress of the Carmel of Lisieux to freely write whatever naturally came to her mind on the subject of her life. As Our Lord had made her feel that she would please Him by simply obeying the order, before beginning to sing God’s mercies, she prayed to the Blessed Virgin to guide her hand, wishing to write only what would please Him.

             Such is the origin of this autobiographical text entitled Histoire d'une âme (Story of a Soul). It is not the actual life story of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, but it includes her thoughts on the graces that Our Lord deigned to grant her over her lifetime. In graceful language, she wrote that she was pleased, under the authority of her Mother Prioress and for her alone, to sing these indescribable blessings and to write the story of a little flower gathered by Jesus. She added, “The flower about to tell her story rejoices at having to publish the totally gratuitous gifts of Jesus. She knows that nothing in herself was capable of attracting the divine glances, and His mercy alone brought about everything that is good in her.” [MSA 3,2] - This will be proved by well-informed witnesses, who will bring evidence of their claims.

[28v] 2 – Marie-Françoise-Thérèse Martin was born in Alençon on 2nd January 1873 to very Christian parents. Her father, Louis-Joseph-Stanislas Martin, stood apart for his spirit of faith and great generosity; her mother, Zélie Guérin, was a woman of fervent and enlightened piety. God blessed their union with children. Marie-Françoise-Thérèse was their ninth child. She was baptised in the church of Notre-Dame in Alençon, diocese of Séez, on 4th January 1873. - As will be shown . . .

3 – As Christian parents, they were constantly preoccupied with the eternal salvation of their children, who grew up in an atmosphere of true and solid piety. They lived in material comfort far from affectation and luxury; God blessed their businesses. He took back four of their children when they were still young: two sons and two daughters. The other five daughters joined convents; four were admitted to the Carmel of Lisieux, and one to the Visitation of Caen. - As will be shown . . .

4 – Thérèse, the youngest, was surrounded with the greatest affection. Endearingly named queen and little queen, she was lavished with love and kisses. She showed signs of intelligence very early on, when she already sampled the charms of virtuous living. Like many saints, including St Teresa and St Genevieve, she stood apart for her advanced maturity, particularly regarding her spiritual thoughts, to which she was drawn throughout her life. “Oh, how I wish you would die, dear Mother!” she said one day. When she was scolded, she replied, “It is because I want you to go to heaven, and you say we must die to get there!” (MSA 4,2) She wished the same for her Fatherin her outbursts of [29r] affection for him; she was about three years old. Even at that age, despite her strong will and nascent pride, she strove to offer up little sacrifices to God, prompted by her sisters. She began practising charity and would gladly take alms with which she had been entrusted to the poor. - This will be proved by well informed witnesses, who will bring evidence of what they claim based on what they have seen or heard said.

5 – At the age of four and a half, Thérèse lost her mother to a long illness. She was left with painful and lasting memories of that time. Everything about it marked her extremely sensitive nature; firstly the separation that she was obliged to endure, the administering of Extreme Unction, her father’s grief, kissing her mother’s cold forehead, and seeing the coffin, which she contemplated at length. After the funeral, the five little orphans were reunited and deeply saddened. Céline chose Marie to be her new mother; so Thérèse threw herself into the arms of her second eldest sister, saying: “As for me, it’s Pauline who will be my Mamma.” (MSA 12,2) And she put her all her trust in her from that moment on. - As will be shown . . .

6 – The newly widowed Mr Martin moved to Lisieux, into the house named Les Buissonnets, to allow his children to be closer to their mother’s family. Thérèse grew up under the firm and enlightened guidance of her sister Pauline. She strove to please God through her actions and to not offend Him, and, in the evenings, she would be anxious to know whether or not God was pleased with her. At the age of five and a half, she already understood all the religious instructions she heard, so the date of her first confession was moved forward. She prepared for it so thoroughly that she addressed the priest as she would God. [29v] She took away from this first confession a very joyful memory and a greater devotion to the Blessed Virgin. - As will be shown . . .  

7 – She enjoyed taking outings with Mr Martin, their walk usually ending in a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. She liked Sunday ceremonies, religious feast days, pious readings, and communal prayer, saying that she only had to look at her father to know how to pray to the saints. In a sort of prophetic vision, which she immediately related to her sisters, she glimpsed the crosses that would weigh upon her beloved father at the end of his life. She thought she saw him as an old man bent over by age and wearing, on his grey head, the sign of his great trial; her extremely loving heart would never dismiss this memory and what happened later confirmed her childhood apprehensions. - As will be shown . . .

8 – Thérèse joined the Benedictine convent school in Lisieux, to follow the boarding school’s classes, at the age of eight and a half. Her lively intelligence shone through in her studies, but she preferred spending time with her family to playing her schoolmates’ noisier games. Soon afterwards, her sister Pauline, who had been a second mother to her, left for the Carmel, which pained her very deeply. Her first aspirations for a cloistered life and her desire for sainthood date back to this time and to the visits that she paid to her sister. She even shared her ambitions with the Mother Prioress of the Carmel on her sister’s encouragements. The Prioress told the nine and half year old postulant to wait several years, during which time she endured many trials. The first was a serious illness, accompanied by strange phenomena including fits of terror, which were attributed to the devil. The doctor’s science and [30r] her family’s devoted nursing proved useless. The illness abruptly ended during a novena to Our Lady of Victories. One day when her condition seemed particularly serious, her sisters threw themselves on their knees at the foot of the statue of Mary. The young patient joined their ardent prayer and Mary was moved to compassion. “The Blessed Virgin came towards me,” she said, “and smiled at me but never will I tell anyone so, for then my happiness would disappear.” [MSA 30-1] She was cured. However, her extremely impressionable nature meant that her sisters partly inferred what had happened, and the questions that, in their pious curiosity, the Carmelites asked her ultimately led to the secret being discovered, which plunged her into a deep state of anxiety for a long while.

9 – Thérèse’s First Communion took place on 8th May 1884. To better prepare herself for it, she made a huge number of little sacrifices, offering them to Jesus as though a bouquet of different flowers. She hungrily devoured the pious advice she was given and her sister Marie’s more intimate teachings. Her fervour doubled during her retreat at the abbey of Lisieux, where she was schooled, and the Benedictine nuns gave her the best care. Sacerdotal teachings completed her preparation for the big day. “Ah! How sweet was that first kiss of Jesus!” she wrote. Tears of joy ran down her cheeks as, during the thanksgiving, she said to our Lord, I love You, and I give myself to You forever!” [MSA 35,1] Thérèse had vanished as a drop of water is lost in the immensity of the ocean. Jesus alone remained; He was the Master, the King. She recited the Act of Consecration to Mary on behalf of her companions, full of gratitude as she remembered the protection that she had already been given. - As will be shown . . .

10 – On 14th June 1884 she was confirmed.

[30v] Story of a Soul reads, “I was very carefully prepared to receive the visit of the Holy Spirit, and I did not understand why greater attention was not paid to the reception of this sacrament of Love. As the ceremony could not take place on the appointed day, I had the consolation of having two days of solitude instead of one. Ah! How happy my soul was! Like the Apostles, I awaited the Holy Spirit’s visit with great happiness in my soul. I rejoiced at the thought of soon being a perfect Christian and especially of having eternally on my forehead the mysterious cross that the Bishop marks when conferring this sacrament.” (MSA 36,2) When her sister Céline showed surprised at such pious desires, which were more usual in children taking their First Communion, Thérèse, with holy enthusiasm and an intelligence far beyond her years, told her what she understood of the virtue of this sacrament; of the taking possession of her heart, soul, and whole being by the spirit of love. “I did not experience an impetuous wind at the moment of the Holy Spirit’s descent but rather this light breeze which the prophet Elijah heard on Mount Horeb. On that day, I received the strength to suffer, for the martyrdom of my soul was to commence soon afterwards.” (MSA 36,1-37,2)

And so it was that, at the age of 13, she was assailed by a crisis of scruples so severe that her father had to take her out of the Benedictine school. Her sister Marie was her confidante and supported her until she herself left Les Buissonnets for the Carmel. Thérèse then sought support from her family in heaven, praying in particular to the four little angels whom God had called back to Him. - As will be shown . . .

11 – Her extreme and overly personal sensitivity was replaced by an immense love for souls and a great desire to [31r] save them through prayer. This was the grace of 1886, which she called the moment of her conversion. The sight of the wounds of Our Lord on the cross moved her deeply, and His utterance on Calvary, “I thirst,” manifested itself in her mind in the spiritual sense of zeal for redeeming souls. There was much talk at that time of a hardened killer who was about to atone for his infamy in Paris, and Thérèse put all her spiritual strength into bringing about his conversion, praying, “My God, I am sure You will forgive the poor, unfortunate Pranzini; I’d believe this even if he went to his death without any signs of repentance or without having gone to confession,because I have absolute faith in the mercy of Jesus. But, as he is my first sinner, I beg You for a ‘sign’ of repentance simply for my own consolation.” [MSA 46,1] And, on the scaffold, at the very last moment, the hitherto unrepentant sinner took hold of the crucifix that Father Fauré, the prison chaplain, was holding out to him and kissed it. Reading about the event in the newspaper and seeing that the requested sign had been given brought the Servant of God immense solace. - As will be shown . . .

12 – Together with her sister Céline, Thérèse strove to correspond to God’s grace; The Imitation of Christ was her usual reading material, and its words became engraved in her memory. She would take Communion often and Jesus would teach her Himself; He called her to the Carmel when she was still young, and Céline was her only confidante. At the age of fourteen and a half, she thought it was time to tell her father *. She would face many obstacles to her pious plan; to overcome them, she fervently prayed to the Holy Spirit and decided to reveal her desire to him on Pentecost Sunday. The sacrifice proved hard for Mr Martin, but as a profound Christian, he did not think to object to his daughter’s vocation. “He spoke just like a saint,” wrote the Servant of God, [MSA 50,2] objecting only to Thérèse’s [31v] very young age. Approval from other quarters was more difficult to obtain: she met with brief opposition in the family, little encouragement from the Carmel except from Sister Agnes of Jesus, and disapproval from the Father Superior of the Carmel. The latter evidently thought it best to adopt a delaying tactic, referring the decision to Mgr Hugonin. Thérèse pleaded her cause herself before His Lordship the Bishop of Bayeux, who was most struck by this child’s precocious vocation and even more struck by her father’s indulgence. However because of the child’s very young age, he believed he had only to give an evasive answer. The pain this caused her failed to shake her resolve to respond without delay to the divine call. - As will be shown . . .

13 – To comfort Thérèse, Mr Martin took her and her sister Céline to Rome; they joined the pilgrimage from the diocese of Coutances organised for the ordination jubilee of Pope Leo XIII. She devised the plan to ask the Holy Father for the authorisation she sought. Their itinerary combined visits to sacred sites with other historical attractions. While the beauty of nature and art charmed Thérèse, the religious visits moved her more deeply, particularly the Shrine of Lorette, the Catacombs and the Colosseum. However it was seeing the Pope and attending his Mass that intimidated her the most. She wrote at the time: “I don’t know how I’ll go about speaking to the Pope. Really, if God was not taking charge of everything, I don’t know what I would do. But my faith in Him is such that He will not be able to abandon me; I’m placing everything in His hands.” [LT 32] At last, the day of the audience arrived. The pilgrims were permitted to kneel before His Holiness and to kiss his ring, but were solemnly forbidden from asking him anything. However, overcoming the emotion that everyone [32r] experiences at the first meeting with the Vicar of Christ, Thérèse lifted her tear-filled eyes and, encouraged by her sister and sustained by grace, said to the Pope, “‘Most Holy Father, I have a great favour to ask you!’ The Sovereign Pontiff lowered his head toward me in such a way that my face almost touched his, and I saw his eyes, black and deep, fixed on me and they seemed to penetrate to the depths of my soul. ‘Holy Father, in honour of your Jubilee, permit me to enter the Carmel at the age of fifteen!’

Father Révérony, the Vicar General, who was at the Pope’s side, answered,

‘This child wants to join the Carmel at the age of fifteen, but the Superiors are considering the matter at the moment.’

Well, my child,’ the Holy Father replied, looking at me kindly, ‘do what the Superiors tell you!’

Resting my handson his knees, I made one final effort, saying in a pleading voice,

‘Oh! Holy Father, if you say yes, everybody will agree!’

Come now . . . come now . . .’ said Leo XIII, stressing each syllable. ‘You will enter if God wills it!’”(MSA 63,1-2)

It was very trying not having the ‘yes’ she ardently desired. The pious child had done everything possible; God would have to do the rest. Yet from that moment on, it was as though a shadow was cast over her pilgrimage. – As will be shown . . .

14 – His Lordship the Bishop of Bayeux was informed of what had happened at the Vatican audience, and wrote to the Carmel to give his favourable opinion; it was the day of the Holy Innocents. Her admission was then postponed by the Mother Prioress until after Easter. The Servant of God described her preparation and overcame the temptation to lead a life less regulated than usual for the following few months. [32v] God had her understand the advantages of the delay she faced: “I took the resolution to give myself over to a more serious and mortified life. When I say mortified, I do not mean that I imitated the penances of the Saints. Far from resembling those beautiful souls who practise every kind of mortification from their infancy, my mortifications consisted in breaking my will, holding back a reply, rendering little services without expecting any recognition, not leaning back against a support when seated, etc., etc. By practising these trifles Iprepared myself to become the fiancée of Jesus, and I cannot express how much the delay helped me to grow in abandonment, humility, and other virtues.” (MSA 68,2)

The following passage from a letter to her sister Pauline, Mother Agnes of Jesus, reveals the thoughts that spurred on this generous soul while she waited:

“My dear little Pauline,

My little boat is having a lot of trouble reaching port. For a long time, I’ve been able to see the shore and still I find myself far off; but it is Jesus who guides my little boat, and I am sure that on the day He wills it, it will reach the port safely. Oh, Pauline, when Jesus places me on the blessed shore of the Carmel, I want to give myself totally to Him, I want to live only for Him. Oh, no, I shall not fear His strikes, for, even in the bitterest of sufferings, I always feel that it is His gentle hand that is striking. And to think that, for one suffering borne with joy, we will love God better for the whole of eternity! Then in suffering we can save souls. Ah! Pauline, if at the moment of my death I could have one soul to offer to Jesus, how happy I would be! There would be one [33r] less soul in the fire of hell, and one more to bless God for all eternity!” (LT 43 – 13) - As will be shown . . .  

15 – Her admission to the Carmel was fixed for 9th April 1888. Her resolution to give herself entirely to God, who had dictated so many of her decisions, did not desert the young 15 year old postulant when the time came to leave home. Strengthened by Holy Communion and by her admirable father’s blessing, she stepped over the monastery threshold without weeping, but her heart was beating so violently as she parted from her family that she thought she might die. She was comforted by the warm welcome that her new religious family gave her, and a feeling of deep peace in her soul would remain with her from that moment on, despite her daily bread of spiritual droughts. Her goal, which was to save souls and especially to pray for priests, could be reached only through being united to the cross of suffering. She understood this and continued to carry her cross until she died. What is particularly worthy of recognition is that she had to control her innate sensitivity, never giving herself the opportunity to yield to it. – As will be shown . . .  

16 – The Servant of God took a retreat led by Father Pichon, a Jesuit well-versed in guiding souls. She opened up to him with great candour, and he reassured her as to her past sins, adding, “My child, may Our Lord always be your Superior and your Novice Master.” (MSA 70,1) His words in no way detracted from her submission to her religious superiors, in whom she saw the direct representatives of God. However they did suggest that she let God work directly in her soul. She quickly turned to the Director of directors and opened up her heart in the shadow of the cross.

[33v] 17 – Her Habit Reception, which took place on 10th January 1889, was presided by Mgr Hugonin, Bishop of Bayeux. Despite fears for his health, Mr Martin was himself able to present his daughter to the Lord. Soon, the intellectual and physical depression into which he fell was the trial that Thérèse had been dreading in her heart, and which caused her such deep sorrow. She understood that, after having given his children to heaven or to the cloister, her father had offered himself as a victim. The sorrows of her filial piety grew alongside great spiritual dryness, and yet she thanked God in her trials and wrote these words to her sister Céline to console her:

January 1889

“My dear little Céline,

Jesus is there with His Cross, and it is a very heavy cross! Why be frightened at not being able to carry this Cross without weak­ening? Jesus, our Beloved, on the road to Calvary fell three times, and why should we not be like our Spouse? How privi­leged we are! Jesus must love us with a special love to be trying us in this way. Ah, eternity won’t be long enough to praise Him for it. He is showering us in blessings, as He did for the greatest saints. What then, are His designs of love on our souls? That is a secret that won’t be revealed to us until we reach our homeland, that day when the Lord dries all our tears. Now, we have nothing more to hope for on earth; gone are the cool mornings, and all we have left is suffering! Oh, what an enviable lot! The angels in heaven envy our fortune.” (LT 81)

And on 28th February 1889:

[34r] “My dear little sister,

Jesus is a Spouse of blood. He wants all of the blood from our hearts for Himself! You are right, how it costs to give Jesus what He asks! But what joy it costs! What bliss it is to carry our Crossesfeebly. Céline, far from complaining to Jesus about the Cross He is sending us, I cannot understand the infinite love that has drawn Him to treat us in this way. Our dear father must be much loved by Jesus to have to suffer so much. What joy it is to be humbled; this is the only thing that makes a saint, I know. I also know that the trial Jesus is sending us is a gold mine to be exploited. I, the grain of sand, want to get to work, without courage, without strength, and this powerlessness will facilitate the task; I want to work through love. The Martyrdom is beginning. Let us enter the arena together, let us offer our suffering to Jesus in order to save souls.” (LT 82)

And again on 18th July 1890:

“As for our darling father, ah, my heart is broken. But how can we complain, since Our Lord Himself was considered as a man stricken by God and afflicted? In our great sorrow, let us forget ourselves and pray for priests; may our lives be devoted to them. The Divine Master is increasingly making me feel that this is what He wants from us both . . .” (LT 108) – As will be shown . . .  

18 – As her novitiate came to an end, the Servant of God aspired after Profession, but it was postponed by the ecclesiastical superior. This sacrifice proved difficult to accept, but the divine light showed her that a fiancée would not be pleasing to her spouse unless she was dressed in magnificent finery, so she prayed to God, “I shall do my best to make myself a dress adorned with diamonds and precious stones of all kinds [34v]. When you find me rich enough, I’m sure that nothing will prevent You from taking me as Your spouse.”

With the Blessed Virgin’s help, she courageously set to work. She focused her efforts on the virtue of poverty, on performing small, hidden acts of virtue, and on refusing to satisfy self-love when obedience forbade her other mortifications. She wrote about this period of twenty months, saying, “Everything I have just written in so few words would require many detailed pages, but these pages will not be read on earth.” (MSA 75,1) – As will be shown . . .

19 – A few trials were mentioned, not least concerning her retreat prior to Profession. In a letter to her sister Marie (4th September 1890), she wrote:

“Your little daughter hardly hears the heavenly harmonies. Her wedding trip is very arid; it is true, her Fiancé is having her travel through fertile and magnificent countries, but the night prevents her from admiring anything and, especially, from enjoying all these marvels. You’re going to think that she’s saddened by this, but, no, on the contrary, she is happy to follow her Fiancé because of her love for Him alone and not because of His gifts . . . He alone is so beautiful, so ravishing!. .. even when He is silent. . . even when He is hiding!” (LT 111)

She went on to say, “Far from receiving consolation, I went through my retreat in a state of utter dryness and as if abandoned by God. Jesus, as is His wont, was asleep in my little boat.” (MSA 75,2) It was to a special blessing from the Holy Father that she attributed the assistance that helped her to endure the most violent storm she had ever experienced. Just hours before her Profession, in a state of absolute dryness, the devil persuaded her that she had no calling for the Carmel and was deceiving her Superiors [35r] by going down a road not meant for her. In her anguish and perplexity, Jesus, who, according to her, was showing her new ways to practise virtue, inspired her to reveal her temptation to her Novice Mistress and Mother Prioress. Once this act of humility accomplished, a peace that surpasses all understanding flooded her heart and dwelt there, despite the outward sorrows that accompanied her Veil Reception. She explained this in a letter to her sister Céline on 23rd September 1890:

Oh, Céline! How can I tell you what is taking place in my soul? . . . It is torn apart, but I feel that this wound has been made by a friendly hand, by a divinely jealous hand! . . . Everything was ready for my wedding, but don’t you find that one thing was lacking from the celebration? It is true that Jesus had already placed many jewels in my basket, but there was one of in­comparable beauty missing, no doubt, and this precious dia­mond Jesus gave me today. . . Papa won’t be there tomorrow! Céline, I admit to you, my tears flowed . . . they are still flowing as I write to you; I can barely hold my pen. You know how much I wanted to see our dear Father again; and now I see very clearly that God’s wills is that he not be here. God has permitted this simply to test my love. . . Jesus wants me as an orphan, He wants me to be alone with Him alone in order to unite Himself to me more closely, and He wills to give me in the homeland the very legitimate joys that He has refused me in exile!” (LT 120)

After her Profession, Our Lord did not abandon her in her numerous spiritual trials, comforting her in various ways. One day, he spoke through her retreat preacher who, understanding her torment, said to her, “My child, at this moment I represent God before you, and I can [35v] tell you in His name that He is very pleased with you.” (MSA 80,2) This affirmation filled her with joy. Later on, He spoke through the elderly foundress of the Carmel of Lisieux, venerable Mother Geneviève, who brought light to the Servant of God’s darkness with this spiritual bouquet: “Serve God with peace and joy; remember, my child, Our God is a God of peace.” (MSA 78,1) These words were like a rainbow in the young nun’s life of trials. – As will be shown . . .

20 – A particularly long period of spiritual dryness was followed with a few days of peace and joy: “The Divine Master has completely changed the manner of [20] making His little flower grow. He has no doubt found her sufficiently watered, for now it is the warm sun that aids her growth.” (MSC 1,2-2,1) Her desire for sainthood intensified. The distance between herself and sainthood was extremely large, she thought. If God was calling her to it, He would help her cover the distance. But how? Were there not, she went on to think, any practical inventions to discover, as there were on earth, such as a lift, to raise her up to God? She sought the secret in Holy Scripture. The following passage from Proverbs (9:4) appeared to be the solution she was after: ‘Whosoever is a little one, let him come to Me, as did these words from Isaiah (66:13):As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; I will hold you in my arms and rock you on my knees.” She had found the divine lift: it is your arms, Jesus. Her one desire then was to sing God’s mercies and become a saint in the way to which God was calling her – as will be shown . . .

21 – When she was just 22 years of age, despite her pleas, the Mother Prioress entrusted her with the duties of novice mistress, though without giving her the title. She later wrote, “When I was given the duty of entering into the sanctuary of souls, I saw immediately that the task was beyond my strength. I threw myself into God’s arms.” (MSC 22,1) She went on, “The knowledge that it was impossible to do anything by myself rendered my task easier. My one inner occupation was to unite myself more and more closely to God, knowing that the rest would be given to me over and above. And indeed my hope has never been deceived; I have always found my hands filled when sustenance was needed for the souls of my Sisters.” – As will be shown . . .

22 – The young novice mistress acted with consummate caution in the duty of directing her Sisters. She would carefully examine which path God wanted each of them to tread. Her attention was always alert, whatever the personal cost to her, in terms of observing faults and of waging a war to the death against them. When in her perspicacity, and by God’s grace, she noticed the slightest fault, it took real effort to conquer her goodness in order to correct them. She wrote, “I find the Prophet Jonah very excusable in taking flight rather than announcing the ruin of Nineveh.” (MSC 23,1)

Severity did not come easily to the Servant of God particularly because of her young age. However, she said, “God has given me the grace not to fear the battle; I must do my duty at all costs.” (MSC 23,2) When she was asked with persistence, “If you want to get anything out of me, you will have to win me with sweetness; force will get you nothing,” (MSC 23,2-24,1) she said to herself that nobody is a good judge of their own case, and that during a painful operation, a child will be sure to cry out and say that the cure is worse than the disease; but if after a few days he is healed, then he is delighted at being able to run about and play. It is exactly the same [36v] with souls; they soon realise that a little bit of bitterness is at times preferable to sugar and they don’t fear to admit it. - As will be shown . . .

23 – She exercised no less vigilance with regards to herself, particularly in terms of curiosity and sensitivity, than she did with regards to her novices. She wrote, “I know, dear Mother, that your little lambs find me severe. If they were to read these lines, they would say that it doesn’t seem at all difficult for me to be running after them, showing them that they have soiled their beautiful fleece, or torn it in the brambles. The little lambs can say what they please; in the depths of their hearts they know that I love them dearly. Never will I imitate ‘the hireling who sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away.’ I am prepared to lay down my life for them, but my affection is so disinterested that I would not have my novices know this. By God’s help, I have never tried to draw their hearts to me, for I have always understood that my mission was to lead them to Him and to you, dear Mother, who on this earth hold His place in their regard, and whom, therefore, they must love and respect.” (MSC 23,1-2) In prayer and sacrifice lies all my strength, they are my invincible weapons; experience has taught me that they touch hearts far more easily than words.” (MSC 24,2) – As will be shown . . .

24 – The first sign of the illness that would take her made itself known when she coughed up blood at the end of Lent 1896, on 3rd April, in the night of Maundy Thursday, at the age of 23. She immediately recognised this as a “distant murmur, heralding my Beloved’s joyful approach.” (MSC 5,1) However, to deny her curiosity, she waited until the next morning before looking to see [37r]what had happened and insisted that no change be made to her Holy Week fast. – As will be shown . . .

25 – God soon allowed a new trial to assail her. She suffered violent temptations against the faith, which gave her unspeakable torture. These attacks focused primarily on persuading her against the existence of heaven. In her darkness, she increased the number of acts and deeds of faith she performed, and offered up her sufferings to atone for faults committed on earth through lack of faith. - As will be shown . . .

26 – Out of obedience, the Servant of God related in writing how this trial momentarily came to an end. Her words are addressed to Jesus instead of her Mother Prioress and recount the dream she had on 10th May 1897:

“O Jesus, who can say how tenderly and gently You lead my soul! A storm had raged there ever since Easter, the glorious feast of Your triumph, until, in the month of May, there shone through the darkness of my night one bright ray of grace. . . . My mind dwelt on mysterious dreams that are sent sometimes to Your favoured ones, and I thought how such a consolation was not to be mine - that for me, it was night, always dark night. And in the midst of the storm I fell asleep. The following day, May 10th, just as dawn broke, I dreamt I was walking in a gallery alone with Mother Prioress. Suddenly, without knowing how they had entered, I perceived three Carmelites, in mantles and long veils, and I knew that they came from Heaven. ‘Ah!’ I thought, ‘How glad [37v]I should be if I could but look on the face of one of these Carmelites!’ And, as if my wish had been heard, the tallest of the three Saints advanced towards me and I fell on my knees. An inexpressible joy took possession of me as she raised her veil, and then covered me with it. At once I recognised our Venerable Mother, Anne of Jesus, foundress of the Carmel in France. Her face was of an unearthly beauty; no rays came from it, and yet, in spite of the thick veil which enveloped us, I could see it suffused by a soft light, which seemed to emanate from her heavenly countenance. She caressed me tenderly, and seeing myself the object of such affection, I made bold to say, ‘Dear Mother, I entreat you, tell me, will Our Lord leave me much longer in this world? Will He not soon come to fetch me?’ She smiled sweetly, and answered, ‘Yes, soon . . . very soon . . . I promise you.’ ‘Dear Mother,’ I asked again, ‘tell me if He does not want more from me than these poor little acts and desires that I offer Him. Is He pleased with me?’

Then our Venerable Mother’s face shone with a new splendour, and her expression became still more gracious: ‘The good God asks no more of you,’ she said, ‘He is pleased, very pleased,’ and, taking my head between her hands, she kissed me so tenderly that it would be impossible to describe the joy I felt. My heart was overflowing with gladness, and, remembering my Sisters, I was about to beseech some favour for them, when, alas! I awoke. My happiness was too great for words. Many months have passed since I had this wonderful dream, and yet its memory is as fresh and delightful as ever. I can still picture the loving smiles of this holy Carmelite and feel her fond caresses. [38r] O Jesus! ‘You commanded the winds and the storm, and there came a great calm.’On waking, I realised that Heaven does indeed exist, and that this Heaven is peopled with souls who cherish me as their child.” (MSB 2,1-2) - As will be shown . . .

  

27- Burning with desire and zeal, she exclaimed, “O Jesus, my Love, at last I have found my vocation. My vocation is love! Yes, I have found my place in the bosom of the Church, and You Yourself, O my God, have given this place to me: in the heart of the Church, my Mother, I will be LOVE! . . .To love You, Jesus, is now my only desire. Great deeds are not for me; I cannot preach the Gospel or shed my blood. No matter! My brothers work in my stead, and I, a little child, stay close to the throne, and love You for all who are in strife. But how shall I show my love, since love proves itself by deeds?The only way I have of proving my love is to strew flowers before You - that is to say, I will let no tiny sacrifice pass, no look, no word. I wish to take advantage of the smallest actions, and to do them out of Love. I wish to suffer for Love’s sake, and for Love’s sake even to rejoice: thus shall I strew flowers. Not one shall I find without scattering its petals before You.O Jesus, would that I could tell all little souls of Your ineffable condescension! I feel that if by any possibility You could find one weaker than my own, You would take delight in loading her with still greater favours, provided that she abandoned herself with utter confidence to Your Infinite Mercy.” (MSB 3,2, 4,1-2, 5,2) - As will be shown . . .