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Céline remembers her first communion

 

Excerpts from her autobiographical memoir

 

I arrived at the time of my first Communion. I was prepared for it well in advance by my dear sisters, but it was above all the last three months preceding this great act that I was the object of a particular solicitude. Our mamas, Marie and Pauline, each had their special part. Marie was the designated mama and Pauline the spiritual mama. So it was Pauline who prepared me for my first Communion. Every evening after coming back from the Abbey, I took my place on her knees…

Oh! How I was truly ready when the retreat began which would introduce us to the divine banquet! I had such an idea about purity of heart that I didn’t wish to accept anything that could tarnish it. During these several days of retreat I was really a boarding school student and didn’t return home at night to the Buissonets. It was really hard for me. I couldn’t get used to living far from my parents and above all the nights seemed so sad without my Thérèse that I unintentionally had nightmares and woke up sobbing. Alas! I wasn’t the only one to wake up because when it happened I saw near me the first headmistress who came to dry my tears with maternal goodness. She advised me to be very good, however being pleased to only have me momentarily.

Thérèse came to see me every day with Papa. Once she held in her hand a little bouquet of cherries that she gave me with such an expression of undefinable tenderness that this delicious look pierced me to the bottom of my heart…This was 29 years ago. Each spring when the new cherries appear, I never miss, almost instinctively, to make a bouquet whose sight brings forth a flood of memories from my heart.

At last, the beautiful day of days arrived for me. The description that Thérèse gave of her own, is such an echo of my own feelings that to be honest I should copy it. Even today the sight of “snowflakes” (first communion girls in white) makes me shudder…the chanting of the morning canticle “O Holy Altar surrounded by Angels!” vibrates still in my heart. In a word, everything that reminds me of this happy day is perfumed with unique scents which time could never take away the sweetness. I remember that I had to recite the “Act of humility” and I was very happy about it. With what heart and what conviction I said out loud, “Who am I, oh my God, that you deign to glance at me? Where does this excessive happiness come from, that my Lord and my God wishes to come to me, more miserable than the void?....

Yes, it was with unutterable joy that I received my Beloved. I waited for him a long time. Ah! So many things I had to tell him! I asked him to have pity on me, to always protect me, and never permit me to offend him. Then I gave him my heart without return and promised to be His alone. I really felt that he deigned to accept me as his little spouse and that he fulfilled the role I had given to him of being a protector. I felt that he took me under his watch and would keep me forever from all evil… After that exchange of mutual promises, all was said…and yet, the heart of little Céline was still so full, that being unable to hold the feelings of peace and heavenly joy that inundated her, her prayer ended in a flood of tears…

That evening, it was I who recited the act of consecration to the Blessed Virgin. Oh! How happy I was to speak in the presence of everyone, to give myself forever irrevocably to my Mother of Heaven that I loved with an incomparable tenderness. It seemed to me that accepting the little orphan at her feet as her own, she adopted me as her child.

This day was really that of my betrothal. From this blessed time on, I corrected certain faults that I was not able to before. Is it surprising it was like this? How the blood of Jesus ran in my veins, his flesh mixed with my flesh, wasn’t my entire being transformed?...The fire of divine love by penetrating me, purified me of all stains and once that purification was accomplished, finding no more obstacles to its burning action, it penetrated and lit on fire its poor little firebrand with a total incandescence that made it in some way invulnerable to the action of hell’s fire where the devil planned to throw it.

 

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