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Circular of Sr Geneviève (Céline)

 

Céline Martin (1869-1959)

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CHAPTER ONE

 

LIFE IN THE WORLD WITH THERESE

 

Céline Martin, in religion Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face, sister, witness and disciple of a Saint, entered into Thérèse's shining wake like the "sweet echo of her soul," having been the first to follow her "Little way" of confidence in Merciful Love. By a life brimming with challenges, and a death that bore authentic marks of holiness, her story offers a glowing example of what Divine Mercy accomplishes in a heart that in spite of, or rather because of, its weaknesses, surrenders itself to God its Father.

 

There is no dearth of documents containing material for tracing the portrait and outlining the lifework of Céline, for we are the beneficiaries of the immense amount of research occasioned by the glorification of Thérèse. We shall make use also of a biographic résumé asked of Sister Geneviève by the Prioress, Mother Marie-Ange of the Child Jesus, in 1909. This bore, at first, the title: "Story of an Ember Snatched from the Fire", which was later altered by Mother Agnes of Jesus to: "Story of a Soul who Passed Through a Furnace".

 

Marie-Céline Martin was born at Rue Pont-Neuf in Alençon, on April 28, 1869, being the seventh of nine children, of whom four died in infancy. She was baptized on the day of birth, as was the custom, the rites of the solemn ceremonies being supplied on the following September 5th. Her mother, fearing she detected the same symptoms that had heralded the deaths of her two sons when very young, was greatly worried and entrusted her for several months to the care of a foster-mother.

 

The baby remained delicate but possessed of as tonishing endurance, and as she grew older gave signs of having a strong wit, being "mischievous as an imp," and markedly devoted to her father. "Again...more!" she had cried, when they were having her take her first steps, while, on a later occasion, she flew into a rage when a rough little child happened to slap her in the face. When someone tried to tell her of what Jesus said about forgiving, she answered: "'What good did that to Jesus? He is the Master, yes, but I am the mistress." It was not until nightfall that she could bring herself to forgive and to say: "I love the poor little one very much now."

 

It happened that Louise, a servant, reproaching herself for having perhaps paid too little attention to Hélène, a child of the Martins who had recently died, took Céline under her protection in so singular a manner that, had her parents not intervened, the child would have become spoiled. In truth, she was a "pretty little lass," with clearly defined features, surprisingly lively eyes, and a certain determination that seemed to emanate from her whole person, though at the same time enveloped in a genuine sweetness. In the street, before a group of soldiers who were amused by her mimicry, she did not hesitate to answer Louise's question about her future: "I will be a nun:" She was intensely alert, already curious about everything and forever asking "Why ?" Later on, she herself discerned "in the growing aptitudes of little Céline two tendencies. one an insatiable need for life and happiness, more than her nature could bear; the other, a very great tenderness of heart...It is clear," she modestly concluded, "to foresee that with such dispositions, it would not be easy to preserve an equilibrium." Mme Martin was more optimistic. In her letters to Pauline who was at boarding schoo! in Le Mans, she traced this exquisite miniature of her child: "How darling she is ! I never had one so attached to me; no matter how great her desire to do something, if I tell her that she is grieving me, she stops instantly.' "My little Céline is altogether inclined to virtue, it is the central factor of her character. .She is candid and has a horror of untruthfulness...I believe this child will give me much consolation; her nature is of the finest... She shows very fine dispositions, she will surely be a very religious child. Rarely does one of her age show such an inclination to piety."

 

When Céline was four years old, Thérèse was born, in the Rue Saint Blaise, to which the family had moved. The two little girls were to become inseparable. Together they played under the tunnel or counted their 'practices.' This latter "game" intrigued the neighbors who did not know that the word meant counting their acts of virtue. Sometimes they would go off to play with the daughter of the Prefect, whose residence was a large edifice in Louis XIII style of architecture across the street and which was faced by an immense courtyard. When Marie, the eldest of the family, was giving Céline her first lessons, Thérèse tried to assist at them. There were no incidents that could not be quickly smoothed away except when her sister reproached her for ''doing everything her dolls wanted."

 

For children in this household of faith, education included the formation of characters and attitudes. M. and Mme Martin lived only for God, keeping in view only the accomplishment of His Will, and looking on parental authority as a service, that consisted in orientating towards what was good the souls confided to them. By example, even more than by word, they introduced their children to virtue and piety, knowing how to correct faults, inspire generosity and gracefully to make the most austere lessons appealing. Since children are essentially observers and imitators, the Martin children could not have been indifferent to these influences, seeing those they loved best assisting every day at   observing strictly the Church's

 

laws of fasting and abstinence, and keeping holy the Sunday with unswerving fidelity. Assisting at the liturgical functions of the parish, reverencing priests, and surnaturalizing all the duties of their state, the father and mother always led family prayers morning and evening, grace before and after meals and the devotions during Mary's month. Charity was the soul of their home good humor adorned it, family outings and recreations — all were pervaded with the same spirit of family unity and love.

 

On August 28, 1877, the early death of Mme Martin came to shatter this idyll of family happiness. "You will be my mother," Céline said to Marie, while Thérèse chose Pauline. In effect, Pauline was to exercise spiritual maternity over both little girls, while Marie undertook the direction of the house. The family moved to Lisieux, to the attractive house called "Les Buissonnets,'' near their aunt and uncle Guérin. The warm intimate family life was resumed, but a change had taken place in the psychological behavior of the two little girls. Céline wrote: "I who was so gentle became an imp full of mischief, while Thérèse's vivacity was veiled for a time under a too great timidity and sensitiveness. Her real character did not change, because she was the image of moral strength, and I the image of the greatest weakness."

 

Céline entered the Benedictine school as a semi-boarder, Although placed with older pupils, she rose to the head of the class with ease, keeping this place to the end. Her report cards still preserved give proof of this excellence. Although she memorized with difficulty, her inquisitive temperament and love of logic helped her to get to the bottom of everything. Excepting only arithmetic, she won all the other first prizes with ease. It was not that she ran after scholastic success, for her heart remained centered in her family, and it at ways cost her a sacrifice to tear herself from the family gathering in the evening to do her home work alone in her room. She admitted having sometimes wished for a flood or other disaster in the town, or a mad dog loose, because these were the only reasons likely to keep one at home — headaches and toothaches were not valid excuses !

 

Pauline prepared Céline for her First Communion. She composed, as she did later for Thérèse, a booklet where her sister could record her sacrifices and pious thoughts under the symbol of flowers. The little girl 's retreat was made most fervently, although the requirement of being a full-time boarder was a source of cruel suffering, despite visits from M. Martin and Thérèse. Céline was profoundly affected by the ceremony of her First Communion, which took place on May 13 1880. In the morning she read with great earnestness the Act of Humility, a formula which was then in use. (and which she was happy to meet again in her old age.) In the afternoon of this great day, recitation of the Act of Consecration to the Blessed Virgin ''as entrusted to her, a privilege of which she was indeed proud, while a short time later, on June 4th, Feast of the Sacred Heart, she received Confirmation, the culmination of the many deep spiritual   impressions made upon her in early childhood.        

 

In October 1881, when Thérèse took her turn at the Abbey, Céline showed more enthusiasm for her studies. The two little girls walked to school with their two Guérin cousins, Céline with Jeanne, and Thérèse with Marie, the younger. The discussions between the older girls became at times tense. Céline had become a "fighter, "going at it tooth and nail, to use her own description. This we know to have been merely a figurative expression, for it was not by the strength of her fist, but by 'the sword of the word" that she defended her point of view, when she believed she was right — and "one is always right about something," she would say, with ingenious precision ! She looked out for her little sister, who preferred to "talk over" rather than "walk over' and who disliked rough games. Céline herself possessed a natural timidity which she made efforts to overcome after it had been pointed out to her as being a fruit of self-love. When the time came for conferring diplomas, her timidity made her afraid to present herself for one.

 

At recreation, when the class divided into two "camps,' Céline would always want to be on the side of the French, otherwise she would let herself be " conquered '. A lay teacher of English origin, having spoken of Jeanne d'Arc as an adventuress", saw a hand raised in protest — that of our Céline. Afterwards the child went to the Directress of the School to ask that an admonition ' given to the teacher in question, or else she would tell her father" M. Martin was not mistaken when he named her "the courageous one', the " intrepid ".

 

Considered pugnacious and "spunky" the child had, nevertheless, a tender heart, longing for answering affection which often was denied, giving her much to suffer, on one particular occasion, when her affection met with coldness she wept bitterly; yet, sometime later on looking back, she was able to recognize the protecting hand of God who wanted her for Himself alone.

 

Céline and Thérèse, as they grew up at Les Buissonnets, drew very close to each other. The "Story of a soul" tells in a delightful way of their pastimes, their care of several pet birds, the family gatherings and their walks on Sundays and feast-days. Sometimes they could be seen, dressed as pilgrims, and armed with a stick to defend themselves against the pecking of a magpie, forty times making the rounds of the garden. For each other's special feast day they would buy surprise gifts for a few cents and would present them with ceremony. One day, Céline had the unhappy inspiration to give her sister a toy pistol. Thérèse was afraid of it, and . M. Martin gave it to a neighbor’s boy, supplying some other gift for his "little Queen."  

 

Sometimes, with the Guérin and Maudelonde cousins, they would act out a parlour comedy, in which poor Céline invariably had the villain's part. This humiliated her, for the audience would take a mischievous delight in calling her by the names of those she impersonated in the plays. Céline herself has told us that her favorite occupations by far were the processions in church, where, dressed in white, and carrying a basket of flowers, she walked beside her Thérèse.

 

I also loved, when a little girl,
Before the shining Monstrance,
 
To throw high the roses, lilies and daffodils,
 
Mingling with my sister's My flowers.      

 

In October 1882, with the entrance of Pauline into the cloister, a veil of sorrow fell over the peaceful life at Les Buissonnets. Céline felt this separation all the more keenly since it was followed not long after by Thérèse's illness. She shared her little sister's affliction; prayed at her bedside, and was one of those toking upon her ecstatic face, when the Virgin of the Smile cured her. She was also witness to Thérèse's fervent preparation for her First Communion. It was Céline who brought her, during her retreat at the Abbey, the picture that made so lasting an impression on her — "The Flower of the Divine Prisoner."

 

Céline finished her studies at the end of the scholastic year 1885. She left the boarding school with honour, having "on the prize for Religious instruction, conferred upon only one pupil each year, making it all the more coveted.. Received as a Child of Mary on December 8, 1882, she consequently became President of the Association.

 

Although freed from classes, she continued to lead, nevertheless, a very active life. Jeanne Guérin, who marveled to see her copy her designs without having received even rudimentary instructions in art, obtained from M. Martin that she be given lessons. In two years Céline made rapid progress. She was then confided to Mlle Godard, pupil of the widely known painter, Leon Cogniet, who enabled her to perfect her talent. with great tenacity, alone in her studio, she worked methodically, executing a number of reproductions of water scenes and some portraits, which decorated her "museum of daubs," as she called it. All the same, this was practice for her hand, and she was able also to occupy herself with some work for Carmel.

 

On the other hand, Marie, who was preparing to enter the monastery, was initiating her into the duties of taking charge of the house. She slipped with ease into this new post in October 1886, when the eldest daughter joined Pauline in the cloister. Just at this time, also, Leonie was making a first attempt at becoming a religious with the Poor Clares in Alençon.

 

The family circle was indeed narrowing, From now on Céline and Thérèse were alone to look after the home and their father. They became more than ever sister-souls. Their order of life was very regular — "nothing being left to caprice." Every morning they assisted at the 7 o'clock Mass, and ever if the road from Les Buissonnets were frozen over like a skating rink, they would wear galoshes, but never would allow the weather to prevent them from keeping their Eucharistic rendezvous. Studies and duties of the house took up the day. When a great feast day occurred they would organize an entertainment for the poor children of the neighborhood. Whenever a beggar chanced to come to the door, he would be brought inside, given food and every attention, and the young girls would kneel to receive his grateful blessing.

 

Thérèse's "conversion", the "grace of Christmas 1886," when she regained the control of her sensitivity and of her too ready tears, opened a new period in the relations between the two sisters. It was at this point that the long conversations in the belvedere described in the Saint's Autobiography, began — confidential exchanges which Céline also has tried to analyze:

 

"Our union became so intimate that I hesitate to try to picture it in words, fearing to mar its beauty... each evening, our hands clasped in each other's, our glance contemplating the immensity of the heavens, we spoke of that Life that will never end...'..Where were we when, lost, so to speak, to ourselves, our voices would fade into silence? ...Where were we then? — I ask myself.

 

'Alas ! Suddenly we would find ourselves on earth again, but we were no longer the same. As if we had passed through fire, our glowing souls no longer aspired to anything but to communicate their flames... O what joy !... O what martyrdom!

 

"As Therese said, these graces could not remain without fruit, and Jesus was pleased to show her that her apostolic desires were pleasing to Him by the very wonderful conversion of the unfortunate Pranzini. It was this very grace that was the starting point of a union yet more intimate between us; because it was on this occasion that she discovered in the heart of her Céline, the beginnings of those aspirations that consumed her own."

 

This intimacy and complete accord could not but react beneficially upon both of the young girls, kindling in each a sort of " holy contagion". As for Céline, she was weighing also, at this time, serious thoughts regarding her future, having made inquiries into the way of !life of the Benedictines, and questioning herself even on Carmel, although the latter had not yet really attracted her. A decisive factor now entered her life in the person of Father Pichon, S.J.,, known to the Martin family from the time of a retreat made by Marie in 1882. This holy priest, born in 1843 in Carrouges, near Alençon, had been sent to Canada in 1884, and was now, in September 1886, returning to France. Through the visits he made to the family at Les Buissonnets, Céline grew in appreciation of this gifted director of souls, and from October 12, 1887, placed herself under his direction. Feeling a real need to confide, she began sending him regularly an account of her soul, and would receive, once or twice a year, a response from him. His letters, still preserved, show his manifest appreciation of her strong personality, her uprightness, and what he calls her "theology." On one occasion he writes, humorously, that she "had had enough life for four." Very austere towards himself, (to the point of using at all times a hair shirt), he preached above all things confidence in the Sacred Heart and veneration for the holy Sacrifice of the Mass. He seemed to have a special gift for inclining souls towards the religious state, which quality sometimes alienated from him the friendly feelings of mothers of families.

 

Under his influence, Céline felt her spiritual life gaining strength. She had a true and deep interior piety, and had obtained permission to communicate several times a week, besides feast days. To this permission she gave a very broad interpretation, which Father Baillon, her confessor, "indulgently overlooked. When anything prevented her from receiving the number of times permitted, she would make it up afterwards, and she "knew how to use ruses" to, as she called it, 'steal God."

 

There was nothing about her of narrowness or gloominess, nor was she a 'conformist'. "To do as others do'' was never a convincing argument for her. Before approaching the Holy Table, she would take off her bracelet, "sign of servitude', she called it, for Christ wants liberty of spirit." She liked to hum the old hymn- "Take my heart, behold it, Blessed Virgin, my Mother." But she rapidly skipped over the phrase: "It is to rest itself that it has recourse to these" what does that phrase mean?" she exclaimed. "If I go to Mary it is because I love her."

 

It soon became clearly apparent that Céline was made for the religious life. She, however, never mentioned this to Thérèse, whom she knew was aspiring to enter Carmel at 15. Their father had suffered, in May 1887, a slight stroke from which he recovered, but he could not be left alone. Céline would take care of the house and, when necessary, be his nurse, with heroic self-effacement she now backed with all her affection the efforts of her younger sister to follow her call to Carmel. "The love of God was so intense in my poor heart," she wrote, 'that finding nothing that could relieve a little the need to give, I was happy to sacrifice all that I cherished most in the world... Like Abraham, I busied myself in preparing the holocaust and I helped my darling sister in all the measures she took to obtain her entrance into Carmel, despite her youth. I took to heart her various disappointments more than if they had been my own,''

 

In the autumn of 1887, M. Martin took his two daughters on pilgrimage to Rome. During the Papal audience when the pilgrims were reminded that they must file past the Holy Father, Pope Leo XIII, in silence, it was Céline who encouraged her Thérèse by the forceful word: "Speak." She herself tells us the secret of this apparently bold attitude. I have a principle for such occasions — it is, to follow in all points a resolution taken beforehand." In this circumstance, who would think of reproaching her?

 

She gave proof of the same decisiveness of character on the return journey, during an incident which happened when they stopped at Lyon. A certain imposing personage, making a show of his decorations, struck up a conversation with the two sisters about their trip to the Eternal City. He congratulated them on such a privilege, but slipped into the praise a word of irony about the Pope, calling him "a powerless old man." Céline retorted: "Sir, one would wish you were his age. Perhaps then you would have at the same time his experience which would prevent you from speaking inconsiderately of things you know nothing about."

 

In the course of that trip beyond the Alps the intimacy of Thérèse and Céline was such that their travelling companions said: "These young girls can never be separated," A few months later, however, on Monday, April 9th, 1888, M. Martin's "Little Queen" left Father and sister, after all had assisted at Mass together in the Carmelite Chapel, and entered into the cloister, where her two elder sisters had preceded her. "In kissing her goodbye at the door of the monastery, "Céline wrote, "I had to lean trembling against the wall...yet I did not cry. Ï wanted with all my heart to give her to Jesus, and He, in return, clothed me with His strength. Oh! how much I needed that divine strength ! At the moment Thérèse entered the holy Ark, the enclosure door that shut between us became the true image of what really happened, because a wall had now been raised between our two lives.'

 

CHAPTER II

 

CELINE'S MISSION AS DAUGHTER          

 

The Wrenching separation from Thérèse had no sooner been made than Céline found herself in the grip of a trial of an altogether different nature : a proposal of marriage, in good and correct form, the outcome of advances which the young girl had intentionally tried to reject. Without being exactly pretty, she had what is better — charm. Of medium height, vivacious like her mother, lively, quick at repartee, she created around her an atmosphere of joy and animation. Her deep, dark eyes scrutinized, investigated, and at the same time attracted by a flash of mischievous indulgence. She had many talents. An attorney had once said to M. Martin: "You need not provide a dowry for Céline; she carries her fortune at her finger-tips." It was evident she could not pass unnoticed.

 

The news of the proposal upset her greatly. "This disturbed me," we read in her autobiography. "Not because I was undecided as to what I was to do, but because divine light, in hiding itself, was leaving me to my own inconstancy. Ceaselessly I would say to myself: "Is not this offer, made just at the moment Thérèse left me, an indication of God's will for me, one which I had not foreseen? The Lord could have permitted that I desired religious life until now, so that I would be a strong woman in the world. So many people say that I have none of the marks of a religious ! Perhaps, after all, Divine Providence is not calling me to the life of a nun. My sisters were never formally put in the position of choosing between these two states. It is without doubt that God wanted them for Himself, but perhaps He does not want me ! Finally, while my resolution never wavered, the anguish increased day by day ...I no longer saw clearly. I answered however that at all events I did not want it now, that I wished to be quiet for the time being, and not to wait for me."

 

Céline's confessor, Canon Delatroëtte, pastor of Saint James and Superior of Carmel, did not interfere in this affair, Father Pichon, whom she saw again at the time of Marie's Profession, May 22nd, approved and confirmed her resolution. Other cares were pressing upon the young girl. Her father had begun to manifest the disturbing indications of cerebral arteriosclerosis, amnesia., anxiety, hallucinations, which while passing, did not lessen her grave fears for the future. During one of his business visits in Paris, he had rented a villa at Auteuil. His intention was to allow Céline to perfect her talent in painting by frequenting the Academies and profiting by the lessons of some master. It was this project he proposed to her one Friday in mid-June, 1888, as she was showing him in the Belvedere one of her paintings representing the Virgin and Magdalena. The answer came without delay: "Without taking the time to deliberate ' she said, ''I put down the picture I was holding, and drawing near my father, I confided to him, that wishing to be a nun, I did not seek the glory of this world; that if God later on were to have need of my works, He would know how to supply my lack of instruction. I added that I preferred my innocence to any other advantage and that I did not want to expose it in the studios.'

 

M. Martin had had a presentiment of his daughter's vocation, although she had never spoken openly to him about it. Deeply moved, he pressed her to his heart and said: "Come, let us go together before the Blessed Sacrament to thank God for the honour He has done me in asking for all my children.  

 

God was about to ask still more. His health continued to fail and his old desire for the eremitical life revived. He wanted to flee far from his own into solitude, to permit his daughters to realize their destiny. Under the influence of these thoughts, he left Lisieux on June 23, 1888, without saying anything to Céline. After 3 days of anxious searching, he sent a telegram from Le Havre asking that the answer be sent to "General Delivery". This permitted Céline and M. Guérin to locate him and bring him home. In the interval, a fire destroyed the adjacent house, endangering for a while their own dear home, to Léonie's great fear. Everything returned to order, M. Martin bought the burnt house to enlarge Les Buissonnets, which he had planned to buy. (It had been only rented.) The family spent the holidays from the 1st to the 15th of July at Auteuil. The diversion was not a happy one : all felt uprooted so far from Carmel, and the lease on the villa was cancelled.

 

M. Martin had another setback on August 12th, followed by several quiet weeks. Father Pichon had to take the boat to Canada, to which mission he had been assigned. M. Martin, wanting to see him off, went to Le Havre on October 31st with his daughters. At Honfleur he experienced one of his worst days. Céline sought protection in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Grace. That same day she wrote to her Carmelite sisters: "No, there are no words, no expression to describe our anguish and heartache; I feel all spent. Dear Sisters, my suffering was so keen that while walking on the pier, I looked with envy into the water-s depths. Oh ! if I did not have faith, I would be capable of anything. She ended calmly, in the love of Christ crucified. "It is not a little cross that He puts on my shoulders, but His own, it is not for us but for Him that we work. I find great consolation in this thought. For Him ! Oh! What could we not give Him,  give Him unceasingly to the last breath of our life !

 

There had been a misunderstanding, and Father Pichon did not come, but the three travelers were to meet the Jesuit on November 3rd, in Paris, M. Martin having recovered sufficiently. Life went on, between hopes and fears, until January 10, 1889. This day of Thérèse's Reception of the Habit was for her and her family a cloudless feast, like a "Palm Sunday'* before the great Passion.

 

It became more and more apparent that he to whom all gave the name of "the Patriarch" was in need of hospital care. Suffering from congestion, probably aggravated by attacks of uremia, at such times he was prone to mental lapses which threatened to lead to escapades and irresponsible acts in the administration of his capital. M. Guérin arranged for his admittance to the Sanatorium of Bon Sauveur in Caen. The two girls were obliged to give in to reason. The blow was none the less cruel, and February 12, 1889 was inscribed in Céline's calendar as a day of tears; while Thérèse, with her strong light of faith, called their Father's being placed in care of the hospital "our great riches." At that epoch when cures from psychiatric treatment were far from frequent, the transfer to such an institution was looked upon in the worst light. Comments that followed added to the humiliation. Some people did not hesitate to speak of the "mystic folly" and attributed the cause to the succession of his daughters' vocations "inflicted" on the 'powerless' father.  

 

To be near their father, Céline and Léonie went the very next day to Caen and stayed with the Sisters of Saint Vincent de Paul. They could see their father only once a week but every day they asked a report of the Sister who served him,

 

It was their consolation to learn that the holy old man, even in his worst moments, remained entirely resigned and radiated around him an unfailing sweetness and charity. He even tried to continue his mortifications. He received Communion as often as possible. It impressed the Religious to see the seal of suffering on this venerable brow. Céline, in response to the letters from Carmel which tried to sustain her courage, sent bulletins of health to Lisieux in which she admitted alternating between despair and hope. "Just at this moment my heart is overwhelmed with sorrow. I have out everything in the hands of Jesus and given Him charge of it. How was it done? I do not know, but Jesus has come to our help.

 

Thoughts of eternity, so familiar to her parents were with Céline now more than ever. She seemed to hear again her mother calling on "la Patrie", to the musical rhythm of the prose of La Mennais. She remembered the chapters of Abbé Arminjon on the "Mysteries of the future Life", and the glorious return of Christ saying to His friends at last liberated from their suffering: "Now it is My turn!" "The more I live, she wrote on February 27, "the more I see exile everywhere. The world seems to me like a dream a vast chaos...The more I travel, the more things I see, the more am I detached from the earth, because at each moment, I see better the nothingness of what is passing away. I am living in a real nun's cell. Nothing pleases me so much as this poverty; I would not exchange it for the most sumptuous room." She confided to Mother Marie de Gonzague that her only happiness was the chapel, where she spent all her time when she was not working, as though she prayed without consolation and sometimes fell asleep at the feet of Jesus.

 

Several times the plea: "I can endure no more" slipped from Céline's pen. to uphold her, Thérèse, following the example of Sister Agnes of Jesus in her own hour of darkness, introduced Céline to the Devotion to the Holy Face. She revealed to her the value of humiliation, and taught her to "carry the cross with weakness," that is to say, even when nature protests. Serenity began again to be in command.. Oh if you knew how I see God in all our trials" the young girl concluded, — ''yes, everything is visible marked with His divine finger."

 

Early in March, M. Guérin began urging that his nieces return to Lisieux. Céline resisted. "I feel more and more that my duty is to remain here. Yes, it is better to suffer and not abandon our dear Father. If we can do nothing for him, at least here we feel close and can run at the first call." All the same it had to be recognized that were their stay to be prolonged indefinitely, the health of the two girls might be undermined. On their uncle's further insistence, they returned to Les Buissonnets on May 14, 1889.

 

This homecoming proved to be not for long; only a few weeks later, on June 7th, they went to live with their aunt and uncle. Having recently received a considerable inheritance, he had decided to sell his pharmacy, and had moved to a large mansion on Rue Paul-Banaston. On December 25th the lease on Les Buissonnets expired. Céline made a final visit the day before, when she gathered, for want of flowers, ''some ivy leave... in memory of so many memories.' She spoke with sadness of the breaking up of the home. When a part of the furniture arrived at Carmel, Tom, the faithful dog, followed behind the wagon and slipping through the partly open door, lavishly showered Thérèse with his caresses. She was not insensible to his remembering her.                                                              

 

The Martins soon adapted themselves to their new existence. Mme Guérin, who was gentleness itself, had for Célîne both love and esteem. With M. Guérin, who as a fine Christian, of great uprightness, but having a positive and imperious character as well occasional disagreements were bound to be inevitable. Céline seemed to be the only one who could dispute with him, doubtless because she was of a similar strain. They did not love each other any the less, but as part of his family worked or relaxed together, visited the Exposition of Paris, or went on journeys to Lourdes and to Spain.

 

After daily Mass, where she communicated frequently — a fact which did not fail to disturb her Aunt's timid prudence — Céline devoted the morning to painting. She gave herself especially to executing pictures for Carmel : among them a Nativity, an Assumption, and a portrait of Mother Geneviève, as well as innumerable objects of art. She had children and old people pose as models. The attention, as well as a generous fee, was a source of happiness for them. The afternoon was given to making clothing for the poor, and sometimes to teaching catechism to the backward or retarded. Reading held an important place, and in many fields: Plato, the great writers of prose and poetry, stories of chivalry, religious writers and scientific reviews. This thirst for acquiring knowledge had to be moderated a little, according to Father Pichon's counsel. Photography and the taking of daguerreotype pictures also had their place in her activity. Céline put her hand to everything. She took apart and put together again, piece by piece, a sewing machine which was in need of repair. She learnt by heart a great deal of poetry and liked to hear her uncle recite classical poetry in the evening. We may say her process of education was made continuous through at this self-training.

 

Yet beyond all else for Céline God was the "One Thing Necessary,' although her gift of self to Him cost many a struggle. Witness the following admission with which a note book for her 80th year opens; "I imagine my soul as a strong castle closely surrounded by the enemy, the object of ceaseless dangerous attacks, perilous assaults; and 'wars to the death." Certainly, I have suffered much, but my Jesus, my Divine Knight, faithful to His Lady, has fought for me and has conquered."

 

The recently spurned admirer had no intentions of surrendering his arms. Others too had appeared on the horizon. At the Guérins, Céline could not absent herself altogether from the frequent parties and receptions. Since in these occasions the devil sometimes managed to mingle, it happened that for about 2 years she found herself the prey of violent temptations that attacked her in mind and imagination. There were times when she would sit on a chest in her room grasping the statue of the Virgin that had smiled on Thérèse. Sometimes she would meditate, verse by verse, the beautiful 90th Psalm from Compline for Sunday, which sings of the invincible help of the Almighty: "Qui habitat..." At other times, worn out and as though tired of herself, she believed herself damned. Her health began to be affected, both heart and digestion forcing her to consult Dr. Notta, the family physician. Father Pichon's letters, although infrequent, succeeded in bringing her peace. In general, he confined himself to endorsing her points of view, which she exposed to him in all candor and in which he detected on her part a very sure judgment. With permission of this holy director Céline, on the 8th December 1889, made a vow of chastity, which she was to renew each year. "It is Jesus alone who has carried the day," she would conclude, after every victory.

 

This long interior struggle helped to purify and detach her. It also proved helpful to make her a very sure advisor to her young cousin Marie who was then undergoing the scourge of scruples. She encouraged her to receive Holy Communion, and helped her in the search for perfection, thus arousing some distrust in Marie's parents, who, at that time were little inclined to favor the awakening of a vocation, which they were, however, to recognize later on. The visits to Carmel, and letters there from bearing happy wishes for feasts and anniversaries, brought consolation and help to Céline, She would refrain, some weeks before Feasts, from going to the speak room in order to receive instead these precious written contacts. Thérèse, in particular, was gradually slipping from the role of confidant to that of a real spiritual guide,

 

It was Thérèse without doubt who, to encourage her correspondent by one or other thought borrowed from Father Pichon, awoke in her the desire to possess some extracts from the retreats preached to the Carmelites by this holy Jesuit in 1887 and 1888, with the result that Sister Mary of Saint Joseph's book of notes was lent to her. These notes were less than a dictation taken in shorthand, but much more than a résumé. The teaching, augmented by stories and quotations from the best religious writers, was entirely orientated towards the five goals of humility, confidence in the Sacred Heart, love of suffering, abandonment and joy. Céline set herself to copy everything in her small handwriting, with well-formed characters, in a small memorandum book of graph paper. The result is a little volume of 144 pages, 32 lines to the page, written very close together, witnessing to the supernatural avidity and courageous tenacity of her who had imposed upon herself such a task.

 

She was to find use for all this nourishment in maintaining peace. Every week Céline and Léonie went to Caen to visit their father. In October 1890 they were able to prolong their visits, for Jeanne Guérin had married Francis La Néele, a doctor, who had his office in Caen. M. Martin's condition remained stationary, with intervals of lucidity, which rekindled hope. It was even thought that he might be able to assist at Thérèse's Veiling on September 24th, but M. Guérin, fearing the emotion might prove fatal, decided at the last moment against taking the risk. For this reason the ceremony, as Thérèse later wrote of it, was "heavily veiled in sorrow.' At last, the paralysis having settled in his limbs, the "Patriarch", who showed an unutterable gentleness, no longer needed special surveillance, and could be brought back to Lisieux. On May 10, 1892, he was settled in a house in the Rue Labbey, near that of his brother-in-law, while Céline lovingly resumed her duties as nurse and took up again the responsibilities of the household. Léonie, whom she had lately accompanied on a pilgrimage to Paray-le-Monial, once more left home on June 23, 1893, to enter religious life, this time at the Visitation of Caen.

 

Céline had at this period some servant troubles, some of which she later described in humorous vein. She tells us at so of an incident which deeply touched her, how at the end of a novena to Saint Joseph for the conversion of one of her servants, this one threw herself at her feet and humbly confessed: "I am a wretch. For years I have been away from God. I have committed sacrileges, but I want to change. Just now, while looking at the picture of the Blessed Virgin, my heart melted like wax." Her young mistress sent her to Canon Rohée, archpriest of Saint Peter's, who did not hide his edification at such an answer to prayer. The painting in question was the one Céline had given to her father on June 15, 1888 when she had told him of her vocation.                      

 

Later in the year 1891, Céline had tried to persuade her uncle to finance the newspaper 'Le Normand' and to assume the direction of it. This venture made him hesitate, fearing, as he did, and his wife still more, that such a project could be a threat to peace. Curious circumstance of that epoch: he dreaded above all for his honour as a man and his conscience as a Christian that he might be challenged in duels ; but his niece, with her customary intrepidness, brushed aside his objections. "Think of the interests of God and the Church, at which the paper "Le Progrès Lexovien" scoffs in lengthy columns" — "You have won the battle, you big-hearted young girl," the former pharmacist who had become an improvised publisher concluded. Céline was later the first to congratulate him on a splendid article wherein he refuted a young politician's unprincipled attacks on Leo XIII.

 

M. Guérin had become a person of importance in Lisieux, and as such, came into contact with a well-known painter, M. Krug, a native of Normandy and pupil of Flandrin, whom he invited to give lessons to Céline. Under the guidance of this master, she progressed well and was enabled to undertake several subjects difficult to execute. She even climbed the scaffolding in order to examine at close range the frescoes with which this artist had adorned the choir of the Abbey. He praised her highly for her art of composition and said he could get her paintings accepted for exhibition at the Salon, but she was unwilling to take a course of studies in Paris. Later on, M. Krug several times visited her in Carmel, giving her the benefit of his advice and criticism, and he even made her a present of his own large palette.

 

Céline did not let her successes divert her from her main purpose, and for her the world was becoming more and more burdensome. Every year during the summer she with her dear invalid, followed the Guérin family to their château of la Musse, near Evreux. This was a beautiful home situated in ideal surroundings with several acres of park and woods entirely enclosed. Life there was varied and gay, with games, parties, and excursions, and with all the charms of comfort and the joys of intimate family life; none of all this, however, was able to alter Céline's attitudes. Rather, such luxury in comparison with the stark poverty of a neighboring church sickened her- It was distasteful to her to be waited on by servants in livery. Like her mother before her she longed for the great re-evaluating that with take place in Eternity, where all inequities will cease and where each one's own merits will receive "heir proper reward. One day, catching herself leaning comfortably against the cushions of a carriage while going on a visit, she felt a wave of self-accusation come over her. "Is it really I, the proud and independent one, who play this comedy? My Jesus set His glory in hiding Himself, after having surrounded all His works with mystery^" She deprived herself at once of a bracelet she had just bought. "What! Shall I put a chain on my wrist! Am I a slave?'

 

The occasions of vanity were many. At evening gatherings Céline, because of her natural attractiveness and bright conversation, became a center of popularity and of growing interest. The attention paid her increased to such an extent that M. Guérin, knowing little of the interior life she was leading, thought it his duty to put her on her guard. As a matter of fact, she had a horror of these marks of attention, and had refused several proposition of marriage. Unable to absent herself from these social events she prepared for them by prayer, and would go them wearing a hidden Crucifix which she could at times press with her hand. This same practice she suggested to a friend who seemed a little heedless, suggesting to her in addition that she try to seek out some of the less assuming among their companions. If the conversation became too frivolous, she would manage to change the subject, while if her advice happened to be asked she would give it unequivocally. The Manuscript of Thérèse has acquainted us with the episode of the dance at which Céline and her partner found it impossible to waltz — he slipping away from the ball room in his embarrassment and she being the first to laugh at the unique situation. This scene, which took place at the marriage of M. Henry Maudelonde, Mme Guérin's nephew, shows us Céline visibly protected by her sister's prayers. Thérèse from that time considered herself spiritually her mother.

 

Although Céline wore a smiling face for all about her, she suffered no less from the life so little according to the ideal she was following. Holy Communion every morning sustained her, as also an hour of daily prayer .— She arranged for herself on the top floor an austere and bare little "cell'', where she could pray, and for a time forget the worldly life of the manors : She liked also to go with her cousin Marie to assist the poor, or to visit a neighboring church whose neglected condition grieved her.                                                        

 

Back at Lisieux, it was far easier to avoid undesired encounters, but now another difficulty presented itself. As early as June 1891, Father Pichon had written to her: "It seems to me that later on, I shall have need of you for a great work.' Little by little he revealed his plan for a sort of secular Institute. The members of the group, which was to be called Bethany, would be occupied in preparing morally abandoned children for Communion, and in the spreading of good literature. Later, this holy priest had described for her the framework of the new foundation, and had definitely invited her to assume the task of heading this new work as soon as she would be free. He asked in addition that for the present she keep this confidential, even from her sisters. This order of silence weighed heavily on her. From being a "singing soul,'* she became troubled and pensive. "I am in darkness, reduced to the state of log,*' she wrote to Thérèse on August 17, 1892. "It is with difficulty I think of Jesus, but perhaps without appearing to be so, the log is being consumed under the ashes."

 

Carefully, and without giving away the secret, she began to prepare Thérèse for the prospect of a possible separation. This note of July 17, 1894 betrays a painful embarrassment. "It seems to me, I ought not to have to tell you so, but it seems to me that you have meant too much to me... that you have been a support that allows me to lean too much, that I depend too much on you, that you have been too indispensable to me; finally I have come to think that to belong completely to God, I must leave you....I have caught a glimpse of the future, and I have come to believe it necessary to separate myself from you so as never to see you again until Heaven I have had a presentiment of a sacrifice surpassing all sacrifices..."

 

This period of deliberation and uncertainty was particularly cruel. Céline turned toward the statue of the Virgin who had cured the "Little Queen", and whose marvelous smile she believed she herself had seen through her tears on a Friday evening ─December 16─ in 1892. One of her poems preserves the memory of this indescribable grace.

 

Céline's anguish, which she could not altogether hide began to cause anxiety to her sisters in Carmel. Without doubt that is why Father Pichon wrote from Canada to Thérèse, on September 21,1893 "Be loving to your Céline. She deserves it. I know it better than you. Our Lord is leading her to the heights by a rugged and steep way."

 

M. Martin's death was about to aggravate the problem of Céline's vocation, During the summer of 1894, as in the preceding year, M. Guérin had taken his brother- in-law to La Musse, where M. Martin was lodged in a wing of the house on the first floor, where his wheelchair could have easy access to the garden. Céline wrote to Carmel about their walks in the woods, where the frail old gentleman took pleasure in listening to the birds, and drinking in the beauties of nature. It seemed to give him new life. "In spite of all, how good are his last days !'' she wrote. "Who could have thought it?...God acts toward us with unfailing kindness."

 

Towards the end of July, M. Martin's condition grew worse, and he received Extreme Unction. On Sunday the 29th a heart attack gently took him. Céline, who never left his side, received the last breath of him whom she had surrounded with so much care. She wrote to Carmel of his last moments; "Scarcely able to speak I recited the prayers Jesus, Mary, Joseph. His last look was full of life, gratitude and love —- a flame of understanding illumined it. For an instant I found again my beloved father such as he had been 5 years before, and his look was to bless and thank me."

 

Céline had now to tell Thérèse of Father Pichon's project. The saint suffered greatly from this disclosure which caused her more tears than she had ever shed before and which resulted in violent headaches. At the same time however, she knew, and was resigned to the opposition raised here and there against the introduction of a fourth member of one family into the narrow circle of Carmel.

 

Although Mother Agnes of Jesus, elected Prioress on February 20, 1893, had hoped to receive Céline, and to this Mother Marie de Gonzague was graciously acquiescing, there was the formal veto of the Superior and of one of the Chapter Nuns, Sister Aimée of Jesus. Céline

 

was in painful doubt. Contemplative life attracted her, but was she not influenced by fraternal love? In her dilemma she prayed, and obtained the prayers of others. Soon light came. Father Pichon, to whom she had written, answered her on August 20: "Go, then, as quick]y as you can to hide yourself in the desert. Take your place among the victims Jesus has chosen for Himself. I do not doubt. I no longer hesitate. God' s will seems manifest. Let us joyfully make our sacrifice." Canon Delatroëtte, the Superior, after speaking with Céline, also gave his consent and Bishop Hugonin ratified this without delay. As for Sister Aimée of Jesus, Thérèse begged God to incline her heart to accept Céline. She looked to this change as a sign that M. Martin had gone straight to Heaven. And, the prayer scarcely formulated, Sister Aimée came, "with tears in her eyes," to say she would give her consent.

 

Everything then took shape. Céline's entrance was set for September 14, 1894, feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The devil now opened fire, sending her a sudden storm of repugnancies:...that Habit of a past age, that veil that would encumber her head, that stiff walk ! .„.She, with her love of the beautiful, she, so jealous of her liberty !... The postulant did not recoil at his suggestions. As at the papal audience she had said to her sister "Speak" : so now she said to herself: "Go ahead !" She refused to give heed to any apprehensions, or to the nightmares that troubled her last nights in the world. Taking with her the statue of the Virgin of the Smile (which was to remain at the entry of Thérèse's cell), on the appointed day, with firm and decided step, she passed through the enclosure door of Carmel .

 

CHAPTER III

 

CELINE IN THE CLOISTER —THE PUPIL OF THERESE

 

As soon as she landed at port, she who was to be called from now on Marie of the Holy Face tasted an inexpressible peace. "All my temptations vanished,' she wrote. The storm gave place to calm and the most profound serenity. I felt that I had at last found the place of my repose.'  Mother Agnes of Jesus conducted her to the cell that she would occupy henceforth. There, Thérèse took her by the hand to show her on the pillow a paper on which was written a poem for her. It ended with this verse:

 

Come to us, young girl My crown is missing a shining pearl, Said Our Lord to us, and we all come, To take you from the world with our white wings, Like a flock of birds take a flower from the branches, Come to us ! Come to us !  What was Céline's emotion when she recognized her Father's writing on this billet ! "It was he," she said, "who received me in this house where the love of Jesus had reserved a place for me."

 

The first contact gave a very good impression. The austere simplicity of the Nuns' quarters pleased the young girl. As artist, she admired the simple lines of the Carmelite Habit, the whiteness of the mantle standing out against the dark background of the Habit. The objections of yesterday were quickly swept away. Thérèse, who exercised the duties of assistant to Mother Marie de Gonzague, the Novice Mistress, initiated her into the timetable of the day, the customs and the reading of the Breviary. She confided to Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart her happy surprise in finding in Céline all her former freshness, with no trace of those complications which the world imprints on souls. The postulant threw herself into the very heart of religious life, the beauty of which she was never to tire of extolling. Each year on the anniversary of her entrance she would kiss the door of enclosure.

 

Difficulties did not delay in coming. It was inevitable. At first it was the most unforeseen. It took Céline several weeks to become accustomed to the straw pallet. Her sleep consequently was shortened and at times it would overwhelm her at the Office, at Prayer, at Adoration. It was the occasion of painful and humiliating battles. It took over a year to adapt herself to the diet — notably to fish, milk and starches, which formed the basic elements of the meals and for which she had great distaste. Having weak arches the long standing in the Choir fatigued her extremely. Her health was delicate and remained so to the end. She had a weak stomach and frequently suffered from toothache. Nevertheless, the postulancy allows certain alleviations, and Céline rounded the cape victorious.

 

Her Clothing in the Habit took place on February 5 1895. The snow was there, as also a lily branch sent to the heroine of the day by the most persistent of former admirers. Canon Ducellier, former Vicar of Saint Peter's and the Dean of Trévières, gave the customary sermon. The theme, proposed by Mother Agnes of Jesus and Thérèse, was on the Canticle of Canticles: "Winter is now passed, the rain is over and gone, rise, my beloved, and come." He included a magnificent eulogy of M. Martin, whose memory permeated the feast.

 

The new Carmelite recounted her impressions: "During the ceremony, I received a particular grace of intimate union with my Beloved. I no longer saw anything that was taking place around me. The presence of the Bishop, the numerous clergy, the people who came in crowds, all disappeared from before me. I was alone with Jesus... when all at once I was roused from my interior silence by the chant of Compline that followed in vibrant notes full spirited. The choir started the Psalm: "Qui habitat in adjutorio Altissimi", and I understood the meaning. Each word fell on my soul like the gage of a sacred promise made to me by Him to Whom I united my life."

 

At the expressed desire of the Superior, and to honour the memory of the Foundress of the Carmel of Lisieux, who had died on December 5, 1891, Céline had to change her name of Marie of the Holy Face for that of Genevieve of Saint Teresa. Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus was a little disappointed by this substitution. She nonetheless consoled her sister, "We two will have the same patron," she told her, thinking of the Reformer of Avila. Sister Genevieve replied, without knowing she was prophesying: "It is you who will be my Patron." With the new name the novice received precious relics of the Foundress of the Lisieux Carmel: the buckle of her girdle, her cross, the medal from her rosary, and also a sentence in her handwriting. She made it her own and framed it carefully: "I am bound, and yet I am free."

 

At this time, she felt more the weight of the bonds. Having entered at the age of 25, after having had much consideration in the world and entire responsibility in the government of her house, naturally inclined to independence and incapable of yielding her thought, she found herself enclosed in the narrow confines of the monastery.

 

Enveloped in a network of observances the meaning of which often escaped her, she was the youngest in Community, that is, the most recent to enter. That meant she was to  submit to everyone, be called upon by everyone for help, without ever having any responsibility herself. Because of her many talents, many extra services were asked of her. The Habit Sister, to whom she was Assistant, gave her no less than 40 such things to do. To meet the demands Sister Genevieve pressed herself to work, She had moreover a remarkable rapidity of execution, and at the same time an extreme care for detail. Everything had to be perfect. This brought upon her reproaches: she was not sufficiently detached from her work; she showed irritation doing it; she did not drop it at the first stroke of the bell; she did not bear well being interrupted. Then, there was always some sister who tried her, especially the one with cerebral anemia. This one would call her frequently, without reason. One day it was just to tell her she wanted to study her step, similar to her sister's. Céline exploded, left and immediately regretted it. All this hurt her keenly because, she notes: "The old saying is true, that one feels a pin prick on oneself more than a neighbor’s broken arm."

 

There was more. This series of incidents disillusioned her about herself. She gave herself over painfully to the exploration of her weakness.

 

"In the world,'' she wrote with fine insight, "my soul lived, as it were, in a strong castle. It was encamped there and rejoiced in its riches. Everything inside and out obeyed. Incensed and praised I thought I was something and did not doubt that I was. Moreover, I needed praise from without, when I felt I was living on energies always reborn, when God put me, so to speak, before the gifts He had bestowed with such liberality.  

 

''But all at once the picture changed. In place of the building I no longer saw anything but ruins which revealed abysses till then unknown. Now, war broke out within me. My faults till then asleep awoke. Was it to live in their company that I came to Carmel?"

 

These are the minor struggles, which those with experience do not fear at the beginning of religious life. When Sister Genevieve complained, Mother Agnes of Jesus would reply in a disinterested tone: 'Do you find it too hard ? Try longer." And the novice, obeying the word to the letter would start again with all her strength.

 

She suffered nevertheless from not receiving Holy Communion every day. The Community followed the regime in force of 3 or 4 Communions a week. February 3, 1893, she resigned herself completely into the hands of the Blessed Virgin. "You are the mistress of my house, she liked to tell Her. As special protectors she chose Saint John Baptist, who effaced himself humbly before Christ, Elias, the intrepid zealot of God's glory, and Saint Michael, the exterminator of Satan in the sovereign power of the Most High.

 

To triumph over the obstacles along her path, the young nun had the advantage of having at her side a Saint, who was her own sister. Thérèse had often wished for her entrance, not to rejoice in her intimacy as in former years, but to reveal to her the secrets of the Way of Spiritual Childhood.

 

As for Sister Geneviève, for a long time the roles had been reversed between her and the Little Queen. Although older, she put herself at the school of her younger sister. "I always follow you," she wrote to her on March 1, 1889. "I am another yourself, but you are the reality, while I am only your shadow." She was going to benefit henceforth from this contact, of which she one day traced the law: "Just as a sponge full of water cannot be touched without communicating the liquid with which it is filled, so one cannot draw near a Saint who gives forth divine grace through all his pores, without feeling the influence. It is for this reason that the Saints are so useful to the Church."

 

When asked if when she entered the cloister she noticed anything extraordinary in Thérèse, Sister Geneviève declared: "No, she was not extraordinary, but I was always struck by her answers. The Holy Spirit spoke through her mouth. That is certain." On her part, the young assistant novice mistress appreciated in her new disciple the ardent desire of belonging entirely to Jesus, the spirit of trust that went straight to the core, a fundamental generosity capable of the greatest sacrifices. She admired above all her directness and transparent loyalty. "When I think of you before the one Love of my soul," she told her on April 25, 1889, "it is always simplicity that presents itself to me as the distinctive characteristic of your heart." The Saint returned to this thought in the poem dedicated to her sister and entitled: "The Queen of Heaven to her Marie.'

 

I wish that on your brow should shine

Gentleness and purity

But the virtue that I give above all

Is simplicity.

 

When Sister Geneviève confided to her sister the assaults against chastity endured in the world, the Saint pressed her in her arms and said with tears: "Oh! how happy I am today!... How I am proud of my Céline: yes, today I see one of my desires realized. I have always wanted to give God this suffering which has not been mine. But because it has been my Céline's, my other self, I am fully satisfied. Together we shall offer Jesus all species of martyrdom."

 

Thérèse did not hesitate to bring to life again the past at Les Buissonnets. It was confidences of this sort made to her three sisters one December evening in 1894 that inspired Mother Agnes of Jesus to have Thérèse write her childhood recollections. She used as occasion presented itself the graceful nicknames which are frequent in her correspondence of yesterday with Céline, and which occur also in her poems. It was a custom inherited from M. Martin. With her it had only the appearance of affectation, because she hid under this childish envelope strong and salutary lessons. If she spoke in this way of the "little shadow' or the ''little harp of Jesus", of the "immortal lily", or of the "sweet echo of my soul", of the "dew drop" or of "dear little Veronica", the idea was always to detach her from herself, in order to establish her in God. She realized Céline's heart was tender and ardent. She gave evidence of great patience and total self-giving in this regard. Sister Geneviève used to like to recall the day she upset an ink bottle on the white wall and the floor of her cell. In anguish she went to find her sister who calmed her with a smile and helped to repair the damage.

 

Mortification demanded its rights in these fraternal relations. Céline explains it very frankly. "Because of the charge of the novices, which was given to her, my intercourse with my darling Thérèse was very frequent, but there too, I had to encounter the cross. Not being the only 'little kitten to drink from the Infant Jesus's bowl,' I was not to take more than the others nor return too often. On the contrary I had discreetly to conceal the privilege of being her sister. This was the source of great sacrifices for me.

 

At the same time, the Saint knew how to be firm and exacting. One can sense it in Sister Geneviève's avowals.  "When my hour came to go to her, I was very happy. In those too short moments, the two sisters took up again the conversations started years before at the windows of the Belvedere... However, the theme had changed a little, because the enthusiasm for suffering and misunderstanding was at present lived. Virtue in bud and in desire had become virtue in action. My flower had lost its petals, and the fruit yet green set itself to the laborious transformations of painful and hidden work.

 

"For Thérèse, the fruit was ripe, and the divine Gardener was preparing to gather it, but mine was just beginning to show itself. There was therefore more difference between Thérèse and Céline now than formerly at the time of the first aspirations. The two little sisters were no longer equal. This meant more devotedness, self-sacrifice than joy in the mission my Thérèse fulfilled in my regard. Without seeking personal consolation, she tried to dissipate the illusions, the prejudices that I brought in from the world. In spite of a certain imperviousness God's grace supplies, all the same it is impossible not to be tainted. I was too long plunged into it not to have retained some of the false colors...She taught me the art of war, pointing out the dangers, the ways to conquer the enemy, the manner of using arms. She guided me step by step in the battles of each day."

 

In her "Conseils et Souvenirs" we see Sister Geneviève in the grip of what she humbly calls "the voice of nature" and the voice of grace. It manifests in detail Thérèse's mastery in this science of education whose objective was to take root in the spirit of Childhood.

 

Céline was too much herself to offer what one might call spontaneous humility. She had nonetheless a real desire for this virtue and she made substantial progress in it. She gave proof of it on Pentecost of the year 1895, when Mother Agnes of Jesus, wishing a member of the family to become a lay-sister, fixed her choice on her. She acquiesced without hesitation, and it would have gone into effect had not Mother Marie de Gonzague intervened.

 

All the same it was a long way from this budding virtue to the ideal proposed by Thérèse. The latter intended to draw her Céline along her Little Way, to make her descend the valley which she aspired to ascend, and she forbade her all question of merit. Such a conversion is not accomplished overnight.

 

The novice picked a snowdrop without permission. It was necessary to instruct her that Carmel's garden was not the one at Les Buissonnets where she was queen and mistress. She suffered, she cried, she turned to God, her only refuge. She sought to console herself in a song but could find only the first two lines:  The Flower that I plucked, O my King, This Thou.

 

Thérèse took up the idea and developed it in verses that restored serenity to the contrite heart. She never wrote anything more graceful. This 'Canticle of Céline' was published later under the title of 'What I used to Love".

 

Another time it was Sister Geneviève who begged the Saint to put in verse all the sacrifices that she was conscious of having offered to Jesus. The answer came, almost by return mail, but in reverse. It is the poem: "Remember Thou", which enumerates the sacrifices Jesus consented to in order to win Céline to Him.

 

Thérèse's whole skill was to lead her sister to recognize, to accept, to love her poverty; to see in it a little way to draw down Merciful Love and to attract God's largesse. "She was happy,' Sister Geneviève wrote, "to see me struggle step by step with the failings that kept me constantly humiliated; with my spontaneous nature I was often in tussles with the Sisters, tussles which afflicted me much because of my great self-love. I found that my exterior was misleading, that I was much better than I appeared. From that a certain resentment was born at not being judged at my worth...Then by her penetrating instructions, supplemented by typical and opportune stories, my little sister would exert herself to make me love my misery. She told me 'that, if there were no imperfection to overcome, I would have to commit them in order to exercise myself in humility.' She made me find my joy in being a 'very little soul ' which God was obliged ceaselessly to uphold because I was no more than weakness and imperfection. She wanted, besides, that I should arrive at wishing that the others would notice my faults, so that they would despise me and judge me always a religious without virtue."

 

Thérèse taught her at the same time to attach herself to Jesus in a permanent movement of mad confidence, in giving Him pleasure in everything down to the smallest things, neglecting none of those minute attentions by which love expresses itself. "At times, Céline avowed, "I would go to her, discouraged, unable to do more, finding myself imperfect all along the line. She would receive me so kindly, listen to me so well that I would leave her prepared to continue the fight.'

 

This effort bore its fruit. Sister Geneviève did not overcome all her faults, but she learned to make use of them to put her finger on her misery. To aid her in this, Thérèse associated her from the beginning, in something which marked an important turning point in her spiritual life. Here again we shall let Céline herself tell it. Her direct testimony is of great worth.    

 

''It was on June 9, 1895, during Mass on the Feast of the Blessed Trinity, that my little Thérèse was inspired to offer herself to the Merciful Love of God. Already, 3 months before, during an hour of Adoration at Forty Hours, on Tuesday, February 26th, she had composed on the spur of the moment her hymn "To Live by Love,'* according to her own aspirations. On Trinity Sunday she was inspired to offer herself as Victim to Merciful Love. Right after  Mass, quite affected, she had me follow her. I did not know why. But soon we met Mother Agnes of Jesus, who was going to the Turn to get her mail. Thérèse seemed a little embarrassed in asking her petition. She stuttered a few words, asking permission to offer herself with me to. Merciful Love. I do not know if she pronounced the word Victim. The matter did not seem important; our Mother said "Yes."

 

"Once alone with me, she explained a little what she wanted to do. She was very moved. Her look was on fire. She told me she was going to put her thoughts in writing and compose her act of oblation. Two days later, kneeling together before the Miraculous Virgin, she pronounced the Act for both of us. It was June 11th."

 

Among the memorable dates of her life, Sister Geneviève noted one which followed soon after this event, on September 8, 1895. She there inscribes an inexpressible grace which she condensed in this sentence: "Jesus living in Céline, Céline possessed by Jesus."

 

The time for her Profession approached. Marie Guérin entered Carmel on August 15, 1895. She was soon to receive the Habit. There was question of having the two ceremonies the same day. In view of her oblation, Céline, who loved to think of Jesus as her Knight, sketched her coat-of-arms with her pen and explained it on a sheet of paper dated November 1, 1895. She therein explains the meaning of her vocation which she sums up in the answer she gave to the question asked at the Canonical examination: "What attracted you to Carmel ?" "Jesus, wanting to give His life for me, I wanted to give Him mine." Later on she wanted to destroy this paper, believing it to be "false coin", as Thérèse said; that is to say, beautiful thoughts not lived. But her sister dissuaded her and composed for her, starting with this theme and on imitation parchment, true crests. The Contract of Alliance of Jesus and Céline was in an envelope fastened with sealing wax. A motto was needed. Interrogated on this point, Sister Geneviève answered without thinking: "Who loses wins !" Prompt to take good from everything, the Saint copied at once, in spite of her sister's protests, these words which for her had a Gospel meaning: to lose oneself to find God. The missive was stamped "from the Garden of Agony," because it was on the Commemoration of this Mystery, the 24th of February 1896, that Sister Geneviève made her Profession. She left it, on the eve of that day, in the novice's cell, addressed thus: "Dispatch from Jesus, knight, to my beloved Spouse, Geneviève of Saint Teresa, living of love on the Mountain of Carmel."

 

The date of the feast had not been settled without difficulty. Mother Marie de Gonzague, Mistress of Novices, had wanted to impose a delay. In reality, she had hoped to preside herself at the ceremony, the new elections taking place soon. It was on this occasion that Thérèse observed:

 

"That is not one of the humiliations that can be imposed.' Consulted by Mother Agnes of Jesus, the Bishop's representative was opposed to any delay.

 

Two nights before the great day, Sister Geneviève was the prey of terrible attacks, doubting her vocation, thinking she was playing a comedy. Everything grew calm in prayer. Strengthened by Leo XIII's Blessing, which the faithful Brother Simeon obtained for her, she pronounced her vows in the hands of her sister, Pauline, the "Little Mother'* to the whole family. She carried on her heart a prayer in which she summed up all her aspirations. We read there: "Lord, my ambition is to be, with my darling Thérèse, a little child in our Father's heavenly house. I wish to work solely to give You pleasure...I consent always to lose here below, because I want all I receive from You to be gratuitous, because You love me, and not riches acquired by my virtues...Do not judge me according to my works, do not impute to me my faults, but look upon the Face of my Jesus. It is He who will answer for me."

 

In the evening of the feast, according to tradition, the hymn composed in her honour was sung to the newly professed. It was the work of Sister Marie of the Angels. Thérèse, who wished to have been the one assigned, got even in a friendly manner when she wrote the hymn destined for Marie Guérin a year later. She gave it for title: "My Arms." She worked in the fundamentals of the chivalrous ideals that enthralled Céline. Thérèse said to her: "That is what I wanted to offer you. Consider it then as done for you.' The Saint had moreover given her at the time, in compensation, a poem recalling in a delicate way the grace of September 8, Besides, she gave her also an inestimable relic, the last tear of Mother Geneviève of Saint Teresa."

 

The Solemn Veiling took place on March 17 1896. Sister Geneviève would rejoice later to discover the Roman Martyrology on that same day celebrated the memory of Joseph of Arimathea, the one who gave the linen for the Shroud. Bishop Hugonin presided. The sermon was again preached by Canon Ducellier, who disregarding Thérèse's suggestion, commented on the verse: "Placebo Domino in regione vivorum'. This text, used in the Office of the Dead, was not out of place in a ceremony that consecrates that mystical death which is the definitive separation from the world. In the afternoon, before a very large assembly, Marie Guérin received the Habit of Carmel, under the name of Sister Marie of the Eucharist. It was on this day that Céline and her little sister were photographed side by side, by the Cross in the patio. Sister Geneviève had in fact brought her camera to the convent with her. She was expert in using it. We owe to her the majority of the pictures that were to form " the Photo Album of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux."

 

Mother Marie de Gonzague took up again the office of Prioress in the elections of March 21, 1896. Under her government there was question for a time of sending Thérèse to Indochina, then Mother Agnes of Jesus, finally Sister Geneviève and Sister Marie of the Trinity. The project never materialized, but it nevertheless stimulated the generosity and spirit of sacrifice of those concerned. It was during the course of this term that the Saint consummated so beautifully her very brief existence. The Prioress, who appreciated her highly, and who has the merit of having been in favor of her entrance to Carmel, as also that of her sister and her cousin, gave her Céline as second infirmarian. Having a presentiment of her approaching end, Thérèse said compassionately: "Oh! it is my Céline who will feel my departure the most. It is she I pity more than all, because as soon as she has a trial, she seeks me out, and she will have no one...Yes, but God will give her the strength...and then, I shall return!'

 

She set herself to comforting her Céline, introducing gaiety, in her most serious talks reminiscences of their conversations of childhood, borrowing terms from the plays they enacted years ago at Les Buissonnets. "We will be like two little ducks. You know how they follow one another." "In Heaven, you will take your seat next to me." "My little Demoiselle, I love you very much, and it is sweet to me to be cared for by you." "Oh! how grateful I am to you, my poor little bobonne!.. You will see all that I shall do for you."

 

Fearing her sister would catch cold, Céline offered to procure for her a piece of habit goods to cover her shoulders. In Carmel this is nicknamed "consolation." Thérèse replied sweetly: "No, you are my consolation." She exercised till death her role of Assistant Novice Mistress: "You are very little, remember that. 'When one is very little one does not have beautiful thoughts."

 

In spite of her contagious good humor, Thérèse herself was living in the "tunnel", in the clutches of the trial of faith. Céline having mentioned Heaven, she sighed. "Oh!...tell me something about it." Sister Geneviève spoke of it in her candid and imaginative way. "Ah! enough," interrupted the Saint with anxiety, plunged yet deeper in the implacable night that beset her, without however her hope being shattered.

 

On July 22, Céline wrote to Mme Guérin, "The other day I read to her a passage on the beatitude of Heaven. She interrupted me to say: "This is not what attracts me." "What, then? I asked. "Oh, it is love! To love, to be loved and to return to earth." At another time, Sister

 

Geneviève asked the Saint; "You will look down on us from above, will you not?" — "No. I will come down."

 

On August 16th, Thérèse said to her; "God asked me if I wanted to suffer for you. I answered at once that I wanted to very much. Until then I had suffered only in the right side, but then there was at once a pain of unbelievable intensity in the left." After that it was called "Céline's side.' A little later, the Saint added, as though beside herself: "I suffer for you, and the demon does not want it ! He prevents me from taking the sightless alleviation, he holds me as in a hand of iron, he increases my ills so that I would despair."

 

On the eve of Thérèse's death, Sister Geneviève asked her if she should not go to Indochina in her place. "No," she answered with spirit, "Everything is accomplished. It is Love alone that counts." Likewise to Céline who asked what she said to Jesus, Thérèse made the admirable response: "I say nothing to Him, I love Him.'

 

In a moment of relief the Saint had said: "My little sisters, you must not be pained if when dying, my last look is for one of you and not for the others. I do not know what I shall do, it will be what the good God wants. If He leaves me free, this last look will be for Our Mother because she is my Prioress." Céline is going to tell us the event on the day of September 30, 1897. "During her agony, only a few minutes before she expired, I passed a small piece of ice across her burning lips. At that moment she raised her eyes to mine and gave me a look of prophetic insistence. The look was full of tenderness, it had at the same time an expression of the super- natural full of encouragement and promise, as if she said to me: "Go, go, my Céline ! I will be with you." The Community was present and as though in suspense before this great spectacle. Suddenly our dear little Saint lowered her eyes to search Our Mother, who was kneeling at her side, while her look took on again the expression of suffering that it had before." A little after she pronounced her last words: "My God, I love You," then the ecstasy, the sinking back and the last breath.

 

Sister Geneviève noticed a tear on her Thérèse's eyelid. She gathered up this precious relic on a handkerchief. Then, with broken heart, but firmly convinced that a future of glory was about to begin for her dear departed she understood at one and the same time her loss and her treasure. Two weeks later, on happening to see some heavenly body tracing a wide flaming path in the evening sky, she felt at the same time a strong intimation of the coming glorification of Thérèse, somehow symbolized by this phenomenon in outer space. Sister Geneviève felt this happening so deeply that she referred to it in her testimony in the Process years later.

 

On March 5, 1898, she experienced a favor of another kind. At the end of her solitude retreat, while she was meditating on that passage of Zacharias: "For what is the good thing of him, and what is his beautiful thing, but the corn of the elect, and the wine springing forth virgins,'' she was affectionately reproaching her sister for not having helped her at all during the retreat, when she felt suddenly overwhelmed by an interior sweetness accompanying the fire of divine charity.

 

CHAPTER IV

 

 IN THE LUMINOUS PATH OF THERESlAN GLORY

 

Sister Geneviève scarcely had time to feel the deep void caused by her sister's death. Thérèse continued beyond the tomb to direct her progress in the Way of Childhood, to penetrate its deepest secrets. At the same time, her own talents were to be utilized for the spreading of this doctrine of the "Little Way." Charged to arrange the illustrations of "The Story of a Soul", which was to appear in 1898, she had recourse first of all to the photographs she had taken of the Saint on her knees, holding the pictures of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face; as also to the one of Thérèse standing beside the Cross, Rosary in hand. These pictures had turned out badly because of poor light and the fatigue of Thérèse. When there was question of a second edition of the book, Sister Geneviève was asked to paint a bust, the one known as the 'oval' picture or the "authentic" picture, a composite from original photos, which at Carmel was judged to be a faithful likeness. "It seems to me I see her again," exclaimed Sister Mary Magdalena, one of Thérèse's novices, on seeing it.

 

Céline began to work on all the photographs — there were about fifty — in which Thérèse figured, alone or in a group. (She never retouched the negatives themselves, thus making it possible to use them for the album recently published.) Sharing the ideas of her time, and doubtless because snapshots were not yet possible, she considered photography only a cold expressionless representation. It seemed to her that the portrait alone was capable of reproducing a person's living expression.

 

Céline did not have a dark room assigned for developing the negatives, while for a studio, she had only the most rudimentary material, located in a small space outside Thérèse's former cell, a tiny place later transformed into an oratory for the Virgin of the Smile. She was moved thence, first to the library, then to the chapter room, and finally to a part of St. Mechtilde's cell. Our artist made use of whatever free time remained after her duties as Habit Sister and Sacristy Help. She had to be ready for everything: decorations, wood paintings, statues to be refinished, crèches, medallions, reliquaries, ornaments, altar sets, repository hangings, programs, miniatures and trinkets of every kind, frames, candlesticks, banners or baskets, — a stream of all kinds of art works flowed from her busy hands. At this a few words of blame were raised at all this activity outside the usual order. To cut this short, Mother Marie de Gonzague made use of the visit of his Excellency, Bishop Amette, on the occasion of a ceremony in honour of Blessed Denys de Honfleur and Redemptus, Martyrs of the Order of Carmel. She presented Sister Geneviève, who had painted the picture representing the Apotheosis, to the Bishop who showered her with praise and encouraged her, before the whole Community, to make the most of her art. Among a number of religious subjects, the following pictures or drawings date from this period: Thérèse on her death bed, Thérèse at ten, Thérèse at the Harp, Thérèse and her Mother, Thérèse and her Father.

 

Céline was already working busily, losing not a moment, and bringing to completion each of the tasks set her. She seldom went to the speak room, and M. Guérin, knowing this, playfully called her "Mr. President", charging Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart to give Céline his messages. She was engaged at this time, at the desire of the Bishop of Bayeux, on the pamphlet "An Appeal to Little souls" (later called "Appeal to Divine Love"), to spread knowledge of the "Way of Childhood.-' Add to this many personal notes, poems for all Community occasions, abundant needle work tasks, and we can understand the naïve remark an old Sister made to Céline! "If cats did not have eyes, you would make them for them:'  

 

Together with all this activity, and fulfilling the obligations of religious life, Sister Geneviève followed strictly the observances of the Community. She was having, besides, serious interior combats to face. In February 1899, in fact, she felt a reviving of the former temptations against chastity. Sometimes, indeed, at the very depths of her being, she perceived a rising up of all the arguments of the materialists. Heaven was closed to her. Prayer seemed to her dry and without fruit. She hardened herself:

 

she adhered to God with all her will power and all her faith. "The only grace I ask of You,' she prayed, "is never to offend You." The applied an apostolic meaning to her struggles. 'The desire to save souls was my follow," she wrote concerning this period. '*In comparison with one soul snatched from Satan, all my sufferings seemed to me as nothing. It was this hope that gave me courage."

 

This painful state lasted 2 years and 3 months, occasionally becoming acute, for example that night of the 24th to the 25th of April 1901, when she felt she was answering the challenges of hell. "It is Jesus who will conquer for me." Providentially, she enjoyed the benefit of daily Communion. Abbé Hodierne, now replacing Abbé Youf, who had died at the same time as Thérèse, was using in this domain, and in the most liberal sense, the powers conceded by Leo XIII to Chaplains of Convents.

 At the same time that this heavy trial disappeared, a new and very far reaching phase began in Céline's life. "My spiritual life," she was to say later on, "can be written between two loves: my Thérèse and the Holy Face." —Of these two, the second was now to take an unexpected line of development.  The picture of the Holy Face, distributed by the Holy Man of Tours, M. Dupont, according to the veil of Veronica preserved at Saint Peter's in Rome, had claimed the devotion of the Martin family, from the time of their father's illness. This picture, however, did not seem to possess the august quality instinctively demanded of a likeness of the Divine Majesty. (Marie Guérin could never conceal her repugnance.) It chanced, several weeks after Thérèse's death, that the King of Italy, by a decree dated November 10, 1897, authorized the public showing and veneration of the Holy Shroud of Turin. In March 1898, the precious Relic was taken from its circular leaden coffin, and became the occasion of many pilgrimages and publications. M. Guérin bought M. Vignon's book: "The Winding Sheet of Christ" and gave it to his niece, Céline, knowing her interest in photographic endeavors.

 

In her cell, during the evening silence, Sister Geneviève would spread out the plates that represented in positive the negative, that had been imprinted so mysteriously upon the spice-laden linen, and would gaze at it with deep emotion. "It is indeed my Jesus, such as I have pictured Him...And studying the traces of His sufferings by means of the wounds I followed the impression of the cruel crown of thorns. I saw the blood, coagulating in the hair, and running down in large drops. On top of the head, to the left, one senses that the crown must have been torn off with difficulty. The hair was raised under this strain and plastered together by blood. The left eye appears to be slightly open and the right eye is puffed up. I saw the upper part of the nose was broken, the right cheek and nostrils swollen by the servant's blow, the beard all covered with blood...Then, no longer able to contain myself, I covered this adorable Face with my kisses and bathed It with my tears. I made the resolution to paint a Holy Face after this ideal I had seen."

 

Sister Geneviève could not set herself to the task until Easter 1904, when she executed a first sketch in charcoal. The printing firms who were contacted found the reproduction defective, offering the opinion that it would be better to make a painting in black and white. She started the work again in 1905, during paschal time, devoting to it all her free time — Sundays, feast days and hours of silence. She worked standing, which cost her much, facing a picture of the Face of Christ, life size, and even using a magnifying glass to follow the least thread of tissue and the corresponding traces. Although she always felt the need of sleep, she would sacrifice her 'siesta', at lowing herself only the last ten minutes. She curled up at the foot of her canvas, her head resting on her large woolen handkerchief, which was rolled up in a ball. She called it 'sleeping like a dog."

 

She had summoned all Heaven to aid her. Each evening she would lay the brushes and her work before the Virgin of the Smile. Sometimes she would carry the picture into the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, and there, alone with Him, submit it to the divine rays. She besought Saint Joseph's aid and that of the whole Heavenly Court, including her own dear ones above. When a particular part was giving her great difficulty, she would turn her thoughts to the Sorrowful Virgin on the summit of Calvary. During these months it happened three or four times that she perceived before her for the space of a minute ("but it was not with the eyes of the body," she stated precisely,) "the Face of Jesus suffering, with great beauty and distinctness.' This was either the effect of the imagination haunted by its subject or a special privilege recompensing so much labor.

 

The picture finished, she took it to the Blessed Virgin "to give her the first fruits." Then she was inspired to consult the Gospel and her eye felt upon the verse from Saint Matthew: "They that were there having seen the things that were done said: "Indeed this was the Son of God."

 

It was in fact a masterpiece, which in March 1909, won the Grand Prix of the International Exposition of Religious Art of Bois-le-Duc, in Holland. The picture, of incontestable nobility in its tragic realism, has been popularized by millions and millions of copies. The saintly Pius X, on being shown the picture, contemplated it at length, murmuring several times: "How beautiful it is!" and added, with his usual kindness, "I want to give a souvenir to the religious who made that." He sent her a large bronze medal with his portrait engraved in relief. Need we say she appreciated this more than having her work being accepted for exhibition at the Salon (the annual French art exhibition).

 

Sister Geneviève painted also Christ at the Column and a Crucifixion, both based upon the Holy Shroud. For these she had recourse to the best founded historic explanations. An ardent conviction possessed her which made her return frequently to this theme of the Savior’s Passion and of the establishment of His reign through the Cross, even causing her to compose an Office and Mass in honour of the Holy Face.

 

This devotion Céline was to retain throughout her life. On November 14, 1915, Mother Agnes of Jesus, the Prioress, authorized her to add ''of the Holy Face" to her name. Henceforth, reversing the titles, she signed: "Geneviève of the Holy Face and of Saint Teresa," choosing the Transfiguration as her feast. She liked to celebrate, in contrast with the suffering Virgin, the Face shining with glory, and with this theme painted a banner of the Holy Face, which she herself carried each year in a Community procession. Her soul seemed completely penetrated by this ardent love; for her it was the source from which she drew inexhaustible inspiration. "Having the Face of God in my possession," she wrote, "how can I not present myself with assurance before the Face of God? Yes, because the Face of my Jesus is God Himself made visible to my eyes under a veil of flesh, 'the bow of the mighty is broken, and the weak are girt with strength.' (I Samuel, II, 4)'

 

One sees shining through all these examples the deep tenderness of Sister Geneviève's consecration to Christ. Often she would repeat, "God has captivated me — He has seized and conquered me." (cf. Jeremias XX, 7) During her last days, when there was question of the Russians' first exploits into outer space she wrote: "My devotion to the Holy Face is the summary of my love of the Sacred Humanity of Jesus. I am the little satellite of His Humanity." Literally, during her whole religious life, she was "encircling Christ." One of her first poems, on the anniversary of her Profession, names Him her "Divine Model "; a lifetime later, for her golden jubilee the same theme recurs in her poem:- "To die, all the while living, for Jesus my Spouse."

 

On Ascension Day In 1922, in a sort of commentary on the hymn of Vespers, Jesus voluptas cordium, she is carried away in thought to all the places marked by the Savior’s step:  'I investigate, I look, and I return again, There where I know I'll see the same form In which God placed His holy Humanity, For I believe I see there His ineffable imprint."  Once, she had a dream that Carmel was the new Palestine, haunted by the divine Presence, and this she records in lines that savor of Lamartine :  "O cloisters ! Gardens ! Land forever blest ! All vibrant for my heart with harmony. And you, O even star, and moon of silver crest, On whom my Friend Divine has bent His gaze, I too from out night's window I look at you, Remembering that His eyes behold your rising, And for His guilty world on high He pleads, And showers pardon on the contrite soul !

 

Sister Geneviève did not content herself with romantic thoughts. The historic Christ was for her the first center of interest. At an epoch when exegesis was a rather closed science, she had forced here a path for herself. "Crowded schedules," she wrote, "did not hinder me from searching thoroughly into all that concerns the footsteps of our Jesus on earth. I have practically scrutinized the places in Palestine where He passed. It seems to me I know the Holy Land as though I had lived there." She collected views of Judea and Galilee. For the Community she made 4 series of slides on the life of Christ. Her commentary witnesses to real erudition. With her usual attention to detail, she drew for her own use, a plan of Jerusalem, an outline of the steps of the Passion, a diary and detailed timetable with the events of Holy Week. Once, for the feast day of Mother Agnes of Jesus, she produced a casket containing representations of the 12 kinds of stones composing the walls of Jerusalem described in the Apocalypse. On another occasion, combining her recollections of the Holy House of Loretto with descriptions gleaned from accredited authors, with much ingenuity she made a reproduction of the house of Nazareth, such as it must have been in the time of the Holy Family.

 

Holy Scripture above all constituted her field of study. "I could never say," she noted, ''what it is for me. It seems to me' that, if I live to the end of the world, I would not need any other book to guide and instruct me. Never will I exhaust it. It has happened to me that, after having meditated on a passage, delving into each word like a careful bee, I believed I had collected all the honey enclosed in the many calixes of that mysterious flower —only to find, later on, other wonders, other beauties which earlier had quite escaped me."  

 

In the evening of her life she rejoiced to have for her use, no longer some collections of scriptural texts, as Thérèse had known them, but several complete Bibles, old and recent editions. She was not a little intrigued by certain divergences in form and even in meaning. "I noticed that each author seems to translate according to his idea of God. To study the different divergences interests me very much. I share my Thérèse's desire to know Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic so as to translate the original texts according to what my heart dictates as to the real character of God."

 

In June 1917, an abridgement of Saint Thomas's Summa Theologica came into her hands. She harvested from it some dozen pages of sentences on Christ. "All that the holy Doctor explains there," she wrote (by way of preface to her extracts); "is so exactly the expression of my thoughts that it seems to me I have not come upon any teaching in this book not already known to me. But I saw there that what I lack when speaking of Our Lord, is the knowledge of the proper expressions. Also, I humbly beg that the involuntary errors I may commit in what I write, be not imputed to me, and that these pages be corrected, if not burned. I repeat here: I do not believe, nor want to believe, anything except what my Mother the holy Church teaches." The problems concerning the varying views of Christ engaged Céline's attention to the end. Looking back on her efforts, one can only deplore the fact that she could not have had special education in exegesis and theology — a thing unheard of at the time. Her own personal researches, nevertheless, won her a rich reward.

 

It must be added that for Sister Geneviève, these studies turned spontaneously to prayer. She approached them in a deep spirit of faith, mingling prayer with faith, imploring the Holy Spirit to enlighten her, and happy with the least light that she received. And there where the mystery deepened she rested herself in abandon. It cannot be said that she was a contemplative in the sense of the divine encounter in obscurity so dear to Saint John of the Cross, for without doubt she had a spirit too curious, too prone to reasoning for that, but her incessant meditations on Holy Scripture established her in a profound union with Christ, from which sprang the discoveries that fill her note books. She lived in the presence of Jesus, experiencing the sorrow of His silence for the least infidelity. "Everything is registered in the heart," she avowed, "Oh ! how carefully one must guard oneself from being distracted from this unique occupation ! ' It was her passion, her obsession, and she liked especially to think of it under the relations of a knight whose lady she was- "Lock me in, o my Beloved, she would say to Him, "because I fear to be unfaithful to you.. The Canticle of the Sun, attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi, but expressing his soul in the finished style of Jacopone de Todi, was very dear to Céline. Often on her feasts they would sing, or play on the harmonium, the melodious phrase: "O Christ, you have ravished my heart."

 

On September 8, 1900 — anniversary of a signal grace — Sister Geneviève jotted on paper these lines which bear the impress of a testament: ' O my Jesus...You know it; my desire has always been to love You and make You loved. Not able to conceive of love greater than what You poured out through my Thérèse, my dream is to spend it in my turn. Together, and on the same day, O Jesus, You accepted us as Victims of Your Merciful Love. I was the first to follow her in her Little Way. She opened the door and I entered after her...Is the day very far off when I shall hear the sound of Your voice, when You will press me to Your Heart, when I shall be able to see You and kiss Your sweet Face, when forever I shall sit with Thérèse on Your knees ? O Jesus, may I live and die of Love for You ! ''

 

In her journey towards Christ, Sister Geneviève leaned on the Blessed Virgin. Thérèse's miraculous cure had deeply influenced her life. The care of the statue traditionally venerated in the Martin family was appointed as her special charge, and it was she also who took care of the Virgin's oratory in Carmel, continuing to attend to this duty until 1946. Several times she received from Mary signal favors. "Yesterday evening, during the great silence," she wrote on October 9, 1935, "I felt ineffably united to my Mother in Heaven. I experienced an indefinable feeling that one hardly dares to express. It seemed to me that the Blessed Virgin was one of us, that she was my sister, my friend. There was a familiarity between us, a sort of equality, as part of the family. Oh I how sweet it was ! This morning, during Mass, I thought of it again, and it was sweet to unite this grace and the feast of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin, which is celebrated today. It is the third time in my life that my Mother in Heaven visited me from First Vespers of this very consoling solemnity."

 

Céline had her own very personal way of considering Mary. She was altogether in accord with Thérèse's thoughts on presenting our Blessed Mother as accessible, approachable, imitable, living by faith like us. Her notes and letters show her arguing and disagreeing in quite firm tones with those preachers and writers who seem to put Her in an order apart practically to the point of cutting Her off from common humanity. For Céline, the glory of Mary is ours. The whole human race is honored in the Immaculate Conception. As for the earthly life of the Mother of God, it was lived on the same plane as that of the greater part of the daughters of Eve: work, prayer, rest, study of the Holy Books, without extraordinary lights, without prodigies of any kind. It is this view of Her that brings Her close to us and capable of sympathizing with us in our needs. 

Sister Geneviève heartily endorsed the passages of "Philosophy of the Credo", where Père Gratry establishes the life of faith in Mary. She was enchanted with "The Life of Mary, Mother of Jesus' by François Willam. On the contrary, she was without mercy for a certain orator who on one December 8th had made the pulpit of Carmel "resound with exclamation points," to use the words of Thérèse. One must have noticed, in more places than one, that Sister Geneviève had original and well defined ideas on many subjects. Occasions for further showing this were given her in the part she was to take in the canonization of Thérèse.

 

The affair met with much initial opposition. The Guérin family, who appreciated sanctity according to medieval hagiography objected to the introduction of the Cause. Bishop Lemonnier of Bayeux was reticent. Bishop de Teil, who became Vice-Postulator, did not fear to say: "The Congregation of Rites does not want to beatify any more kitchen brothers." This simple, limpid life, without sensational episodes, did not seem material for touching the Court of Rome; still, to the "shower of roses" responded the voice of the people, who wanted their "Little Thérèse" a Saint. Mother Marie Ange of the Child Jesus was elected Prioress on May 8, 1908, replacing Mother Agnes of Jesus. The new Prioress obtained from the Bishop, on the day of her election, permission for the initial steps to be taken, but she herself was to die the following year, November 11, 1909, and thus it came about that Mother Agnes, again took up the charge, which she was to carry the rest of her life, and with it the heavy burden of the increasing glory of her sister.

 

NOTE: Bishop de Teil in this was ill informed and obviously did not possess the gift of prophecy. Later beatifications, notably that of Sister Maria-Assunta, Franciscan Missionary of Mary, was to teach him he was happily mistaken. More and more won over by a Cause whose ardent supporter he grew to be, Bishop de Teil was in the end to penetrate to the core the spirit of Spiritual Childhood, and to become its apostle in ecclesiastical circles.

 

On February 10, 1910, Bishop Lemonnier's letter for the investigation of the writings of the Servant of God was published. On August 12th took place the first of 90 sessions, during which 48 witnesses were interrogated. After Rome had approved of the dossier and introduced the Cause, the Apostolic Process was begun. Starting April 9, 1915, new depositions were required.

 

Thérèse's own sisters were rated first in order of importance. It was no trivial task to tackle a compact network of questions, to avoid repetitions, to put in good light the virtues duly catalogued. Bound by the most rigorous secrecy, those concerned could not give one another help or enlightment. How did Sister Geneviève acquit herself of her task? A letter she wrote at Mother Agnes of Jesus' request, on January 10, 1938, gives us delightful details, and at the same time so well reveals to us Céline herself.

 

"At the two Processes, when the Judges interrogated me on the reason why I desired the canonization of my sister, I answered that 'it was solely to make known the Little Way of Spiritual Childhood that she had taught us.'  Then they took fright, and each time that I pronounced the words Little Way,' they started, and the Promoter of the Faith, Father Duboscq, said to me: 'If you talk about a Way, you will lose the Cause: you know well that Mother Chapuis's was abandoned for that reason.'

 

"That is too bad !" I answered resolutely, "if it is lost, it is lost; but as I swore to say the truth, I will testify to what I have seen and heard, come what may ! '

 

''Regarding the Heroicity of the Virtues, I did not want to change my resolutions, and I forced myself to put them in their simple and imitable framework. It was even more difficult to get this accepted than in the first — the Informative — Process. The members of the Ecclesiastical Tribunal had misgivings about the proposed Cause. These gentlemen, who were members of the Tribunal only through condescension, were persuaded that nothing would be found worthy of retaining, as Bishop de Teil, the Vice-Postulator, confided to us later. But I protested, and would tell them things like this: "That I would not let Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus be classed on the level which custom assigns to the other saints; that she practiced only simple and hidden virtues, and that these fields were where her claims lay.

 

"I ask myself how I could have been so firm, I who because of my timidity, years ago did not want to take the exams for the diploma, being sure I would get nervous and forget everything during the examinations. God had to arm me for the war, because a war it was. Father Duboscq told me that I wanted to bring my Sister up to my level. Thereupon, he recounted spirited stories which seemed to condemn me."

 

According to a Consultor of the Congregation of Rites, the depositions of Sister Geneviève, such as they were recorded, were more remarkable than all the others. They were centered on Spiritual Childhood, but tended equally to put in relief the virtue of fortitude. Concerning this, Céline made this useful observation: "I do not mean to be obstinate. In what concerns this whimsical allegation of certain authors, it suffices to affirm that Thérèse, from her tenderest years until her death seemed to us a celestial replica of the Virgin Mary, by her sweetness, her discreet calm, the perfect control of herself. One could believe she was 'confirmed in grace,' as her confessors themselves declared to us."

 

The excess of work occasioned by these events had somewhat compromised the health of Sister Geneviève. In 1911, she was attacked by a congestion in both lungs : in 1915 by laryngitis that affected her vocal cords for a long time. Nevertheless, she was always on duty. It was she -who assisted — one can divine with what emotion! — at the second exhumation of Thérèse's remains, which took place in the cemetery in Lisieux, on August 10, 1917. At times consolations were mingled with sorrow. Several different times, she noticed around her a penetrating perfume betraying an invisible approach. This occurred especially on February 5, 1912, anniversary of her Clothing, the day when the Diocesan Process was deposited in Rome, and the same phenomenon was renewed on March 17, 1915, anniversary of her Veiling, and also the day on which the Apostolic Process was opened.

 

On August 14, 1929, Benedict XV promulgated the Decree on the Heroicity of Virtues. In answer to the address of thanksgiving pronounced by the Bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux, the   Holy Father gave a panegyric on Thérèse, entirely focused on Spiritual Childhood. This was presented as "the secret of sanctity, not only for the French, but for all the faithful of the entire world." In a well-drawn analysis, taking texts from the Gospel and examples from the life of Thérèse, the Pope showed how Spiritual Childhood consists in humility, confidence and abandonment. "The more the new Heroine of virtue is known," he concluded, "the greater will be the number of her imitators who will give glory to God, in practicing the virtues of Spiritual Childhood."  

 

Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face gave a cry of triumph: "I have never," she wrote, "experienced so great and deep a joy as on August 14, 1921, at the announcement  of the authoritative Papal Discourse of Benedict XV. Through enthusiastic telegrams we were informed that 'the little way of Spiritual Childhood' had been exalted at the same time as the pronouncement of the Heroicity of the Virtues of Thérèse. It was the victory such as I had desired, without daring to hope that it would be so complete. The Beatification and Canonization themselves did not give me a joy so intense."

 

Céline was no less united in spirit with the elaborate celebrations taking place in the Eternal City on April 29, 1923 and May 17, 1925. The Triduum celebrated in Carmel, the ceremonies in Lisieux, echoes of which reached her over the enclosure wall, seemed to her at times as if it were as a dream. On November 25 1925 she wrote: "Finding myself in the garden, in the hermitage of the Holy Face, I recalled again the humiliations that had been our lot and that of our dear Father. Relations withdrew from us, as though not of our family, friends and acquaintances said among themselves: 'Of what use was his piety? He is bearing the weight of his own sacrifices; and because of him, the impious ridiculed the lamentable end of the just.' And it seemed to me that then God said to His angels: Write.' And I saw one writing this on a register, after the word, 'Debit'. Then, years, many years passed by. Will God be late with His accounts? At that moment I raised my eyes and I saw on the cross of the Carmel's dome the little banner gleaming. All the feasts of the canonization of our Thérèse were summed up there. I heard these words in my heart, words pronounced with inexpressible fatherly tenderness: 'Are you satisfied?' Then a flood of thanksgiving invaded me completely, and with tears in my eyes, I could only say over and over, with deepest love: '0 my God !"

 

The day of the Canonization was for the posthumous activity of Thérèse less an apotheosis than a new raising of the curtain. Proclaimed by Pius XI Patroness of the Missions on December 14, 1927, she extended her influence more and more over the entire world. In Lisieux a huge mail had to be opened, souvenirs gathered, sanctuaries arranged, visits received, the Theresian message diffused. It was the joint work of Carmel and of the Pilgrimage Organization (l'Oeuvre du Pèlerinage) confided to the competent and untiring zeal of its young Director, Father Germain. Named Prioress for life by the Pope on May 31 1923, Mother Agnes of Jesus faced with calm a crushing task. Sister Geneviève who held no office, was able to give her active support. It was not until 1915 and then at the intervention of a Superior of the

 

Order, that she became a member of the Chapter, having been excluded, like Thérèse herself, so that not more than two members of the same family would have a chapter voice.

 

Céline's competence soon brought her to the fore. Relieved of all duty except that of photography, she gave herself entirely to the work concerning Thérèse and her increasing cult. She took a foremost part in the publishing of the biography for children, printed under the name of Père Carbonel; also in the publication of the Little Catechism of Merciful Love, and in the difficult arrangement of the Little Way in Pictures. In 1918, she applied herself to a great labor of compilation, going through all the writings and sayings of the Saint, to group together the texts that defined her virtues. At first she had thought of grouping this synthesis around fortitude, but the Promoter of the Faith, Bishop Duboscq, insisted that it be made to gravitate around love. On her deathbed, she reproached herself for having too little emphasized humility, which is the heart of Spiritual Childhood, and it required the citing of several passages to reassure her. This book, which cost Céline unbelievable suffering, to the point of wearing her out, appeared under the title. "The Spirit of Saint Thérèse." It has had numerous reprints, and Dom Chautard expressed the hope of seeing it issued in pocket edition, like the Imitation of Jesus Christ.

 

Sister Geneviève applied herself also to classifying the archives. She took note of the least details of the rapid growth in Thérèse's glory, and assembled and copied the notes made by Mother Agnes of Jesus and Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart. She kept up a vast correspondence, adding to this her personal notes, and sometimes collections called for by the formal wish of the Authorities, often consisting of enough pages to make one dizzy. Between times — especially for the Prioress' feast, or to clarify for herself some interior feeling, she would try poetry. Poetic license was sometimes in evidence, yet inspiration also, in certain of her happy forms of expression.  

 

Sister Geneviève had so many ingenious ideas, as well as much practical good sense, that Mother Agnes of Jesus often leaned on her in connection with works to be undertaken or supervised. Two illustrated albums, drawn up at her sister's wish, enumerate, with useful notations for the future, all that she accomplished in the different spheres. One is amazed at the number and variety of these albums' contents — researching and evaluating everything that had pertained to Thérèse and to her family; arrangement and transformation of the Carmel and its Chapel ; buying and restoration of Les Buissonnets, the Pavillon, and the birthplace in Alençon; exposition of souvenirs in the exterior sacristy and in the interior rooms called “Gloria” and ''Magnificat"; care and supervision of all these places and their furnishings; the illustration of books and brochures; sacred vessels; reliquaries; church linens; liturgical ornaments; the upkeep of graves; relations with the "Office Central"; — one asks, in astonishment, how, in her cloistered life, Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face had the time to take care of so many responsibilities !

 

With a precision and decision that could not be gainsaid, she met with lawyers, architects, artists, contractors. She always had some plan to offer or some witty criticism. Seeing a sketch for a flag support, for the chapel of the Carmel, she killed it with one word: "It is perfect for men to hang their hats on." She was somewhat dreaded as being uncompromising, but with what good humor she would season conversation! Everyone recognized her gift for organization, as also her capacity for work. In all these matters of management, she gave substantial aid to Sister Marie-Emmanuel of Saint Joseph, the first discreet, who was to follow her so shortly to the grave. Let us note that in 1933 Sister Geneviève was named procuratrix, and in 1929, she was elected to the Council of the Community, an office to which she continued to be reelected until her death.

 

Despite all this, she had not left aside her brushes, The index of the album in which are listed her paintings gives evidence of the same overflowing zeal. Although she could give only the short period of an hour at a time to it, a condition frustrating to inspiration, she, nevertheless, produced a series of paintings depicting Thérèse as Sacristan, at First Holy Communion, with her Carmelite sisters, and with the Infant Jesus, as well as one of herself at the side of Thérèse. Let us mention above all the picture of Thérèse covering her Crucifix with roses — one which gave her special difficulty because of eye trouble. This subject was executed in 1912, at the desire of the Postulator, who specified that it should conform to the custom of bestowing a symbolic attitude on the Servants of God. In similar vein followed paintings for the Beatification and Canonization, with almost countless others.

 

Sister Geneviève was not insensible to the criticisms that were not infrequently leveled at her work. Evidently, her taste was appreciated in her own time. She had her canons, which her cloistered life did not permit her to keep up to date. Her work always lacked that high artistic culture which her Father at one time had hoped to give her. All the same she made noble use of a talent that was real. Some of her productions contributed powerfully to popularize the Saint of Lisieux and to awake in her regard a current of sympathy and prayer that became the source of numberless prodigies.

 

CHAPTER V

 

SUNSHINE AND SHADOWS OVER CARMEL

 

The spreading over the world of devotion to Saint Thérèse, and the growth of pilgrimages made it necessary to consider the construction of an edifice capable of sheltering the large concourse of people. On a hill drained, consolidated and reinforced by cement shafts of 22 meters in depth, a Basilica was going to rise. The first stone was laid on September 30, 1929. Sister Geneviève followed the work with passionate interest. She was expert in deciphering the plans and in checking them with what was being done. It was she who prepared the drawings which inspired the sculptors who erected both Ways of the Cross, — the one in the apse of the Sanctuary and the one inside.

 

With Mother Agnes of Jesus, she thought also of the Basilica of souls. She felt partially responsible for the diffusion of the Theresian message. In the Council of the Community, she supported with all her power the beginning of this work in the form of books and publications for the spreading of the doctrine. The Office Central de Lisieux was the instrument. In this spirit she accepted the burden of a vast correspondence, which placed her in relation with a certain number of personages of note, in France as well as in Rome, across the Channel and beyond the Atlantic. Sister Geneviève endured with greater difficulty the speak room visits and the interviews imposed on her with the admission of certain ecclesiastics into the enclosure. It made her furious to be "treated like a rare animal ', as she called it. She never became accustomed to it. she was less supple in this than Mother Agnes, who had the gentleness of her name. It supremely irritated her to be counted a "great attraction" for the eminent personages occasionally introduced into the cloister.

 

One meeting, however, made an unforgettable impression on her. Cardinal Pacelli, Secretary of State and Legate of Pope Pius XI, had come to Lisieux for the solemn inauguration of the Basilica, on July 11, 1937. In his Discourse, he had said more particularly: Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus has a mission, she has a doctrine. But her doctrine, like her whole person, is humble and simple; it is contained in these two words: Spiritual Childhood, or in these other words: 'Little Way," Sister Geneviève's joy was intense on hearing these statements which joined in one her deepest conviction.

 

It was a very different thing when the Legate visited the Community on July 12th. Céline's pen is needed to picture this scene lest it be spoiled.

 

"Shortly after the Mass that Cardinal Pacelli offered in the Infirmary, I got ready to photograph him in the cloister. Alone with him, I discreetly asked him to take the pose under the archway that I designated. After the picture was taken I approached to thank him. His Eminence addressed some good words to me, felicitating me on being the sister of the little Saint. I told him my age, which surprised him. Then, taking his hand with respect and kissing it as if it were that of the future Pope, I said 'Eminence, it is you who will be Pope after Pius XI. I am sure of it. I pray for that.'

 

"He answered with an air of deep thought: 'Ask rather for me the grace of a happy death. That is more precious. May God have mercy on me and sweeten that supreme hour.'

 

"I answered at once; 'When one walks in the Little Way of Spiritual Childhood of our little Saint Thérèse, there is place only for confidence. She said that "for children there will be no judgment, and that one can remain a child even in the most responsible positions." However, God does not want you to die yet ; you will have so much good to do when you will be the Vicar of Jesus Christ.'

 

"Then he seemed very pensive and said with extreme gentleness : 'No, there are obstacles to that; it is not probable.'

 

"At that moment, they came and interrupted us. But this conversation left me with an ineffaceable memory."

 

On March 2, 1939, when the radio announced to the world the election of Pius XII, Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face recounted with emotion the conversation in which she had played the part of prophet.

 

At this time, as if suffering from collective hallucination, Europe was rushing towards the second world-wide conflagration. Decisive events began to take place: the invasion of Poland, mobilization, hostilities, enemy occupation.

 

In the face of this collapse, on May 31, 1940, Sister Geneviève confided to Mother Agnes of Jesus her impression and how her faith reacted: "Humanly speaking, all seems lost, and one has the right to ask oneself what will become of us and the relics whose guardians we are, Of us, that matters little, because it would be a great blessing to be transported to the eternal shores toward

 

which all our thoughts tend. But our treasures, I mean the precious relics of our Little Thérèse? For a long time I was preoccupied and I suffered great anguish because of them. Now it no longer distresses me...The time has come when our Little Thérèse is loved in spirit and in truth, There is then no real need of that which our senses touch and see."

 

Céline did not suffer less painfully France's dark hour. Like M. Martin, she was very patriotic. The alarming news that came to her from all sides detached her from earth more and more. She aspired for eternity. She saw herself preceded by her older sisters. For a long time Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart had been a victim of articular, chronic rheumatism; she knew only the infirmary and the wheelchair, into which she was out so that she could be moved about. Sister Geneviève would keep her company during recreation time. She knew the art of interesting that generous but independent soul, for whom helplessness was the keenest of trials. One day she recalled M. and Mme Martin's example of heroic courage and cited in support of it this word of the Maccabees: "Let us not stain our glory, let us die manfully!" The "dear Godmother," quite impressed, said to her devoted infirmarian "Did you hear her! Was she not eloquent! What a beautiful soul she has! Little Thérèse saw through her well, in spite of her faults, and Father Pichon, who often said to me: 'Your Céline is a vessel of election!" Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart died peacefully, in her 80th year, on January 19, 1940. The morning of her passing, as also on the octave of her last night, Sister Geneviève was inundated by mysterious perfumes making her understand how "precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."

 

She became thereafter, in the place of the departed one, Léonie's principal correspondent. This was not for long. Sister Françoise-Thérèse died on June 16, 1941, at the Visitation in Caen. She was about to attain her 78th year. Céline, who envied the lot of the deceased, rearranged for them the Norman proverb with which her father in by-gone days used to hail the vocation of each of his daughters: "One more pulled from under the cart." She quickly added: "When will my turn come?"

 

In this period of recollection when the penury of war interrupted the works, when pilgrimages and correspondence lessened, Sister Geneviève did not remain inactive. Digging into her archives and bringing to life in her memory the precise detail, the anecdote once lived, the fashions of the time, she brought together the abundant documentation that was to make possible the publication of "The Story of a Family." All the while she remained astonishingly young. Her devotion to her father incited her to put straight by facts the slight or malevolent insinuations that surrounded his memory. When the work was drawn up, she took great interest in the many illustrations destined to raise the value of the text. This book is in truth hers.

 

Other anxieties were not long in coming. The landing of the Allies at Arromanche soon placed Lisieux in the combat zone. From the 6th of June to the 22nd of August, tens of constant bombing demolished 2100 of the 2800 buildings, destroyed most of the religious houses and two churches, and caused the death of more than a tenth of the population. On the evening of June 7th, the fire consumed the Chaplains' residence and the Office Central, threatening the Carmel and the Chapel. A less precarious shelter had to be sought in the Crypt of the Basilica. Leaning on the arm of one of her Sisters, Sister Geneviève slowly took the way to the hill. She was peaceful and calm. "As I could do nothing about it, I did not get upset. If our whole monastery disappeared, its spirit would remain." As much as she was concerned, even in little details, about things born of her own initiative, equally did she show herself detached when things rested in God's hands alone. That is what she said, a few days later, when a resident of Lisieux announced that another fire would inevitably reach the Carmel. "That no longer depends on us. Let us abandon ourselves to Our Lord for all that He will permit. He has always had mercy on us. We can well afford to trust Him." As a matter of fact, at each approach of the scourge, a sudden breeze dispelled the danger. It was as though an invisible hand had saved from destruction the sacred block formed by the Carmel, the Maison Saint Jean and the Hermitage.  

 

The Carmelites were installed in the upper part of the Crypt, in the Chapel to the right, which is dominated by a reproduction of the Virgin of the Smile. Over a hundred persons took refuge in the rest of the sanctuary. The number at times was increased by refugees passing through. In spite of the discomfort of the place and the sinister Matins ceaselessly chanted by missiles and bombs, one can believe that the presence of Saint Thérèse's sisters did not pass unnoticed." These ruins would have gained from remaining hidden," Sister Geneviève said with humor. This excess of interest tormented her in the extreme. Following her old habit of expressing herself in writing, she opened up to Mother Agnes of Jesus, in this note dated Jul y 7th:

 

"After fifty years of hermit life, to find oneself all of a sudden displaced and thrown into the world, well raised, it is for me who am so unsociable, a veritable martyrdom. It is like being in a station where all are pressing and mingling together. You sleep on benches, fully dressed; you take your meats standing, quickly and in hiding. With a surprised and saddened eye one sees feminine fashions destitute of all dignity.

 

"But it is not that which makes life so hard for me, it is the visits! Everyone wants to see the sisters of Saint Thérèse and come turn by turn to greet us. They point us out with their finger. Oh! that, that! little Mother, I can no longer endure it. It seemed to me, at the time, that the pain I experienced would make me ill and I call upon God to help me.

 

"For a moment, I revolted, then during the Office, I thought of this passage of the Holy Gospel: "Certain Gentiles who came up to Jerusalem to adore came to Philip and desired him, saying: Sir we would see Jesus! Philip cometh and telleth Andrew, then Andrew and Philip told Jesus.' — It is just that which is happening to us all the time; they come to say the same thing to us!

 

"Then I resolved to do as Jesus did and not withdraw from those who may wish to see me, even if they are importunate.

 

"That will not prevent me from repeating after Him: 'Father, save me from this hour.' But I am persuaded, like Him, that it is in order to live this hour that I am come here. Yes, I am sure that I needed this trial at the end of my life."

 

Accustomed to keeping memorandums, notebooks, dossiers, Sister Geneviève found herself entirely stripped of these and likely to lose all the riches meticulously accumulated. "But what of it," she said. 'I feel deeply that all that is nothing, nothing. That which is, is the intervention of God, it is solely His grace; and He does not need writings to have it penetrate and enlighten a soul. A little self-denial practiced in secret will open its source."

 

Through this "apocalyptic vision" there were, all the same, moments of consolation. Mother Agnes and Sister Geneviève, forgetting their age, profited by the brief interruptions in the military situation to go to Les Buissonnets and to the cemetery. Several times they returned to their dear Carmel and even went up to the top of the dome of the Basilica, under the guidance of Bishop Germain.

 

A more heartfelt comfort came on June 13th, in a message from Cardinal Suhard, wherein he transmitted to the Prioress the copy of the Papal Brief, dated May 3, 1944, declaring Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, secondary Patron of France. Céline, always curious, asked herself how the "little Queen" could straighten out so devastated a country. "But in Jeanne d'Arc's time,' she exclaimed, "France was very low indeed. Saint Michael told her: 'There is great pity in the kingdom of France!' And I was full of hope and confidence."

 

Many attempts were made to persuade the Carmelites to evacuate with the relics of their Saint. Gently, but firmly, they refused. After the horrors of those last days, it was in procession, escorting the Chasse, that they returned to their cloister, through the ruins of the liberated city. It was Sunday, August 27th.

 

Conventual life was resumed without delay, in the midst of the necessary restorations. Sister Geneviève took up again her pen and her brushes. At 76 years, she painted portraits of Thérèse, in medallions on silk, for three chasubles that were to be used for her own Profess Jubilee.

 

Then Céline prepared to fête the half century, heavy with history, that had passed since she had pronounced her vows. From Carmel still suffering from its recent wounds, she wrote on October 8, 1944 to a prelate in Rome who was her confidant. Of so many recollections weighted with glory, she wished to retain only her own poverty.

 

"If I consider where I am I notice that I have not ascended but descended...And down there I rejoice in surprising peace, although it is night. I make my own this passage from a prayer of Saint Thomas Aquinas:

 

"...At long intervals, Lord, You draw me from my lethargy, but alas ! these are only passing visits. I do not know if You love me, if I love You... I do not know even if I live by faith I find in myself only infidelity, beginnings without results, sacrifices without fullness...and with it all, I aspire after You !..."

 

"Oh ! yes, I also do, but I am not discouraged. For long years, I have strengthened myself with this verse of Psalm 62 which we recite at Sunday Lauds: " God, my God, in this desert land where I find myself and where there is no way, no water, I have come before Thee, as into Thy sanctuary, to contemplate Thy power and Thy glory. For Thy mercy is better than all lives.'

 

"I feel all that so deeply that, when I am imperfect, rather than regret it, I rejoice in the thought that the mercy of God is preferable to all lives. I call "Lives", perfection, possession of virtues, spiritual consolations; and I call "Death" the state I am in, in this desert land, without way and without water; state which does not prevent me, however, from approaching God with assurance, as though I were perfect, because I know it, I feel it. 'His mercy is better than all   "lives".!

 

Yes, I lean only on God's mercy, on His compassion. I want to excite His compassion by my indigence, because I know in that way I shall gain all...

 

It was on February 24, 1945, that Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face celebrated her 50 years of religious Profession. With difficulty did the Chapel of Carmel contain the throng of her friends. The Apostolic Nuncio Cardinal Roncalli, presided over the ceremony. He retained for himself the bestowing of the crown and symbolic staff. Bishop Picaud of Bayeux gave the allocution wherein he delicately outlined the fraternal union of soul between Thérèse and Céline, with its providential continuation in the beyond. He made allusion to the recent publication of 'The Story of a Family," and in his toast at the noon repast, he publicly formulated the wish that M. and Mme Martin's glorification would be soon. During the visit in the Monastery, the future Pope showed exquisite kindness to Sister Genevieve. Alluding playfully to the Jubilee staff she was carrying, he said to her? "Go before us, little Jeanne d'Arc." And she took the head of the ecclesiastical cortege and went through all the rooms of the Monastery, especially those connected with the Saint or where her relics were gathered. Pope Pius XII had the extreme delicacy to send his Blessing to the Jubilarian, written at the bottom of an artistic water colour bearing, with his own medallion, three pictures of Céline : one standing with Thérèse at the foot of the Calvary, one painting the Holy Face, and lastly, one kissing the hand of Cardinal Pacelli.

 

Sister Geneviève appeared even more moved by this passage on the autographed Letter of August 7, 1947, which the Pope sent for the fiftieth anniversary of Thérèse's death. In it he spoke of Spiritual Childhood: "Some imagine that it is a special way reserved for the innocent souls of young novices to guide them only in the first steps and that it does not concern people already matured who have need of much prudence, having great responsibilities. That is to forget that Our Lord Himself recommended this way to all God's children, even to those who have, like the Apostles He was forming, the greatest of all responsibilities, that of souls.'

 

This testimony from the Pope was all the more precious as at that very time a book appeared that risked disfiguring Thérèse as well as her message before the public at large. It was composed too quickly, by a talented novelist of good intention but who was not a historian. This work was followed by a series of articles and biographies which exploited in a one sided way, by isolating from its context, a collective deposition of the Theresian Process. It ended by blackening the Carmel, making Thérèse appear severe and distorting her doctrine.

 

Mother Agnes of Jesus and Sister Geneviève protested with the whole strength of eye witnesses. They dismissed no less vigorously all interpretations tending to minimize Spiritual Childhood. In view of their approaching death, Sister Geneviève, on February 2, 1950, drew up an article which was to be a definitive statement and which bears, under her signature, the following autographed postscript: "Mother Agnes of Jesus, who has read, approved and made her own this writing, February 11, 1950.' Here is the greater part of this document;

 

"Thérèse is the Saint of Love, but of a love that finds its most characteristic expression in Spiritual Childhood. She is the saint passionately in love with Jesus, but a Jesus whose ineffable condescension she has discovered to all little souls. She is the ingenious inventor of the Act of Oblation to Merciful Love, which is within reach of the weakest souls aspiring only to give pleasure to God. Without doubt, zeal for souls burned within her, but to conquer them, she wanted to use those "little means" that she dreamed of teaching others, — loving, hidden sacrifices of fidelity to daily duties...It must be repeated: her unique message, upheld by the Sovereign Pontiffs, as has been noticed, is the Way of Spiritual Childhood.

 

"Without doubt, it was her love that caused her to find it, and that at the height of her sanctity. But it was only after she was engaged therein that she was inspired to offer herself as victim to Love. All the Saints were more or less heralds of Divine Love and of zeal for souls, while she alone is the herald of the «Little Way of Spiritual Childhood." It was her discovery. It is her Omen Novum, her Message that I sum up here : joyous humility, complete confidence in Merciful Love, total abandonment to the divine will, exquisite art of giving pleasure to God in the least things of life, a profound, living knowledge of the Fatherhood of God, as I testified at the Process in these terms: 'Her love for God the Father had the tenderness of a daughter.' Such is the secret of Thérèse's teaching.,.

 

With eternity before us, we who have shared in the thought of Thérèse, hold to repeating solemnly :Thérèse's grace, her sanctity, her mission, is Spiritual Childhood."

 

On November 2, 1950, Sister Geneviève talked over with Mother Agnes of Jesus the Manuscripts which, adapted and revised, had formed the Story of a Soul. Their publication in full, for a moment had been envisaged, but the Holy See had intervened so as not to impose on the venerable Prioress emotions beyond her strength. When Céline mentioned again this edition which one day would have to be realized, as was done for the Letters of the Saint at the end of 1948, her sister said to her "I charge you to do in my name, after my death."

 

After the death of Marie and of Léonie, the bond between the last two survivors of the family became more intimate each day. Not only did they live in their past, but they shared more and more with unutterable peace those secret thoughts that the approach of the tomb awaken. "It is my little Céline whom I love most on earth,' Mother Agnes said, who retained to the end that gentleness and sweetness which with her went so well with authority. "What would become of me if I did not have you," she confided to Céline on May 4,1950; and on the following August 6th, with her feast day wishes: "You will have a happy death." Mother Agnes died first, in her 90th year, on July 28, 1951.

 

CHAPTER VI

 

THE MARCH OF YEARS                

 

After seeing all her own die, and herself aged over 82 years, it would seem that Sister Geneviève was to pass the rest of her days in peaceful repose, under the watch of a Community who venerated in her the last echo of a precious past. It was not so. As though she had acquired a new youth, activity overflowed the final phase of her life. Her faculties, remaining intact, were plied to an incessant work, worthy of crushing vigorous temperaments in full maturity. This long and beautiful life, which touched on the miraculous, prolonged Céline's mission in a providential way.

 

And yet, she hid under her surprising vitality a health long since shattered. From 1900, her knees had become deformed and stiff from rheumatism, which went to shoulders, neck and jaw. In 1942, she had crises of sciatica, a little later attacks of gout which for hours at a time tortured her hands and feet. She had frequent stomach and liver attacks, as well as lung complications. To that was added insomnia and heart failure. Old age brought on difficulty in hearing and loss of sight, particularly painful for one avid for study and communication. How many

 

sleepless nights passed in an armchair telling her beads, or broken by many risings to obtain a doubtful relief. Sister Geneviève joked about her condition with sayings used at Les Buissonnets. "It is always the same old thing...a long illness wearies the doctor." She compared herself to a "pin cushion". "I would have to plunge myself seven times in the Jordan like Naaman," she wrote, to regain health." Borrowing the expression Saint Ignatius of Antioch used to designate his ferocious guardians, she called the "ten leopards, the infirmities and diverse trials that jealously kept her company, she drew up the balance sheet: "How many deficiencies there are in old age ! What a cortege of powerlessness accompanies it ! But all that ought to be meritorious, because God lets them exercise His empire over us, He who is so pained to see us suffer!'

 

In February 1953, a bad case of grippe caused fear for her life. An energetic treatment set her back on her feet. She owed it practically to the doctors who hurried to her bedside, happy, moreover, to admire her philosophy and to receive her sallies. "I am in an abyss of misery," she confided. "Am I going to pull out of it? Surely. Oh ! how hard it is always to miss the trains...Nothing could go slower than the state I am in now. Without ceasing I ask God not to let me fail in confidence. My soul struggles in the depths...I always lose ; when will I win?"

 

From 1933, Sister Geneviève occupied a cell on the first floor. This spared her some fatigue. After Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart's death, she was installed definitely in the infirmary, near the garden. During the last years, she could no longer participate in the Office nor in the recreations. On February 5,1959 she obtained the permission to replace the Breviary by the Pater Noster, because of her failing sight. She also was obliged to reduce speak room visits. It must be said that all publicity around her annoyed her to exasperation. At the time when permission to enter the enclosure was obtained more easily, she literally fled from visitors, not appearing until the last minute.

 

Her whole energy was unleashed in the struggle to affirm in its entire scope Thérèse's message. She draught a commentary establishing how the Saint got the idea of her Little Way of spiritual childhood, human influence in this regard playing only a very secondary role: God alone inspired her. Sister Geneviève consecrated several studies to defining the exact meaning of the Act of Oblation to Merciful Love. The best was to appear in Conseils et Souvenirs. For this end she had to give the Theresian meaning of the terms "Victim", "Holocaust, «Martyr of love", which before frightened Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart, as an appeal to suffering. She recalled the interpretations the Saint herself gave, and which clearly distinguish the Offering to Mercy from the Offering to Justice, thus opening a free way to the Legion of little souls. Manifestly, Céline touched upon a point of capital importance, on which she felt it necessary to dispel all misunderstanding. The very spirit of the Way of Childhood was at stake. She who had seen, heard, touched with her finger the examples and teachings of Thérèse, could not remain silent. It was a matter of conscience for her to defend the tradition in all its purity.  

 

It was with the same intention that in 1952, she published, under the title of Conseils et Souvenirs, the collection of papers in which she had gathered together the discourses of her sister, during the time when as a young nun, she herself had lived at her side, profiting by her direction. No where is the Saint's teaching better affirmed, her manner more essentially concrete in awakening true humility and absolute confidence in a soul that is proud and independent. Sister Geneviève therein exposes so roughly her imperfections that it was suggested to her to impersonalize her account, by making anonymous what she called "the voice of nature." She asked to be allowed to think it over. On the morrow, in a very firm tone she declared: "No, let the things be as they are. It is not because the entire world will see that I have faults that I will have a single one more."

 

Recent writings, echoing rumors beyond control, tended to obscure M. Martin's picture by representing him in the heart of his family like some sort of Prince Consort half-ascetic, half-dreamer, completely lacking in practical good sense and energy. These insinuations made Céline indignant. She, better than any, was able to appreciate the moral worth of her father, his valor which, at times bordered on temerity and caused anxiety to his family, finally his uncontested authority. How to reestablish the truth ? On the other hand, there was a current, coming especially from beyond the seas, pushing for the glorification of Thérèse's parents. The Carmel, knowing the burden and work that a Cause implied, was more reticent. It was important at the same time not to let the most authoritative witness disappear without collecting her deposition under oath before the Ecclesiastical Authority. It was this that brought Sister Geneviève to dig up from the dust of the dossiers all that concerned M. and Mme Martin, We see her, then, at 84 years, working under a microscope amid a heap of notes elaborating the two books which appeared in 1953 and 1954, under the titles of The Father and The Mother of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus. After having traced the moral portrait of these great Christians, Céline lays emphasis on their illness and death. As an appendix she also furnished precious typographical details of the house and garden of the home on Rue Saint Blaise in Alençon, with a drawing to help. All who assisted at this long effort at elucidation and composition were edified by the youthful ardor and the rigorous historic integrity of this author of over 80 years.

 

On July 11,1954, took place the solemn consecration of the Sanctuary of Saint Therese, elevated on this occasion to the dignity of a Minor Basilica by decree of the Holy See. Sister Geneviève herself engaged in a large correspondence to obtain relics of saints from the different countries who had offered an altar. She found again her ingenuity of former years in inserting them in little coffers artistically decorated. With thanksgiving she listened to the radio message wherein Pius XII extolled and recommended to all her clients Thérèse's humility, confidence and love which characterize her Little Way.

 

This event inaugurated a new impetus into the study of Thérèse's writings. The complete edition in Photostat of the Autobiography was energetically being prepared with the approval of the Holy Father. It was finished in 1956 to the intense interest of the entire Catholic world. Sister Geneviève who had, more than all others, encouraged this publication, and who carefully followed the laborious critical edition rejoiced at its success, she was drawn to revise her work of years before "The Spirit of Saint Thérèse," for some time out of print, and which had to be completed and adapted, bringing it up to date with recent publications. The book consisted of a mosaic of texts taken from everywhere. To locate them again, to compare them with the untouched original, to regroup them, represented an almost superhuman effort, considering the conditions under which Sister Geneviève labored. She was half blind, her hands crippled and she was unable to move about easily. She admitted that she had been exhausted by the work.  

 

Sister Geneviève had yet another kind of trial to face. February 24, 1956 marked the 60th anniversaryof her Profession. For some time the diamond jubilee had been whispered in the ear. She wanted to escape what she called a jubilee bugbear." Scarcely had the announcement drifted over the wall than gifts arrived from all sides. At Sister Geneviève's desire, a large part contributed to renew and enrich the liturgical beauty of the Basilica. On the dreaded day, a simplified ceremony took place in Carmel's Chapel, presided over by the new Bishop of Bayeux, Bishop Jacquemin. The discourse was delivered by the Very Reverend Father Marie-Eugène of the Child Jesus, former Apostolic Visitor of the French Carmelites. A hand written blessing of the Holy Father, two letters from Cardinal Ottaviani and the Very Reverend Father General of the Discalced Carmelites, underlined the event.

 

Three days later, a case of grippe threatened to carry off the Jubilarian. For six months almost continual torture disturbed her nights. She endured this in peace, avoiding as much as possible disturbing her infirmarian. She encouraged herself by thinking of the martyrs, especially of Saint Sebastian, twice crowned, because miraculously delivered from death, he again withstood his persecutor. "It is unbelievable how I am helped by God, she confided. "I have never wanted to ask Him for suffering but now I thank Him."

 

Thus debilitated, it seemed that a new crisis would quickly end her life. "I have gone down into the valley of the shadows of death," she wrote. "Truly, I fear nothing there, and I am very abandoned there, without feeling it'. Against all expectation, she revived. Towards the end of April, when for the second time the General Assemblies of the Federations of the Carmels of France held session in Lisieux, the more than 260 Superiors and Delegates admitted to visit the interior of the Monastery had to be received again. With good grace she prepared herself for this defile. She was attentive, despite the fatigue, in giving to each a personal mark of interest.

 

Other tasks awaited her. On Sister Geneviève's Jubilee day itself, Bishop Jacquemin had made known to her his intention of opening the Informative Process of the Cause of Louis Martin. On March 22, 1957, he signed the order for the assembling of the writings of the Servant of God. On the following tenth of October, the Bishop of Seez, Bishop Pasquet, did the same for Zélie Guérin. If the move of an historic process was to be avoided, it was urgent to interrogate the last eye witnesses.

 

Furnished with the Articles which orientate the researches, Céline prepared herself for the interrogations with the conscientiousness with which she did everything. She said quite unhesitatingly that only the Causes of persons who had a mission interested her: for example, Jeanne d'Arc, liberator of France; Therese, messenger of Spiritual Childhood; Maria Goretti and Dominic Savio, witnesses and apostles of purity. If she hoped to see her Parents glorified — both at the same time, in distinct processes but morally joined — it was in order to propose the model of an ideal home to family life threatened separation.

 

She made her deposition then before the Tribunal of Bayeux, which for the occasion held session in the speak room of Carmel. Besides its proper competence, it acted also by rogatory commission for the report of the Tribunal of Séez. At the beginning of April and in June for M. Martin, then in November and December, 1957, for Mme Martin, Sister Geneviève was interrogated, in a number of sessions, some of which lasted up to 4 hours. She spoke of a day when she had been "cross-examined for seven hours." Her judges admired her presence of mind and enjoyed more than once the sarcastic remarks and the reminiscences of old Norman folklore with which she embellished her declarations. As for her, she was surprised to have supported the fatigue with such ease.

 

In February, August and September 1958, she again gave evidence in the Process of non-cultus and of the writings. On September 5, she made her last deposition. The same day, all proofs being carefully read again by her, she gave the "ready for press" for the "Correspondence of Madame Martin." Her project of erecting a statue of Thérèse, in a small-square in the axis of the road leading to Les Buissonnets, was at last executed. On September 12 she went to the attic where there were some archive chests. For some years, she had wanted to make this exploration.

 

On October 13, 1958, in the presence of the Bishop of Bayeux, of Bishop Pioger, the auxiliary Bishop of Séez, and of Bishop Fallaize, former Vicar Apostolic of Mackenzie, they proceeded to the exhumation of the remains of M. and Mme Martin, and to their transfer to the plateau of the Way of the Cross at the apse of the Basilica. Sister Geneviève was deeply impressed to learn that the only object found intact on the bodies, beside a metal Crucifix, was the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Even more poignant was the observation made by 3 doctors, of deep vertebral lesions at the level of Mme Martin's left shoulder, there where the cancer made its terrible ravages. The proof of heroism is inscribed on the skeleton.

 

Next it was necessary to gather, to sort, to wash in alcohol and classify under sealing wax, the bones enclosed in new tombs. This had to be done without removing any of the dust and debris found in the coffins. Sister Geneviève applied herself to it with her infirmarian. It was a meticulous and harassing labor to which she put all her filial piety. The 12th of December found her still cutting cartons with unheard of pain and disposing, for these remains, the boxes of different sizes and the appropriate labels. Literally, she was at the end of her strength, but with the very satisfying feeling that her work was at last done.

 

For some time, without those around her noticing it, she had felt herself growing very old. She saw in it "an incomparable enrichment ". She showed more serenity than in the past in bearing the suffering of things that change. Speaking of certain altar sets that had been the object of all her care, and which the modern taste of simplicity had cast aside, she said, "I thank the good God for having permitted me to see that while I am alive, and that I can detach myself from it with love. It passes, the face of this world, ' she repeated before certain traditions fallen out of date, in the sight of old customs no longer kept, with her whole being she aspired for Heaven. The verse from the Apocalypse; "Behold, I come quickly. Yes, I come quickly," thrilled her. The nearness of death filled her with great hope. "It is not to be freed from suffering and work, she said. "It is to be at last near to my Jesus Whom I have loved for so long, near to the Blessed Virgin, my dear Mother, and to Saint Joseph : to know at last all the details of their human life."'

 

Her confidence remained unshaken. On December 8, 1958, she again wrote: "My nights are painful, my days full of work. "One thing does not wait for the next." All this, with the thousand little miseries of old age, is a burden to me which I do not often take up with a smile but with a sigh. I do not want God to hear it. And all the same, I took at all my imperfections as treasures and I convoke them to come to my judgment, because all my faults are my strength. When I am sorry for them and humiliate myself because of them, I think that they will draw upon me God's pity, and when He has pity He has mercy."

 

She enjoyed Bishop Baunard's beautiful book, «The Old Man." She found in it this verse, which she enthusiastically applied to herself:

 

"I approach my hundredth year, my day is declining : It is more than evening, it is almost night : But on my brow, behold from the East arises the dawn of another fine day. Hail, hail to it ; From Your Face, O Christ, it is the white light Which in my poor heart arouses great hope ; Descend, ray of Heaven, appear, my Brother, Jesus, it is time we see each other."

 

CHAPTER VII

 

 "THE INTREPID" OF CHILDLIKE HEART

 

Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face had a strong character. Alert and lively, with the eyes of an observer under very prominent arched brows, strong jaw, well defined lips with a s tightly imperious curve, a face on the watch, or, if you prefer, on guard: such she appears to us in the photographs that we have kept of her. Mother Agnes of Jesus sketched her portrait in this stanza, an acrostic in the original;

 

Céline, Knight without fear and without reproach, Spouse of Jesus and sister of Thérèse, Heaven is in her name, divine art in her soul. There is no secret, but her flame doth penetrate, Nor aught of beauty that she does not long to love. In fine, humility alone can charm her.

 

The last line alludes to the work that grace operated in this soul, under the seal of Spiritual Childhood, while the first line defines an upright and strong nature fitted for combat. This contrast will shine forth throughout the present chapter, as we attempt to portray the image and likeness of this beloved Carmelite in her later years.

 

To begin with, she was strong willed and independent. Hers was a nature capable of prompt decision, tenacity, and energetic action. She did not know the hesitancy of " perhaps", nor did she care for delays or compromises, knowing, when necessary, how to use Norman ingenuity to obtain her ends. She had to summon unbelievable reserves of energy to tackle her many duties. When almost 80, she would be seen climbing to the floor of archives. There, leaning on her cane, she would go through a chest, open and inspect a packet of papers, searching for a date, a fact, a sentence. This well illustrates the conscientious care with which she performed her every task. Never was she one of those stragglers who constitute, to use her expression, «a dead weight, a curb on the general enthusiasm." She rather reproached herself for too often intervening impetuously. 'I noticed with admiration," she wrote, «that in her last years Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart would let all sorts of opinions be expressed around her at recreation without ever adding her word. She stayed there in her wheelchair, calm and serene, while I could not refrain from "jumping in" with my opposite views —as I still do, even now, despite my 72 years. 'Daughter of thunder I was, alas ! Always sensitive to the emanations of the atmosphere. The good God will be obliged to take me as I am, always ready for a fight." A few months before her death, she gave expression to her feelings against a religious guilty of having drawn grotesque pictures disfiguring the face of Christ and His Saints in order to illustrate a spiritual book. "I should like to write to that Sister that she has committed a real sacrilege."

 

This spontaneity characterized also her intellectual pursuits. Although she had not had advanced schooling nor specialized education, she liked to study on her own, to probe and search for the last word in everything. She was forthright in acknowledging this: 'I have always weighed and dissected the propositions expressed around me. I liked to look into the proofs of what had been put forth, and I was always ill at ease as long as a question was not completely answered."

 

Her curiosity was really insatiable, reaching into everything. During her last years, she undertook to read The History of the Church by Daniel-Rops; she kept up with the review "Ecclesia', with studies on missiology, and with The Friend of the Clergy. The Life of Dom Guéranger was a favorite of hers. Above all she read the Bible, delighting in comparing 3 or 4 different translations. After the Gospel, the Epistles of Saint Paul was her bedside book. At 89 she would still write out the most beautiful verses of Saint John, but at the same time, she would be interesting herself in the recent findings of geologists on the glacial period and in the hypotheses of the paleontologists on the age of the human race.  

Whatever struck her was soon on paper and classified — a habit she owed to her Uncle Guérin. She was moreover the first to joke about it. Witness this last verse addressed to Mother Agnes of Jesus:

I am an old archivist.

Of my treasures long is the list.

I know all that exists.

To cast nothing aside I still persist.

And when necessary, of a sudden, I make use of all as an artist.

We may well bless this gift, which she called "innate", for it has preserved for us a documentation of inestimable worth on Thérèse and her family.

 

There was nothing of the dreamer in Sister Geneviève. Essentially practical, she showed remarkable ingenuity in the arrangement and use of things. While still a child, on returning from a walk, she would cut out in cloth dolls' dresses, like those she had attentively examined in the shop windows. At the start of the century, when the religious were threatened with expulsion, it was she also, who from afar and on a sketch map, conceived the restoration and management of the building acquired in Belgium, by Dr. La Néele, for Carmel.

 

Céline's incontestable talents never caused her to become vain. Quoting the Scripture that God overwhelms with knowledge for all sorts of works,'' she added: "The Lord is always the same, He gives "what one has need of; —they could tell me that I perform marvels, without making me proud about it." She well knew how to repress the first movements of self-love. Once, some workmen were admiring the rough draughts which she had drawn for them, of an office for photography. "That Sister," they exclaimed, "is a real architect !" — The praise having pleased her, she mortified herself by sacrificing to Jesus a metal-tipped pencil to which she was very attached.

 

What Sister Geneviève had to watch above all was her extreme sensibility. She quickly became enthusiastic ; she had need of confiding in someone and of being understood. Faithful in friendship, the least attention won her acknowledgement; lack of it wounded her deeply. Not completely perfect in self-mastery, she sometimes betrayed irritation when interrupted in the full swing of work, or when her projects were upset. Impulsive as she was, she could give a sharp answer, without realizing she was giving pain, but if afterwards she came to recognize what she had done, she would humbly accuse herself of her fault, being truly sorry. Her trained eye perceived quickly both good and faulty qualities in another ; her good memory took note. Such is the picture from the side of nature. Céline herself owned to it with great openness, even exaggerating her own worst side.

 

On April 19, 1940, she wrote to Mother Agnes of Jesus, who always encouraged her confidences: "I am like a little scale called trébuchet , which is used in medicine for weighing a milligram, because it is quite true to say that I am sensitive to the least milligram and that one milligram makes me tip the scale. But I feel sure it will always be like that. I still feel that I shall always be like quick silver, accomplishing things not yet thought of. It is very regrettable to have so little balance and equilibrium, because a crowd of imperfections is the consequence. But I think that God likes to get out of difficulties and that He is no embarrassed to make Himself a way through an abyss of mire." "I always wanted," she records in Conseils et Souvenirs, the details of my life to come together as in a game of patience. Woe to him who chanced to disarrange them" If an unforeseen circumstance happened to upset the combination or jumble the arrangement, I was sure to betray displeasure.

 

In all honesty, we must now consider the other side of the picture. Alongside an incontestable passivity should be stressed the active part of the battles, at times heroic, which Sister Geneviève fought against herself, and to which those nearest her were witness. At each of her Communions, she would implore, all through the day, the grace of patience and kindness of judgment. In a letter to a religious much younger than she, who was celebrating her 25 years of Profession, she writes: "Useless to tell you that I pray for you, but it is very useful to me to ask you to pray for me. Today you have all rights over the Heart of the Spouse — ask Him, then, to give me, not your gentleness because I would not deprive you of it, but a gentleness like yours; a treasure of which I have great need." On June 4, 1958, seven months before her death, she sent this note to one of her sisters whom she feared having dis-edified: "Oh ! how much you touched me last evening by your kindness, your gentleness, your affection. I who showed myself so headstrong, I beg you to pardon me !" And she signed the name that was affectionately used for her at Les Buissonnets: "Little repentant Céline."

 If at times her playful sallies of wit were somewhat feared, they caused, above all, smiles, because she had the art, in the singing tone that betrays lower Normandy, of mingling with them delightful observations, and anecdotes, which cheered up her visitors in the speak room. Once she gathered an envelope of amusing pictures to give entertainment to those who visited her. Again, to a doctor's compliments, she replied with mock solemnity: "But...do you not know I am a great soul ?" When a delicate affair was being discussed without finding a solution, she spoke up: "Let us leave it till tomorrow. "It is at night that inspirations seem to come." And again: "Let us say silly things. It is from the shock of ideas that light springs forth.' If she used an unwonted word: "What a word from my mouth !' she would say drollery, using an expression of a former religious. During a conversation on exterior faults she ventured to say: "Perhaps the Blessed Virgin herself would have irritated us by the way she put on her veil or her apron." When they spoke to her of a Servant of God whose biography was interwoven with sensational works, «That is not my Saint;" she answered, echoing a phrase of Father Pichon. she even made fun of her own shortcomings. «I have need of prayers to become patient. I shall suffer all my life from not having this virtue, and I shall die without having possessed it. I feel that I am incorrigible, and so, dying as I have lived, without patience, I shall not be able to wait at the gate of Heaven, but shall enter right straight in !"

What was most charming about her, — Thérèse, we have said, was very responsive to it 'it was her directness and sincerity — in a word, her simplicity. It pervaded her completely, everywhere and in all circumstances, evident to all, the little people as well as the important. After going into a minor ecstasy over a nest of baby birds, or over the little white rabbits the novices presented to her, she could entertain with ease a Prince of the Church. May we dare to say that she acted the same way with Jesus ! Alone with Him she used the familiar "tu, toi". She yearned for Him with her whole being. «Oh! if only one saw nothing in me of myself, nothing, but saw only Jesus !" "We find her with similar familiarity towards Mary, her "heavenly mother".

 

At the end of her life a passage from Father Faber enthralled her. In it she recognized herself trait for trait, we quote: "Simplicity comes very near to God, because boldness is one of its most congenial graces. It comes near, because it is not dreaming how near it comes. It does not think of itself at all, even to realize its own unworthiness; and therefore it hastens when a more self-conscious reverence would be slow, and it is at home where another kind of sanctity would be waiting for permissions...They come to God in an artless way, with a sort of unsuspecting effrontery of love, and when they have come to him they simply rejoice, and nothing more...There is something almost rustic, at times, in the way in which such souls take great graces and divine confidences as matters of course, and the Holy Spirit sports with their simplicity and singleness of soul. They are forever children."  

 

We have here the magic word that throws light on Sister Geneviève's whole interior. "It is the characteristic of children," she observed, "to live in humility and dependence; to be simple, to show a loving thankfulness for the least kindness, to accept without question what the father of the family ordains. It is also their virtue to fear nothing while they are under the protection of their father." While alive, Therese had taught her this ideal, and even more so after her death. She was able to say to her, "It is well for you that I go," because her sisterly influence was to grow more clear and determined when her mission after death began. Céline, who had admirably perceived the ingenious intuition that forms the key to Spiritual Childhood has left us the following insight: "God, being Merciful Love, is drawn by misery, which attracts the ocean of His graces; for this it suffices to recognize that misery, to accept it, and love it, while not ceasing to offer to the Lord our poor efforts, which He in his own time will crown."

 

Céline's foundation was laid in absolute faith in infinite Charity. We have seen how passionately she was in love with Jesus. Guided by Him, she set out as on a voyage to discover the father. So dear to her was this name of Father that she never pronounced it except with a loving tenderness. She admired above all the divine condescension. "When a child, she wrote in her autobiography, "I went to play with the Prefect's daughter. But when she wanted my company, she sent her governess to seek me, or made me a sign from her balcony to go to her . She never came to our house. She made Thérèse and me go up, without ever "coming down" to us. And God Himself comes down..." Commenting on the Angels' song at Bethlehem the Gloria that rose to heaven at the moment when the Word of life was "humiliated to the dust on earth, Sister Geneviève concluded: "So it is that God considers it His glory to abase Himself to the lowly and helpless infancy of a newborn babe at birth.' She was borrowing there Bossuet's bold word on the All-Powerful, "Who enriches Himself by humility."

 

In face of such an example, how could one pretend exalt oneself ? The publican's wisdom clearly showed itself and Céline wanted none other. "On what can I rely in order to have confidence? Oh ! I know well, it will be on my poverty, my shortcomings, even my faults. It will be with these that I shall present myself before God, sure of being received, because His pity will be my portion. He will save me, not because of my good works, but because of His goodness." *

 

* NOTE: It is needless to remark that Sister Geneviève was not reasoning as a Quietist, for whom passive abandon is everything, nor as a Protestant, for whom faith alone, without works, suffices. She knew that active faith is necessary; she multiplied efforts to correct herself, to sacrifice herself, and in everything "to give pleasure to Jesus". But she knew also that these works are without value except through the merits of Christ. That is why, imitating her Thérèse, she based her hope on Heaven on Infinite Charity.

 

In the same way, when she declares that she leans on her misery, even on her faults, it must be understood that having valiantly struggled and suffered to overcome her short-comings, she was aware that God alone could free her from them, and that in His great mercy. He would have all the more pity on her as He saw her more humbly poor, as a mother would show greater concern for a child who was sickly.   

Céline did not arrive at this attitude all at once. In a poem, dated the month of August 1919 and entitled: "...and your God will be your glory" she retraces, not without success, her spiritual itinerary. Writing of her first days in religious life, she says : 

I wish, ardent athlete, in this raceQuickly the prize to win.I dream of taking virtues by assault :The novitiate, under Thérèse's guidance, dispelled this presumption and opened other vistas: Yes, often, often fallen on the road, On every bramble can my wool be seen, till at the eventide, in humble wise Insight I gained. Lessons without bitterness and filled with hope, For though I little am, - how great is He I weak, yet He is very strength; and from His

boundless store, My emptiness is fed. No more splendid dreams ! No more personal plans! Sister Geneviève surrenders herself to Jesus, Whom she will serve with all her strength, never again to think of counting her merits. Be Thou, henceforth, my everything,...My love, my all, my shining goal be Thou !

 

In this light, one understands the all-important role that she assigned to humility. 'Humility was always my favorite virtue, my friend and my advisor. It was without ceasing that I asked God to give it to me. "Not false or cringing humility, but confident humility, that rests in something better than self. "I want only one thing, it is that God have pity on me, and one does not excite pity except when in a pitiable state."

 

Perhaps the objection will be made that such words are easy and of little worth when spoken by a religious associated with Theresian glory, surrounded, appreciated, sought after, like a living relic of a great past. This would be a great mistake. Not only did Sister Geneviève practice self-effacement willingly, avoiding the speak room, doing her best to escape from marks of esteem, and intensely disliking being singled out to be presented to important persons, but she also knew and gladly accepted humiliation. She accepted without a murmur the long period during which she was not admitted to Chapter, and showed this same detachment when religious younger than she were chosen as Mistress of novices. (Mothers Marie-Ange of the Child Jesus, Isabelle of the Sacred Heart, and Thérèse of the Eucharist, each of whom served in the capacity of Novice Mistress had not lived "in the school of the Saint. ) "If our Mother does not think of me," she replied when someone brought up the subject, it is that I have shortcomings I am not aware of.   I must submit without Question.'  

 

Later on, it was from outside that trials came. A false report was circulated that Sister Geneviève's mind was failing and that she was taken out of the Monastery. It was at this point that the Reverend Father Rodrigue of Saint Francis de Paul, Postulator of the Cause of Saint Therese, enjoined that Céline be "brought forth." Accordingly, she was made a member of the Council and in this capacity, accompanied the ecclesiastical dignitaries who were admitted into the cloister. One of these, as though surprised by the vivacity of her wit, let slip: "I must have been mistaken." The meaning did not escape Céline. She who was quick to react when the memory of one of her family was attacked, remained calm when she herself was concerned.

 

The same disinterestedness appeared in her works. We have said what efforts her book 'The Spirit of Saint Thérèse" cost her, nevertheless, after sending the manuscript to Father Duboscq, she wrote to Léonie: "I do not know whether it is what it should be, but if it is burned, I shall not be grieved. Having acted solely for Jesus, I shall always be well paid for whatever suffering was involved. Towards the end of her life, she had devoted long hours to drawing up a treatise on the Way of Childhood for a high dignitary at Rome. It so happened that the document after its return from Rome "as mislaid at Carmel and that it was not spoken of anymore. This silence surprised and pained her, but she never referred to it.

 

In a paper prepared in view of her death, she wrote: "If our Mother does not want to write a circular letter about me, may she say that I asked this of her. That will make her position easier. If on the contrary, her intention is to write one, may it be to speak only of my beloved Thérèse. May she know that it would give me pleasure to make known my innumerable shortcomings, to give all the more luster to the virtues of my little sister. As in a picture, the shadow enhances the lights, so will I consider myself very happy to be of service in some such way, for the glory of God and of my Thérèse."

 

Her "terrible daily" cross was at times heavy to carry. "I do not have the strength,' sighed Sister Geneviève on August 5, 1939, as the Transfiguration dawned; but Thérèse spoke to her heart : "Yet I do feel with sweetness that my hope will be fulfilled, that I have nothing to fear here be low, because I shall always have the strength to be without strength, and to know this was the feast day gift from Heaven to little exited Céline.'

 

The principal subject of her humiliation was the incessant battle she had to wage to the very end to overcome a too lively sensitivity which, at times, showed exteriorly. in the limelight, where she of necessity lived, her changes of humor could not pass unnoticed, sometimes eliciting comment. These occasions gave her neither grief nor bitterness, nor caused her to lose courage or peace. She remained always faithful to the saying, "He who loses wins,' and observed loyally 'the rules of the game." She pictured her soul as reduced to a "cup" of rubbish. It is the tittle of one of her most charming poems, — dreams and illusions sprinkle the earth, virtues drying out in the parched earth; but she counts on Love to purify everything and raise up from the ruins a true holiness, that of Christ to whom we sing: "Thou alone art holy."  

 

There are numerous texts to cite on this point. Let us single out, among the thoughts of life's evening, these lines in which she played amusingly about her 88 years of age. "My long life ends by superimposed zeros. How true! I have given myself fatigue, labored, suffered much, but what are these works themselves in an unworthy creature like myself — unprofitable earth!"

 

"Happy shall I be if my zeros are not too often stained with ink marks! Still that corresponds completely with my wish to have nothing but a page of zeros to offer to God, for I prefer that there be nothing in me to reward or to praise. I want to be clothed with the works of Jesus, that according to those works my Father in Heaven may judge and love me."

 

The nearer she approached the end, the simpler Sister Geneviève became in her interior attitude ; humility and confidence held supreme sway. These two, indeed, form but one integral whole, a filial springing up toward the Father's Heart. A little before her death, she confided to a friend "I live the life of pure faith...Nothing from the side of Heaven...In the world, strangers believe me inundated with delights at the sight of the glory of our little Saint. How far from the truth ! I believe I have never before been in such a spiritual desert." Despite all this, she prayed, struggled, and suffered, making an offering of her nothingness, because her temperament was the very opposite of a gloomy passivity. "I nourish myself with this last will and testament that my Thérèse bequeathed me: 'It is Love alone that counts.' And Love, oh, it is the complete abandonment, the blind confidence of a little child in his dear Father in Heaven. This can go only with a deep humility, which becomes, doubtless, a natural virtue, as in the case of very little children."

 

She did not forget the lesson of the "lift, but anticipated the final gesture that would snatch her from her misery. On August 6, 1958, — her chosen feast, the last here below, —- she saw in a dream a languid river carrying along a quantity of plant rubbish. suddenly, near its estuary, the river rose, purified and revived, with a mighty influx of water, sweeping away all impurities. «I think," she wrote, "that that image is the picture of my life: so encumbered with all sorts of imperfections which my Jesus will cause to disappear and fade away at the moment when I shall rush into His arms. This hope was not to be frustrated, as this narrative will amply show.

 

Céline had inherited from her sister her unshakable certitude of "the excessive charity" of God. Two verses from Scripture served her as refrains — she had placed them as headings on one of her note books: "Blessed be God, the Father of mercies, the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our afflictions." (Il Cor. I,3-4), and, "Come to me, you who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will refresh you." (Matt. XI, 28) These she followed up with this remark: "They are the two pillars on which I have built my edifice." In these texts she had discovered what she called "the character" or "the traits of the good God." It always aroused her indignation to meet with clumsy, one-sided statements imputing human suffering to the action of a rigorous and avenging Providence.

 

Once, when a retreat master had affirmed that God takes the responsibility of all our trials and that He wills them positively, because He could but does not prevent them, she revolted, and was disconcerted, refusing this summary verdict, which to her seemed to insult the divine goodness. During two full years she made this matter the subject of research, turning the question over and over in all its aspects; setting down her thoughts in writing, and afterwards crossing out those sentences that did not express her meaning. She defined several strong points: on the whole, suffering comes from sin ; considered in detail, it is generally the outcome of secondary causes, events, men, bad angels. What is questioned is the direct intervention of God herein. Céline wished to reduce this as much as possible, a little forgetful, obviously, of the mystery, the secret of which will be revealed to us only from above. She would not allow in any case — and who would think of blaming her?— that the Father be presented as a sort of hangman, expert at torturing His friends in order to associate them better with the Cross of Christ. He compassionates, He consoles, He helps those who weep. In the same manner she rejected those unenlightened reflexions that attempted to confer on suffering a certain priority, even though some of these were signed by famous names "Before everything, there is Charity, she exclaimed with Saint Paul.

 

The following is one of numerous passages from her note books, where Sister Geneviève expressed, in a prose, at times breathless and with some awkwardness in form, this interior debate; — "It is because of the hardness of our heart, because of our sins, that our God, so good, sees the difficult necessity of handing us over to punishment, why does living man complain? The complaint should be that God is not sufficiently loved. Let man complain of his sin, because suffering is the payment of our crimes, of our abominations, of our lack of love. All the same, Scripture says, the Lord does not reject forever, but when He afflicts, He has compassion according to His great mercy, because it is not willingly that He humiliates and afflicts the children of men. We shall never know how much it costs Him to let us suffer ; it crushes His fatherly Heart. He is, so to speak, obliged to turn His head so as not to see His children a prey to suffering, although He knows the ordeal to be for their good. He arms Himself with courage, knowing that later on, we shall not have enough words to express the gratitude of our poor hearts for this, His surpassing kindness."

 

Sister Geneviève held fiercely to that side of the coin whereon the divine mercy of a God who cannot rejoice over our tears is affirmed. Increasing age taught her more about the other side, where was inscribed, not only the value of suffering for elevating a soul and assisting in the ransom of sinners, -— (of this she had always been convinced) — but also the direct action of the Lord in the awakening of vocations to the love of Christ crucified. On February 10, 1956, she wrote to one of her confidants: "The other night I understood that it was suffering accepted for love, that has given value to my life; physical sufferings similar to martyrdom. Until now I have suffered much in every way, in heart and in soul, suffered also in arduous burdensome work, which Saint Paul puts on his list of tribulations. But what crowns life is personal suffering, like that of Job, touched in his very flesh. Saint Paul ended his, so tormented, by the martyrdom of blood. Our Lord said: 'Ought not Christ to have suffered and so enter into His glory?' Suffering in itself is without worth, (witness that of the devils and the damned); but accepted with loving abandonment to God, it is a divine seal set on our life, it seems to me that I see this clearly, and I have thanked God fervently for letting me pass through the crucible." The last trial — while awaiting the light of glory — made her advance even more in the calm understanding of a problem that had so obstinately haunted her.  

 

Considering this soul who daringly investigated depths where theologians penetrated only tremblingly, perhaps some readers will think: "How far we are from the solitary traits where the Ascent of Carmel is accomplished ! " It is evident that such effort at research might correspond poorly with pure Joannine principles. Sister Geneviève had little recourse to the author of the Dark Night. All the same, as we have said, she was a contemplative in her own way, altogether dominated by Christ, looking at Him, questioning Him, clasping Him with something of a Saint Francis or a Saint Bonaventure. The peaceful insight into her nothingness had stopped whatever imbalance an overflowing activity might have occasioned.

 

Nevertheless, Céline understood and loved deeply her Carmelite vocation. On the occasion of her Golden Jubilee, and in answer to certain statements in Maxence Van der Meersch's book on the Saint of Lisieux, she drew up a testimony that is a magnificent praise of the religious vocation. "In spite of the trials, often very crushing, which have strewn my path, I find, in the final reckoning, that Our Lord has not failed in His promise; and in "leaving all," I have found not only "the hundredfold, «but I shall raise the price: I have found a "thousand fold, «in interior joy and peace.' She carefully made out the balance sheet of the inconveniences and the advantages of such a life; she enumerated the elements that can bring disturbance or multiply serenity in the life of a community. Citing the example of Mother Agnes of Jesus and of Thérèse who when they met in their trials, communicated with each other in an agreed language, about their interior state, joyful or inclined to sadness, she concluded ;"Never was it the latter. It "as therefore in the depths of the greatest difficulties, that the peace of Heaven inundated them, fortified them, and gave that true happiness which was the climate of their souls, as it is that of all who are fervent. Of these, the fervent, are the vast majority in our peaceful and joyous "deserts'."

 

On November 20, 1947, she again took up this theme in a long handwritten article, apparently destined for preachers of the Carmel. She wished that the beauty of the Carmelite life be recalled, the practical virtues that it exacts, the greatness and the service of this living together, which must become a communion in Christ.

 

Getting down to concrete examples, she insists on the engagements undertaken. "If one examines oneself in the matter of the vows, it is that of poverty which is least observed. 'There is no ass so loaded as the one belonging to a Community,' Father Pichon would say, and it is true, because it belongs to everyone without belonging to anyone. On her part, she leaned rather through excess towards "conservatism". Expert as she was in making use of everything, she was unwilling to destroy anything or to see it destroyed, and in this way built up reserves from which to draw at the opportune time. "I admit," she wrote, "that I am very much of a collector. I notice immediately what things could be used for, even the least useful-looking, which others might throw away. I put them aside for the time of need. But it seems to me that it is through a kind of spirit for order that I act this way, and without attachment. It is for me rather a suffering, and I would give my inheritance to another with much joy." There was there certainly, beside the Norman characteristic, a view of Providence. How many photographs, documents, divers objects, relative to Thérèse, would have been sacrificed as having no value, without Céline's bent for saving things.  

 

She was attentive to asking permissions and to rendering account. For her, authority had a sacred character. She had respected and loved it in the person of Mother Marie de Gonzague, who on the other hand, showed her genuine kindness. She had the same attitude towards each of her Prioresses young or old. As for the sisterly affection she had for Mother Agnes of Jesus, it did not change either the deference or the spirit of obedience that was due to a Superior. Sister Geneviève argued at times, but ceded in the end. Let us say, using the nice formula of the moralist Meersch, that in the domain of her competence, she did not necessarily leave to those responsible in office "the next-to-last word"; she would explain, argue, object; but always, and with true magnanimity, she would let them have "the last word."

 

Sister Geneviève was a model of docility to the Rule. Carmelite life has many austerities that take form in all the network of observances and customs. Sister Geneviève, as we have seen, throughout her life made great efforts to meet their every demand. In her old age, she suffered from having to see them somewhat set aside, however little it might be.

 

She loved above all the great apostolic spirit that inspired Teresa of Avila with her Reform, and that upholds the recollection and immolation of the cloister. She spoke with such conviction of the salvation of souls that the Bishop of Saigon after conversing with her, waited to take her to Indochina. The episode of Pranzini had impressed her deeply, as had also the apostasy of the unfortunate Father Hyacinth Loyson, for whom Thérèse had begged her prayers. After the death of the Saint, she sent the unhappy ex-priest The Story of a Soul, and those passages of Thérèse's letters where her sister had written about him. She herself wrote to him on two different occasions. He answered with biographical details, and pictures of his so-called home, leaving no hope. His death, to all appearances impenitent, was a great sorrow for our Carmelite. She rejoiced, however, toward the end of her life, to learn certain further details which gave rise to the hope of a conversion in extremist

 

On October 30, 1909, informed by Dr. La Néele of a grave clerical scandal in the region of Lisieux, Sister Geneviève wrote to Léonie: "It seems to me this is not the time to abandon a soul when everyone else abandons it. now I wish I were prison chaplain, so I could visit and raise up desolate souls !... I have much more compassion than indignation for souls that have incurred infamy. Oh ! what would we ourselves be if the good God had not preserved us, for without His preventing mercy, one would be capable of everything — absolutely everything!" Like her holy Mother of Avila, like her parents and her glorious sister, Céline had a catholic soul. She reacted intensely to everything that touched upon the reign of God. She was "daughter of the Church", whose cause she espoused with all her might. She professed never having wanted anything but the truth and asked many times that her writings be burned, "without mercy, and with my thanks, «if errors were found in them. This apostolic sense, this fidelity to Rome, puts the final seal on her spirit. The child that she had become at Thérèse's school, kept to the end the soul of a warrior, the heart of a knight.

 


CHAPTER VIII

I WANT TO SEE GOD

 
On July 24, 1897, Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face, alone at Thérèse's bedside, as the little Saint was going by long strides to her death, confided to her; "You are my ideal, and this ideal I cannot attain. Oh! how painful it is! I am like a little child who is not aware of distances; in his mother's arms, he puts out his little hand to catch the shade, some object...He does not take into account that he is too far away!" "Yes," the Saint answered mysteriously, "but on the last day, God will bring near to His little Céline all that she has desired, and she will seize everything." It was, under another image, the theme of the divine "lift"- grace - crowning in glory a lifetime spent in seemingly fruitless efforts; Céline was to know this outcome in full. For a long time, she had had a presentiment of it, and had longed for it. On December 24, 1926, she wrote to Léonie:

"During the thanksgiving each day I habitually think of my death, telling myself that it will be by far the greatest act of my life and the most meritorious, one which I will perform but once. Then, I experience a great desire to accomplish this act as perfectly as possible, and I tell myself that it would not suffice for me to die of love, in an act of perfect love, but that I long to have love break my bonds.

 

"I have had a kind of certitude that I shall be heard. God would not give such desires if He did not want them realized. Truly, I feel altogether unworthy of this grace, and my miserable life, all exterior, all made up of earthly encumbrances, does not seem to dispose me for it, but it is just because of my indigence that this grace seems to me easier to obtain. I shall present myself before God, not with empty hands, but with the paraphernalia of all my misdeeds. I must summon all my faults to my judgment. The good actions must no longer be spoken of. I have given them to God as they were performed, and He has dispensed them for souls...I shall arrive, then, with the retinue of a my miseries, and the good God will be so gentle with me that, unable to endure the presence of so much goodness, the bond that keeps me yet on earth will break."

 

The call from above seemed to sound the day after that December 12, 1958, when we left Sister Geneviève exhausted from the work to which she devoted herself, namely, wrapping under seals the remains of ashes and of objects found in her parents' coffin, and which had not been placed in the new tomb. Evidently, she had exceeded her strength. Her energy alone upheld her. "I really do not know what I have today," she sighed. Before the day's end, she wanted to thank - at length, and in terms of exquisite delicacy, - the Sister who, for so many years, had been her capable and devoted Infirmarian. She added gravely: "I have finished all that I had to do ; now the good God can come to take me."

 

After a restless night, she awoke in a state of extreme weakness, the heart beating only 25 pulsations. The Doctor, urgently called, judged her case very grave, if not hopeless. She could not contain her joy. Today is Gaudete Sunday. Rejoice, the Lord is near — yes, yes. He comes to fetch me. Oh ! what joy ! For so long have I awaited Him !"

 

One felt the dream of eternity, that had always possessed her, thrill in her. "I want to see God," cried Teresa of Avila, when as a small child she was found on the road to the Moors, on which she had set out with her young brother, in quest of martyrdom. I want to see God," sang Celine's soul, in face of the great day's near approach.

 

Because of repair work in the chapel of the Chasse, the statue of the Virgin of the Smile had been taken down and placed in the infirmary. To Céline, this was like a visit from Mary. That same evening, she received Extreme Unction, uniting herself attentively to the rite and to the prayers of the priest. On this December 14th, new bells had been blessed at the Benedictine Abbey, Céline was godmother to one of them. Was her godchild going to toll her departure for Heaven?

 

Energetic remedies got the better of the crisis for the time being, but the causes of the illness remained : myocardial disorder, Arrhythmia, complication of renal deficiency and crises of congestion in the lungs. The diagnosis was most pessimistic : the least accident could carry off the patient as quickly as lightning. She was watched continually, during the day, sitting in her armchair, half-reclining ; at night, in bed, which she did not leave again during the last 5 weeks.

 

It has been said that this illness disconcerted all conjectures. Since the patient was almost 90 years old, and worn out with infirmities and labor, an early and peaceful end was to be expected, like a candle burning out. But Sister Geneviève lasted 75 days during that struggle with death, and she endured, fully lucid, veritable tortures in body and soul.

 

From the time that she reached the stage of being condemned to immobility, particularly painful for a person so active, she showed unutterable sweetness, enduring valiantly her many sufferings. She showed also complete detachment in regard to all who approached her. She surrendered herself to all the treatments, trying earnestly to give as little trouble as possible to those around her. She overcame weariness and anguish, to season her remarks with catching good humor, and was anxious only about the fatigue of those who spent themselves at her bedside. The testimonies received in this regard were unanimous. Here is one, of particular value, dated December 25: "Gay, lucid, courageous, interested in everything, avid for precision and explanations...as much as for Heaven, her beautiful smile, her patience in suffering, all these show to what degree true Spiritual Childhood is her inspiration. She radiates a youth of soul that does good to all who approach her. Truly, after having witnessed by her writings and her depositions, she witnesses by her life, to an hour one cannot predict. For the rest, everything about her is simple, spontaneous.

 

To be complete, one must add that the Religious appointed to take care of Sister Geneviève never counted either their time or their convenience, and that they showed admirable self-sacrifice, devotedness and delicacy, profiting besides from the lessons of such an end. As for the Community, it faced courageously the extra labor that the state of affairs imposed. There was around the bed of this dying Nun a moral unanimity, a well-spring of charity, of which everyone retains the memory. 

Three phases marked this long agony: till January 18th, alternate periods of abatement and alarm ; from that date to February 5th, paroxysms of anguish in a mysterious interior trial ; finally relative calm, which ended suddenly in death.

 

During the course of these first weeks, unable to feed herself, sustained by injections and serum, shaken by uncontrollable vomiting which exhausted her to the extreme, Sister Geneviève waited, with cheerful serenity, the moment of the great meeting. "If I fall into a coma," she said on December 23rd, 'my death perhaps will not be very beautiful, but I think that it is now that counts, and I see clearly that God helps me. I feel calm and full of confidence." The Mother Prioress having declared that the fruits of Spiritual Childhood were verified in her, she remarked humbly: «Perhaps Little Thérèse wants to show in her Céline that one can remain little and simple, even in the most extreme old age. But it must always be said: 'Lord, thou hast wrought all our works for us.' Yes it is He alone, because I could easily be overcome by temptations to sadness and to fear. Yet it is true that I have no fear of God, absolutely none. Oh ! I am going to be so happy to see Him, to see His Humanity ! I have desired it so much ! I have offended Him much, but all the same, I am not afraid. I shall summon all my miseries to His Tribunal, and I am very sure that Jesus will say to me as to the woman in the Gospel: 'Go, my daughter, your sins are forgiven  you ! "

 

That evening, she returned to this subject ; "Yes, I believe that God wants to show how much those who walk in the 'Little Way" of humility, simplicity and confidence, are pleasing to Him, and how He aids them in the hour of trial, because, of ourselves, we are good for nothing. "I see as clearly as day," she said again, «that only Spiritual Childhood can give us true peace of heart, and the grace to be in the hands of God like a little child."

 

On Christmas Eve, it was the thought of Mercy that thrust itself upon her. "How do you want me to fear God ? I have always embraced Him. I remember that, when the picture of the Holy shroud of Turin was brought to me, I cried for joy on seeing His real Face. I tried to paint it, but now, I shall see it for good. I think I shall die again for joy. And also to see the truth in everything. I who always hungered and thirsted for justice. "

 

For a long time, she had meditated on the beautiful verses of the prophet : " His rising is sure, like that of the dawn". (Osée) "Yes, upon thee, Jehovah shall rise, and his glory shall be seen upon thee ; thy sun shall no more go down, but Jehovah shall be for thee an everlasting light, and thy God shall be thy glory. I, Jehovah, will hasten these things in their time. (Isaias) "I cannot say , she wrote, how these words make my heart thrill. They surpass all feeling... May God be my glory. " To the very end, she encouraged herself with these phrases of hope. The day of the Lord's Nativity was permeated with them "I am, she said , like a worn out traveler who at last sees the doors of his father's house open to him."

 

On Saint Stephen's day, one of the nuns showed her a picture of her little nephew, a baby of 3 months, on his mother's knees. She was touched by it and kept looking at it. "It is my picture, she said, that is the way I want to be in God's arms. That child is there, resigned, in all weakness, and it is just for this reason that his mother pities it and press to her heart with so much love. If it were older, it could take care of itself, and its mother would have less pity for it. It is like this little baby that I want to be, and the good God, my father, my dear Papa, will take me in His arms. I shall have His pity. To have His pity is everything." The doctor, whom she asked if the Lord would come soon to take her, declared that she was "unique", that he had seen many sick people desire death, but it was to escape suffering, while she, she wished for it to see God.

 

Sister Geneviève, who with her strongly defined character, retained a charming candor, had the habit of ending the year by writing : "Joseph, Mary, Jesus," wanting the divine Name to be her last thought. The First of January, the same formula, but reverses, was her first salutation to those she loved above all. For the last time, she carried out this little rite, putting all her filial piety into it. That day she had the happy surprise of a telegram from Pope John XXIII, bringing her "as a gage of the most abundant graces of peace and abandonment to God, a special Apostolic Benediction."

 

On January 18th , it was noticed that she kept her left eye closed. They asked her if it pained her. "Oh no, she stated precisely in a detached tone, "it is because it is dead... But that matters not at all... I have given to God. Oh ! we must not wish its death, because it has worked well during its life, and as for the present, it can do nothing ; therefore I thank God for it."

 

   When it was said to her : "Your family is preparing to receive you," she answered "yes,  that will make me very happy, but what interests me the most, and a great deal more, is our Lord and the Blessed Virgin... to know everything about Him and His life, I cannot think of it !" During the evening, unexpectedly, new and alarming symptoms manifested themselves.  With her most beautiful smile she welcomed this sudden aggravation in her condition .

 

   The next morning, at her request, her infirmarian asked pardon for her of the gardener for all the trouble she might have given him, when she was attending to the constructions. She received the community again with a mixture of affection and gaiety, which set in relief her surprising presence of mind. Thinking of Saint Sebastian whose feast was near, she intoned the old refrain :  O great Saint Sebastian  to whom God refuses nothing..."  will he not be the one to introduce her to the realms above ? Vain hope. Sister Geneviève's hope was again put off. Keenly disappointed, she exclaimed : 'I am going to be like Saint Sebastian, I am going to be cured of my first wounds. I shall die not suspecting my death is near.  On the 21st, in conversation with the Mother Prioress, she again laid emphasis on the major role of humility in the "Little Way" of spiritual childhood. She added : "Humility has been the companion of my life ; it was through it that I entered upon the little way.  Humility is the carpet on which I have always wanted to walk."

 

   The next day, she was able to receive the Holy Eucharist in the afternoon, but the most painful period of her illness then began, a state, close to the death agony, lasting more than 15 days. More and more overwhelmed, tortured by thirst and no longer able to drink, devoured by an internal fire and pierced by the acute pains of rheumatism, Sister Geneviève experienced in addition, a feeling of dereliction of soul. When, then, will the door open ? Does God still love me, since He does not come to fetch me ? Oh ! my Thérèse, see in what distress I am !" She felt violent blows on her back. How is it you do not hear it ? " she moaned . Several times she begged them to light a blessed candle and to sprinkle her with holy water.

 

   It had become impossible for her to receive Holy Communion every day. She herself had taken down from the wall her little crucifix, which she held from then on her right hand, without ever letting go these weeks of terrible interior crisis. From time to time, she put it to her lips and murmured in a broken voice, syllable by syllable, to encourage herself : Break the thread of this sweet encounter. O my Jesus, I want to love you with my whole  heart, even to folly, with all my strength, yes, with even to folly..." She kept her rosary wrapped around her wrist and held on it firmly.

 

   She had offered her suffering for her Parents's cause. "It is not to see them exalted. oh no ! It is to do good to Christian homes. I have never sought anything but God's glory, yes, to make Him known and loved." She prayed also for priests, who had always been one of her chief preoccupations. It was suggested to her to think of the unity of Christians and of the Ecumenical Council, the Pope having just public his intention of convening it. She seemed very interested and breathlessly gasped : "One flock, one shepherd !"

 

   At the secrets of the mystery of suffering were revealed to her now that she was plunged completely in the crucible. Her features changed, and she seemed to take on the expressions of those religious who from time to time came to see her. Her reflexions showed that her soul absorbed in the meaning of Calvary : "That costs much ! I have wanted so much to suffer martyrdom, to have a Passion."... It is God who does that"... "He is good, the good God ! Oh, how good He is !" The question that had always bothered her, that of Heaven's direct action in our human sufferings found its solution in her dying state in a sort of superior intuition, in a personal experience which, uniting everything together to Christ and His Cross, showed that Love immolates through love. She herself emphasized it by bringing to mind the notes in which she had recorded her thoughts on this subject. "It is only love, united to suffering, that counts. Yes, love, united to suffering"... "It is Jesus who wants it."... Amor Sacerdos immolat. "Love is the sacrificing Priest." This line of the paschal hymn consoled her.

 

   Until February 5th , Sister Geneviève was literally in the winepress, waiting for a death that was always being postponed. Her heart would stop, then go on again, provoking feelings of smothering. She said she had "a chest full of water." The swelling of the body, the rheumatic pains in one leg and the heels, made staying in bed intolerable ; her weakness forbade leaving it. To that was added the anxiety of soul, subject to a strange working that drew from her plaintive cries : "It is indescribable, inexpressible ! How hard it is ! .. how long it is ! .. how cruel it is ! ... Then right away : Jesus, I was enraptured with Him... I want to love Him passionately." When they moistened her mouth with a piece of ice : I thirst for the waters of eternal life, " she sighed, as though speaking to herself.

 

When praised for her courage or when allusion was made to her death of love, she would correct at once, citing a text from the Prophet Isaias: "Lord...thou hast wrought all our works for me." On January 27, she was heard to murmur: "A little lamb on the pyre ! Oh! pity, my Jesus: I experience feelings that are not natural and which cannot be explained, something like waves of fire and waves of ice. ..."And you do not feel helped by Heaven?" suggested those at her side, "Oh no! not at all. I have only you, my darlings, who help me. Otherwise, all is hidden." She was anxious about those who took care of her, their fatigue, their meals, their rest. "They will not think of it," she would say.

 

     Except for certain moments of prostration, she never lost her mental vitality and still gave replies without mincing her words and said things displaying much originality, often making the doctors smile, while at the same time giving them surprise and edification. "It is written in the Gospel that Our Lord bowed His head and died. I too, I try to bow my head, but alas! death does not come.' When they felt her pulse, she asked: "How is it, my old heart? While asking for a little water from the Infirmarian, whom she called "my Staff" she sang the popular refrain: "The friends are not so foolish as to go without taking a drink !' It was observed : Never did one see a dying person so amusing !' 'Nor one in more suffering, she added quickly.  

 

     At certain times, the tortures that rarely left her, reached paroxysm. Broken but not discouraged, she turned toward Heaven: "What distress! My God, my God, why have You abandoned me? I do not die in transports. I suffer distress...of body and of soul. My God ! Have pity on me." Then again: "I feel symptoms of death and assaults of life." Those around her came to wish for the end for her. She herself begged that nothing be done to prolong her days. "I could not be better prepared, and everything is so very much at peace!" Her confidence remained unchanged: "O my God, You know my folly, and my faults are not hidden from You, but You will pardon me everything ... everything... everything..."

 

On January 30, she believed she was dying, but once again, life seemed unwilling to leave her. "I feel shivers all through my body, some burning like fire, others icy cold. I am on a red gridiron like Saint Lawrence. My legs are as though dead...the blood circulates no more. I am enduring a real martyrdom." Then, looking tenderly at those who watched by her : "And you pass by that way with me ; My God, have pity on my Infirmarian ! "This is an agony indeed!" she sighed on February 3, 'but I would not suffer less..." Several times she repeated: «When will I give up my soul?...It is a scourging.'

 

The desire to see Jesus rose in her in the way of a flame consuming everything. Was this the supreme purification, like an image of Purgatory ? Or rather the consummation of a vehement desire to redeem sinners and to cooperate in Thérèse's mission ? The witnesses dimly understood the action of a supernatural power in this unusual resistance of an organism to all the forces of destruction, in this fervor of charity untouched by disappointments and the night of faith. A letter of the Mother Prioress, dated February 1, expresses this unanimous impression:

 

"As Sister Geneviève said to me: ' In what depths I am ! ' I answered: ' Reduced to nothing, in supreme humiliation.' — 'Oh yes, it is exactly that.' ' But Saint John of the Cross states precisely that it is then that the soul reaches the most elevated state to which it can attain in this life.' 'Yes, but I do not feel it ! "

 

The letter continues: "What identification with Jesus on Calvary; It is the most deeply moving and enlightening thing that I have experienced in religion. What glory awaits her."   The 5th of February marked the 64th anniversary of Sister Geneviève's Reception of the Habit. The vomiting having stopped for a brief interval, she was able to receive Holy Communion. She gave a charming welcome to the Community, assembled, as she said, "to greet her on her pyre." Her eyelids heavy with weariness, she excused herself pleasantly, by reciting the two lines she and Thérèse had at one time pinned up in Léonie's bedroom —Léonie had been much given to sleepiness—  My eyes close to the light of day  'When, after dinner, I do not take a walk.

 

Although both lungs were congested and her heart remained extremely weak and irregular it seemed that the illness was slightly lessened, the vise seemed to have loosened a little. They spoke to her about the telegrams received, the anxious friends, the news asked from all sides. She had a mischievous smile, "It is to say how much my death will be hailed with thankfulness ! But it is I who will hail it the first;" When she was asked about the future: "Oh ! let us leave it, she protested, so many dates have been set, and they have passed by...It is like the mountain that gives birth to a mouse ! With sadness she thought of her "great event" delayed: "Oh ! how is it, in so precarious a life, and at 90 years, that they cannot release me ? "

 

The 10th of February, finding herself a little less tired, of her own accord she went over the tragic days she had lived through. 'I still suffer but it is not the same. You cannot know. I believe the demon had a certain permission over me to torment me. I cannot understand that you did not hear the dull but very strong blows that he gave me...Happily, he could affect nothing at all, because Our Lord fought for me. On the 11th, she made this reflexion, humble and resigned; "When will the good God, in His great kindness, judge that I have suffered enough ?

 

On February 13th, the Mother Prioress read her a letter from a consecrated soul who, in peril of her vocation, rejoiced to learn that the sister of Saint Thérèse thought of her. 'Does she not scorn me?" the writer asked. The sick Nun raised her arms and repeated several times: "Scorn her ! But I love her, yes, I love her, and I will pray for her always. Tell her this.

 

An improvement began on the 5th of February, increasing from day to day. The congestion in the lungs had almost disappeared, likewise the uremia. Her features were no longer drawn. She had recovered her normal voice. Although she could retain nothing but a little liquid, her strength seemed to return, she remained all the same, subject to many miseries, especially keen rheumatic pains that seemed to saw into her feet. She still knew hours of atrocious torment. "Oh ! tell me," she asked on February 17, "is it today that my Sun will no more set?...O happy morn when it will be said: Sister Geneviève is dead !"

 

The next day, as she expressed the desire with insistence, the doctor tried to seat her in her armchair. She tried courageously to cooperate, but had to own that her legs no longer supported her. When she was again in bed, she was happy, like Saint Thomas, to have made, for herself the experience of how little she could do. That same day, she said in a playful tone: since they do not want me above, all right ! I am going to eat. And she listed the menu in detail, taking care to add : "while waiting for God, in His great goodness, to find that it is time to come for me. " It was a last word of abandon. After her earlier feverish desires, she now yielded to holy indifference, which gave her over completely to the Divine plan. Without doubt the Master had waited only for this supreme witness to love, before coming to take her.

 

More than ever she allowed things to be done for her, accepting services and the annoying routine of a sick person's day. When they propped her up with pillows, she exclaimed: "I am imprisoned !!! with 4, 5, and 6 exclamation points !...Finally, I must reason with myself. And the same day: "After all, of what use would it be to me to leave here? It is here that God wants me.

 

On the 22nd., she confided to her faithful infirmarian: "I do nothing but think of all that has happened to me in this illness. I assure you that it has been very mysterious ! Remember when you said to me : " My little Céline, perhaps the good God is coming to get you this evening ! In listening to you, I said to myself : But let us see, am I Céline? Have I existed ? Have I had a personality? If you knew how I have been shut up, far from everything ! You could not form a single idea. Oh ! how strange it has been ! and what sufferings ! One could not imagine it. That makes me think of a story that we read, Thérèse and I, when we were little." And she attempted to revive this narrative, but her animation quickly caused her to lose breath. On the 23rd, the Community was struck by the exhaustion evident in her features. The 24th was the anniversary of her Profession, and the Chaplain brought her Holy Communion. As he had expressed his wishes by letter, she thanked him with a smile. During the morning she kept admiring two beautiful bunches of flowers, providentially presented at the Turn the evening before. During that very morning there came unexpectedly a crisis of suffocation, accompanied by a most disturbing limpness. The doctor judged the end imminent. In spite of her weakness and prostration, the dying Nun completely preserved her lucidity. In the afternoon, she made the Sister who took care of her come close, to say to her: "I believe all the same, this time it is the real blow. Oh! what joy ! when preparation was being made to give her an injection, she sweetly made the remark: ''Why not let the lamp burn out little by little, because I do not suffer and everything is in peace?"

 

Continually watched by her Sisters in prayer, she passed the night calmly, happy at the coming deliverance. At dawn, she stirred a little, but without suffering, «It is surely today, the Mother Prioress said to her. «Today !" she repeated, as though savoring her joy. "Yes, you fight, it is a hard battle. But you will have the victory, because Jesus is with you." In a tone of triumph, the eyes dim but extremely lucid, Sister Geneviève pronounced: "Jesus!" This was her last word. She expressed the love of her whole life.

 

A slight sweat like pearls appeared on her forehead. Her face, however, remained peaceful, almost beaming, Towards 9 o'clock, the Community recited the Act of Oblation to Merciful Love. The sick one showed by signs that she was uniting with them. When the doctor came, the Nuns withdrew. it was then that suddenly lifting herself up, leaning against her pillows, Sister Geneviève opened wide her eyes full of light and fixed them above, in an attitude of sweet joy. The doctor, impressed, knelt down, then went aside knowing it was the end. The Community re-turned at once and could contemplate this spectacle which lasted from 8 to 10 minutes. There was something majestic about the dying nun, a supreme tranquility, wherein could be read the certitude of the welcome full of tenderness that her Father would give her. The position remained firm, the head straight, even after death. The breathing that died away imperceptibly and a slight contraction of the throat alone marked the passing. It was Wednesday, February 25, at 9:25 in the morning. Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face was aged 89 years and 10 months.

 The moment the death became known, the tolling of the bells of the Basilica echoed those of the Carmel, but something triumphant rose up from the depth of the regrets. The radio announced the news and telegrams of condolence poured in from all parts. That of Pope John XXIII, who had years before presided at the Jubilee of the departed, bore the stamp of a moving paternal tenderness.

 

Until the evening of the 27th, the body was exposed in the interior Choir where the Nuns chant the divine Office. During the three days, there was an unbroken file of the faithful, from near and far, and even from foreign countries. They did not tire of contemplating behind the grilles that face which Thérèse had loved so much, and which bore, with the mark of the Cross, an august serenity. That will do us as much good as a retreat, said some of these from among the crowds.

 

The burial took place on Saturday, February 28th. It was honored by the presence of 4 Bishops: those of Bayeux and of Evreux, the Auxiliary of Séez and Bishop Fallaize. After the Mass, His Excellency Bishop Jacquemin, local Ordinary, spoke from the pulpit to underline the exceptional bonds of intimacy that had united Sister Geneviève to her glorious little Sister. He insisted above all on the ultimate lesson of that life and that death the supreme efficacy of the Way of Spiritual  childhood to take the soul to the summit of union and make her apostolate fruitful.

 

The clergy, in large numbers, then entered the cloister and ranged themselves in the Choir, in front of the Nuns. The three absolutions were chanted a capella by the Carmelite fathers. The first absolution was given by the Very Reverend Father Paul Philippe, O.P., Commissary General of the Holy Office, who was both the representative of the Holy See and the personal delegate of his Eminence Cardinal Ottaviani ; the second, by the Very Reverend Father General of the Discalced Carmelites (Father Anastasius of the Holy Rosary): and the third by his Excellency, Bishop Jacquemin.

 

The Carmelite Fathers, clothed in their white mantle, took up the coffin and bore it to the entrance of the vault, under the Chapel of the Chasse, where already, in the shadow of Thérèse, rest Mother Agnes of Jesus and Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart. A verse from the Psalms engraved in the stone, guards their last sleep. Sister Geneviève herself had chosen it, because it expressed her life-long dream, at last realized : " You have hidden them, Lord, in the secret of Your Face."

 

THE END  

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