Biography of sr Marie of the Angels




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Autobiographical Notes


Novice mistress of Thérèse

The Count Amédée of Chaumontel, a lieutenant in the 1st Regiment of the Royal Guard, Knight of St. Louis (1830), soon to be chevalier of the Legion of Honour (1858) and his wife, Elizabeth Gaultier Saint-Basile, lived at the castle of Meauty in Montpinçon in Calvados.

They already had three daughters when a small Jeanne-Julia came on February 24, 1845. The baby is greeted coldly by the father who was hoping for a boy. But some tima later two will come.

Soon the family left Montpinçon and moved to the castle of Beuville, near Caen. Jeanne is then nine years and follows the lessons of a private tutor, her brother Andrew. She is a lively child, turbulente and cheerful, sometimes nervous. She has fits of anger to the point that her brothers and sisters who call her colloquially "Mimi" also nicknamed her "Lady Storm". But at twelve, her character changed, she had to go through a long crisis of scruples for seven years. So on the night of her first communion, a great sadness engulfed her as she imagined making a bad first communion and she has to wait for a priest to visit to find relative peace.

Jeanne is very attached to her family so that it will sometimes be necessary, even at the end of her long life, to help her with that, so much did she worry for her family. In 1866, she decided to enter the Carmel of Lisieux, despite the pain she feels at the thought of leaving her family. In a prayer to Mary that she writes at that time, she cries, "If you want me to leave my family, take me by the shoulders and push me to Carmel because by myself I will never have the courage to say the smallest word or make the slightest step forward. "Her family nevertheless accepted her vocation, her mother had given her to God even before her birth,but did not think God would take her at her word!

Probably the fear of a too difficult separation led Jeanne and her senior sister Marie to a retreat in a convent on October 29th, 1866.... and she did not return. Her parents were strongly upset to see her proceed like this and refused to assist to her clothing on March 19th, 1867.

So Jeanne Chaumontel becomes Sister Marie of the Angels and the silence of Carmel closes on her. We know she was subprioress twice in 1883-1886 and 1893-1899 and in charge of the novitiate from October 1886 to February 1893. Therese will be under her responsibility for more than four years.

Marie of the Angels will again assumer that duty from 1897 to 1909. Physically her extreme thinness suggests that her health is fragile but it is only at the end of her life that she will suffer from many ailments. She will become deaf, infirmities will deform more and more her stooped and aching body. She laughs at herself: "I am rather to be hidden than exposed."

She is famous for her absent-mindedness and her sisters can see her, on a day of procession, holding her cane with dignity and devotion instead of a candle.
Humble, she made herself do the most menial tasks while in her family, she was used to being served. Courageous, her composure is tested when she stops a small fire with her hands, burning herself cruelly – or when she multiplies initiatives to save what can be saved during the great flood of 1875, including the blessed sacrament!

Thérèse could say of her that she was "a real saint, the perfect type of the first Carmelites."

But her mind remains restless. When she has to pronounce her vows, she was filled with such anxiety that she remained a long time without being able to open her mouth. Certainly, she will open to trust and abandonment but her soul will be anxious until the end. She is afraid of death and her former first novice, Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart tries to reassure her a little.

In fact, she quietly died on November 24th, 1924, months before the canonization of Therese.
Sister Marie of the Angels knew Thérèse very early because she came along with Sister Agnes of Jesus in the parlor when the Martin family came to visit Carmel. She says she was struck even then by this "blessed child". Therese is only nine.

In Carmel, the elder encouraged her novice and consoled. Thérèse wrote about this: "One day I surprised our Novice Mistress by saying:" I suffer a lot but I feel that I can suffer even more." Sister Marie of the Angels also gets a lot fromThérèse. She feels moved to tell her her sorrows and Thérèse knows how to make her feel at peace. Mother Agnes wrote: "They were two saints who encouraged one another mutually to valiantly withstand the battles of the Lord. "

Only after the death of Therese had Sister Marie of the Angels knowledge of the Story of a Soul. Among the texts left by Sister Marie of the Angels to Mother Agnes, the oldest that has been preserved is dated January 21st, 1912; it is a poem.

“Here now my darling Therese who I once followed, here come the first steps to keep vigil now to the last days of my life. The child in turn carries the Mother in his arms! It is she who shelters me and hides me under her wing collects and protects every hour of every day, and I hear her say to me: 'Now work together diligently to make love Loved. "

In 1918 on June 12th, she writes that "Therese instructs me and enlightens me"; and later on, in May 1919, this interesting sentence when one knows her restless temperament, "Oh, may Therese help me to blossom in trust, love and abandonment". And in 1920: "The Little Way delights me; for nine days I'll take it for my evening prayer to ask Therese to make me enter fully in her "little way", so that at death, Jesus will be my lift and I’ll fly right with Him and with our dear angel. "

So the disciple had become the patient teacher of her old educator who will still say: "I see myself, increasingly, a soul devoid of all! May precisely this poverty attract to me the merciful gaze of Jesus, as it has always been for me! May this mercy, with the help of my Therese, cover me at the hour of death and open up Heaven.

Let’s add this phrase, so Theresian in tone, written to Mother Agnes at the end of her life:" I would like to be even poorer and more destitute so that Jesus might be even more merciful! "

Fr. Gires

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