From Sister Marie-Dosithée Guérin to Mrs. Martin - February 12, 1872

From Sister Marie‑Dosithée to Mrs. Martin. 12th February 1872.

Hello, dear little sister, and until Easter, We are going to enter Lent (on 14th February) and I want to live it all the more intensely as my fasting will not be rigourous, I must at least practice more contemplation. I am even making my little girls do it, I won’t give them any sweets during all of Lent; they must get accustomed to practicing mortification. The earliest habits and childhood memories always remain imprinted on our minds and are not easily unlearned. Then there’s Pauline who must prepare for her 1st communion; ask her from time to time what she is doing to prepare for it, that will keep her alert. It was some time ago now, when the letter you wrote before last arrived, that we were supervising her while she was studying; she felt sick, I told her not to study if she didn’t feel like it, and made her sit next to me. A quarter of an hour had passed since I had given her your letter, she had put it in her pocket; I asked her while caressing her why she hadn’t read it, she replied blushing that she wanted to try to resist, and that she nevertheless really wanted to read it. I kissed her telling her to read it out of obedience, so that she will have practiced not only mortification but obedience as well: that is truly what I said! But I would like her to be open with me, like Marie. How I do love Marie! What a good child she is! So candid, honest and sincere, it’s ravishing! I see her almost every day run up to me and confess all her failings and that’s without being asked, of course. After studies as I was leaving she came to me as usual and said: “Aunt, I wrote an essay and I didn’t concentrate at first; I don’t study at the beginning of studies either”; she often says this to me. I turned to Pauline and said: Look at this! Marie is not like you, no-one asks her to come and tell me all these things, so there is no risk of me scolding her, and, when you have done something wrong, the way to make up for it is to point to it; God doesn’t ask that you spend all your time apologizing, and it really pains me to see you make every effort to hide everything; she promised me she would imitate Marie.   

That is what I am trying hard to bring her to do and she does seem very willing. She finds mathematics extremely difficult, she cannot do even the simplest of sums; I give her lessons, but her great problem is that she doesn’t think, she doesn’t even bother to read the question all through before writing numbers down. So I promised to give her a prize at Easter if she would concentrate. Tell her that you really want her to win it that will encourage her to make an effort. Tell Marie also to concentrate on her French exercises, she says she only concentrates on her stylistic compositions and not on her exercises.

With my love and affection to you all, the little girls are very cheerful and all in all, good.

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