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From Isidore Guérin to Thérèse - August 18, 1897.

[M. Guérin was taking the cure at Vichy from August 8 to 30; his wife was with him until the 25th.]

Vichy, August 18, '97

Dear little Angel,

I want to speak with you today. Whatever may be the great pleasure I would have had in answering the little Benjamin's' affec­tionate letter, I thought it was to you that I should write, for you are abandoned on your bed of pain and your image haunts me at each moment of the day. In the midst of the turmoil in which we live, my mind withdraws apart and lifts itself to more serene regions where one can judge pettiness and grandeur more sanely. Here is what I have seen in one of these real and experienced visions.

Before and around me, I see a great crowd of every age and na­tionality, walking feverishly in all directions and passing each other in rich carriages. There are splendid avenues, banks of rare flowers, and shaded groves, succeeding one another to infinity, and then come stores with articles of dress, jewelry, and art, attracting and arous­ing the covetousness of the passers-by. When I arrived here, I thought I was going to meet a crowd of the crippled, the gout, and the dod­dering, and yet I find that everybody is healthy in appearance, and I am meeting people who eat and drink well. When looking further, I recognize some sick people, but their number is surpassed by that of walkers and runners out for pleasure. From morning till night, everybody wears his richest and most attractive apparel, and I see nothing but plumes and flowers waving in the wind. Beautiful women out for walks solicit the gaze of spectators gathered on each side of the avenue, their eyes sparkling with unsatisfied pleasure; they enter the Casino, only to come out soon, and then run to concerts that succeed one another on all sides, and then on to the distrac­tions of Eden, of the theatre, and the dance. A burning fever con­sumes these beautiful plants. A few years more, and these bodies, so well cared for, so much adorned, leaving a perfumed trail behind them, will be wrinkled and emaciated, and worms, perhaps, will crawl on their velvety cheeks. From the midst of this crowd, drunk with pleasure, there is not a single cry, not a single aspiration com­ing from their heart to the God, who had made the creature so beautiful, who has endowed him with the genius to bring forth marvels of art and civilization. If the creature breathes out some aspirations, these are rare, and God alone knows; but I seem to see the diaphanous robes of the guardian angels flying far away, and Satan, baton in hand, beating time for the infernal dances.

But over there, I behold a modest building surmounted by the Cross, and approaching closer, I see neither gilding nor sculpture, and I hear neither songs of joy or the sound of violins, but I am aware of a kind of gentle whispering, and I smell a fragrance of in­cense. Its inhabitants are not dressed in striking and soft robes, silver and crystal do not sparkle on their table, and soft beds are absent; they are dressed in coarse woolens and hair shirts, they nourish themselves on unrefined foods, and they sleep on beds hard as planks. Their youth, their fortune, allowed them to shine in the world and to enjoy the pleasures of life, but they preferred mortification and suffering. Like others, they are thirsty for pleasure. They love, but with a chaste and pure love a perfect and divine Being, who gives them His graces and enkindles in them a love that others cannot even suspect.... And further over, on a bed of pain lies a pure young girl already consumed by the fires of this divine love to which she longs to be united totally and forever. She does not desire death, but she loves it as a liberator. She asks for suffering in order to be

more conformed to her Master, and she offers up everything: her prayers, mortifications, sufferings, not in expiation for sins she com­mitted but for those of this crowd that is running, while dancing to the strains of infernal violins, to cast itself blithely into hell....

And above this feverish crowd, I saw the brown robes of my little Carmel, floating in space and being carried away by angels, and I heard the very gentle voices of my five little daughters who were cry­ing out to heaven: "Grace, Lord! Mercy and pardon!" My eyes were moist, as they still are, when 1 was writing this vision of the day before yesterday, and from the bottom of my heart, I, too, cried out: "Thank You, one thousand times thank You, Lord, for hav­ing given me such angels here below; thank You, Lord, for having made me experience, in preference to so many others, the beauties of Your love and the holiness of Your law.

This, my darling, is what I have seen, really seen, and it was your candid face that was shining the most in this cortege of Virgins, in­terceding and making reparation.

As you are well aware, your aunt and I are not burnt by the thirst for pleasure, like the world around us. We can isolate ourselves and live a life almost as serene as that at Lisieux. We go out very little, at the hours for drinking the waters, morning and evening, at the hours for the baths, and when we come out from the church, our very close neighbor, we go in the evening to the park in order to listen to one or two pieces of music, and then we return home to retire between nine and nine-thirty. Time seems somewhat long for us, far from our dear Lisieux, and we count the days separating us from it. I am still only on the ninth day of the cure, and twenty-one are necessary! What good will I get from it? I feel the waters are working, for the gout has given up in despair successively in all parts of my body. If God does not cure me, so much the worse! If He does cure me, so much the better! Whatever happens, I shall lov­ingly kiss His hand. Though I do not have a great love for life, I have not reached my little Thérèse's perfection, who would be happy at the coming of the Thief' I do not see my usefulness here below too well, but I believe the "Thief" will come by night to steal my fruits only when they are ripe and when my lamp, flickering at the least breeze, is well lighted.

Between now and then, I thank Him and glorify Him for the glory with which He has made my house renowned, for the unknown ways in which He has been pleased to guide my steps during so many years for the traps He has removed from my path, and for the very magnificent gifts He has bestowed on me in my beloved ones. It will be twenty-seven years ago on Sunday since He has entrusted me with the most precious pearl in my jewelry box. It was necessary to fashion and polish her from her birth, and, if I have contributed little to this, her very gentle and good mother has cut off the rough edges, and you, my dear, have contributed by giving her all her splendor.

Thank you, my very dear child, I kiss you; how I love you from the very depths of my soul and bless you. Share this with my Ben­jamin and your sisters.

Your uncle, Isidore Guérin

Affectionate regards to good Mother Prioress

© Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc

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