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Ms A 58r

[58r°] were ravines the depths of which our glance could not possibly fathom. They seemed about to engulf us. A little later, we were passing through a ravishing little village with its graceful cottages and its belfry over which floated immaculately white clouds. There was, farther on, a huge lake gilded by the [5] sun’s last rays, its calm waters blending their azure tints with the fires of the setting sun. All this presented to our enraptured gaze the most poetic and enchanting spectacle one could possibly imagine. And at the end of the vast horizon, we perceived mountains whose indistinct contours would have escaped us had not their snowy summits made visible by the sun not come [10] to add one more charm to the beautiful lake that thrilled us so.

When I saw all these beauties very profound thoughts came to life in my soul. I seemed to understand already the grandeur of God and the marvels of heaven. The religious life appeared to me exactly as it is with its subjections, its small sacrifices carried out in the shadows. I understood how [15] easy it is to become all wrapped up in self, forgetting entirely the sublime goal of one’s calling. I said to myself: When I am a prisoner in Carmel and trials come my way and I have only a tiny bit of the starry heavens to contemplate, I shall remember what my eyes have seen today. This thought will encourage me and I shall easily forget my own little interests, recalling [20] the grandeur and power of God, this God whom I want to love alone. I shall not have the misfortune of snatching after straws, now that “my HEART HAS AN IDEA of what Jesus has reserved for those who love him.”

After considering the power of Almighty God, I had the opportunity of admiring the power He has bestowed on His creatures. The first Italian city we visited was Milan. We examined minutely its white marble cathedral in which its statues were so many they could have formed a small population.

 

 

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Ms A 57v

[57v°] very well loved by everybody and Papa was proud of his two daughters. But if he was proud of us, we too were equally proud of him, for in the whole pilgrimage there was no one as handsome and distinguished as my beloved King. He loved to see himself in Céline’s [5] and my company, and when I was separated from him, he called me back to take his arm as we always did at Lisieux. Father Révérony carefully studied all our actions, and I was able to see him do this at a distance. While eating, if I was not opposite him, he would lean over in such a way as to [10] see me and listen to my conversation. He wanted to know me, undoubtedly, to see if I were really capable of becoming a Carmelite. I think he was favorably impressed by his study, for at journey’s end he seemed well disposed toward me. At Rome he was far from being favorable to me as I will explain later.

Before reaching the “Eternal City,” [15] the goal of our pilgrimage, we were given the opportunity of contemplating many marvels. First, there was Switzerland with its mountains whose summits were lost in the clouds, its graceful waterfalls gushing forth in a thousand different ways, its deep valleys literally covered with gigantic ferns and scarlet heather. Ah! Mother, how much good these beauties of nature, poured out in such profusion, [20] did my soul. They raised it to heaven which was pleased to scatter such masterpieces on a place of exile destined to last only a day. I hadn’t eyes enough to take in everything. Standing by the window I almost lost my breath; I would have liked to be on both sides of the car. When turning to the other side, I beheld landscapes of enchanting beauty, totally different from those under my immediate gaze.

At times, we were climbing a mountain peak, and at our feet

 

 

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Ms A 57r

[57r°] any other name but “Mama,” as this appeared ever so much more tender than Mother. How fervently I begged her to protect me always, to bring to fruition as quickly as possible my dream of hiding beneath the shadow of her virginal mantle! This was one of my first desires as a child. [5] When growing up, I understood it was at Carmel I would truly find the Blessed Virgin’s mantle, and toward this fertile Mount I directed all my desires.

I prayed Our Lady of Victories to keep far from me everything that could tarnish my purity; I was fully aware that on a voyage such as [10] this into Italy I could easily meet with things capable of troubling me. I was still unacquainted with evil and so was apprehensive about making its discovery. I had not yet experienced that to the pure all things are pure, that the simple and upright soul sees evil in nothing since it resides only in impure hearts, not in inanimate objects.

I also prayed to St. Joseph, asking him to [15] watch over me; ever since my childhood I had a devotion for him that easily merged with my love for the Blessed Virgin. I recited each day the prayer in his honor: “O St. Joseph, Father and Protector of virgins...” And so it was without any fear I undertook the long journey; being so well protected what was there to fear?

[20] After our solemn consecration to the Sacred Heart in the Basilica at Montmartre, we departed from Paris on Monday, at seven in the morning. We very quickly became acquainted with the different people on the pilgrimage. So timid that I usually dared not speak, I was surprised to find myself completely freed from this crippling fault. I was talking freely with the great ladies, the priests, and even the Bishop of Coutances. It seemed to me I had always lived in this milieu. We were, I believe,

 


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Ms A 56v

[56v°] I must stop here, for were I to continue I would never come to an end!

I’m going to recount my voyage, dear Mother, with some details; pardon me if I give you too many, for I don’t have time to reflect before writing. I’m writing at so many different times because there is little free time, and as a result my recital [5] will perhaps be boring to you. What consoles me is the thought that in heaven I shall speak about the graces I received and will do this in pleasant and charming terms. Nothing will any longer intervene to interrupt our intimate outpourings; at a single glance, you will understand all. Alas, since I must still use the language of the sad earth, I’ll try to do it with the [10] simplicity of a child conscious of its mother’s love.

The pilgrimage left Paris on November 7, but Papa had taken us there a few days before to visit the Capital. At three o’clock in the morning, I crossed the city of Lisieux which was still wrapped in sleep; many impressions passed through my soul at that moment. I had a feeling I was approaching the unknown, [15] that great things awaited me out there. Papa was very happy; when the train began to move he sang the old refrain, “Roll, roll, my carriage, here we are on the open road.” We reached Paris in the morning and commenced our visit without any delay. Poor little Father tired himself out trying to please us, and very soon we saw all the marvels of the Capital. [20] I myself found only one which filled me with delight, Our Lady of Victories!

Ah! what I felt kneeling at her feet cannot be expressed. The graces she granted me so moved me that my happiness found expression only in tears, just as on the day of my First Communion. The Blessed Virgin made me feel it was really herself who smiled on me and brought about my cure. I understood she was watching over me, that I was her child. I could no longer give her

 

 

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Ms A 56r

[56r°] of the Imitation “Be not solicitous for the shadow of a great name, nor for acquaintance with many, nor for the particular love of individuals.”

I understood true greatness is to be found in the soul, not in a name, since as Isaiah says: “The Lord will call his servants by ANOTHER NAME,” and [5] St. John says: “To him that overcomes I will give a white stone, and on the stone a NEW NAME written that no man knows but the one who receives it.”  It is in heaven, then, that we shall know our titles of nobility. Then shall every man have praise from God and the one who on earth wanted to be the poorest, the most forgotten out of love of Jesus, will be the first, [10] the noblest, and the richest!

The second experience I had relates to priests. Having never lived close to them, I was not able to understand the principal aim of the Reform of Carmel. To pray for sinners attracted me, but to pray for the souls of priests whom I believed to be as pure as crystal seemed puzzling to me!

[15] I understood my vocation in Italy and that’s not going too far in search of such useful knowledge. I lived in the company of many saintly priests for a month and I learned that, though their dignity raises them above the angels, they are nevertheless weak and fragile men. If holy priests, whom Jesus in His Gospel calls the “salt [20] of the earth,” show in their conduct their extreme need for prayers, what is to be said of those who are tepid? Didn’t Jesus say too: “If the salt loses its savor, wherewith will it be salted?”

How beautiful is the vocation, O Mother, which has as its aim the preservation of the salt destined for souls! This is Carmel’s vocation since the sole purpose of our prayers and sacrifices is to be the apostle of the apostles. We are to pray for them while they are preaching to souls through their words and especially their example.

 

 

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