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Ms A 41r

[41r°] to speak about Him, for there is so much self-love intermingled with spiritual conversations! Ah! it was really for the Blessed Virgin alone that I was coming to the Abbey. Sometimes I felt alone, very much alone, and as in the days of my life as a day boarder when I walked [5] sad and sick in the big yard, I repeated these words that always gave rise to a new peace and strength in my heart: “Life is your barque not your home!” When very little, these words gave me courage, and even now, in spite of the years which have put to flight so many impressions of childish piety, the image of the barque still charms [10] my soul and helps it put up with its exile. Doesn’t Wisdom say: “Life is like a ship that plows the restless waves and leaves after it no trace of its rapid passage”? When I think of these things, my soul is plunged into infinity, and it seems to me it already touches the eternal shore. I seem to be receiving the [15] embraces of Jesus. I believe I see my heavenly Mother coming to meet me with Papa, Mama, the four little angels. I believe I am enjoying forever a real and eternal family reunion.

Before seeing my family reunited around the Paternal hearth of heaven, however, I [20] was to pass through many separations; the year, for instance, when I was received as a child of the Blessed Virgin, she took from me my dear Marie, the only support of my soul. It was Marie who guided, consoled, and aided me in the practice of virtue; she was my sole oracle. Pauline, no doubt, had remained well ahead in my heart, but Pauline was far, very far from me! I had suffered martyrdom getting accustomed to living without her, to seeing between me and her

 

 

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Ms A 40v

[40v°] Almost immediately after my entrance at the Abbey, I was received into the Association of the Holy Angels. I loved the pious practices it imposed, as I had a very special attraction to pray to the blessed spirits of heaven, particularly to the one whom God gave as the [5] companion of my exile. A short time after my First Communion, the ribbon of the aspirant to the Children of Mary replaced that of the Holy Angels, but I left the Abbey without being received into the Association of Mary. Having left before completing my studies, I did not have permission to enter as a student; I admit this privilege didn’t excite [10] my envy, but, thinking that all my sisters had been “children of Mary,” I feared I would be less a child of my heavenly Mother than they were. I went very humbly (in spite of what it cost me) to ask for permission to be received into the Association at the Abbey. The mistress didn’t want to refuse me, but she placed as a [15] condition that I come twice a week in the afternoon in order to prove my worthiness. Far from giving me any pleasure, this permission cost me very much. For instance, I didn’t have, as did the other students, any teacher with whom I was on friendly terms and could spend several hours. I was content, therefore, to greet the one in charge, and then [20] go and work in silence until the end of the lesson. No one paid any attention to me, and I would go up to the choir of the chapel and remain before the Blessed Sacrament until the moment when Papa came to get me. This was my only consolation, for was not Jesus my only Friend? I knew how to speak only to Him; conversations with creatures, even pious conversations, fatigued my soul. I felt it was far more valuable to speak to God than

 

 

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Ms A 40r

[40r°] at the visits of all types of persons; priests, ladies, young girls, etc. Mme. Cochain took on the burden of the conversation as well as she could in order to allow her daughter to conduct my lesson, but on those days I didn’t learn very much. With my nose in the book, I heard everything that was said around me and even [5] those things it would have been better for me not to hear because vanity slips so easily into the heart. One lady said I had pretty hair; another, when she was leaving, believing she was not overheard, asked who the very beautiful young girl was. These words, all the more flattering since they were not spoken in my presence, left in my soul a [10] pleasurable impression that showed me clearly how much I was filled with self-love. Oh! how I pity souls that are lost! It is so easy to go astray on the flowery paths of the world. Undoubtedly, for a soul a little advanced spiritually, the sweetness which the world offers is mixed with bitterness, and the immense void of the desires cannot be filled by the praises of an instant. [15] However, if my heart had not been raised to God from the dawn of reason, if the world had smiled on me from my entrance into life, what would have become of me? O my dear Mother, with what gratitude I sing the Mercies of the Lord! Did He not, according to the words of Wisdom: “... draw me from the world before my spirit was corrupted by its malice and before its [20] deceitful appearances had seduced my soul?”79 The Blessed Virgin, too, watched over her little flower and, not wanting her to be tarnished by contact with worldly things, drew her to her mountain before she blossomed. While awaiting this moment, little Thérèse grew in love for her heavenly Mother, and to prove this love she performed an action which cost her very much and which I will recount in a few words in spite of its length.

 

 

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Ms A 39v

[39v°] without showing any annoyance! Hardly had I returned from the Abbey when she began to curl my hair for the next day (for every day, to please Papa, the little Queen had her hair curled, to the surprise of her companions and especially the teachers, who did not see children so coddled by [5] their parents), and during the sitting, I did not stop crying while telling all my scruples. At the end of the year, Céline, having completed her studies, remained home and poor Thérèse was obliged to attend school alone. It wasn’t long before she got sick, for the only attraction which held her at the boarding school was to be with her inseparable Céline, and without her never could “her little girl” [10] stay there. I left the Abbey, then, at the age of thirteen, and continued my education by taking several lessons a week at the home of “Mme. Papinau.” She was a very good person, very well educated but a little old-maidish in her ways. She lived with her mother, and it was charming to see the little household they made up together, all three of them (for the cat [15] was one of the family, and I had to put up with its purring on my copybooks and even to admire its pretty form). I had the advantage of living within the intimacy of the family; as Les Buissonnets was too far for the somewhat old limbs of my teacher, she requested that I come and take the lessons in her home. When I arrived, I usually found only [20] old lady Cochain who looked at me “with her big clear eyes” and then called out in a calm, sententious voice: “Mme. Pâpinau...Ma...d’môizelle Thê...rèse est là! ...” Her daughter answered promptly in an infantile voice: “Here I am, Mama.” And soon the lesson began. Who could believe it! In this antiquely furnished room, surrounded as I was by text books and copybooks, I was often present

 

 

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Ms A 39r

[39r°] the object of his father’s tender foresight, but UNAWARE of the misfortune from which he was delivered by him, will not thank him and will love him less than if he had been cured by him. But if he should come to learn the danger from which he escaped, will he not love his father more? [5] Well, I am this child, the object of the foreseeing love of a Father who has not sent His Word to save the just, but sinners. He wants me to love Him because He has forgiven me not much but ALL. He has not expected me to love Him much like Mary Magdalene, but He has willed that I KNOW how He was loved me with a [10] love of unspeakable foresight in order that now I may love Him unto folly! I have heard it said that one cannot meet a pure soul who loves more than a repentant soul; ah! how I would wish to give the lie to this statement!

I see I am far from my subject and hasten to [15] return to it. The year following my First Communion passed almost entirely without any interior trials for my soul. It was during my retreat for the second Communion that I was assailed by the terrible sickness of scruples. One would have to pass through this martyrdom to understand it well, and for me to express what I suffered for [20] a year and a half would be impossible. All my most simple thoughts and actions became the cause of trouble for me, and I had relief only when I told them to Marie. This cost me dearly, for I believed I was obliged to tell her the absurd thoughts I had even about her. As soon as I laid down my burden, I experienced peace for an instant; but this peace passed away like a lightning flash, and soon my martyrdom began over again. What patience my dear Marie needed to listen to me

 

 

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