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The yellow notebook - June 1897

JUNE

The first days of June were marked with rapid decline in the patient's health. Anxiety was great on June 5, the eve of Pentecost, and the Prioress, along with her dismayed community, began a novena in honor of Our Lady of Victories.

The doctor prescribed a milk diet to make up for her food deficien­cy. Up until June 15, Thérèse frequently spoke about her approaching death, and then her condition improved. June appeared as the month of painful waiting.

Mother Agnes of Jesus obtained from Mother Marie de Gonzague permission for Thérèse to complete her autobiography, and the patient dedicated her remaining strength to the writing of Manuscript Cfrom June 4 onward. Those around her did not suspect that she was writing her spiritual testament which, one year later, was to capture the hearts of so many.

On Pentecost Monday, June 7, Sister Geneviève (Céline) photo­graphed her sister in three different poses. She did this in anticipation of the feast of Mother Marie de Gonzague, and, as Thérèse wrote in a letter, "in view of my approaching death. " These three photos have become important historical documents. The Saint wrote sixteen let­ters during this month.

 

June 4.

  1. 1.She was bidding us her adieux in Sister Geneviève's cell, the one which leads out onto the terrace on the side of the Chapter room. She was lying on Sister Geneviève's paillasse. That particular day, she was no longer suffering and her face was transfigured. We weren 7 able to stop looking at her and listening to her sweet words.

 

"I've asked the Blessed Virgin that I be not so tired and withdrawn as I have been all these days; I really felt that I was causing you pain. This evening, she answered me.

"Oh! little sisters, how happy I am ! I see that I'm going to die very soon, I am sure of this now.

"Don't be astonished if I don't appear to you after my death, and if you see nothing extraordinary as a sign of my happiness. You will remember that it's 'my little way' not to desire to see anything. You know well what I've said so often to God, to the angels, and to the saints:

        My desire is not

         To see them here on earth. '

"The angels will come looking for you, " said Sister Geneviève. "Oh! perhaps we shall really see them!"

"I don't believe you'll see them, but that doesn't prevent their being there. . . .

"I would , however, like to have a beautiful death to please you. I asked this from the Blessed Virgin. I didn't ask God for this because I want Him to do as He pleases. Asking the Blessed Virgin for something is not the same thing as asking God. She really knows what is to be done about my little desires, whether or not she must speak about them to God. So it's up to her to see that God is not forced to answer me, to allow Him to do everything He pleases.

"This evening I obtained the favor of being able to console you a little and of being very nice, but you mustn't expect to see me like this at the moment of death. I don't know! Right now the Blessed Virgin was able to do this herself, without saying anything to God, but this proves nothing for later on!

"I don't know whether I'll go to purgatory or not, but I'm not in the least bit disturbed about it; however, if I do go there, I'll not regret having done nothing to avoid it. I shall not be sorry for having worked solely for the salvation of souls. How happy I was to learn that our holy Mother, St. Teresa, thought the same way !

"Little Mother, if you are Prioress again one day, don't worry about it ; you will see that you will not experience the same trials as you did before. You will be in control of things. You will allow others to think and say what they want, but you will carry out your duties in peace, etc., etc.

"Do nothing to become Prioress, and do nothing not to be in this position. Moreover, I promise you I'll not allow you to become Prioress if this is prejudicial to your soul." When I kissed her:

"I've said everything! in particular to my little Mother for later on. . . .

"Don't be troubled, little sisters, if I suffer very much and if you see in me, as I've already said, no sign of happiness at the moment of my death. Our Lord really died as a Victim of Love, and you see what His

agony was! ... All this says nothing."

2. A little later, being alone with her, and seeing her suffer very much, I said: "Well, you wanted to suffer, and God hasn't forgotten it. "

"I wanted to suffer and I've been heard. I have suffered very much for several days now. One morning, during my act of thanksgiving af­ter Communion, I felt the agonies of death . . . and with it no con­solation!"

 

3. "I accept everything out of love for God, even all sorts of ex­travagant thoughts that come into my mind."

June 5.

1.   During Matins:

"Little Mother, I've seen that you love me with an unselfish love. Well! if I know that you are my little Mother, you will one day know that I'm your little girl. Oh! how I love you!"

2.   "I have read over again the play on Joan of Arc that I composed.You will see there my sentiments on death; they are all expressed; this will please you. But don't believe I'm like Joan of Arc when she was afraid for a moment. . . . She was tearing her hair out!'. . . I my­self am not tearing out my 'little' hair. . . ."

3.   "Little Mother, it's you who prepared me for my First Com­munion; prepare me now for my death. . . ."

4.   "If you find me dead one morning, don't be troubled: it is because Papa, God, will have come to get me. Without a doubt, it's a great grace to receive the sacraments; but when God doesn't allow it, it's good just the same; everything is a grace."

June 6.

1. "I thank you for having asked that I be given a particle of the sacred Host. I still have very much trouble swallowing it. But how happy I was to have God in my heart! I cried as on the day of my First Communion."

2.   "Father Youf told me with reference to my temptations against the faith: 'Don't dwell on these, it's very dangerous.' This is hardly consoling to hear, but happily I'm not affected by it. Don't worry, I'm not going to break my 'little' head by torturing myself.

"Father Youf also said: 'Are you resigned to die ? I answered : 'Ah! Father, I find I need resignation only to live. For dying, it's only joy I experience. "

3.   "I wonder how I will do when dying. I would like, nevertheless, to come off 'with honor!' But I believe this doesn't depend on oneself."

(She was thinking of us.)

4.   "In my childhood, the great events of my life appeared to me as in­surmountable mountains. When I saw little girls make their First Communion, I said to myself: How will I do at my First Communion ? . . . Later: How will I do at entering Carmel ? . . . And afterwards: at taking the Habit ? at making Profession ? At present, it's: How will I do at dying ?"

5.    "I'm going to take your photograph to please Mother Prioress. "She smiled mischievously:

"Say rather that it's for yourself ! . . . 'Little north wind, cease your blowing ! It's not for me, it's for my comrade, who has no coat. . . .' "

6.     We didn't want to tell her, for fear of causing her any disgust, that the syrup she was taking was snail-syrup, but she noticed this and laughed at our fears.

"What does it matter if I take snail-syrup as long as I can't see their horns! Now I'm eating snails just like the little ducks! Yesterday, I was acting like the ostriches, I was eating eggs raw! "

7.    "I love you very much, very much ! ' '

8.    I said to her: "The angels will bear you up lest you dash your foot against a stone. She answered :

"Ah! that's good for right now; for later on, after my death, I will not be encumbered!"

9.    After Dr. de Cornière's visit, when he found her better, I said: "Are you sad?"

"Oh! no. ... I drew this from the Gospel : 'Soon you will see the Son of Man seated on the clouds of heaven.'"

"I answered: 'When, Lord ?' And on the opposite page, I read: 'This very day."

"From all this, I learn to be disturbed about nothing, not to wish to live or to die . . ."

And after a few moments, she said:

"However, I do want to go ! I've told the Blessed Virgin so, and she can do what she pleases with my little wish."

June 7.

Sunday. She was taking a little rest on a bench in the cemetery, sit­ting by my side; after a while, she placed her head tenderly on my heart, singing softly:

I forget you*, dear Mother, No, no, never!

Descending the steps leading into the garden, she saw a little white hen under a tree, protecting her little chicks under her wings; some were peeping out from under. Thérèse stopped, looking at them thoughtfully; after a while, I made a sign that we should go inside. I noticed her eyes were filled with tears, and I said: "You're crying!" She put her hand over her eyes and cried even more. "I can't explain it just now; I'm too deeply touched." That evening, in her cell, she told me the following, and there was a heavenly expression on her face:

"I cried when I thought how God used this image in order to teach us His tenderness towards us. All through my life, this is what He has done for me! He has hidden me totally under His wings! Earlier in the day, when I was leaving you, I was crying when going upstairs; I was unable to control myself any longer, and I hastened to our cell.

My heart was overflowing with love and gratitude."

2. "It's ten years ago today since Papa gave me that little white flower, when I spoke to him for the first time about my vocation.'"Then she showed me the little flower.

(*) Moi l'oublier, Mère chérie, Non, non, jamais!

 

June 6, Pentecost Sunday.

3. "Had you not brought me up well, you would have seen sad things." I would never have cried today when seeing the little white hen."

June 8.

1.    "Very soon you will all come with me; it won't be long, you'll see!"

To Sister Marie of the Trinity, one of her novices, who was asking her to remember her in heaven:

"Thus far you've only seen the shell; soon you'll see the little chick."

2.    I was telling her I had no support here on earth:

"But you do; you have a support, me!"

3.     We were speaking to her about long-term illnesses that often tired the infirmarians out and were the cause of great suffering to the patients who were aware of this:

"I wish to remain like this until the end of a very long life; I would even wish to be taken by influenza if it were pleasing to God."

June 9.

1.    "It's said in the Gospel that God will come like a Thief. He will

come to steal me away very gently. Oh, how I'd love to aid the Thief!"

2.    "How happy I am today!"

I asked: "Has your trial of faith passed away? "No, but it seems to be suspended ; the ugly serpents are no longer hissing in my ears."

3.    "With what peace I allow it said around me that I'm getting bet­ter! Last week, I was up and around and some found me very sick; this week, I'm no longer able to stay up; I'm exhausted; and they judge me to be on the mend ! What does it all mean !

I asked: "You hope to die soon in spite of everything ?" "Yes, I hope to go soon ; I'm certainly not getting better. My side aches very much, But I shall always say, if God cures me, I'll not be the least bit disappointed."

To Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart, who said: "What sorrow we'll experience when you leave us!"

"Oh, no, you will see; it will be like a shower of roses."

4.    "I'm not afraid of the Thief. I see Him in the distance, and I take good care not to call out: 'Help, Thief!' On the contrary, I call to

Him, saying: 'Over here, over here!' "

5.    "I'm like a little child at a railway station, waiting for her Papa and Mamma to put her on the train; alas, they don't come, and the train pulls out! However, there are others, and I'll not miss all of them!"

June 10.

She was getting well and this surprised her; she was forced to get hold of herself in order not to become sad:

"The Blessed virgin really carried out my messages well; I'll give her some once more!

"I tell her very often: 'Tell Him never to put Himself out on my ac­count.'

"He has heard this, and this is exactly what He's doing. I no longer understand anything about my sickness. Here I am getting better! However, I abandon myself to Him and I'm happy just the same. What would become of me if I did not nourish the hope of soon dying? What disappointments! But I don't have a single one, because I am totally content with what God does; I desire only His will."

June 11.

1.    She had cast some flowers at a statue of St. Joseph which was in the garden at the end of the chestnut walk, saying in a childish tone of voice:

"Take them!"

   I asked: "Why are you throwing flowers at St. Joseph? To obtain a special favor?"

"Ah, no! It's just to please him; I don't want to give in order to receive."

2.    "I'm not breaking my head over the writing of my 'little' life; it's as though I were fishing with a line: I write whatever comes to the end of my pen."

June 12.

1. "They don't believe I'm as sick as I am. So it makes it all the har­der to be deprived of Holy Communion, the Divine Office. However, it's all the better if no one is worried about me. I was suffering very much, and I asked the Blessed Virgin to arrange things in order that others would be in no way inconvenienced. She answered my prayer.

"As far as I am concerned, what does it matter what others think or say? I don't see why I should be disturbed about it."

2. "Tomorrow, I shall not receive Holy Communion! And so many little girls will be receiving God! "

It was First Communion Day at the parish of St. Jaques, Lisieux.

June 13. In the garden.

"I'm reminded of a piece of cloth stretched over a frame to be em­broidered ; then nobody shows up to embroider it ! I wait and wait ! It's useless ! . . . However, this isn't really surprising since little children don't know what they want !

"I'm saying this because I'm thinking of little Jesus; He is the one who has stretched me over a frame of sufferings in order to have the pleasure of embroidering me; then He loosens me so that he can go up to heaven and show them His beautiful work.

"Whenever I am speaking of the Thief, I'm not thinking of little

Jesus; I'm thinking of the 'great' God."

June 14.

This was the last day of the novena in honor of Our Lady of Vic­tories, and she was greatly improved in health, much to her disap­pointment. She said with a smile: "I'm a cured little girl!" "Are you sad about it?" I asked:

"Oh, no, we can put up with very much from one moment to the next!"

 

June 15.

1.    "On June 9, I saw very clearly the beacon that was announcing to me heaven's port; but now I no longer see anything. It's as if my eyes were blindfolded. That day I saw the Thief; at present I no longer see anything at all. What anyone says to me about death no longer penetrates; it slides over me as it would over smooth glass. It's finished! The hope of death is all used up. Undoubtedly, God does not will that I think of it as I did before I became sick. At that time, this thought was necessary for me and very profitable; I really felt it. But today it's just the contrary. God wills that I abandon myself like a

very little child who is not disturbed by what others will do to him."

2.    I asked: "Are you tired out because of your present state that seems to be prolonged? You must be suffering very much!"

"Yes, but this pleases me." "Why?"

"Because it pleases God."

She used this word and several others that didn 't fit in with the sim­ple way she usually expressed herself. It was evident that she wanted to cloak her thoughts in order to distract us. She also adopted certain very simple expressions that she used in our presence; these took on

much charm when coming from her.

3.    "I don't know when I shall die; I no longer have any confidence in this sickness. Even though I were to receive Extreme Unction, I still believe I could recover. I will not be sure of success until I shall have

taken the final step and shall see myself in God's arms.

4.    In the evening:

"How I'd like to say something nice to you!" I said: "Tell me simply whether you'll forget me when you're in heaven. "

"Ah, if I were to forget you, it seems to me that all the saints would chase me out of heaven just as they would an ugly owl. Little Mother, when I'm up there, 'I shall come to take you with me, so that where I am, there also you will be.'

5. "I'm very happy; I don't offend God at all during my illness. Recently, I was writing on charity (in the copybook of her Life) and, very often, the nuns came to distract me; then I was very careful not to become impatient, to put into practice what I was writing about."

June 19.

"Well, then, you are the Superior General of my heart."

Our cousin, Mother Marguerite (Superior General of the Religious Auxiliary Nurses of Paris) had sent me a beautiful basket filled with artificial lilies for Mother M

arie de Gonzague's feast day. I brought her this basket, saying with great joy: "It's the Superior General of the Auxiliary Nurses, who sent me this!" She answered suddenly with verve and affection: “ Well then, you are the Superior General of my heart.”

 

June 20

 

I was showing her little pictures I had painted of the Blessed Virgin and the Child Jesus for the feast of Mother Prioress. She placed her hands on the miniatures spread out before her, and, spreading her fingers, she touched each of the heads of the Child Jesus, saying:

"I'm holding them all under my dominion."

June 22.

She was seated in the garden in the wheelchair, When I came out to her in the afternoon, she said:

" John 14:3.

" See Story of a Soul, p. 219.

A wheelchair used by M. Martin, Thérèse's father, during his illness; was donated to the Carmel later.

"How well I understand Our Lord's words to St. Teresa, our holy Mother: 'Do you know, my daughter, who are the ones who really love me? It's those who recognize that everything that can't be referred to me is a lie.'

"Oh, little Mother, I really feel that this is true! Yes, everything outside of God is vanity."

June 23

I was telling her: "Alas, I'll have nothing to offer to God when I die; my hands will be empty, and this saddens me very much. "

"Well, you're not like 'baby' (she called herself this at times) who finds herself in the same circumstances, nevertheless. Even if I had ac­complished all the works of St. Paul, I would still believe myself to be a 'useless servant.' But it is precisely this that makes up my joy, for

having nothing, I shall receive everything from God."

June 25.

1.    The Feast of the Sacred Heart. She had been placed in the library because of the sun that was shining in her room. During the sermon, she was glancing through a book on the Propagation of the Faith. Af­terwards, she showed me a passage where there was mention made of a beautiful woman dressed in white and appearing to a baptized child. She said:

"Later on, I'll go to little baptized children just like this."

  1. 2."I played truant during the sermon because I felt it was a feast day. I would not permit myself this every day. I consider my copybook (her Life) as my little assignment."

June 26.

"Yesterday, great pain in my side! Then . . . finished this morning!

Ah! When shall I be with God! How I would like to go to heaven!"

June 27.

"When I am in heaven, I'll say so many beautiful things about my little Mother to all the saints that they will really want to take her. I'll always be with my little Mother; I'll ask the saints to come with me in­to the terrible cellars to protect her, and, if they don't want to come, I will come all alone."

This has reference to a little incident that had happened to me that day in the sacristy cellar.

June 29.

1.    "This is what has happened: When I was about to die, the little angels made all sorts of beautiful preparations to receive me; but they got tired and fell asleep. Alas! little children sleep a long time! We don't know when they will get up."

She often told us little stories like this to distract us from her suf­ferings of soul and body.

2.    "How unhappy I shall be in heaven if I cannot do little favors on earth for those whom I love."

3.    In the evening she was feeling her trial of faith a little more and certain reflections had caused her pain. She said to me:

"My soul is exiled, heaven is closed for me, and on earth's side it's all trial too.

"I understand very well that they don't believe I'm sick, but it's God who permits this."

 

4. "I shall be happy in heaven if you compose some pretty verses for

me; it seems to me that this must give pleasure to the saints."

June 30.

1.   I was speaking to her about certain saints who had led ex­traordinary lives, such as St. Simon Stylites. She said:

"I myself prefer the saints who feared nothing, for example, St. Cecilia, who allowed herself to be married and didn't fear."

2.    Uncle had asked her to come to the parlor with us to visit him, and, as usual, she had said practically nothing.

"How shy I was in the parlor with Uncle ! When I came out, I scolded a novice very much, and I didn't recognize myself. What con­trasts there are in my character ! My timidity comes from an extreme shyness which I experience when anyone pays any attention to me."'

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