From Jeanne La Néele to sr Geneviève - October 31, 1894

From Jeanne La Néele to sr Geneviève - October 31, 1894

Dear little Céline,

Here I am condemned to rest and suffering again; for how long I don’t know… Francis promises I will have recovered by January. I hope he is a good prophet, for I have been asking to recover for four years now and have waited in vain. This time I haven’t had you near me to look after me, dear little Céline. Do you remember two years ago? You fulfilled the role of nurse by my side. You comforted me so gently when you saw me cry and I can still see you with your eyes filled with tears at the sight of me suffering. Since I can’t hear your kind words, would you write something to me to help me bear my misery?

If only you knew how hard it is, my darling. I don’t mean bodily suffering, I mean the moral torture that besieges me and leaves me no respite. All day long I lie on my chaise-long in my room, with a piece of knitting or some sort of needlework in my hand, and a book to break the monotony of the work.

That is how I spend my days. Dark thoughts haunt my mind, such as this one. I will never recover, and then a feeling of deep discouragement invades me. At such moments the sky is dark and weighs upon me. No matter how hard I pray, it seems I can obtain no comfort. Then a few minutes later it has disappeared; a beautiful blue sky has replaced the dark clouds and when Francis comes home from his visits, he is barely aware of the storm which in his absence arose in his poor little wife’s head.

Well you know me, Céline. I don’t know why I’m telling you all this. I will however say that God gives me much consolation and strength. I have only wept once this whole week. If only you knew how often I think of you, my darling. This morning, during my meditation, it seemed as though Our Lord was saying to me: “You don’t want to do the same as her (Céline), you do not want to love suffering. Look at your four little sisters in the Carmel, they love sorrow, they seek the cross, and they embrace it with delight. You don’t want to be a saint, then.”

To me it seems so difficult to love pain and yet that, my darling, is the true secret of happiness. Therefore please teach me to suffer as a Christian and in a way that is worthy of heaven. I happened to find a label on a flask bearing a skull and cross-bones. It comforts me to look at it. To think that in twenty, thirty, fifty years time, or perhaps much less, that is what I will be like. So what is the point of worrying about this life and of always wanting happiness?

1st 9ber I am resuming my letter today, All Saints Day. I was able to go to midday Mass in the carriage and after lunch I went to adore the Blessed Sacrament at the Visitation, by carriage again of course. Today is our Saintly Uncle’s feast day, and if only you knew how hard I prayed to him, as well as to your good and Saintly mother. The two of them are reunited in heaven, enjoying the reward set aside for the elect.

I have realized on rereading my letter that I have talked about myself all the time. My darling, forgive your poor cousin who has let her overflowing heart spill into yours. I ask you to pray that I may suffer in resignation and recover if it is God’s will. I don’t think I’ll be able to go to Lisieux for a long while. I am no sicker than previous years, on the contrary I find there has been great progress. But since one needs to suffer to recover completely, I will suffer with the help of God and your fervent prayers.

I send a thousand great big kisses to you and your sisters.

Your Jeanne

Please remember me to Mother Marie de Gonzague. She said you were very happy, I don’t need to be told that to believe it. I will be fine.

If Pauline lets you write to me, please reply to my letter next week. I think it will be then that I will be most in need of your encouragement.

I have just seen Papa who brought me good news of my darling little Céline. News to the contrary would have astonished me. Francis has asked me to pass on his wholly fraternal regards to his four little sisters.


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