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From sr Marie of the Eucharist (Marie Guerin) to her father Isidore Guerin - after October 4, 1898

From sr Marie of the Eucharist (Marie Guerin) to her father Isidore Guerin - after October 4, 1898

                                                    J.M.J.T.

                                                                                                   Oct. 98 (after the 4th)

+ Jesus!

                                         Darling Father,

     You must be impatiently waiting for the letter I promised, but I wasn’t able to come and entertain you any sooner. What comforted me was knowing you’re going from strength to strength. One Lay Sister is convinced we owe your recovery to the novena she prayed to the most neglected soul in Purgatory, given that she finished it last Tuesday and that it was on that day that you really began to feel better. She therefore began a second one the very next day, and is saying it with great fervour so that you might make a full recovery. As you see, your little Carmel hasn’t forgotten you.

   You are no doubt expecting an account of the little celebration we had on 4th October, which we call the “Cantabo”. Mamma will probably have given you a few details, so I won’t repeat them. I’m simply going to tell you how surprised my two ‘daughters’ were, and about the trouble I had with Sr Béatrix when, during the day, she suspected there was to be a celebration. But it seems I threw her off the scent so well that she was completely taken aback. She doesn’t even know how I managed to keep such a serious face.

  I saw her In the afternoon and she asked me, “Do you know why there’s going to be a celebration this evening? I saw people bringing in flowers, and Auguste took some mats to the Sacred Heart hermitage. Something is definitely going to happen at the hermitage.” “Well!” I said, “Fancy expecting there to be celebrations at the Carmel, given the austere and penitent life we lead. It wouldn’t be compatible. For a start, I’ve never seen a celebration at the Sacred Heart hermitage before. It would be the first time there has been one there.” The celebration was supposed to be held in the warming room (recreation room). “Come now,” she continued, “Auguste has a conniving look about him. I wanted to go into the hermitage at the same time as him, and he actually shut the door on my nose. I’m telling you, something’s going on. Oh, do you know what I think? Don’t tell anyone, but Mrs Guérin came to the visiting room this afternoon, and, well, I think she brought a statue of St Thérèse of the Child Jesus with her. I heard someone opening a box in the hermitage, so I think we’re going to bless it tonight.” Imagine how I burst out laughing at the thought of blessing a statue of our little Sister. I threw her off such an idea by telling her we only ever blessed statues of Saints. At this, she replied, just as sharply, “Well, if she isn’t a Saint, I don’t know who is. She is a Saint, and a great one at that, and she deserves to have her own statue at the Carmel.” Seeing how passionate she was, I told her not to mention it, and, fearing she would ask some questions at recreation and that one of the Sisters would give the game away, I said to her in a very serious voice, “Don’t ever say anything about a celebration at the Carmel. At the beginning of my postulancy, I was like you; I dreamt of nothing but surprises, and do you know what people said about me? They said, “That little girl does nothing but frolic about, and enjoys nothing but celebrations.” People had said this about me in similar circumstances, to stop me from thinking there were celebrations at the Carmel. “So if you want to receive the Habit, don’t say anything about a celebration this evening.” She thanked me, seeming thoroughly convinced. The last sentence had thoroughly thrown her off the idea there would be a celebration.

   That evening, after Compline, I took my two ‘daughters’ to the novitiate to say a novena. They followed me trustingly and prayed the novena with fervour. I was obliged to bite my tongue to prevent myself from laughing. I invoked St Thérèse, telling them that today was the anniversary of her death. Then, pretending to be very tired, I added “Ah, dear little Sisters, if I dared to ask you for a favour, I would ask you to come to the warming room with me. I need some wood for the infirmary (this was true) and I’m very tired. If each of you made one trip, it would save me a great deal of effort.” At this, there was much affectionate remonstrating and offers of help. To hear them, I could have stood there, my arms crossed, and watched them work. Therefore, with incredible eagerness, they followed me. Then, believing it to be dark, they entered the room where they came for recreation, but it had been transformed into a chapel full of candles. There were “Ahs” all around, but there were also anxious “Ahs” from my poor daughter Sr Béatrix of the Child Jesus. However much I urged her to go in, she remained still, as though riveted to the floor. They were both very moved and taken aback. Afterwards, they said, “Only at the Carmel do people know how to bring off surprises and celebrations like this.” But they burst out laughing every time they thought about everything I had said and made them do after Compline.

   Ah, dear Father! I could go on like this forever. When it comes to entertaining you, I know no bounds. Now I’m going to be a little beggar. You’re very fond of this little beggar, and you never refuse her anything. I’ll tell you in a low, hushed whisper, that we are greedy girls. We’ve drunk the whole barrel of wine. It was too good, undoubtedly, and we have only 30 bottles left. We are informing you in advance. Knowing how good you are, you might perhaps offer us a replacement, and we admit that we wouldn’t object to it. I assure you that your lovely wine finds good homes and that it cheers us up when the day’s work is particularly heavy and tiring. I’ve experienced it more than once. We don’t have any nice roasts to cheer us. Instead we have lovely little tumblers of Papa’s wine to restore our strength.

   Also, rice is our Sunday dish, and we’re soon going to run out of that as well.

   I thank you in advance for everything you choose to give us. The best way of ensuring one’s prayers are answered is to say them with faith. And I admit that, with my dear Father, I’m always sure they’ll be answered.

   All my love and kisses to Papa, Mamma and my little Sisters. I’m praying hard for my little Jeannot1 She must be patient, and not be discouraged.

                     Your darling little girl

                       Marie of the Eucharist

1 Nickname for her sister Jeanne