From Mme Martin to Mme Guérin CF 130 - March 14, 1875.


From Mme Martin to Mme Guérin


March 14, 1875

I received your last letter, and you see I’m taking the time to answer it, but I have nothing new to report. I was hoping something would occur and seeing that the delay was getting longer, I decided to break the silence without having anything interesting to tell you.

We’re in full-time penance. Fortunately, it will be over soon. I’m suffering so much from the fasting and abstinence! Yet it’s not a very severe mortification, but I’m so tired of how my stomach feels, and especially so cowardly, that I wouldn’t want to do it at all if I listened to my nature (the Martins rigorously observed the fasts prescribed by the Church. They took nothing until noon and allowed themselves a light meal at night). For a week we’ve had two missionaries who give three sermons a day. In my opinion, one doesn’t preach any better than the other. We’re going to hear them anyway out of a sense of duty, and, for me at least, it’s an extra penance.

We’re currently celebrating the Jubilee in Alençon (the Universal Jubilee Year of the Church in 1875). The second procession takes place today, and, fortunately, the weather is good. Last Sunday the weather was awful. Consequently, it put me in a bad mood, and I forgot to recite the stipulated prayers. For my punishment, I had to make a tour of the city five times. I was unaware I would be bound by this practice, and that will teach me for next time. I don’t know if it’s the same everywhere, but here, those who don’t follow the three processions have four churches to visit fifteen times.

Léonie earned her Jubilee indulgence and received absolution. She was afraid of not being prepared well enough and this attitude pleased me. I hope God, in His mercy, answers my prayers for this child, who’s one of my biggest concerns.

I’m going to pick up Marie and Pauline in Le Mans on Easter Monday. It’s a holiday for them and for me. It’s been three weeks since I’ve had news from them.

Céline isn’t going to class anymore. I’m teaching her to read, and she’s practically fluent. Also, she’s beginning to write. I’m considering having her begin studying with Marie, who’s leaving the boarding school this year (at 15 years old).

Little Thérèse is always well, and she looks happy and healthy. She’s very intelligent and has very amusing conversations with us. She already knows how to pray to God. Every Sunday she goes to part of Vespers, and if, unfortunately, we fail to take her there, she cries inconsolably. A few weeks ago we’d taken her out for a walk on Sunday. She hadn’t been to “mette,” [Mass] as she calls it. When we returned home, she let out piercing screams, saying she wanted to go to Mass. She opened the door and, in torrential rain, ran off in the direction of the church. We ran after her to make her come back, and her screams lasted a good hour.

She said to me out loud in church, “Me, I was at Mass here! I really prayed to God.” When her father returns home in the evening and she doesn’t see him say his prayers, she asks him, “Papa, why aren’t you saying your prayers? Were you at church with the ladies?” Ever since Lent began, I go to the six o’clock Mass, and she’s often awake when I leave. As I’m leaving, she’ll say to me, “Mama, I’m going to be very good.” In fact, she doesn’t move and falls back asleep.

Monsieur M arrived, and my husband went to his meeting. He was unable to have breakfast with us this morning at the house. This annoyed me, but last evening I was rather happy he didn’t come because we’re fasting. He would have had to eat all alone and would have been embarrassed by this, and we would have been, as well.


© Society of St. Paul / Alba House



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