From Mme Martin to Pauline CF 172 - November 3, 1876.


From Mme Martin to Pauline

November 3, 1876

My dear Pauline,

Since you want me to write to you today, my letter will not be as long as usual because I have hardly any time, being very harried by work and busy in every way. Also, I long for rest. I don’t even have the courage to continue the fight. I feel the need for a little quiet reflection to think about my salvation, which the troubles of this world make me neglect.

And yet I should remember these words from the Imitation [of Christ ] : “Why do you seek rest, whereas you are born to labor?” But when you are too engrossed in your work and no longer have youthful energy, you can’t help wishing to be relieved of it, at least in part. Oh well, I live in this hope. It seems to me, for many reasons, my business is winding down.

If I were free, my dear Pauline, I would go to Le Mans tomorrow with Marie. That would please me as much as you and I would have the happiness of seeing my dear sister one more time. I think she’s better, and if God wants to keep her with us a few more years, we’d all be very happy.

Little Céline is very cute and makes many sacrifices for her aunt. Sometimes, however, she’s not consistent, like last night. She didn’t want to give something to her little sister. I can’t remember what it was, even though everyone was asking her to do it. Marie and Louise made silly remarks to her, saying, among other things, that she only made sacrifices that pleased her and she’d be better off not making any at all. I told Marie she was wrong to discourage her that way, that it was impossible for such a young child to suddenly become a saint and that she had to overlook little things.

Even Thérèse wants to join in doing the practices. This little one is a delightful child, perceptive and very lively, but she has a sensitive heart. She and Céline love each other very much, and they only need each other to entertain themselves.

The wet nurse gave Thérèse a small rooster and hen, and the baby quickly gave the rooster to her sister. Every day, after dinner, Céline goes to get her little rooster. She catches it with one swoop of her hand, as well as the hen which, nevertheless, isn’t easy to grab, but she’s so quick she swoops it up on the first try. Then both of them come with their animals to sit by the fire and play like this for a very long time.

Sunday Thérèse took it upon herself to leave her little bed to go sleep with Céline. The maid was looking for her to dress her. She finally found her, and the little one said to her, while hugging her sister tightly, “Leave us alone, my poor Louise, you can see that we’re both like the little white hens; we can’t be separated!”

This evening Léonie and Céline went with their father to the Catholic Circle and left poor Thérèse home, who well understood that she was too little to go. She said, “If only they wanted me to sleep in Céline’s bed.” But no, they didn’t want it. She said nothing and remained alone with her little lamp. She was sound asleep a quarter of an hour later (quoted by Thérèse with minor variations in Manuscript A, 8v-9r).

As for me, I stayed home to look after her. I read until eleven o’clock because I had to wait up for Marie, who spent the evening at Madam X’s house.

That poor lady! Despite all her millions, I know she’s not happy, and yet she has the most beautiful house on the rue de Bretagne, with beautiful drawing rooms that are very vast and very elaborate, but for what? No one goes there except the people she wouldn’t want to see because she finds them beneath her. Her daughter’s isolation was so great that she recognized the need to make her associate with some young ladies her own age. Her sister-in-law told me this, not as clearly as I’m telling you, but I’d guessed as much a long time ago!

In short, my Pauline, one cannot be happy in this world.

When one has a fortune, one wishes for honors. I see this in all the people who become rich.

For Madame X, it’s stronger than she is. I predicted to Marie that her invitations wouldn’t last, I know this lady too well; and as for me, that would make me happy deep down.

I know Marie has nothing to fear in this gathering of young ladies, but I don’t like seeing her with such rich people because it arouses unhealthy envy. I have no desire to associate with these people. I would be rather humiliated by them. I think that it’s from pride on my part, but what can you do, I would have to spend too much to please them, and I would risk wasting my time and my money.

I must have nothing to tell you to speak to you of such little things, but it’s so you’ll be happy in seeing four very full pages. If I could only think of some news that would be of great interest to you! I don’t know of anything, everything is very calm at home.

Marie will have told you that she no longer goes to Mass alone; that’s over. She was never able to get used to it, and I myself insist that she never do it again because she’s too shy. Then, she’s too dressed up, and it’s not appropriate. When you’re home, my Pauline, this will be more difficult because you like to sleep in the morning and go to bed late, and then chat with Marie until eleven o’clock in the evening. This concerns me because this has already troubled me many times. So I’ll see what I can do to find a way of having you both go at different times. If, then, I’m not making Alençon lace any more, it will be very simple; but if not, I’ll still be in a quandary. Oh well, we’ll work it out for the best.

Every time I receive a letter from you, I send Lisieux news of your aunt. How I look forward to Tuesdays! How would I have done this if you hadn’t returned to the Visitation Monastery? Is it not, my Pauline, that we were both inspired to want you to go back? It was God who guided us.

Good-bye, my dear Pauline. Tell your aunt that I pray for her every day. However, I find it quite peculiar to pray for a saint, I who am covered in weakness. What can God do with my prayers, as long as I’m not transforming myself? But it seems to me I’ll be much better when I’m no longer making Alençon lace because at least I’ll have the time to work on my perfection! Ah! What a beautiful day it will be for me when I’m freed from it!

I kiss you with all my heart.


© Society of St. Paul / Alba House



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