From Mme Martin to Mme Guérin CF 184 - January 18, 1877


From Mme Martin to Mme Guérin

January 18, 1877

Monday I received a letter from Le Mans in which my sister wrote a few lines in pencil. She tells me her condition is still the same and the progress of her illness is hardly noticeable. She adds that the Community received the geese and that I can’t imagine the pleasure it gave them. They talk about it at recreation.

She adds, “As for me, I desire nothing more than eternal life…. I will pass along all the messages for Heaven…. Hello to the dear family in Lisieux. Already I’m unable to write these lines anymore.” Pauline tells me that the Superior and the head mistress agreed to let her see her aunt every morning around seven-thirty. Pauline’s school report is excellent, and she’s going to become a Child of Mary on February 2. Her aunt confided in Marie that if her sister continued, she would receive the “white crown” when the prizes are given out. This is a crown of white roses – the highest award there is, and it’s almost never given. Marie only saw it awarded once in nine years.

Now, I must respond to your good letter. I see that you’re very worried about me. My condition hasn’t changed since I saw you. I’m hardly suffering at all, only the glands in my neck are swollen.

We haven’t sold our business. We found out some things about the buyers, and it’s worse than you can imagine. This gentleman has already lost thirty thousand francs borrowed in small sums from unfortunate workers who had trusted him, and we found out several other facts of this kind.

I’m happy the sale wasn’t concluded. These people would have caused us great inconvenience. Anyway, I prefer to give it up very gradually. Besides, I’m going to be forced to because I don’t have any more orders.

Léonie had begun a letter to you, but that was the end of it. Nevertheless, she has to write you. Marie is giving her lessons with Céline, and she’s pleased with her. Yesterday she said to Marie, “I’m going to write to my aunt in Le Mans before she dies and give her my messages for Heaven. I want her to ask God to give me a religious vocation.”

Marie pretended to make fun of her to see what she would say, but she persisted and said, “Everybody can make fun of me, I don’t care. But I want to tell her this before she dies.” Finally, today she wrote her letter all by herself, without anyone saying a word to her to give her any ideas. This is what she wrote:

“My dear aunt, I still treasure the picture you gave me. I look at it every day to become obedient, like you told me to. Marie framed it for me.

“My dear aunt, when you’re in Heaven, please ask God to give me the grace of converting me and also to give me the vocation of becoming a true religious because I think of it every day. I beg you, don’t forget my little message because I’m sure that God will answer your prayer.

“Good-bye, my dear aunt, I kiss you with all my heart. Your very loving niece….”

What do you think of this? As for me, I’m very surprised. But where did she get these ideas? It certainly wasn’t me who put these ideas in her head. I’m even quite convinced that, without a miracle, Léonie would never enter community life.

It’s her future that worries me the most. I say to myself, “What will become of her if I’m no longer here?” I don’t dare think about it. But I assure you that this little letter renews my courage, and I find myself hoping that perhaps God has merciful plans for this child. If it only took the sacrifice of my life for her to become a saint, I would give it willingly.

We had a beautiful ceremony Monday for the transfer of soldiers killed in the fighting in Alençon on January 15, 1871. The entire town was standing, and it lasted five hours.

Our mayor returned home so tired that he went to bed and wasn’t able to go to the Prefecture for the official dinner. His wife thought he was sleeping well, but she noticed that his sleep was unnatural. She sent for the doctor who was unable to wake him up, and he’s been sleeping since Monday. He’ll probably remain asleep until the end of his life, at least that’s what the doctors are saying because he’s paralyzed and had a stroke. It seems there’s no hope for him.

It’s very sad to die in one’s sleep. As for me, I’d prefer to be fully awake and see death come. It’s time I finished my letter. I’ve been writing this letter quite a long time. I’ve had to come back to it many times because I was often interrupted.

While I was writing you I saw Madame Z, who is going to the grand ball being given at the Prefecture tomorrow. She told me all kinds of things about her ball!

Good-bye, I kiss you with love.

© Society of St. Paul / Alba House


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