From Fr. Bellière to Thérèse - June 7, 1897.

From l'abbé Bellière to Thérèse.

June 7, 1897

June 7, 1897

R. Ap.

To Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus


Good and very dear Sister,

I have never sung with greater enthusiasm than yesterday the first stanza of your Canticle of Love. On no other day, I believe, was it more appropriate, because it formed the substance of the day since it found its place in the Gospel. But for me there was an added grace: Yesterday, at the very hour when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles with His Light and His Strength, I received His orders from my director's mouth. In other words, I received an almost definitive decision on my vocation, and I listened to these words: "You have a genuine vocation in which I firmly believe and in which God is manifesting His providence in a singular manner. With a thou­sand chances of perdition, He is giving you ten thousand chances of salvation. Furthermore, He wills that you be a missionary; the career is open; go." And I shall leave, dear little Sister; I shall spend this vacation with my family and, on October 1, I shall arrive at Algiers to make my novitiate at the Maison-Carrée with the White Fathers. The only obstacle I foresee would come from the Bishop; I need his authorization, and sometimes he makes objections, and this even more so because, this year, a number of requests were ad­dressed to him from different Congregations. I had the joy of con­tributing to the choice of the White Fathers' African Missions on the part of one of my confrères, whom I am taking there.

Regarding the decision given to me, I am at peace and happy, for my director assured me that even if I had not manifested my desire for the missions to him, he would have sent me there. And so if later on it were to happen that I experienced some failures and discourage­ment, which is almost inevitable at the beginning, I would be joyful like St. Paul in the midst of his tribulations, for I would be con­scious of doing God's will, and I would also have you near me, Sister, by means of your fraternal charity which will not be the least sup­port for my poor soul. You promised me this even after the exile: you will be there, and I have no fear.

Let us adore God, Sister, and you thank Him with me. Less than anyone else, and I beg you to believe this, I deserved this honor which I consider only in trembling, and I am somewhat frightened by this love of God. However, I want confidence to prevail and I want to give myself without any reservations. Moreover, this is what is be­ing asked from me. Father told me: "You must give yourself to God totally, who is asking all from you; you cannot be in His service by halves, you will be a good priest or nothing." This is my own sentiment, and I want to give without counting, being very sure "That when one loves, one does not count," so that when I set foot on African soil, I may continue: "I have given all.. .lightly I run. I have nothing any longer but my only riches, To live by Love!"

This will be an additional rapprochement with my little Sister. You were saying to me recently: "I feel our souls were made to under­stand one another," and it seems so to me too; since I am a little bit superstitutious regarding Providence, I cannot refrain from set­ting up these points of similarity (but also how many dissimilarities!). Permit me to present some to you in all simplicity: the same desires: souls, the apostolate.. .you are before all else an apostle, it seems to me; the need of dedication to a sacred cause. You love the cause of God and the Church, but also that of France, the Pope, true? And if you had been given the chance of carrying the sword for one or the other, you would have done it. I admit that I myself had thought first of terrestrial arms; this was only conquered (after a struggle with blessings and graces) by Christ to whom I capitulated, while retaining in my heart an ardent love for these objects. And, understand, if a war were to come, if the Pope were to call his valiant ones, it seems to me I would be among the first. One of my joys over there will be also to work for France, insofar as this will be within my power and my duty.

When very young, dear little Sister, you were severed from mater­nal caresses. Look, I did not know my mother; furthermore, she died on account of me. Up to the age of ten or eleven, I was unaware of this misfortune, receiving from an aunt the devotedness and endearments which I believed were maternal because they were so gentle and beneficient. So I was calling "mother" this sister of my mother, and my heart will suffer just as much as it would have suf­fered if I had left my mother for the distant apostolate. I recom­mend her to you, good little Sister; each day I think of your father and mother who are also dead. My father is dead too. My whole family is now entirely spiritual, but, 1 believe, 1 am not less attached to it.

I would not be surprised if we had the same devotions. The Sacred Heart converted me after how much folly and cowardliness; the beautiful years, those which Jesus loves more, I wasted, sacrificing to the world and its follies the "talents" God was lending me. But the Blessed Virgin, Notre Dame de la Délivrande, whom you un­doubtedly know, was also a great help to me. St. Joseph received me into his guard of honor, and I ask much from the kindness of Saints Paul, Augustine, Maurice, Louis de Gonzague, Francis Xavier, and Saints Joan of Arc, Cecilia, Agnes. You have sung about all of them. Geneviève was a brave one, and she comes between your birth and your baptism (January 3). Teresa, especially since I know that she is the holy patroness of my dear little Sister; Mary Magdalene, the sinner who was so much loved by Jesus. There are also the dear apostles or martyrs, such as, P. Perboyre, Vénard, de Bretenières, Chapdelaine, etc. Certainly you know all these in­habitants of heaven.

   And now, dear Sister in God, I thank you for sending me your holy dates, and I am happy this letter will reach you on the anniver­sary of a memorable one. Pardon me for having saddened you in my last letter; excuse me, I am so rude, so abrupt. At least, do not condemn my good will, my heart. Thank you, too, for the names of the future goddaughter; they are ones I would have chosen myself. I accept with the same simplicity the comparison of P. de la Colombière and of Blessed Margaret Mary with some reservations, for I would like to interchange the roles, if I did not fear grieving you. It is sweet and divine this outpouring of the Heart of Jesus and His loved ones.

How I must bore you, distract you, my brave and dear little Sister, with all this verbiage, in which it seems to me I am talking about myself outrageously; pardon me. Truly, I assure you, I am a miserable person, and you have to be around for God to love me. I count on His rewarding you, and I will ask this from Him with fervor.

Very dear and good Sister, I am forever your grateful but un­worthy brother,

M. Barthélemy-Bellière

Have no fear, Sister, I am too jealous of the grace God is giving me and the benefit of your letters to allow an outsider to enter into our secret.

 © Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc

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