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The yellow notebook - May 1897

MAY

 

The correspondence for this month of May is silent on the matter of Thérèse's health. The few details given in the "Yellow Notebook" show that her coughing persisted, exhausting her especially at night. To the painful remedy of the vesicatories were added sessions of what were called "pointes de feu" [a cauterizing remedy for tuberculosis, con­sisting in the repeated puncturing of the skin with red-hot needles]. Her resistance weakened and, in the middle of the month, she had to give up attending the community acts, for example, the recitation of the Divine Office in choir, recreation, etc.

However, all hope of a cure was not given up. During this period of uncertainty, the Saint's abandonment to the will of God reached its highest degree. This is the dominant note of this month. Thérèse wrote eight letters and four poems during the month of May, among which was her Marian testament: Pourquoi je t'aime, ô Marie.

 

May 1

 

1.   "It's not 'death' that will come in search of me, it's God. Death isn't some phantom, some horrible spectre, as it is represented in pic­tures. It is said in the catechism that 'death is the separation of the soul from the body' and that is all it is."

2.   "My heart was filled entirely with a heavenly peace today. I prayed so much to the Blessed Virgin last night, thinking that her beautiful month was about to begin!

"You weren't at recreation this evening. Reverend Mother told us that one of the missionaries' who embarked with Father Roulland was dead before he reached his mission. This young missionary received Communion on the ship with hosts from our Carmel that were given Father Roulland .... And now he is dead! . . . He didn't have to carry out any apostolate whatsoever, nor go to any trouble, for example, learning Chinese. God gave him the palm of desire; see how He needs no one."

I was unaware, then, that Mother Marie de Gonzague had assigned Father Roulland as a second spiritual brother to her. The words I've just reported above were written to her by Father Roulland, but since she was forbidden to confide it to me by Reverend Mother, she spoke to me only about what she had heard in recreation.

Reverend Mother had asked her to paint a picture for him on a piece of parchment. Since I was in charge of painting, she could have profited by the circumstance by asking my advice, thus letting me in on the whole secret. Instead, she hid from me as well as she could, even coming in secret to borrow the burnisher, as I learned later, for polishing the gold and which I kept on the table. She returned it when I was absent.

It was only three months before her death when Mother Prioress told her to speak to me freely about this matter as well as all others.

 

May 7

1.   Seven o 'clock in the morning.

"It's a free day today, and so I sang 'Ma joie' while I was getting dressed."

2.   "Our family won't remain a long time on this earth; when I am in heaven, I'll call all of you very quickly. Oh, how happy we shall be! We are all predestined."

3.   "I cough and cough! I'm just like a locomotive when it arrives at the station; I'm arriving also at a station: heaven, and I'm announcing it!"

May 9

1.   "We can say, without any boasting, that we have received very special graces and lights; we stand in the truth and see things in their proper light."

2.    With regard to certain feelings beyond our control at times, such as, when we have performed a service for someone and receive no thanks:

"I assure you, I too experience the feeling you are speaking about. However, I don't allow myself to be trapped by it, for I expect no reward at all on earth. I do everything for God, and in this way I can lose nothing, and I'm always very well repaid for the trouble I go to for my neighbor."

       

3. "It is impossible, I know, but if God were not to see my good ac­tions, I would not be the least bit disturbed by it. I love Him so much that I'd like to please Him without His being aware of it. When He knows it and sees it, He is obliged to reward me, and I don't want Him to have to go to this trouble."

May 15.

1.    "I am very happy to go to heaven very soon, but when I think of these words of God : 'My reward is with me, to render to each one ac­cording to his works,' I tell myself that He will be very much em­barrassed in my case. I haven't any works ! He will not be able to reward me 'according to my works.' Well, then. He will reward me 'according to His own works.' "

2.    "I have formed such a lofty idea of heaven that, at times, I won­der what God will do at my death to surprise me. My hope is so great, it is such a subject of joy to me, not by feeling but by faith, that to satisfy me fully something will be necessary which is beyond all human conception. Rather than be disappointed, I prefer to keep an eternal hope.

"So, I'm already thinking that, if I am not surprised enough, I will pretend to be surprised just to please God. There isn't any danger that I'll allow Him to see my disappointment; I will be able to go about it in such a way that He won't notice anything. Besides, I'll always con­trive ways of being happy. To succeed in this, I have my little rubrics that you know about and that are infallible. Then, just to see God happy will be fully sufficient for my own happiness."

3.    I was speaking to her about certain practices of devotion and per­fection counseled by the saints, which were a source of discouragement to me:'.

"As for me, with the exception of the Gospels, I no longer find anything in books. The Gospels are enough. I listen with delight to these words of Jesus which tell me all I must do: 'Learn of me for I am meek and humble of heart'; then I'm at peace, according to His sweet promise: 'and you will find rest for your souls.' "

She quoted the last sentence, her eyes raised with a heavenly ex­pression in them; she added the word: 'little' to Our Lord's words, thus giving them even more charm : "And you will find rest for your little souls."

4.   She had been given a new habit (the one which is preserved). And she put it on for the first time at Christmas, 1896. This habit, the second since her clothing, did not fit her very well. I asked her if this caused her any annoyance:

"Not the least bit! Not any more than if this were a habit belonging to a Chinese, over there, two thousand leagues from us."

5.   "To the right and to the left, I throw to my little birds the good grain that God places in my hands. And then I let things take their course ! I busy myself with it no more. Sometimes, it's just as though I had thrown nothing ; at other times, it does some good. But God tells me : 'Give, give always, without being concerned about the results.' "

6.   "I would really love to go to Hanoi, to suffer very much for God. I'd like to go there in order to be all alone, having no earthly consolations. As for the thought of making myself useful there, it doesn't even enter into my mind; I know very well I would do nothing at all."

       

          

7. "After all, it's the same to me whether I live or die. I really don't see what I'll have after death that I don't already possess in this life. I shall see God, true ; but as far as being in His presence, I am totally there here on earth."

May 18.

1.    "All my duties were taken away from me; I was thinking that my death would cause no disturbance in the community because of this."

I asked her: "Does it cause you any pain to pass as a useless member in the minds of the nuns?"

"As far as that is concerned, it is the least of my worries; it makes no difference to me at all."

2.    When I saw she was so sick, I did everything possible to have Mother Prioress dispense her from reciting the Office of the Dead. She said:

"I beg you, don't prevent me from saying my 'little' Offices of the Dead; it's the only thing I can do for the Sisters who are in purgatory, and it doesn't tire me out in the least. Sometimes at the end of si­lence, I have a moment; this is a relaxation for me."

3.    "I must always have some work to prepare, for, in this way, I'm not preoccupied and don't waste my time."

4.    "I begged God to permit me to follow the community acts right up to my death, but He did not will it ! I really could have attended them all, and I would not have died a moment sooner. I'm certain of this. Sometimes, it seems to me, that if I had said nothing, no one would have discovered that I was sick."

May 19.

I asked her: "Why are you so happy today ?" "Because this morning I had two 'little' pains. Oh! very sharp ones! . . . Nothing gives me 'little' joys like 'little' pains. . . ."

May 20.

1.   "Someone told me I shall fear death. This could very well be true. There isn't anyone here more mistrustful of her feelings than I am. I never rely on my own ideas; I know how weak I am. However, I want to rejoice in the feeling that God gives me at the present moment. There will always be time to suffer the opposite."

2.   I was showing her a photo of herself:

"Yes, but . . . this is the envelope; when will we see the letter? Oh! how I want to see the letter! ..."

From May 21 to 26.

1. "Théophane Vénard" pleases me much more than St. Louis de Gonzague [St. Aloysius Gonzaga], because the life of the latter is ex­traordinary, and that of Théophane is very ordinary. Besides, he is the one who is talking, whereas for the Saint someone is telling the story and making him speak ; so we know practically nothing about his 'lit­tle' soul !

"Théophane Vénard loved his family very much, and I, too, love my 'little' family very much. I don't understand the saints who don't love their family. . . . My little family of today, oh! I love it very much! I love my little Mother very, very much."

2.   "I'm going to die very soon, but when! Oh! when? ... It doesn't come! I'm like a little child who has been always promised a cake. He is shown it at a distance, and when he approaches to take it, a hand withdraws it. . . . But, at the bottom of my heart, I am resigned to living, dying, being cured, and even going to Cochin-China,' if God wills it."

3.   "After my death, I don't want to be surrounded with wreaths of flowers as Mother Geneviève was. To those who want to give these, you will say that I would rather they spend this money in the ransom of little black babies. This will please me."

4.        "There was a time when I had trouble taking expensive remedies, but, at present, it makes no difference to me ; it's just the contrary. This is ever since the time I read in St. Gertrude's life that she enjoyed these for herself, saying that this would be to the advantage of those who do good to us. She relied on Our Lord's words: 'Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do to me.'

5.   "I'm convinced of the uselessness of remedies to cure me; but I have made an agreement with God so that He will bring profit from them for poor, sick missionaries who have neither the time nor the means to take care of themselves. I've asked Him to cure them instead of me through the medicines and the rest that I'm obliged to take."

 

6.   "I've been told so much that I have courage, and this is so far from the truth, that I have said to myself : Well, then, you mustn't make a liar out of everybody ! And so I set myself, with the help of grace, to the acquisition of courage. I've acted just like a warrior who, hearing himself always being praised for his bravery, and knowing that he's nothing but a coward, ends up by being ashamed of the com­pliments and wants to be deserving of them."

7.   "When I'm up in heaven, how many graces I will beg for you! Oh! I'll torment God so much that, if He wanted to refuse me at first, my importunity will force Him to grant my desires. This story is in the Gospel.

8.   "If the saints show me less affection than my sisters have shown me, this will appear very hard for me . . . and I'll go and cry in a little corner."

9.   "The Holy Innocents will not be little children in heaven; they will have only the indefinable charms of childhood. They are represen­ted as 'children' because we need pictures to understand spiritual things. . . . Yes, I hope to join them! If they want, I'll be their little page, holding up their trains."

10. "If I didn't have this spiritual trial" that is impossible to un­derstand, I really believe I'd die of joy at the thought of leaving this earth."

 

May 21 to 26.

11.

"I was a little sad this morning, wondering whether God was really pleased with me. I was thinking of what each Sister would say about me, if she were questioned. One would say: 'She is a good little soul.' Another: 'She is very gentle, very pious, but . . . ' And still others would have different ideas; several would find me very im­perfect, which is true. ... As for my little Mother, she loves me so much that this blinds her, and so I can't believe her. Oh! what God thinks, who will tell me? I was in these reflections when your little note reached me. You were telling me that everything in me pleased you, that I was especially loved by God, that He had not made me, as He did others, climb the rough ladder of perfection, but that he had placed me in an elevator so that I might be brought to Him more speedily. Already, I was much touched, but always the thought that your love made you see what wasn't there hindered me from rejoicing fully. Then I took my little Gospels, asking God to console me, to an­swer me Himself, and my glance fell upon this passage which I'd never noticed before: 'For he whom God sent speaks the words of God, for not by measure does God give the Spirit." Oh! then I shed tears of joy, and this morning, when awakening, I was still filled with joy. It is you, little Mother, whom God has sent for me; it is you who brought me up, who had me enter Carmel. All the great graces of my life I have received through you. You speak the same words as God, and now I believe that God is very much content with me since you have said so."

May 26. Eve of the Ascension.

"This morning, during the procession, I was in the hermitage of St. Joseph, and I was looking out the window at the community in the garden. It was beautiful, this procession of religious in white mantles ; it made me think of the procession of virgins in heaven. At the turn in the chestnut walk, I saw you all half-hidden by the tall grass and the buttercups in the meadow. It was more and more delightful. But then among these religious, I saw one, the nicest of all, who was looking in my direction, who was bending over, giving me a smile of recognition. It was my little Mother! I recalled the dream immediately: the smile and the caresses of Mother Anne of Jesus" and the same impression of sweetness invaded me. I said to myself: This is the way in which the saints know me, love me, and smile upon me from above, inviting me to join them!

"Then the tears came. It has been many years since I cried as much as I did then. Ah! but these were tears of consolation!"

May 27. Ascension.

1.   "I really want a 'circular,' because I've always been of the opinion that I must pay for the Office of the Dead that each Carmelite nun will recite for me. I don't understand too well why there are those who don't want any circular; it's so sweet to know one another, and to know a little about those with whom we shall live for all eternity."

2.   "I haven't any misgivings whatsoever about the final struggles or sufferings of this sickness, no matter how great they may be. God has always come to my aid; He has helped me and led me by the hand from my childhood. I count upon Him. I'm sure He will continue to help me until the end. I may really become exhausted and worn out, but I shall never have too much to suffer; I'm sure of this."

3.   "I don't know when I will die, but I believe it will be soon ; I have many reasons for expecting it."

4.   "I don't want to die more than to live; that is, if I had the choice, " I would prefer to die. But since it's God who makes the choice for me, I prefer what He wills. It's what He does that I love."

5.   "Let no one believe that if I were to be cured it would throw me off my course or destroy my little plans. Not in the least ! Age means nothing in the eyes of God, and I'd manage to remain a little child, even were I to live for a long time."

6.   "I always see the good side of things. There are some who set about giving themselves the most trouble. For me, it's just the op­posite. If I have nothing but pure suffering, if the heavens are so black that I see no break in the clouds, well, I make this my joy ! I revel in it ! I did this during Papa's trials which made me more glorious than a queen."

7.   "Did you notice during the reading in the refectory, the letter ad­dressed to the mother of St. Louis de Gonzague, in which it was said of the Saint that had he lived to the age of Noah he would not have learned more or become more holy?"

She said this because of some remarks that were made about the

necessity of a long life in the service of God.

8.   With reference to her approaching death:

"I'm like a person who, having a lottery ticket, runs the chance of winning, more so than one who hasn't a ticket ; but still the person is not sure of obtaining a prize. So I have a ticket, my illness, and I can keep up my hopes!"

 

9.   "I recall a little neighbor at Les Buissonnets, aged three, hearing herself called by other children, said to her mother: 'Mamma, they want me! let me go, I beg you. . . . They want me!'

"Well, it appears to me that today the little angels are calling me, and I, like the little girl, say to you: 'Let me go, then, they want me! . . "I don't hear them, I feel them."

  1. 10."At the time when my departure for Tonkin was planned, around the month of November, you recall how we began a novena to Théophane Vénard in order to have a sign of God's will? At this time, I returned to all the community exercises, even Matins. Well ! during the novena precisely, I began to cough again, and since then I've gone from bad to worse. He's the one who's calling me. Oh! I would love to have his portrait; he's a soul that pleases me. St. Louis de Gonzague was serious, even during recreation, but Théophane Vénard was always cheerful.

At this time we were reading the life of St. Louis de Gonzague in the

refectory. [This is the same person as St. Aloysius Gonzaga.]

 

May 29.

"Pointes de feu" [a cauterizing remedy for tuberculosis, consisting of repeated puncturing of the skin with red-hot needles] applied for the second time. In the evening I was sad, and seeking consolation, I opened the Gospels in her presence. My eyes fell upon these words which I read to her: "He is risen; he is not here; see the place where they laid him. "

 

"Yes, that's really true! I am no longer, in fact, as I was in my childhood, open to every sorrow; I am as one risen; I am no longer in the place where they think I am. . . . Oh! don't be troubled about me, for I have come to a point where I cannot suffer any longer, because all suffering is sweet to me."

 

May 30.

  1. 1.On this day she received permission to confide to me her coughing up of blood on Good Friday, 1896. When I showed her how pained I was at not being told immediately, she consoled me as well as she could, writing me this note in the evening:

"Don't be troubled, dear little Mother, because your little girl seemed to have hidden something from you; for you know well enough, although she hid a little corner of the envelope, she has never hidden from you one single line of the letter. Who then knows better than you this little letter that you so much love? To others, I can show the envelope on all its sides, since they can see only this much; but to you! . . . Oh! little Mother, you know now, it was on Good Friday that Jesus began to tear a little the envelope of YOUR little letter; are you not happy that He is getting ready to read this letter you have been writing for twenty-four years? Ah! if you only knew how it will be able to speak of your love all through eternity!"

2.   "You will perhaps suffer very much before you die, ' ' I said:

           "Oh! don't worry about it; I have a great desire to suffer."

  1. 2."I don't know what I'll do in heaven without you!"

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The yellow notebook - April 1897

April 6, 1897

1.   "When we're misunderstood and judged unfavorably, what good does it do to defend or explain ourselves? Let the matter drop and say nothing. It's so much better to say nothing and allow others to judge us as they please! We don't see in the Gospel where Mary explained herself when her sister accused her of remaining at Jesus' feet, doing nothing! She didn't say: 'Oh, Martha, if you only knew the joy I am experiencing, if you only heard the words I hear! And besides, it's Jesus who told me to remain here.' No, she preferred to remain silent.

O blessed silence that gives so much peace to souls!"

2.   " 'Let the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God remain in our mouth and heart.' If we come in conflict with a disagreeable per­son, let us never grow discouraged or abandon her. Let us always have 'the sword of the Spirit' in our mouths in order to correct her faults. Don't allow the matter to pass over just for the sake of peace, but fight on even when there is no hope of gaining victory. What does it matter whether we're successful or not ? What God asks of us is not to give up the struggle because of our weariness, not to become discouraged saying: 'That's that! There's nothing to be gained here and she's to be left to herself!' Oh, this is only laziness, and we have to do our duty to the bitter end."

3.   "Ah! how we should never pass judgments on this earth. Here is something that happened to me during recreation a few months ago. It's an insignificant thing, but it taught me very much.

"The bell was rung twice, and since Procuratrix was absent, a third party was required to accompany Sister Thérèse of St. Augustine. It's usually tedious to serve as third party, but this time I was tempted because the large gate had to be opened to bring in some trees for the crib.

"Sister Marie of St. Joseph was at my side and I guessed she shared my childish desire. 'Who is coming as my companion?' asked Sister Thérèse of St. Augustine. I immediately began untying our apron, but I did this slowly so that Sister Marie of St. Joseph would be ready ahead of me and take the place, which is what happened. Then Sister Thérèse of St. Augustine said with a smile, looking at me: 'Well, it's Sister M. of St. J. who will have this pearl for her crown. You were going too slowly.' I answered simply with a smile and began my work again, saying to myself : Oh, my God, how different are Your judg­ments from those of men ! It's in this way we are so often mistaken in this life, taking for an imperfection in our sisters what is meritorious in Your sight!"

April 7

Allowing her to see my fears, I asked her what sort of death I would die. She answered with a very tender smile:

"God will sip you up like a little drop of dew."

April 18

1. She had just confided to me some painful humiliations some Sisters had given her :

"It is in this way that God gives me the means of remaining very lit­tle; however, this is exactly what is needed. I'm always happy, for I always manage in the midst of the tempest to preserve interior peace. If one tells me about her fights with the Sisters, I am careful not to work myself up against this or that Sister. I must, for example, while listening to her, be able to look out the window and enjoy interiorly the sight of the sky, the trees, etc. Understand ? Just now, during my struggle with regard to Sister X, I was watching with pleasure two beautiful magpies playing in the field, and I was as much at peace as if I were at prayer. I really fought with Sister, and I am very tired, but I don't fear the struggle. It is God's will that I fight right up until death. Oh! little Mother, pray for me!"

2. "When I pray for you, I don't say a 'Pater' or an 'Ave' for you, I say simply, lifting up my heart to God: 'O my God, grant my little Mother all kinds of good things; and if You can, love her even more.' "

3.   "I was still very little when Aunt gave me a story to read that sur­prised me very much. I saw where they were praising a boarding school teacher because she was able to extricate herself cleverly from certain situations without offending anyone. I took note above all of this statement: 'She said to this one: You're not wrong; to that one: You are right.' And I thought to myself: This is not good! This teacher should have had no fear and should have told her little girls that they were wrong when this was the truth.

"And even now I haven't changed my opinion. I've had a lot of trouble over it, I admit, for it's always so easy to place the blame on the absent, and this immediately calms the one who is complaining. Yes, but... it is just the contrary with me. If I'm not loved, that's just too bad! I tell the whole truth, and if anyone doesn't wish to know the

truth, let her not come looking for me."

4.   "We should never allow kindness to degenerate into weakness. When we have scolded someone with just reason, we must leave the matter there, without allowing ourselves to be touched to the point of tormenting ourselves for having caused pain or at seeing one suffer and cry. To run after the afflicted one to console her does more harm than good. Leaving her to herself forces her to have recourse to God

in order to see her faults and humble herself. Otherwise, accustomed to receiving consolation after a merited reprimand, she will always act, in the same circumstances, like a spoiled child, stamping her feet and crying until her mother comes to dry her tears."

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Last conversations with Celine - September 1897


September 3.

1.     I was standing in front of the fireplace, busied about my housework, and I was disturbed about something that wasn 't going the way I wanted. She said:

"Bobonne, no restlessness of spirit!"

2.     That same day, but not in the same circumstances, I said: "Creatures will not be able to know that we loved each other so much. " She answered:

"It's not worth desiring that creatures believe it; the important thing is that it's so."

Taking on a tone of assurance:

"Yes, but since both of us will be on God's two knees!" She had a delightful way of saying this "Yes, but!"


September 5.

1. "I shall protect you!"

 

2. I was very stingy with my Sundays, my free time when I was per­mitted to arrange my notes taken down in haste on scraps of paper. I said: "Today is a wasted Sunday; I've written nothing in our little notebook. "

"That's Lili's measure of things, but not Jesus'!

September 11.

1.    "Bobonne, you're no longer bobonne, you are my nurse . . . and you're taking care of a baby who is dying."

Turning towards the picture of her dear little Théophane Vénard, she said to him:

"Bobonne is taking good care of me, and as soon as I'm up there, we shall come looking for her together, right?"

2.    "I love my Bobonne very much, but very much . . . and when I am gone, I will come back to thank her for having taken good care of me."

3.    Looking at me tenderly:

". . . But I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you!'"

September 16.

1. I had just committed an imperfection when she said to me, her eyes wide open:

"You will be there at my side just the same!'

   

2.     Touched to tears because of the attention I was giving her, she said:

"Oh, how grateful I am to my poor little Bobonne! You will see all I'll do for you!"

 

3.        I feared she was cold, and I said: "I'm going to get you a little 'consolation. ' " But she replied:

"No, you are my consolation."

The "consolations" were little pieces of wool which were given out with the winter clothing.

 

September 19.

"My Bobonne is sweet, she takes good care of me. ... I will pay her back for all this!"

 

September 21.

To love you, you have me . . . and not to love you, it isn't God! . . . it's the devil."

September 23.

"You don't have to understand, you're too little."

She meant I didn't have to understand what God was doing in me.

September 25.

"I'm going to die, it's certain. ... I don't know when, but it's certain!"

 

September 26.

1.    I said to her one day: "You will look at us from up there in heaven, right?" She replied spontaneously:

' 'No, I shall come down ! ' '

 

2.        I arose several times during the night, in spite of her objections. On one of these visits I saw my dear little sister with hands joined and eyes raised to heaven: "What are you doing? You should try to sleep. "

"I can't sleep, I'm suffering too much, so I am praying." "And what are you saying to Jesus?"

"I say nothing to Him, I love Him!"

3.    On one of the last days of her life, in a moment of great suffering, she begged me:

"Oh! little Sister Geneviève, pray to the Blessed Virgin for me. I would pray so much to her if you were sick! One dares not ask for oneself." She sighed once more, saying:

"Oh! how necessary it is to pray for the agonizing! If you only knew!"

All these words and the greater part of those written down by Mother Agnes of Jesus I heard, and it was because I'd seen her take them down that I didn't do so myself. I was witness to everything, ex­cept the words spoken when I was at the Hours of the Divine Office.

Mother Agnes was with her alone.

September 27.

' 'O Bobonne ! I have a great tenderness for you in my heart ! ' '

 

September 30.

This was the last day of my dear little Thérèse 's exile. On the day of her death, in the afternoon, Mother Agnes of Jesus and I were with her, and our dear little Saint called us over to help her. She was suf­fering extremely in all her muscles, and, placing one arm on Mother Agnes' shoulder and the other on mine, she remained thus her arms in the form of a cross. At that very moment, three o'clock sounded, and the thought of Jesus on the Cross came to our mind: was not our poor little martyr a living image of Him ?

We had asked her: "Who will receive your last look?" She had an­swered a few days before her death: "If God leaves me free, it will be for Mother Prioress. " (Mother Marie de Gonzague.)

During her final agony, a few moments before she expired, I was passing a little piece of ice over her burning lips, and at this moment she lifted her eyes to me and looked at me with prophetic insistence. Her look was filled with tenderness, and there was in it a superhuman expression of encouragement and promise as though she were saying to me:

"Go, go! Céline, I shall be with you!"

Did God reveal to her the long and laborious career I was to carry out here on earth for her sake, and did He will through this look to console me in my exile? For the memory of that last look, so much desired by all and given to me, sustains me always and is an inex­pressible strength for me.

The community was in suspense in the presence of this great scene; but suddenly our dear little Saint lowered her eyes in search of Mother Prioress, who was kneeling by her side, and her look took on again the

expression of suffering it had before.

September 30, 1897. Last words of St. Thérèse.

"Oh! it's pure suffering because there isn't any consolation in it. No, not one!

"O my God! I love God, however. . . . O good Blessed Virgin, come to my aid!

"If this is the agony, what is death? . . ." "O Mother, I assure you, the cup is filled to the brim!"

"Yes, my God, as much as You will . . . but have pity on me! Little sisters . . . little sisters . . . My God, my God, have pity on me!"

"I am ... I am reduced. . . . No, I would have never believed one could suffer so much . . . never, never!"

"O Mother, I no longer believe in death for me. ... I believe only in suffering!"

"Tomorrow, it will be still worse! Well, so much the better!"

In the evening, Mother Prioress had just dismissed the community, saying that the agony would be prolonged a little more, and the saintly little patient replied immediately:

"Well, all right! all right! oh! I wouldn't want to suffer less! . . ."

"Oh! I love Him. . . ."

"My God . . . I . . . love You!"

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Last conversations with Celine - August 1897

 

August 3.

"You are very little; remember that and when one is very little, one doesn't have beautiful thoughts."

August 4.

1. The first years of my religious life made me witness a real destruc­tion of my natural tendencies; I saw nothing but ruins around me, and I frequently complained about it. During one of these sessions, I heard her sing:

Bobonne, imperfect on earth You will be perfect in heaven!

This was sung according to the tune of a hymn to St. Joseph:

Joseph, unknown on earth

How great you are in heaven!

2.     To relieve a pain my sister was suffering in her right shoulder and arm, I devised a large sling from folded linen cloths, attaching it to the ceiling directly above her bed. Her arm was suspended in the air; she wasn't able to make much use of it, but she expressed her gratitude tenderly:

"God will also make slings for Bobonne!"

 

Interrupting a conversation, I said sadly, thinking of her death: "I'll not be able to live without her !"

She answered quickly :

"That's right; so I'll bring you two wings!"

[Translator's note: There is a play on the two French words: "elle" and "ailes" which have exactly the same sound. Céline said: "Moi, je ne saurai pas vivre sans elle!" Thérèse answers: "Vous avez bien raison, aussi je vous en apporterai deux!" (ailes)]

 

4.        When I was alone with Thérèse one day, I said to her: "You ex­pect a delightful little bird like you to develop from a sparrow's egg; it's impossible!"

"Yes, but I'll perform a trick to amuse the saints. I'll take the little egg and I'll say to the saints: 'Look, I'm going to do a magic trick.'

'Here is a little sparrow's egg; well, I'm going to make a pretty little bird like me come out of it!'

"Then I'll say in a whisper to God, presenting Him my little egg: 'Change the nature of the little bird by breathing over it.' Then, when He has returned it to me, I'll ask the Blessed Virgin to kiss it. Finally, I'll give it to St. Joseph and beg him to touch it. Then I'll say aloud to all the saints:

'All of you say that you love as much as I do the little bird that is about to come out of the egg!'

"Immediately all the saints will cry out: 'We love as much as you do the little bird that is about to come out of the egg! '

"Then, triumphantly, I will break the egg and a pretty little bird will come out and place itself at my side on God's knees, and all the saints will be filled with joy when they hear the two little birds singing."

August 5.

1. On the passage of the Gospel: "Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left”

"We carry out our little business together; I will see that you cannot grind the wheat all alone, and so I will come and get you. Watch, therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.'

She often reminded me that we were two partners. What does it matter if one is incapable? From the moment they decide not to separate from each other they will both one day share in the profits.

In her comparison of the little bird in the cloister awaiting the Divine Eagle, never ceasing to look upon Him as a magnet, my dear little Thérèse always told me that she never imagined herself alone, but that there were two little birds.

 

2.     She tried to teach me poverty of spirit and heart by words like this:

"Bobonne must keep herself in her position; she must not try to be a great lady, never!"

And because I still had to recite a Little Hour of my Office, she said:

"Go and recite None. And remember that you are a very little

none [nun], the last of the nones!"

3.     "You're going to leave me!" I said: "Oh! not for the space of an inch!"

Resuming my usual theme, I said: "Do you believe I can still hope to be with you in heaven? This seems impossible to me. It's like ex­pecting a cripple with one arm to climb to the top of a greased pole to fetch an object. "

"Yes, but if there's a giant there who picks up the little cripple in his arms, raises him high, and gives him the object desired!

"This is exactly what God will do for you, but you must not be preoccupied about the matter; you must say to God: 'I know very well that I'll never be worthy of what I hope for, but I hold out my hand to You like a beggar and I'm sure You will answer me fully, for You are so good!' "

August 8.

I said: "If when you are gone, they write your little life, I myself would rather be gone before they do so. Do you believe it?" "Yes, I believe it, but you must not lose patience; look at how

patient I am. You will have to act like that."

August.

1. My little sister tried in our meetings with one another to detach me from myself, and she compared our life to that of two little children represented in a picture. She went along, detached from everything, wearing only a tunic and holding nothing in her hands except her little sister whom she was leading by the hand. The latter resisted; she wan­ted to gather flowers although she was already burdened with a huge bouquet.

2.   One day she told me this little story:

"Once there was a 'demoiselle' who possessed the riches of this world and was greatly attached to them.

"She had a little brother who possessed nothing and yet had everything in abundance. This little child fell sick, and he said to his sister: 'Demoiselle, if you wish to cast into the fire all your riches which serve only to disturb you, you will become my 'bobonne,' casting aside your title of 'demoiselle'. And when I shall be in the delightful country to which I must soon go, I will return to get you because you will have lived poor like me, without worrying about tomorrow.

"The 'demoiselle' understood that her little brother was right. She became poor like him, made herself his servant and was no longer tor­mented by the desire for the perishable riches which she had cast into the fire.

"Her little brother kept his word: he came to get her when he was in the delightful country where God is King and the Blessed Virgin is Queen, and both of them will live eternally on God's knees; it's the place they chose because, being too poor, they had not been able to merit thrones."

3.   On another occasion, making allusion again to the picture of the two children, along with the mistress of a home who was lacking in nothing, she said:

'A very rich 'demoiselle': many rosebuds, many songbirds at her ear, a skirt, a set of kitchen utensils, little parcels."

This was taken from a passage she had read where the author praised her hero, Théophane Vénard: "He had a rosebud on his lips and a songbird at his ear”.

 

4.    One night when she saw me taking off my habit she was filled with pity at the shabbiness of our clothes and, using a comical expression she had heard, she exclaimed:

"Pauvre-Pauvre! how poor you are! But you will not always be like this, let me assure you ! "

Pauvre-Pauvre (poor thing) was a nickname Thérèse had given her sister Céline.

5.    "When I am in heaven, I'll draw from God's treasures and I'll say:

'This is for Marie, this for Pauline, this for Léonie, and this for the very little Céline.' And making a sign to Papa: 'She's the littlest now, so we must hasten to get her!' "

6.    She told me this dream she had before her sickness :

"You were at the seashore with two persons whom I didn't know. One of them suggested a ride, but they were very stingy, and they said they should rent a lamb instead of a donkey in order that all three get on it together. But when you saw it burdened with these two persons, you said you would walk.

"The poor lamb went all along the hedges until it could take no more, and soon it fell down exhausted by its burden.

"Then, at the turn in the road, a delightful little white lamb came to you and offered its services. You understood then that it would sustain you during life's journey; then the little lamb added: 'You know that I want to breathe within you.'

"Afterwards, I understood that this was a reward for the love you had for these two persons, supporting them without any complaint. It's because of this that Jesus Himself came and gave Himself to you."

August 16.

When I rose early this morning, I found my dear little sister pale and disfigured by suffering and anguish. She said:

"The devil is around me; I don't see him but I feel him. He is tor­menting me; he is holding me with an iron hand to prevent me from taking the slightest relief; he is increasing my pains in order to make me despair. And I can no longer pray! I can only look at the Blessed Virgin and say: 'Jesus!' How necessary is that prayer at Compline: 'Procul recedant omnia et noctium phantasmata!' Deliver us from the phantoms of the night.

"I experience something mysterious. Until now, I've suffered especially in my right side, but God asked me if I wanted to suffer for you, and I immediately answered that I did. At the same instant, my left side was seized with an incredible pain. I'm suffering for you, and the devil doesn't want it!"

Deeply moved, I lighted a blessed candle and calm was restored shortly afterward, without, however, her new physical suffering being taken away from her.

Since then she has called her right side: "Thérèse's side," and her left, "Céline's side."

                                                                     

August 20.

"Oh! yes, I'll come to get you, because you look so heavenly when you're good."

* * *

August 21.

"When I say: 'I'm suffering,' you answer: 'All the better!' I don't have the strength, so you complete what I want to say."

Her breathing at this moment was very bad, and to help her breathe, she was saying over and over again: "I'm suffering, I'm suf­fering. ..." But soon she reproached herself as though it were a

complaint, and she told me to say what I've written.

August 22.

"Little Demoiselle? I love you very much and it's very sweet for me to be taken care of by you. ' ' She had called me over to tell me this.

 

August 24.

We were talking a sort of childish prattle which the others were unable to grasp. Sister St. Stanislaus, the first infirmarian, said ad­miringly: "How charming these two little girls are with their unin­telligible jargon!"

Later I said to Thérèse: "Yes, how charming we both are, but you're the only one that is charming; I am only charming when I'm in your company!"

She answered immediately :

"That's exactly why I'll come and get you!'"

August 31.

"Bobonne, I love you very much!"

 

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Last conversations with Celine - July 1897


July 12.

1.    In the middle of the conversation, little Thérèse stopped suddenly and looked at me with sympathy and tenderness, saying:

"Ah! my little Sister Geneviève will feel my departure the most; cer­tainly, she's the one I pity the most because as soon as she is in trouble she comes looking for me, and she will no longer find me. . . . Yes, God will give her strength . . . and besides, I'll come back!" Speaking to me directly:

"I will come back to get you as soon as possible, and I'll have Papa join me; you know how he was always in a great hurry."*

2.    Later on, while I was carrying out my duties as infirmarian, talking constantly about our coming separation, she hummed the following verse that she composed according to the tune of: "Il est à moi":

"She is mine, she whom heaven itself, The entire heaven has come to delight me. She is mine, I love her, oh! yes, I love her

And nothing can ever separate us."

3.    I said: "God will not be able to take me immediately after your death because I won't be good enough. " She replied:

"It makes no difference; you remember St. Joseph Cupertino, his intelligence was mediocre, and he was uninstructed, knowing perfectly only this verse of the Gospel: Beatus venter qui te portavit.' Questioned precisely on this subject, he answered so well that all were in admiration, and he was received with great honors for the priesthood, along with his three companions, without any further examination. For they judged after hearing his sublime answers that his companions knew as perfectly as he did.

"Thus I will answer for you, and God will give you gratis all He will have already given to me."

4. That same day, while I was coming and going in the infirmary, she said:

   "My little Valerian."

She sometimes compared our union to that of St. Cecilia and Valerian.

 

July (no date)

1. Reflections like the following came spontaneously to her when she looked at me:

"We will be like two little ducks; you know how closely they follow each other!"

"How sad I would be if I were to see anyone but you on God's other knee; I would cry all day long!"

My little Thérèse was struck by the passage in the Gospel where Jesus refused to the two sons of Zebedee the privilege of standing at His right and left hand in the kingdom of heaven. She said: "I think that this place has been reserved to little children." She hoped that these two privileged children would be herself and I. This explains my repeated fears of being unworthy of this favor.

The grace of "Haec facta est mihi. . . . " came about three weeks after her death in answer to a question I had interiorly formulated during the recitation of Tierce: My little Thérèse hasn't told me whether she received the place she wanted, sitting on God's knees? At that precise moment, the choir was reciting: "Haec facta est mihi... ." I did not understand what these words meant, and 1went in search of a translation immediately after the Divine Office was completed. "Haec facta est mihi" means: "This has been done to me."

2.   I told her I would go crazy after I lost her. She answered:

"If you're crazy, Bobonne, the "Bon-Sauveur' will come to get you!"

Bobonne was a nickname she had given me with the Prioress' per­mission because I used it, and since she had to call upon me con­stantly, this was easier to pronounce than my own name.

3.   Seeing Mother Agnes writing down all the beautiful words of our Angel, while I was hastily writing down only those pertaining to me personally, I expressed my regret at not writing everything: "I don't act like the others; I don't take any notes of what you 're saying. " She answered:

"You won't need any; I'll come and get you."

During the month of June, before she had been taken down to the infirmary, one day when she saw how sad I was over her approaching death, she addressed the Child Jesus, holding up her finger as though teaching Him a lesson, and she said:

"Little Jesus, if You take me away, You must also take Mademoiselle Lili. This is my condition, so You must think over well what You are about to do. There's no middle course. Take it or leave it!"

 

4.   On July 22, I wrote to Aunt, Mme. Guérin: "The other day I was reading a passage on the happiness of heaven to my little patient, and she interrupted me, saying:

"That's not what attracts me. . . ." " What then?" I asked:

"Oh! it's Love! To love, to be loved, and to return to the earth to make love loved. . . ."

5.   She had coughed up blood during the night. Very joyful, with her childish gestures, she was showing me the saucer'' from time to time. Often she pointed to its rim with a sad little look that meant 'I would have liked it to be up to there!" I answered:

"Oh! it makes no difference whether it was little or much, the in­cident itself is a sign of your death, "and I added: "You are more for­tunate then I, I haven't any sign of my own!" She said:

"Oh! yes, you have a sign! My death is a sign of yours!"

July 21.

While I was carrying out my duties in the infirmary, tidying up the room, she was following me with her eyes, and she broke the silence suddenly by making this unexpected statement: "In heaven, you will take your place at my side!" Later on, quoting from a beautiful poem on Louis X VII:You will come very soon with me ... to rock the child who is weeping And in their flaming abode To rejuvenate the stars with a luminous breath.


"And then I'll place on you the sky-blue wings of a rosy cherub. I'll attach them myself, for you will not know how; you would put them too low or too high!"

July 24.

1.    She knew a lot of little stories and remembered many little details which she made use of upon occasion, making her conversations both lively and imaginative:

"You're a soul of good will, have no fear of anything, for you have a little 'dog' who will save you from all dangers."

She was making reference here to something the devil had said to Father Surin during an exorcism: "I've reached the end of my rope, and there's only this dog of good will against whom I can do nothing. "

2.    I was telling her: "You are my ideal, and this ideal I cannot at­tain. Oh! it's so cruel! It seems to me I don't have what it takes; I'm like a little child who has no idea of distance: in its mother's arms, it reaches out its hand to grab the curtain, some object... it doesn 't realize these things are too far away!"

"Yes, but on the last day, Jesus will approach His little Céline with all she has desired, and then she'll seize everything."

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