From sr Genevieve (Celine) to sr Francoise-Therese (Leonie) - October 1, 1899

From sr Genevieve (Celine) to sr Francoise-Therese (Leonie) - October 1, 1899

 + Jesus J.M.J.T. 1st October 1899

Darling Léonie

I’m taking a large sheet of paper to write to you because I have much to tell you and also several messages to deliver. This way, you won’t reproach me for not giving them to you! I’m being mean, because I know you wouldn’t reproach me, but my heart would, so I’ll avoid giving it cause for discontent.

First I’m going to reply to your kind letter and tell you how much pleasure it brought us. Seeing you so very happy warms our hearts and fills us with great joy. Our gratitude to God, little Thérèse, and your matchless Mothers is therefore boundless. Oh, thank them on our behalf for helping you reach success!

In reply to your question, although we can raise our eyes in the cloisters, I should tell you that our rules advise us to keep them lowered. We never raise them when the community is in ranks, for either processions or going to the Chapter or refectory. When we go to and from the house on our own, we must have a very reverent attitude, keeping our hands beneath the scapular unless carrying things prevents us. Our eyes must be modestly lowered but we’re not completely restricted. For example, we can cast a glance at the flowers in the meadow, or look at the sky for an instant. We should greet the Sisters we pass, but not turn to look at them, and never stare curiously. In short, we should always have a modest and reverent conduct.

Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart misled you and made us laugh when she told you that in Holy Week our discipline [self-flagellation] lasted only the time to say two ‘Misereres’. Add one more, plus meditation. I will add, and this should amuse you, that in the novitiate we once calculated how many whip lashes we took a year. I’ll give you an idea. If there are 300 lashes per Miserere, which is the minimum (Thérèse took as many as 370, or even 400. I think that’s the maximum). If, as I was saying, there are 300 per Miserere, we take 66,000 a year, not counting disciplines of grace or devotion. As you can see, we’re accustomed to it, and, as it has become second nature, there’s not much merit in it. Imitate us if you wish, then you’ll see I’m right.

I’m almost ashamed to have given you these details, but I did it for your amusement. We also calculated how many times we kissed the ground, but I can’t remember now. All I know is that it’s a spectacular number.

Talking of the novitiate, I almost forgot to tell you that Sr Marie of the Trinity and I left it on 3rd May. I joined it on the feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross and left it on the day of the Invention of the True Cross. However, that doesn’t mean I’m a Chapter member, as a 3rd Sister couldn’t be admitted. I’m very happy about this, I assure you, and take the opportunity to whisper to God, “You can see there is no room for me!” I hope He will take pity on me and at last come for me.

Continuing on the subject of the Novitiate, I have some news. A novice joined yesterday, on the 30th. She is a young postulant of 41 with grey hair and she looks 60. She’s English. Yet she’s young at heart and in mind. She is an elite soul, and is very educated and very intelligent. She knows 4 languages and comes from England although she’s of Irish origin. So you can see that she isn’t extremely rich in terms of earthly goods, but her abilities, gentleness, humility and virtues are worth infinitely more than physical assets. In short, we’re very pleased. Her name is Sister Anne of Jesus, in memory of our little Thérèse who developed a great devotion to the Venerable Mother after she appeared to her in a dream.

You’ll also be pleased to hear that the Rev. Father General of the Carmelites wrote to us from Rome to congratulate us on the book. He has no reservations. He is delighted and would like to see “the book translated into every language.” His letter will be printed in the next edition (2,000 copies of the second edition have already been sold. I’m told it’s marvelous for the holidays, because it’s the quiet season).

Coming back to the subject of the Rev. Fr General, we sent him a charming little white silk case containing one of the pens that Thérèse used to write her manuscript, and a lock of hair. This time it was the Rev. Fr General’s secretary who replied. Among other things, he said that just as the Fr General was opening the sweet little box, the Postulator for the Causes of Saints came into the room and said that the objects would be much better off in the Postulation Department, so the Fr General had to give them up. The Secretary added that everyone sincerely hopes that “our little saint” will soon be raised to the altars. You see, they call her “their little saint”.

We’re going to send Cardinal X., whose name I can’t remember [Gotti] but he is our former General (it is said he will succeed Leon XIII), we’re going to send him a magnificently bound book, and another, even more beautiful book to give to our Holy Father the Pope. (All this is secret and mustn’t leave your community.) We’re telling you all this so that you and your kind Mothers might help us to praise God and pray that His will might be done.

We are still receiving more and more letters from all over the world recounting graces and requesting objects etc. This is very comforting because it shows that God is becoming better loved and better understood. And to achieve His goal, He is borrowing the voice of a child, the voice of our own little sister. At times I can hardly believe it and my gratitude is boundless. Ah, we’ll have to be very holy in order to respond to all these graces. Personally, I feel we must not be self-seeking in anything we do. It is what God asks of us, because as soon as we begin pursuing our own interests, we immediately stop loving. Oh, it’s certainly not bloodying the whips that counts, but denying ourselves in the smallest instance. I’d like to say much more to you about this, but it’s pointless, as Thérèse who practiced self-denial so well must be instructing you inwardly, just as she is instructing us.

Before I finish, there’s another little thing you’ll be pleased to hear: with the money you gave us when you left, we’re going to embroider a tabernacle veil from the fabric of the dress I wore to take the Habit, and I’m going to paint some lovely motifs on it. Without you, we would never have gone to this expense, so you see how precious your keepsake will be to us, and it will be a gift from you to Jesus in the Eucharist. With the rest of the money, we might buy a mould for making altar bread, which is also very pious use for it.

Darling little sister, I’ll leave you by sending you lots of love from me, our Mother and our sisters. Your little sister in the Heart of Jesus

Geneviève of St Teresa u.c.n.

Do pray for our retreat, which begins on Saturday. It, too, will be led by a Jesuit priest.

Our affectionate respects to your dear Mothers.