From sr Genevieve (Celine) to sr Francoise-Therese (Leonie) - June 28-29, 1914

From sr Genevieve (Celine) to sr Francoise-Therese (Leonie) - June 28-29, 1914

+ Jesus                                         28th – 29th June 1914

Darling little sister,

This time, I’m taking a large sheet of paper because I have many things to tell you and I’ve reserved myself a bit of time.

We’ve had some magnificent celebrations. The fact that they were private celebrations didn’t make them any less delightful. As it is forbidden to hold religious ceremonies to mark the Introduction of a Cause, we chose the feast of the Sacred Heart to express our joy. This solemnity was therefore celebrated in kingly fashion this year here at the Carmel. His Lordship celebrated Mass and gave the evening benediction. He was accompanied by all the members of the clergy from Lisieux and the surrounding area, which amounted to thirty or so priests. With his Lordship, they attended a banquet at the home of the parish priest of St Jacques’ church. The table was covered with white roses. Our Mother had written out menus and decorated them with portraits of our little saint. Everyone says that there has never been such a sumptuous gathering. Afterwards, the gentlemen entered the monastery enclosure to visit the places sanctified by our angel’s passage. They left full of enthusiasm, and will remember it their whole lives. His Lordship was very proud. At the meeting in the community room, his Lordship addressed a kind word to all the members of the Court, Monsignor de Teil, and Mgrs Quirié, Dubosq and Deslandes, who were present. – To entertain the audience, the novices recited the pious play in verse about “the little way” that Mother Sub-Prioress wrote. In short, everything was blissful.

Our Mother had asked his Lordship not to identify Sr Marie of the Sacred Heart and myself, so we had peace and quiet in our anonymity. This was between 3 and 5 o’clock. At the benediction, before a crowd in the chapel, the orchestra from St Pierre’s church played as though for a morning Mass. His Lordship even preached about the Sacred Heart. Those present therefore didn’t know the real reason for this unusual celebration. They no doubt attributed it to the Bishop’s presence. After the benediction, the choir sang the song asking for Thérèse’s beatification, and then his Lordship said the prayer for her beatification at the foot of the altar.  

Inside the monastery, everything was transformed. There were garlands of greenery, hanging baskets of roses, wall hangings, and strings of lights that glittered in the sunlight like diamond necklaces.

In the refectory, we had an extraordinary feast. There were cloths on the tables and the cutlery included . . . forks! We had drinking glasses instead of tumblers, etc., etc. Our other Carmelite monasteries held celebrations too. Several put bunting out in their cloisters, held processions triumphantly carrying a large portrait of Thérèse, hung Chinese lanterns in their refectories, etc. But their celebrations weren’t as wonderful as here. I myself felt as though transported into another world. It was like a joyful jamboree. Every yolk had been lifted from our shoulders, although it was a Holy Yolk, and one that we were very willing to take up again! There was also gold lettering everywhere, but I’ll stop there otherwise I’ll still be describing everything tomorrow and it is imperative that my letter, which I began yesterday, leaves this evening.

Upon his return from Rome, Mgr de Teil gave us a few instructions concerning the upcoming trial. It will be the Process of Virtues. It must be proven that they were heroic. As her reputation for holiness has been established, (it was this that led to the Introduction of the Cause), her holiness will feature much less in the coming trial than it did in the last. One of the points we’ll have to work on, and on which we’ll be questioned, will be proving that Thérèse wasn’t spoiled at home and that, despite being called “Little Queen”, she wasn’t a little idol. I myself won’t be at a loss for words.  

Now, before finishing my long letter, I want to announce that you are going to receive the Life of Thérèse for children. I must tell you that it’s important not to be “nitpicky”, as they say, when you judge it. Look instead at it as a whole. It’s impossible for pen drawings such as these to be irreproachable and, despite all our goodwill and corrections, we weren’t able to do better. Nothing is perfect on earth and the defects are very apparent to us, but we have to put up with them since we can’t do anything about them. There is therefore absolutely no use in you making comments that could hurt us. They would be unhelpful, because we cannot do any better. Even though he is very meticulous, the book’s author told us that the pictures were very tasteful and our Sisters here are delighted with them. It would be ridiculous to seek to reproduce reality in pen drawings. You must judge them as strangers would and not expect to see family portraits.  

I’m going to say goodbye now, little Léonie. I thought of you on 3rd June. You can wait until someone comes to Lisieux to send back the plans.

I send you lots of kisses, and all my love, and you know how strong and deep that is. I offer my affectionate respects to your Mothers.

Sr Geneviève of St Teresa