Print

From sr Genevieve (Celine) to sr Francoise-Therese (Leonie) - August 8, 1920

From sr Genevieve (Celine) to sr Francoise-Therese (Leonie) - August 8, 1920

+ Jesus                                                                            Carmel of Lisieux

                                                                                        8th August 1920
                                                                                                                  

Darling little sister,

Your feast day wishes touched me deeply. Your little letter is here beside me, emanating a sweet spiritual scent of spring, being filled with flowers from your flowerbed. They speak volumes to my heart. Oh, little Léonie is very sweet, too. God has showered her with His choice graces. She is a queen in the spiritual order and our little Thérèse must be proud of the work she has done in her soul.

Yes, I realise now that she was right to leave us to ripen on earth. If dying young has its charms in our earthly eyes, then dying on the threshold of old age has more charms in the eyes of God, in the common order of things. I say this because although He can make exceptions, usually we acquire something more valuable from experiencing life. Dom Guéranger says somewhere: “It is during our time on earth that we must form the union whose stability we will enjoy for eternity. The economy of the divine plan is such that, for all things, the age to come has its roots in the present age and is nothing but the revelation, in the light of glory, of the ineffable realities that are established here below through grace.”  

Oh, then grace continues to sow ineffable realities in us. May our exile be prolonged if necessary; it’s worth it if it means that the soil in our souls will receive more seeds as a result of the wait. I could wait for eternity!

Little sister, this proves that, although God desired to give us the same graces as our little Thérèse, He did not wish to give them to us all at once, as He did to her. Instead, He gives them to us little by little, gradually, because this is in the usual, common order of things. Exceptions are quite rare. There is more fruit in late autumn than in spring.

Yet life goes by so quickly that we mustn’t view it in the same way as God does. The other day I did a calculation that astonished us all. We couldn’t believe it. It is this:

It takes only 60 people having lived for 100 years for the 1st to have seen the creation of Adam. Out of 120 people having lived for 50 years (like us), the 1st will have lived on Paradise on Earth and it takes only 240 people having lived for 25 years for the 1st to have been created at the same time as Adam! Can you believe it? And yet it’s true. Oh, time is nothing; nothing at all.

But that’s enough about that. Perhaps I’m boring you. Firstly I’m going to reply to your question concerning Mamma’s date of birth; it was 23rd December 1831. Papa was born on 22nd August 1823.

Concerning my painting of Thérèse taking her last breath, here are a few details that will interest you: Mgr de Teil was supposed to give the Pope a small frame containing the painting’s photograph. He wasn’t able to have an audience and left the little parcel with the His Holiness’ Chamberlain. We therefore thought we’d never hear of it again, but the Holy Father sent us news by telling two different people, one of whom was the Postulator, that he had received the portrait of our little saint with great joy. It was Mgr Sanz de Semper who was tasked with delivering the message.

Then, from Paris, Mgr de Teil sent an unframed photograph to Cardinal Vico, who immediately wrote to our Mother and Mgr de Teil to thank them. The Cardinal is delighted. He says it’s a vision of heaven, one that is destined to do much good. He calls it a veritable ministry. The Postulator said it was “Heavenly”. In short, it is clear that the portrait is much appreciated in Rome. No one was supposed to hear mention of it. It’s true that seeing saints die can inspire faith in the life to come.

As for our building work, it is progressing dreadfully slowly. And yet, the construction site has been a bit busier over the past few days, but only a tiny bit. However, we are less worried about it now that we have dear Mr Ménage from Caen looking out for our interests. He comes to visit the construction site twice a week. Mr Tardy, who is from Caen, is also very devoted to us. Our Mother and I go outside when necessary. Sr Marie of the Sacred Heart hasn’t yet ventured out because walking amid the rubble is too difficult.  

What a long letter this is! Are you pleased with your little Céline? I send you all my love.

Sr Geneviève of the Holy Face u.c.n. 

Jeanne deeply admires the painting as well!!! Times have changed.

P.S. I don’t know whether you heard, but when Jeanne wanted to go and see you about 2 weeks ago, she had a lapse of concentration on the train and instead of going to Caen, she was taken to Alençon! There, she stayed the night at Mrs Grant’s house. Mrs Grant wrote to us saying that, when she looked round the house, Jeanne said to herself, thoughtfully, “It wasn’t so difficult.” [Jeanne is talking about the house that she hadn’t wanted to cede to the Martin sisters.] Poor Mgr de Teil had a fall and hurt his shin. He’s in hospital. He is thanking Sr Thérèse that he didn’t break his leg.