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From sr Genevieve (Celine) to Jeanne La Neele – December 6, 1926

From sr Genevieve (Celine) to Jeanne La Neele – December 6, 1926

+ Carmel of Lisieux, 6th Xber [December] 1926

             J.M.J.T. [Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Teresa]

           Dear little Jeanne,

We thank you kindly for the tins you sent for the feast of the Immaculate Conception. It reminds us of the good old days when your name is spoken in the refectory in front of your displayed offerings.

   It always used to be our family that had pride of place by going out of its way to help us. Now our dear relatives are in a better place and other families have come forward to help the monastery morally and also physically through the giving of small gifts. Such is life. Ah, when you live to a certain age, your path becomes strewn with ruins, but there is a certain nobility in growing old.

   Dear little sister, I didn’t know that I was going to say these things, but it is lovely pouring out one’s heart and thoughts to someone one loves, especially when that someone is the only family member left and is the focus of all the affection that was shared among everyone.

Yet I’ll come to the point of my letter:

Concerning the page of writing, it was indeed written by Thérèse, but it looks messy because it has been badly cut and stuck back together. The document shouldn’t be displayed as a relic, but kept with her other school documents. We cannot and ought not to display everything.

   Recently someone tactlessly revealed a letter written by the holy Curate of Ars, a letter that shouldn’t have come to light because it disparages its author in a way. This person was criticised. Little Jeanne, you will understand that, in light of our saint’s popularity and greatness, we must be all the more circumspect.

We don’t recall having given this page of writing to either you or to our uncle. If you should happen upon other pieces of writing, schoolbooks, etc., we’d be very grateful if you would send them to us. You know that when we were young and our family nest was destroyed by a storm, another home lovingly sheltered us. We took all our belongings with us. Then we joined the convent, but our belongings, whatever they may be, remain ours and when you find them (through God’s mercy, even the smallest have increased in value now) we’re relying on you to send them back to us. I beg of you, little sister, don’t fail in this duty.

You know that your kindness is your enemy. You let yourself be tricked and wheedled. You’ve admitted it. It is therefore wise not to keep too many things! It shouldn’t matter to you, for you’ll soon be in heaven, and so will we. It is better that we get along and render little services to one another while we’re on the same path here below.

What can I say? Now that our Saint is so great, it is inconceivable (people who visited your house have told us so) that such precious relics as the framed locks of hair be kept in a private house.

Our Thérèse has overtaken the family, as it were, and just as the Pope’s niece no longer refers to him as “my Uncle” but “the Holy Father”, so our saint’s keepsakes are no longer merely family keepsakes, but relics, and therefore have their place elsewhere than in a bedroom or living-room. Little Jeanne, we’re not requesting that you give them to us in your lifetime, but ask that, on the back of your will, you clearly specify which objects are “to be returned to the Carmel” once you’re gone. It’s very important and your duty to do so. The rosary is an example.

   Our Mother is offering to send your letters back to you. She was going to enclose them with mine, but she asks for another few days to go over the notes with Laveille publishers. Your address was already on the little parcel.

With love, darling little sister, from the very bottom of your little sister’s heart

                                                                 Sr Geneviève of the Holy Face, u.c.n