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Preface to the first edition of Story of a Soul

by Mother Marie de Gonzague, prioress

 

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If we are asked why we have lifted the mysterious veil that should cover here below this unknown existence of a humble Carmelite, we say it simply.

Knowing this privileged soul from childhood, and having seen her grow daily in wisdom and grace, we asked her to write down the mercies of the Lord for her. We never had an afterthought; we were only thinking of our personal edification.

But browsing this precious manuscript which is revealed on every page, in every line, the most ardent piety, love of the cross, zeal for souls, doubt was not possible; this treasure, providentially collected by us, could not be hidden without profanation in the land of forgetfulness; a brilliant lamp could be put under a bushel.

This humble child, this little grain of sand - following her expression speaking of herself - it was our duty to show her as she is, that is to say, a rare and precious diamond, a bright star, a bright flame of love.

Alas! We were not thinking of launching so quickly into the world that burning flame, which only went about a moment among the reeds of this life ... Sister Therese of the Child Jesus had reached her twenty-third year and the eighth of her religious life, when her health gave us suddenly serious concerns; which, however, did not steal from us the hope of keeping her a long time yet in our community. We are accustomed to calling her in secret: the pearl, the treasure and hope.

Already, despite her youth, care of the novices was entrusted to her; but the white lilies of the virginal soul had flourished from the first days of a bright spring; the cluster was mature before ordinary harvest time. And the Lord ... he leaned gently down and plucked the fragrant flower; he detached without effort his bitter tendril of exile, seeing her completely golden with fires of Divine Love.

O gracious vision of heaven! May you now console, rejoice and delight many hearts! You knew, we can be convinced, the austere way of the cross; you have dipped your lips in the chalice of trials, and yet you knew to do nothing but sing and smile as always! Teach souls your childlike and sublime secrets; teach them to suffer like you with joy. Sow on the path of all the Calvaries the flowers of abandonment that were born in your heart and spread under each of your steps during your too short exile.

What used to be said about your friend from heaven, your privileged, angelic Theophane Vénard, we write about you today: "This child was born with a rosebud on her lips and a bird singing in her ear; her life and death were but a gracious smile."

Ah! Now, smile on us from above! Remember what you told us shortly before your departure, "When I am returned to my country, then my work will begin. I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth."

Darling dove! Messenger of Peace! We wait for the effect of your promises. Fly around us. May all your dreams come true, may your sweet mission continue and draw to a close! And if you want to sing during your celestial travel, and invite us to sing with you to praise the Lord for the graces He has given to you, take as your chorus melody, these words that suit you better than any other: "Rejoice with me, you who loved the Lord, because, as I was little I pleased the Most High ... "

Sr M. de Gonzague,
r. c. i. Prioress.

From our Monastery of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Conception, Carmelites of Lisieux December 25th, 1897.

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