The Story of a Soul C 36
I spoke just now, dear Mother, of the flight that is my last resource to escape defeat. It is not honourable, I confess, but during my noviciate, whenever I had recourse to this means, it invariably succeeded. I will give you a striking example, which will, I am sure, amuse you. You had been ill with bronchitis for several days, and we were all uneasy about you. One morning, in my duty as sacristan, I came to put back the keys of the Communion-grating. This was my work, and I was very pleased to have an opportunity of seeing you, though I took good care not to show it. One of the Sisters, full of solicitude, feared I should awake you, and tried to take the keys from me. I told her as politely as I could, that I was quite as anxious as she was there should be no noise, and added that it was my right to return them. I see now that it would have been more perfect simply to yield, but I did not see it then, and so I followed her into the room. Very soon what she feared came to pass: the noise did awaken you. All the blame fell upon me; the Sister I had argued with began a long discourse, of which the point was: Soeur Thérèse made all the noise. I was burning to defend myself, but a happy inspiration of grace came to me. I thought that if I began to justify myself I should certainly lose my peace of mind, and as I had too little virtue to let myself be unjustly accused without answering, my last chance of safety lay in flight. No sooner thought than done. I hurried away, but my heart beat so violently, I could not go far, and I was obliged to sit down on the stairs to enjoy in quiet the fruit of my victory. This is an odd kind of courage, undoubtedly, but I think it is best not to expose oneself in the face of certain defeat.
When I recall these days of my noviciate I understand how far I was from perfection, and the memory of certain things makes me laugh. How good God has been, to have trained my soul and given it wings All the snares of the hunter can no longer frighten me, for "A net is spread in vain before the eyes of them that have wings."
It may be that some day my present state will appear to me full of defects, but nothing now surprises me, and I do not even distress myself because I am so weak. On the contrary I glory therein, and expect each day to find fresh imperfections. Nay, I must confess, these lights on my own nothingness are of more good to my soul than lights on matters of Faith. Remembering that "Charity covereth a multitude of sins," I draw from this rich mine, which Our Saviour has opened to us in the Gospels. I search the depths of His adorable words, and cry out with david: "I have run in the way of Thy commandments since Thou hast enlarged my heart." And charity alone can make wide the heart. O Jesus! Since its sweet flame consumes my heart, I run with delight in the way of Thy New Commandment, and I desire to run therein until that blessed day when, with Thy company of Virgins, I shall follow Thee through Thy boundless Realm, singing Thy New Canticle--The Canticle of Love.
 1 Kings 1R 16,7
 Tobias 12:7.
 Cf. Isaias 3:10.
 Prov. Pr 9,4
 Isa. Is 66,12 Isa. Is 66,12,
 Cf. Ps. 70:17, 18.
 Soeur Thérèse had charge of the novices without being given the title of Novice Mistress.
 Ps. 118:141.
 Ps. 118:100, 105, 106.
 Luke Lc 1,49
 Cf. John Jn 1,5
 Cf. Luke Lc 18,13
 Ps. 91:5.
 Ps. 143:1, 2.
 Ps. 132:1.
 Matt. Mt 22,39
 Cf. Matt. Mt 7,21
 Cf. John Jn 13,34
 John Jn 15,12
 Luke Lc 11,33
 John Jn 15,12
 1 Cor. 1Co 4,3 1 Cor. 1Co 4,3,
 Luke Lc 6,37
 Matt. Mt 5,43 Matt. Mt 5,43,
 Luke Lc 6,32
 Luke Lc 6,30
 Matt. Mt 11,30
 Matt. Mt 5,40
 Matt. Mt 5,41
 Matt. Mt 5,42
 Luke Lc 6,34 Luke Lc 6,34,
 Prov. Pr 1,27
 Prov. Pr 10,12
 Ps. 118:32.
"Many pages of this story"--said its writer--"will never be read upon earth." It is necessary to repeat and emphasize her words. There are sufferings which are not to be disclosed here below; Our Lord has jealously reserved to Himself the right to reveal their merit and glory, in the clear vision where all veils shall be removed. "My God," she cried on the day of her religious profession, "give me martyrdom of soul or body . . . or rather give me both the one and the other!" And Our Lord Who, as she herself avowed, fulfilled all her desires, granted this one also, and in more abundant measure than the rest. He caused "the floods of infinite tenderness pent up in His Divine Heart to overflow into the soul of His little Spouse." This was the "Martyrdom of Love," so well described in her melodious song. But it was her own doctrine that, "to dedicate oneself as a Victim of Love is not to be dedicated to sweetness and consolations; it is to offer oneself to all that is painful and bitter, because Love lives only by sacrifice . . . and the more we would surrender ourselves to Love, the more we must surrender ourselves to suffering."
Therefore, because she desired to attain "the loftiest height of Love," the Divine Master led her thither by the rugged path of sorrow, and it was only on its bleak summit that she died a Victim of Love.
. . . . . . .
We have seen how great was her sacrifice in leaving her happy home and the Father who loved her so tenderly. It may be imagined that this sacrifice was softened, because at the Carmel she found again her two elder and dearly loved sisters. On the contrary, this afforded the young postulant many an occasion for repressing her strong natural affections. The rules of solitude and silence were strictly observed, and she only saw her sisters at recreation. Had she been less mortified, she might often have sat beside them, but "by preference she sought out the company of those religious who were least agreeable to her," and no one could tell whether or not she bore a special affection towards her own sisters.
Some time after her entrance, she was appointed as "aid" to Sister Agnes of Jesus, her dear "Pauline"; this was a fresh occasion for sacrifice. Thérèse knew that all unnecessary conversation was forbidden, and therefore she never allowed herself even the least word. "O my little Mother," she said later, "how I suffered! I could not open my heart to you, and I thought you no longer knew me!"
After five years of this heroic silence, Sister Agnes of Jesus was elected Prioress. On the evening of the election Thérèse might well have rejoiced that henceforth she could speak freely to her "little Mother," and, as of old, pour out her soul. But sacrifice had become her daily food. If she sought one favour more than another, it was that she might be looked on as the lowest and the least; and, among all the religious, not one saw less of the Mother Prioress.
She desired to live the life of Carmel with all the perfection required by St. Teresa, and, although a martyr to habitual dryness, her prayer was continuous. On one occasion a novice, entering her cell, was struck by the heavenly expression of her countenance. She was sewing industriously, and yet seemed lost in deep contemplation. "What are you thinking of?" the young Sister asked. "I am meditating on the 'Our Father,'" Thérèse answered. "It is so sweet to call God, 'Our Father!'" . . . and tears glistened in her eyes. Another time she said, "I cannot well see what more I shall have in Heaven than I have now; I shall see God, it is true, but, as to being with Him, I am that already even on earth."
The flame of Divine Love consumed her, and this is what she herself relates: "A few days after the oblation of myself to God's Merciful Love, I was in the choir, beginning the Way of the Cross, when I felt myself suddenly wounded by a dart of fire so ardent that I thought I should die. I do not know how to explain this transport; there is no comparison to describe the intensity of that flame. It seemed as though an invisible force plunged me wholly into fire. . . . But oh! what fire! what sweetness!"
When Mother Prioress asked her if this rapture was the first she had experienced, she answered simply: "Dear Mother, I have had several transports of love, and one in particular during my Noviciate, when I remained for a whole week far removed from this world. It seemed as though a veil were thrown over all earthly things. But, I was not then consumed by a real fire. I was able to bear those transports of love without expecting to see the ties that bound me to earth give way; whilst, on the day of which I now speak, one minute--one second--more and my soul must have been set free. Alas! I found myself again on earth, and dryness at once returned to my heart." True, the Divine Hand had withdrawn the fiery dart--but the wound was unto death!
In that close union with God, Thérèse acquired a remarkable mastery over self. All sweet virtues flourished in the garden of her soul, but do not let us imagine that these wondrous flowers grew without effort on her part.
"In this world there is no fruitfulness without suffering--either physical pain, secret sorrow, or trials known sometimes only to God. When good thoughts and generous resolutions have sprung up in our souls through reading the lives of the Saints, we ought not to content ourselves, as in the case of profane books, with paying a certain tribute of admiration to the genius of their authors--we should rather consider the price which, doubtless, they have paid for that supernatural good they have produced."
And, if to-day Thérèse transforms so many hearts, and the good she does on earth is beyond reckoning, we may well believe she bought it all at the price with which Jesus bought back our souls: by suffering and the Cross!
Not the least of these sufferings was the unceasing war she waged against herself, refusing every satisfaction to the demands of her naturally proud and impetuous nature. While still a child she had acquired the habit of never excusing herself or making a complaint; at the Carmel she strove to be the little servant of her Sisters in religion, and in that same spirit of humility she endeavoured to obey all without distinction.
One evening, during her illness, the Community had assembled in the garden to sing a hymn before an Altar of the Sacred Heart. Soeur Thérèse, who was already wasted by fever, joined them with difficulty, and, arriving quite exhausted, was obliged to sit down at once. When the hymn began, one of the Sisters made her a sign to stand up. Without hesitation, the humble child rose, and, in spite of the fever and great oppression from which she was suffering, remained standing to the end.
The Infirmarian had advised her to take a little walk in the garden for a quarter of an hour each day. This recommendation was for her a command. One afternoon a Sister, noticing what an effort it cost her, said: "Soeur Thérèse, you would do much better to rest; walking like this cannot do you any good. You only tire yourself!" "That is true," she replied, "but, do you know what gives me strength? I offer each step for some missionary. I think that possibly, over there, far away, one of them is weary and tired in his apostolic labours, and to lessen his fatigue I offer mine to the Good God."
She gave her novices some beautiful examples of detachment. One year the relations of the Sisters and the servants of the Convent had sent bouquets of flowers for Mother Prioress's feast. Thérèse was arranging them most tastefully, when a Lay-sister said crossly: "It is easy to see that the large bouquets have been given by your friends. I suppose those sent by the poor will again be put in the background!" . . . A sweet smile was the only reply, and notwithstanding the unpleasing effect, she immediately put the flowers sent by the servants in the most conspicuous place.
Struck with admiration, the Lay-sister went at once to the Prioress to accuse herself of her unkindness, and to praise the patience and humility shown by Soeur Thérèse.
After the death of Thérèse that same Sister, full of confidence, pressed her forehead against the feet of the saintly nun, once more asking forgiveness for her fault. At the same instant she felt herself cured of cerebral anaemia, from which she had suffered for many years, and which had prevented her from applying herself either to reading or mental prayer.
Far from avoiding humiliations, Soeur Thérèse sought them eagerly, and for that reason she offered herself as "aid" to a Sister who, she well knew, was difficult to please, and her generous proposal was accepted. One day, when she had suffered much from this Sister, a novice asked her why she looked so happy. Great was her surprise on receiving the reply: "It is because Sister N. has just been saying disagreeable things to me. What pleasure she has given me! I wish I could meet her now, and give her a sweet smile." . . . As she was still speaking, the Sister in question knocked at the door, and the astonished novice could see for herself how the Saints forgive. Soeur Thérèse acknowledged later on, she "soared so high above earthly things that humiliations did but make her stronger."
To all these virtues she joined a wonderful courage. From her entrance into the Carmel, at the age of fifteen, she was allowed to follow all the practices of its austere Rule, the fasts alone excepted. Sometimes her companions in the noviciate, seeing how pale she looked, tried to obtain a dispensation for her, either from the Night Office, or from rising at the usual hour in the morning, but the Mother Prioress would never yield to these requests. "A soul of such mettle," she would say, "ought not to be dealt with as a child; dispensations are not meant for her. Let her be, for God sustains her. Besides, if she is really ill, she should come and tell me herself."
But it was always a principle with Thérèse that "We should go to the end of our strength before we complain." How many times did she assist at Matins suffering from vertigo or violent headaches! "I am able to walk," she would say, "and so I ought to be at my duty." And, thanks to this undaunted energy, she performed acts that were heroic.
It was with difficulty that her delicate stomach accustomed itself to the frugal fare of the Carmel. Certain things made her ill, but she knew so well how to hide this, that no one ever suspected it. Her neighbour at table said that she had tried in vain to discover the dishes that she preferred, and the kitchen Sisters, finding her so easy to please, invariably served her with what was left. It was only during her last illness, when she was ordered to say what disagreed with her, that her mortifications came to light. "When Jesus wishes us to suffer," she said at that time, "there can be no evading it. And so, when Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart was procuratrix, she endeavoured to look after me with a mother's tenderness. To all appearances, I was well cared for, and yet what mortifications did she not impose upon me! for she served me according to her own taste, which was entirely opposed to mine."
Thérèse's spirit of sacrifice was far-reaching; she eagerly sought what was painful and disagreeable, as her rightful share. All that God asked she gave Him without hesitation or reserve.
"During my postulancy," she said, "it cost me a great deal to perform certain exterior penances, customary in our convents, but I never yielded to these repugnances; it seemed to me that the image of my Crucified Lord looked at me with beseeching eyes, and begged these sacrifices."
Her vigilance was so keen, that she never left unobserved any little recommendations of the Mother Prioress, or any of the small rules which render the religious life so meritorious. One of the old nuns, having remarked her extraordinary fidelity on this point, ever afterwards regarded her as a Saint. Soeur Thérèse was accustomed to say that she never did any great penances. That was because her fervour counted as nothing the few that were allowed her. It happened, however, that she fell ill through wearing for too long a time a small iron Cross, studded with sharp points, that pressed into her flesh. "Such a trifle would not have caused this," she said afterwards, "if God had not wished thus to make me understand that the greater austerities of the Saints are not meant for me--nor for the souls that walk in the path of 'spiritual childhood.'"
. . . . . . .
"The souls that are the most dear to My Father," Our Lord once said to Saint Teresa, "are those He tries the most, and the greatness of their trials is the measure of His Love." Thérèse was a soul most dear to God, and He was about to fill up the measure of His Love by making her pass through a veritable martyrdom. The reader will remember the call on Good Friday, April 3, 1896, when, to use her own expression, she heard the "distant murmur which announced the approach of the Bridegroom"; but she had still to endure long months of pain before the blessed hour of her deliverance.
On the morning of that Good Friday, she made so little of the haemorrhage of the previous night, that Mother Prioress allowed her to practise all the penances prescribed by the Rule for that day. In the afternoon, a novice saw her cleaning windows. Her face was livid, and, in spite of her great energy, it was evident that her strength was almost spent. Seeing her fatigue, the novice, who loved her dearly, burst into tears, and begged leave to obtain her some little reprieve. But the young novice-mistress strictly forbade her, saying that she was quite able to bear this slight fatigue on the day on which Jesus had suffered and died.
Soon a persistent cough made the Mother Prioress feel anxious; she ordered Soeur Thérèse a more strengthening diet, and the cough ceased for some time. "Truly sickness is too slow a liberator," exclaimed our dear little Sister, "I can only rely upon Love."
She was strongly tempted to respond to the appeal of the Carmelites of Hanoï, who much desired to have her, and began a novena to the Venerable Théophane Vénard to obtain her cure, but alas! that novena proved but the beginning of a more serious phase of her malady.
Like her Divine Master, she passed through the world doing good; like Him, she had been forgotten and unknown, and now, still following in His Footsteps, she was to climb the hill of Calvary. Accustomed to see her always suffering, yet always joyous and brave, Mother Prioress, doubtless inspired by God, allowed her to take part in the Community exercises, some of which tired her extremely. At night, she would courageously mount the stairs alone, pausing at each step to take breath. It was with difficulty that she reached her cell, and then in so exhausted a state, that sometimes, as she avowed later, it took her quite an hour to undress. After all this exertion it was upon a hard pallet that she took her rest. Her nights, too, were very bad, and when asked if she would not like someone to be near her in her hours of pain, she replied: "Oh, no! on the contrary, I am only too glad to be in a cell away from my Sisters, that I may not be heard. I am content to suffer alone--as soon as I am pitied and loaded with attentions, my happiness leaves me."
What strength of soul these words betray! Where we find sorrow she found joy. What to us is to hard to bear--being overlooked and ignored by creatures--became to her a source of delight. And her Divine Spouse knew well how to provide that bitter joy she found so sweet. Painful remedies had often to be applied. One day, when she had suffered from them more than usual, she was resting in her cell during recreation, and overheard a Sister in the kitchen speaking of her thus: "Soeur Thérèse will not live long, and really sometimes I wonder what our Mother Prioress will find to say about her when she dies. She will be sorely puzzled, for this little Sister, amiable as she is, has certainly never done anything worth speaking about." The Infirmarian, who had also overheard the remark, turned to Thérèse and said: "If you relied upon the opinion of creatures you would indeed be disillusioned today." "The opinion of creatures!" she replied; "happily God has given me the grace to be absolutely indifferent to that. Let me tell you something which showed me, once and for all, how much it is worth. A few days after my Clothing, I went to our dear Mother's room, and one of the Sisters who happened to be there, said on seeing me: 'Dear Mother, this novice certainly does you credit. How well she looks! I hope she may be able to observe the Rule for many years to come.' I was feeling decidedly pleased at this compliment when another Sister came in, and, looking at me, said: 'Poor little Soeur Thérèse, how very tired you seem! You quite alarm me. If you do not soon improve, I am afraid you will not be able to keep the Rule very long.' I was then only sixteen, but this little incident made such an impression on me, that I never again set store on the varying opinion of creatures."
On another occasion someone remarked: "It is said that you have never suffered much." Smiling, she pointed to a glass containing medicine of a bright red colour. "You see this little glass?" she said. "One would suppose that it contained a most delicious draught, whereas, in reality, it is more bitter than anything else I take. It is the image of my life. To others it has been all rose colour; they have thought that I continually drank of a most delicious wine; yet to me it has been full of bitterness. I say bitterness, and yet my life has not been a bitter one, for I have learned to find my joy and sweetness in all that is bitter."
"You are suffering very much just now, are you not?" "Yes, but then I have so longed to suffer." "How it distresses us to see you in such pain, and to think that it may increase!" said her novices.
"Oh! Do not grieve about me. I have reached a point where I can no longer suffer, because all suffering is become so sweet. Besides, it is quite a mistake to trouble yourselves as to what I may still have to undergo. It is like meddling with God's work. We who run in the way of Love must never allow ourselves to be disturbed by anything. If I did not simply live from one moment to another, it would be impossible for me to be patient; but I only look at the present, I forget the past, and I take good care not to forestall the future. When we yield to discouragement or despair, it is usually because we think too much about the past and the future. But pray much for me, for it is often just when I cry to Heaven for help that I feel most abandoned."
"How do you manage not to give way to discouragement at such times?" "I turn to God and all His Saints, and thank them notwithstanding; I believe they want to see how far my trust may extend. But the words of Job have not entered my heart in vain: 'Even if God should kill me, I would still trust in Him.' I own it has taken a long time to arrive at this degree of self-abandonment; but I have reached it now, and it is the Lord Himself Who has brought me there."
Another time she said: "Our Lord's Will fills my heart to the brim, and hence, if aught else is added, it cannot penetrate to any depth, but, like oil on the surface of limpid waters, glides easily across. If my heart were not already brimming over, and must needs be filled by the feelings of joy and sadness that alternate so rapidly, then indeed would it be flooded by a wave of bitter pain; but these quick-succeeding changes scarcely ruffle the surface of my soul, and in its depths there reigns a peace that nothing can disturb."
And yet her soul was enveloped in thick darkness, and her temptations against Faith, ever conquered but ever returning, were there to rob her of all feeling of happiness at the thought of her approaching death. "Were it not for this trial, which is impossible to understand," she would say, "I think I should die of joy at the prospect of soon leaving this earth."
By this trial, the Divine Master wished to put the finishing touches to her purification, and thus enable her not only to walk with rapid steps, but to run in her little way of confidence and abandonment. Her words repeatedly proved this. "I desire neither death nor life. Were Our Lord to offer me my choice, I would not choose. I only will what He wills; it is what He does that I love. I do not fear the last struggle, nor any pains--however great--my illness may bring. God has always been my help. He has led me by the hand from my earliest childhood, and on Him I rely. My agony may reach the furthest limits, but I am convinced He will never forsake me."
Such confidence in God, of necessity stirred the fury of the devil--of him who, at life's close, tries every ruse to sow the seeds of despair in the hearts of the dying.
"Last night I was seized with a terrible feeling of anguish," she confessed to Mother Agnes of Jesus on one occasion; "I was lost in darkness, and from out of it came an accursed voice: 'Are you certain God loves you? Has He Himself told you so? The opinion of creatures will not justify you in His sight.' These thoughts had long tortured me, when your little note, like a message from Heaven, was brought to me. You recalled to me, dear Mother, the special graces Jesus had lavished upon me, and, as though you had had a revelation concerning my trial, you assured me I was deeply loved by God, and was on the eve of receiving from His Hands my eternal crown. Immediately peace and joy were restored to my heart. Yet the thought came to me, 'It is my little Mother's affection that makes her write these words.' Straightway I felt inspired to take up the Gospels, and, opening the book at random, I lighted on a passage which had hitherto escaped me: 'He whom God hath sent speaketh the Words of God, for God doth not give the Spirit by measure.' Then I fell asleep fully consoled. It was you, dear Mother, whom the Good God sent me, and I must believe you, because you speak the Words of God."
For several days, during the month of August, Thérèse remained, so to speak, beside herself, and implored that prayers might be offered for her. She had never before been seen in this state, and in her inexpressible anguish she kept repeating: "Oh! how necessary it is to pray for the agonising! If one only knew!"
One night she entreated the Infirmarian to sprinkle her bed with Holy Water, saying: "I am besieged by the devil. I do not see him, but I feel him; he torments me and holds me with a grip of iron, that I may not find one crumb of comfort; he augments my woes, that I may be driven to despair. . . . And I cannot pray. I can only look at Our Blessed Lady and say: 'Jesus!' How needful is that prayer we use at Compline: 'Procul recedant somnia et noctium phantasmata!' ]'Free us from the phantoms of the night.') Something mysterious is happening within me. I am not suffering for myself, but for some other soul, and satan is angry." The Infirmarian, startled, lighted a blessed candle, and the spirit of darkness fled, never to return; but the sufferer remained to the end in a state of extreme anguish.
One day, while she was contemplating the beautiful heavens, some one said to her: "soon your home will be there, beyond the blue sky. How lovingly you gaze at it!" She only smiled, but afterwards she said to the Mother Prioress: "Dear Mother, the Sisters do not realise my sufferings. Just now, when looking at the sky, I merely admired the beauty of the material heaven--the true Heaven seems more than ever closed against me. At first their words troubled me, but an interior voice whispered: 'Yes, you were looking to Heaven out of love. Since your soul is entirely delivered up to love, all your actions, even the most indifferent, are marked with this divine seal.' At once I was consoled."
In spite of the darkness which enveloped her, her Divine Saviour sometimes left the door of her prison ajar. Those were moments in which her soul lost itself in transports of confidence and love. Thus it happened that on a certain day, when walking in the garden supported by one of her own sisters, she stopped at the charming spectacle of a hen sheltering its pretty little ones under its wing. Her eyes filled with tears, and, turning to her companion, she said: "I cannot remain here any longer, let us go in!" And even when she reached her cell, her tears continued to fall, and it was some time before she could speak. At last she looked at her sister with a heavenly expression, and said: "I was thinking of Our Lord, and the beautiful comparison He chose in order to make us understand His ineffable tenderness. This is what He has done for me all the days of my life. He has completely hidden me under His Wing. I cannot express all that has just stirred my heart; it is well for me that God conceals Himself, and lets me see the effects of His Mercy but rarely, and as it were from 'behind the lattices.' Were it not so I could never bear such sweetness."
. . . . . . .
Disconsolate at the prospect of losing their treasure, the Community began a novena to Our Lady of Victories on June 5, 1897, in the fervent hope that she would once again miraculously raise the drooping Little Flower. But her answer was the same as that given by the blessed Martyr, Théophane Vénard, and they were forced to accept with generosity the bitterness of the coming separation.
At the beginning of July, her state became very serious, and she was at last removed to the Infirmary. Seeing her empty cell, and knowing she would never return to it, Mother Agnes of Jesus said to her: "When you are no longer with us, how sad I shall feel when I look at this cell!"
"For consolation, little Mother, you can think how happy I am up there, and remember that much of my happiness was acquired in that little cell; for," she added, raising her beautiful eyes to Heaven, "I have suffered so much there, and I should have been happy to die there."
As she entered the Infirmary she looked towards the miraculous statue of Our Lady, which had been brought thither. It would be impossible to describe that look. "What is it you see?" said her sister Marie, the witness of her miraculous cure as a child. And Thérèse answered: "Never has she seemed to me so beautiful . . . but to-day it is the statue, whereas that other day, as you well know, it was not the statue!" And from that time she often received similar consolations.
One evening she exclaimed: "Oh, how I love Our Blessed Lady! Had I been a Priest, how I would have sung her praises! She is spoken of as unapproachable, whereas she should be represented as easy of imitation. . . . She is more Mother than Queen. I have heard it said that her splendour eclipses that of all the Saints as the rising sun makes all the stars disappear. It sounds so strange. That a Mother should take away the glory of her children! I think quite the reverse. I believe that she will greatly increase the splendour of the elect . . . Our Mother Mary! Oh! how simple her life must have been!" and, continuing her discourse, she drew such a sweet and delightful picture of the Holy Family that all present were lost in admiration.
A very heavy cross awaited her before going to join her Spouse. From August 16 to September 30, the happy day of her death, she was unable to receive Holy Communion, because of her continual sickness. Few have hungered for the Bread of Angels like this seraph of earth. Again and again during that last winter of her life, after nights of intolerable pain, she rose at early morn to partake of the Manna of Heaven, and she thought no price too heavy to pay for the bliss of feeding upon God. Before depriving her altogether of this Heavenly Food, Our Lord often visited her on her bed of pain. Her Communion on July 16, the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, was specially touching. During the previous night she composed some verses which were to be sung before Communion.
Thou know'st the baseness of my soul, O Lord, Yet fearest not to stoop and enter me. Come to my heart, O Sacrament adored! Come to my heart . . . it craveth but for Thee! And when Thou comest, straightway let me die Of very love for Thee; this boon impart! Oh, hearken Jesus, to my suppliant cry: Come to my heart!
In the morning, when the Holy Viaticum was carried to the Infirmary, the cloisters were thickly strewn with wild flowers and rose-petals. A young Priest, who was about to say his first Mass that day in the Chapel of the Carmel, bore the Blessed Sacrament to the dying Sister; and at her desire, Sister Mary of the Eucharist--whose voice was exceptionally sweet--sang the following couplet:
Sweet martyrdom! to die of love's keen fire: The martyrdom of which my heart is fain! Hasten, ye Cherubim, to tune your lyre; I shall not linger long in exile's pain! . . . . . . .
Fulfill my dream, O Jesus, since I sigh Of love to die!
A few days later Thérèse grew worse, and on July 30 she received Extreme Unction. Radiant with delight the little Victim of Love said to us: "The door of my dark prison is ajar. I am steeped in joy, especially since our Father Superior has assured me that to-day my soul is like unto that of a little child after Baptism."
No doubt she thought she was quickly to join the white-robed band of the Holy Innocents. She little knew that two long months of martyrdom had still to run their course. "Dear Mother," she said, "I entreat you, give me leave to die. Let me offer my life for such and such an intention"--naming it to the Prioress. And when the permission was refused, she replied: "Well, I know that just at this moment Our Lord has such a longing for a tiny bunch of grapes--which no one will give Him--that He will perforce have to come and steal it. . . . I do not ask anything; this would be to stray from my path of self-surrender. I only beseech Our Lady to remind her Jesus of the title of Thief, which He takes to Himself in the Gospels, so that He may not forget to come and carry me away."
. . . . . . .
One day Soeur Thérèse took an ear of corn from a sheaf they had brought her. It was so laden with grain that it bent on its stalk, and after gazing upon it for some time she said to the Mother Prioress: "Mother, that ear of corn is the image of my soul. God has loaded it with graces for me and for many others. And it is my dearest wish ever to bend beneath the weight of God's gifts, acknowledging that all comes from Him."
She was right. Her soul was indeed laden with graces, and it was easy to discern the Spirit of God speaking His praises out of the mouth of that innocent child.
Had not this Spirit of Truth already dictated these words to the great Teresa of Avila:
"Let those souls who have reached to perfect union with God hold themselves in high esteem, with a humble and holy presumption. Let them keep unceasingly before their eyes the remembrance of the good things they have received, and beware of the thought that they are practising humility in not recognising the gifts of God. Is it not clear that the constant remembrance of gifts bestowed serves to increase the love of the giver? How can he who ignores the riches he possesses, spend them generously upon others?"
But the above was not the only occasion on which the "little Thérèse of Lisieux" gave utterance to words that proved prophetic. In the month of April, 1895, while she was still in excellent health, she said in confidence to one of the older nuns: "I shall die soon. I do not say that it will be in a few months, but in two or three years at most; I know it because of what is taking place in my soul."
The novices betrayed surprise when she read their inmost thoughts. "This is my secret," she said to them: "I never reprimand you without first invoking Our Blessed Lady, and asking her to inspire me as to what will be most for your good, and I am often astonished myself at the things I teach you. At such times I feel that I make no mistake, and that it is Jesus Who speak by my lips."
During her illness one of her sisters had experienced some moments of acute distress, amounting almost to discouragement, at the thought of the inevitable parting. Immediately afterwards she went to the Infirmary, but was careful not to let any sign of grief be seen. What was her surprise when Thérèse, in a sad and serious tone, thus addressed her: "We ought not to weep like those who have no hope."
One of the Mothers, having come to visit her, did her a trifling service. "How happy I should be," thought the Mother, "if this Angel would only say: 'I will repay you in Heaven!' At that instant Soeur Thérèse, turning to her, said: "Mother, I will repay you in Heaven!"
But more surprising than all, was her consciousness of the mission for which Our Lord had destined her. The veil which hides the future seemed lifted, and more than once she revealed to us its secrets, in prophecies which have already been realised.
"I have never given the Good God aught but love; it is with Love He will repay.
At another time she interrupted a Sister, who was speaking to her of the happiness of Heaven, by the sublime words: "It is not that which attracts me."
"And what attracts you?" asked the other. "Oh! it is Love! To love, to be beloved, and to return to earth to win love for our Love!"
One evening, she welcomed Mother Agnes of Jesus with an extraordinary expression of joy: "Mother!" she said, "some notes from a concert far away have just reached my ears, and have made me think that soon I shall be listening to the wondrous melodies of Paradise. The thought, however, gave me but a moment's joy--one hope alone makes my heart beat fast: the Love that I shall receive and the Love I shall be able to give!
"I feel that my mission is soon to begin--my mission to make others love God as I love Him . . . to each souls my little way . . .
Nor is this impossible, since from the very heart of the Beatific Vision, the Angels keep watch over us. No, there can be no rest for me until the end of the world. But when the Angel shall have said: 'Time is no more!' then I shall rest, then I shall be able to rejoice, because the number of the elect will be complete."
"And what is this little way that you would teach to souls?"
I want to point out to them the means that I have always found so perfectly successful, to tell them that there is but one thing to do here below: we must offer Jesus the flowers of little sacrifices and win Him by a caress. That is how I have won Him, and that is why I shall be made so welcome."
"Should I guide you wrongly by my little way of love," she said to a novice, "do not fear that I shall allow you to continue therein; I should soon come back to the earth, and tell you to take another road. If I do not return, then believe in the truth of these my words: We can never have too much confidence in the Good God, He is so mighty, so merciful. As we hope in Him so shall we receive."
On the eve of the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a novice said to her: "I think that if you were to die to-morrow, after Holy Communion, I should be quite consoled--it would be such a beautiful death!" Thérèse answered quickly: "Die after Holy Communion! Upon a great feast! Nay, not so. In my 'little way' everything is most ordinary; all that I do, little souls must be able to do likewise."
And to one of her missionary brothers she wrote: "What draws me to my Heavenly Home is the summons of my Lord, together with the hope that at length I shall love Him as my heart desires, and shall be able to make Him loved by a multitude of souls who will bless Him throughout eternity."
And in another letter to China: "I trust fully that I shall not remain idle in Heaven; my desire is to continue my work for the Church and for souls. I ask this of God, and I am convinced He will hear my prayer. You see that if I quit the battle-field so soon, it is not from a selfish desire of repose. For a long time now, suffering has been my Heaven here upon earth, and I can hardly conceive how I shall become acclimatised to a land where joy is unmixed with sorrow. Jesus will certainly have to work a complete change in my soul--else I could never support the ecstasies of Paradise."
It was quite true, suffering had become her Heaven upon earth--she welcomed it as we do happiness. "When I suffer much," she would say, "when something painful or disagreeable happens to me, instead of a melancholy look, I answer by a smile. At first I did not always succeed, but now it has become a habit which I am glad to have acquired."
A certain Sister entertained doubts concerning the patience of Thérèse. One day, during a visit, she remarked that the invalid's face wore an expression of unearthly joy, and she sought to know the reason. "It is because the pain is so acute just now," Thérèse replied; "I have always forced myself to love suffering and to give it a glad welcome." "Why are you so bright this morning?" asked Mother Agnes of Jesus. "Because of two little crosses. Nothing gives me 'little joys' like 'little crosses.'" And another time: "You have had many trials to-day?" "Yes, but I love them! . . . I love all the Good God sends me!" "Your sufferings are terrible!" "No--they are not terrible: can a little Victim of Love find anything terrible that is sent by her Spouse? Each moment He sends me what I am able to bear, and nothing more, and if He increase the pain, my strength is increased as well. But I could never ask for greater sufferings--I am too little a soul. They would then be of my own choice. I should have to bear them all without Him, and I have never been able to do anything when left to myself."
Thus spoke that wise and prudent Virgin on her deathbed, and her lamp, filled to the brim with the oil of virtue, burned brightly to the end. If, as the Holy Spirit reminds us in the Book of Proverbs: "A man's doctrine is proved by his patience," those who have heard her may well believe in her doctrine, for she has proved it by a patience no test could overcome.
At each visit the doctor expressed his admiration. "If only you knew what she has to endure! I have never seen any one suffer so intensely with such a look of supernatural joy. . . . I shall not be able to cure her; she was not made for this earth." In view of her extreme weakness, he ordered some strengthening remedies. Thérèse was at first distressed because of their cost, but she afterwards admitted: "I am no longer troubled at having to take those expensive remedies, for I have read that when they were given to St. Gertrude, she was gladdened by the thought that it would redound to the good of our benefactors, since Our Lord Himself has said: 'Whatever you do to the least of My little ones, you do unto Me.'" "I am convinced that medicines are powerless to cure me," she added, "but I have made a covenant with God that the poor missionaries who have neither time nor means to take care of themselves may profit thereby."
She was much moved by the constant gifts of flowers made to her by her friends outside the Convent, and again by the visits of a sweet little redbreast that loved to play about her bed. She saw in these things the Hand of God. "Mother, I feel deeply the many touching proofs of God's Love for me. I am laden with them . . . nevertheless, I continue in the deepest gloom! . . . I suffer much . . . very much! and yet my state is one of profound peace. All my longings have been realised . . . I am full of confidence."
Shortly afterwards she told me this touching little incident: "One evening, during the 'Great Silence,' the Infirmarian brought me a hot-water bottle for my feet, and put tincture of iodine on my chest. I was in a burning fever, and parched with thirst, and, whilst submitting to these remedies, I could not help saying to Our Lord: 'My Jesus, Thou seest I am already burning, and they have brought me more heat and fire. Oh! if they had brought me even half a glass of water, what a comfort it would have been! . . . My Jesus! Thy little child is so thirsty. But she is glad to have this opportunity of resembling Thee more closely, and thus helping Thee to save souls.' The Infirmarian soon left me, and I did not expect to see her again until the following morning. What was my surprise when she returned a few minutes later with a refreshing drink! 'It has just struck me that you may be thirsty,' she said, 'so I shall bring you something every evening.' I looked at her astounded, and when I was once more alone, I melted into tears. Oh! how good Jesus is! how tender and loving! How easy it is to reach His Heart!"
. . . . . . .
On September 6, the little Spouse of Jesus received a touching proof of the loving thought of His Sacred Heart. She had frequently expressed a wish to possess a relic of her special patron, the Venerable Théophane Vénard, but as her desire was not realised, she said no more. She was quite overcome, therefore, when Mother Prioress brought her the longed-for treasure--received that very day. She kissed it repeatedly, and would not consent to part with it.
It may be asked why she was so devoted to this young Martyr. She herself explained the reason in an affectionate interview with her own sisters: "Théophane Vénard is a little saint; his life was not marked by anything extraordinary. He had an ardent devotion to Our Immaculate Mother and a tender love of his own family." Dwelling on these words she added: "And I, too, love my family with a tender love; I fail to understand those Saints who do not share my feelings. As a parting gift I have copied for you some passages from his last letters home. His soul and mine have many points of resemblance, and his words do but re-echo my thoughts."
We give here a copy of that letter, which one might have believed was composed by Thérèse herself:
"I can find nothing on earth that can make me truly happy; the desires of my heart are too vast, and nothing of what the world calls happiness can satisfy it. Time for me will soon be no more, my thoughts are fixed on Eternity. My heart is full of peace, like a tranquil lake or a cloudless sky. I do not regret this life on earth. I thirst for the waters of Life Eternal.
"Yet a little while and my soul will have quitted this earth, will have finished her exile, will have ended her combat. I go to Heaven. I am about to enter the Abode of the Blessed--to see what the eye hath never seen, to hear what the ear hath never heard, to enjoy those things the heart of man hath not conceived . . . I have reached the hour so coveted by us all. It is indeed true that Our Lord chooses the little ones to confound the great ones of this earth. I do not rely upon my own strength but upon Him Who, on the Cross, vanquished the powers of hell.
"I am a spring flower which the Divine Master culls for His pleasure. We are all flowers, planted on this earth, and God will gather us in His own good time--some sooner, some later . . . I, little flower of one day, am the first to be gathered! But we shall meet again in Paradise, where lasting joy will be our portion.
"Sister Teresa of the Child Jesus, using the words of the angelic martyr--Théophane Vénard."
Toward the end of September, when something was repeated to her that had been said at recreation, concerning the responsibility of those who have care of souls, she seemed to revive a little and gave utterance to these beautiful words: "To him that is little, mercy is granted. It is possible to remain little even in the most responsible position, and is it not written that, at the last day, 'the Lord will arise to save the meek and lowly ones of the earth'? He does not say 'to judge,' but 'to save!'"
As time went on, the tide of suffering rose higher and higher, and she became so weak, that she was unable to make the slightest movement without assistance. Even to hear anyone whisper increased her discomfort; and the fever and oppression were so extreme that it was with the greatest difficulty she was able to articulate a word. And yet a sweet smile was always on her lips. Her only fear was lest she should give her Sisters any extra trouble, and until two days before her death she would never allow any one to remain with her during the night. However, in spite of her entreaties, the Infirmarian would visit her from time to time. On one occasion she found Thérèse with hands joined and eyes raised to Heaven. "What are you doing?" she asked; "you ought to try and go to sleep." "I cannot, Sister, I am suffering too much, so I am praying. . . ." "And what do you say to Jesus?" "I say nothing--I only love Him!"
"Oh! how good God is!" . . . she sometimes exclaimed. "Truly He must be very good to give me strength to bear all I have to suffer." One day she said to the Mother Prioress: "Mother, I would like to make known to you the state of my soul; but I cannot, I feel too much overcome just now." In the evening Thérèse sent her these lines, written in pencil with a trembling hand:
"O my God! how good Thou art to the little Victim of Thy Merciful Love! Now, even when Thou joinest these bodily pains to those of my soul, I cannot bring myself to say: 'The anguish of death hath encompassed me.' I rather cry out in my gratitude: 'I have gone down into the valley of the shadow of death, but I fear no evil, because Thou, O Lord, art with me.'"
Her little Mother said to her: "Some think that you are afraid of death." "That may easily come to pass," she answered; "I do not rely on my own feelings, for I know how frail I am. It will be time enough to bear that cross if it comes, meantime I wish to rejoice in my present happiness. When the Chaplain asked me if I was resigned to die, I answered: 'Father, I need rather to be resigned to live--I feel nothing but joy at the thought of death.' Do not be troubled, dear Mother, if I suffer much and show no sign of happiness at the end. Did not Our Lord Himself die 'a Victim of Love,' and see how great was His Agony!"
. . . . . . .
At last dawned the eternal day. It was Thursday, September 30, 1897. In the morning, the sweet Victim, her eyes fixed on Our Lady's statue, spoke thus of her last night on earth: "Oh! with what fervour I have prayed to her! . . . And yet it has been pure agony, without a ray of consolation. . . . Earth's air is failing me: when shall I breathe the air of Heaven?"
For weeks she had been unable to raise herself in bed, but, at half-past two in the afternoon, she sat up and exclaimed: "Dear Mother, the chalice is full to overflowing! I could never have believed that it was possible to suffer so intensely. . . . I can only explain it by my extreme desire to save souls. . . ." And a little while after: "Yes, all that I have written about my thirst for suffering is really true! I do not regret having surrendered myself to Love."
She repeated these last words several times. A little later she added: "Mother, prepare me to die well." The good Mother Prioress encouraged her with these words: "My child, you are quite ready to appear before God, for you have always understood the virtue of humility." Then, in striking words, Thérèse bore witness to herself:
"Yes, I feel it; my soul has ever sought the truth. . . . I have understood humility of heart!"
. . . . . . .
At half-past four, her agony began--the agony of this "Victim of Divine Love." When the Community gathered round her, she thanked them with the sweetest smile, and then, completely given over to love and suffering, the Crucifix clasped in her failing hands, she entered on the final combat. The sweat of death lay heavy on her brow . . . she trembled . . . but, as a pilot, when close to harbour, is not dismayed by the fury of the storm, so this soul, strong in faith, saw close at hand the beacon-lights of Heaven, and valiantly put forth every effort to reach the shore.
As the convent bells rang the evening Angelus, she fixed an inexpressible look upon the statue of the Immaculate Virgin, the Star of the Sea. Was it not the moment to repeat her beautiful prayer:
"O thou who camest to smile on me in the morn of my life, come once again and smile, Mother, for now it is eventide!"
A few minutes after seven, turning to the Prioress, the poor little Martyr asked: "Mother, is it not the agony? . . . am I not going to die?" "Yes, my child, it is the agony, but Jesus perhaps wills that it be prolonged for some hours." In a sweet and plaintive voice she replied: "Ah, very well then . . . very well . . . I do not wish to suffer less!"
Then, looking at her crucifix:
"Oh! . . . I love Him! . . . My God, I . . . love . . . Thee!"
These were her last words. She had scarcely uttered them when, to our great surprise, she sank down quite suddenly, her head inclined a little to the right, in the attitude of the Virgin Martyrs offering themselves to the sword; or rather, as a Victim of Love, awaiting from the Divine Archer the fiery shaft, by which she longs to die.
Suddenly she raised herself, as though called by a mysterious voice; and opening her eyes, which shone with unutterable happiness and peace, fixed her gaze a little above the statue of Our Lady. Thus she remained for about the space of a Credo, when her blessed soul, now become the prey of the "Divine Eagle," was borne away to the heights of Heaven.
. . . . . . .
A few days before her death, this little Saint had said: "The death of Love which I so much desire is that of Jesus upon the Cross." Her prayer was fully granted. Darkness enveloped her, and her soul was steeped in anguish. And yet, may we not apply to her also that sublime prophecy of St. John of the Cross, referring to souls consumed by the fire of Divine Love: "They die Victims of the onslaughts of Love, in raptured ecstasies--like the swan, whose song grows sweeter as death draws nigh. Wherefore the Psalmist declared: 'Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His Saints.' For then it is that the rivers of love burst forth from the soul and are whelmed in the Ocean of Divine Love."
No sooner had her spotless soul taken its flight than the joy of that last rapture imprinted itself on her brow, and a radiant smile illumined her face. We placed a palm-branch in her hand; and the lilies and roses that adorned her in death were figures of her white robe of baptism made red by her Martyrdom of Love.
On the Saturday and Sunday a large crowd passed before the grating of the nuns' chapel, to gaze on the mortal remains of the "Little Flower of Jesus." Hundreds of medals and rosaries were brought to touch the "Little Queen" as she lay in the triumphant beauty of her last sleep.
. . . . . . .
On October 4, the day of the funeral, there gathered in the Chapel of the Carmel a goodly company of Priests. The honour was surely due to one who had prayed so earnestly for those called to that sacred office. After a last solemn blessing, this grain of priceless wheat was cast into the furrow by the hands of Holy Mother Church.
Who shall tell how many ripened ears have sprung forth since, how many the sheaves that are yet to come? "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat, falling into the ground, die, itself remaineth alone. But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." Once more the word of the Divine Reaper has been magnificently fulfilled.
 Dom Guéranger.
 Mother Mary of Gonzaga died Dec. 17, 1904, at the age of 71. Mother Agnes of Jesus ]Pauline) was at that time Prioress. The former--herself of the line of St. Antony of Padua--recognized in Soeur Thérèse "an heroic soul, filled with holiness, and capable of becoming one day an excellent Prioress." With this end in view, she trained her with a strictness for which the young Saint was most grateful. In the arms of Mother Mary of Gonzaga the "Little Flower of Jesus" was welcomed to the Carmel, and in those arms she died--"happy," she declared, "not to have in that hour as Superioress her 'little Mother,' in order the better to exercise her spirit of faith in authority." [Ed.]
 As will be remembered, this was Marie, her eldest sister. [Ed.]
 The Blessed Théophane Vénard was born at St. Loup, in the diocese of Poitiers, on the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lady, Nov. 21, 1829. He was martyred at Kecho, Tong-King, on the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, Feb. 2, 1861, at the age of 32. A long and delightful correspondence with his family, begun in his college days and completed from his "cage" at Kecho, reveals a kinship of poesy as well as of sanctity and of the love of home, between the two "spring flowers." The beauty of his soul was so visible in his boyish face that he was spared all torture during his two months in the "cage." In 1909, the year in which Thérèse became "Servant of God" by the commencement of the Episcopal Process, her patron received the honours of Beatification. Another child of France--Joan, its "Martyr-Maid"--whose praises have been sung in affectionate verse by the Saints of St. Loup and Lisieux, was beatified that same year. [Ed.]
 An allusion to the obituary notice sent to each of the French Carmels when a Carmelite nun dies in that country. In the case of those who die in the odour of sanctity these notices sometimes run to considerable length. Four notices issued from the Carmel of Lisieux are of great interest to the clients of Soeur Thérèse, and are in course of publication at the Orphans' Press, Rochdale; those of the Carmel's saintly Foundress, Mother Genevieve of St. Teresa, whose death is referred to in Chapter VIII; Mother Mary of Gonzaga, the Prioress of Thérèse; Sister Mary of the Eucharist ]Marie Guérin), the cousin of Thérèse ]Chapter III); and most interesting of all, the long sketch, partly autobiographical, of Mother Mary of St. Angelus ]Marie Ange), the "trophy of Thérèse," brought by her intercession to the Carmel in 1902--where the writer made her acquaintance in the following spring; she became Prioress in 1908, dying eighteen months later in the odour of sanctity, aged only 28. [Ed.]
 Cf. Job Jb 13,15
 John Jn 3,34
 When asked before her death how they should pray to her in Heaven, Soeur Thérèse, with her wonted simplicity, made answer: "You will call me 'Little Thérèse'--petite Thérèse." And at Gallipoli, on the occasion of her celebrated apparition in the Carmel there, when the Prioress, taking her to be St. Teresa of Avila, addressed her as "our holy Mother," the visitor, adopting her then official title, replied:-- "Nay, I am not our holy Mother, I am the Servant of God, Soeur Thérèse of Lisieux." This, her own name of Soeur Thérèse, has been retained in the present edition, unless where it was advisable to set down her name in full--Sister Teresa of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face. The name of the "Little Flower," borrowed by her from the Blessed Théophane Vénard, and used so extensively in the pages of her manuscript, is the one by which she is best known in English-speaking lands. [Ed.]
 Cf. Prov. Pr 19,11
 Matt. Mt 25,49
 Wisdom Sg 6,7
 Cf. Ps. 75:10.
 Cf. Ps. 17:5.
 Cf. Ps. 22:4.
 From the last poem written by Soeur Thérèse.
 Ps. 115:15.
 John Jn 12,24 John Jn 12,24,
Most of what follows has been gathered from the conversations of Soeur Thérèse with her novices. Her advice cannot but prove helpful to souls within the cloister, and likewise to many in the world who may be attracted by her simple and easy little way to God.
* * * * * *
One of the novices, greatly discouraged at the thought of her imperfections, tells us that her mistress spoke to her as follows:
"You make me think of a little child that is learning to stand but does not yet know how to walk. In his desire to reach the top of the stairs to find his mother, he lifts his little foot to climb the first step. It is all in vain, and at each renewed effort he falls. Well, be like that little child. Always keep lifting your foot to climb the ladder of holiness, and do not imagine that you can mount even the first step. All God asks of you is good will. From the top of the ladder He looks lovingly upon you, and soon, touched by your fruitless efforts, He will Himself come down, and, taking you in His Arms, will carry you to His Kingdom never again to leave Him. But should you cease to raise your foot, you will be left for long on the earth."
* * * * * *
"The only way to advance rapidly in the path of love is to remain always very little. That is what I did, and now I can sing with our holy Father, St. John of the Cross:
'Then I abased myself so low, so very low, That I ascended to such heights, such heights indeed, That I did overtake the prey I chased!'"
* * * * * *
Under a temptation which seemed to me irresistible, I said to her: "This time, I cannot surmount it." She replied: "Why seek to surmount it? Rather pass beneath. It is all well for great souls to soar above the clouds when the storm rages; we have simply to suffer the showers. What does it matter if we get wet? We shall dry ourselves in the sunshine of love.
"It recalls a little incident of my childhood. One day a horse was standing in front of the garden gate, and preventing us from getting through. My companions talked to him and tried to make him move off, but while they were still talking I quietly slipped between his legs . . . Such is the advantage of remaining small."
* * * * * *
Our Lord said to the mother of the sons of Zebedee: 'To sit on my right or left hand is for them for whom it is prepared by my Father.' I imagine that these chosen places, which have been refused alike to great Saints and Martyrs, will be reserved for little children; and did not David foretell it when he said, that 'the little Benjamin will preside amidst the assemblies of the Saints.'"
* * * * * *
"You are wrong to find fault with this thing and with that, or to try and make everyone see things as you see them. We desire to be 'as little children,' and little children do not know what is best: to them all seems right. Let us imitate their ways. Besides, there is no merit in doing what reason dictates."
* * * * * *
"My patrons and my special favourites in Heaven are those who, so to speak, stole it, such as the Holy Innocents and the Good Thief. The great Saints won it by their works; I wish to be like the thieves and to win it by stratagem--a stratagem of love which will open its gates both to me and to poor sinners. In the Book of Proverbs the Holy Ghost encourages me, for He says: 'Come to me, little one, to learn subtlety!'"
* * * * * *
"What would you do if you could begin over again your religious life?"
"I think I should do as I have already done."
"Then you do not share the feeling of the hermit who said: 'While a quarter of an hour, or even a breath of life still remains to me, I shall fear the fires of hell even though I should have spent long years in penance'?"
"No, I do not share that fear; I am too small. Little children are not damned."
"You are ever seeking to be as little children are, but tell us what must be done to obtain that childlike spirit. 'Remaining little'--what does it mean?"
"'Remaining little' means--to recognise one's nothingness, to await everything from the Goodness of God, to avoid being too much troubled at our faults; finally, not to worry over amassing spiritual riches, not to be solicitous about anything. Even amongst the poor, while a child is still small, he is given what is necessary; but, once he is grown up, his father will no longer feed him, and tells him to seek work and support himself. Well, it was to avoid hearing this, that I have never wished to grow up, for I feel incapable of earning my livelihood, which is Life Eternal!"
* * * * * *
In imitation of our saintly Mistress I also wished never to grow up; she called me therefore "the little one," and during a retreat she wrote to me the following notes:
"Do not fear to tell Jesus that you love him, even though you may not feel that love. In this way you will compel Him to come to your aid, and to carry you like a little child who is too weak to walk.
"It is indeed a great source of trial, when everything looks black, but this does not depend entirely on yourself. Do all in your power to detach your heart from earthly cares, especially from creatures; then be assured Our Lord will do the rest. He could not permit you to fall into the abyss. Be comforted, little one! In Heaven everything will no longer look black, but dazzling white. There all will be clothed in the Divine radiance of Our Spouse--the Lily of the Valley. Together we will follow Him whithersoever He goeth. Meantime we must make good use of this life's brief day. Let us give Our Lord pleasure, let us by self-sacrifice give Him souls! Above all, let us be little--so little that everyone might tread us underfoot without our even seeming to suffer pain.
"I am not surprised at the failures of the little one; she forgets that in her rôle of missionary and warrior she ought to forgo all childish consolations. It is wrong to pass one's time in fretting, instead of sleeping on the Heart of Jesus.
"Should the little one fear the dark of the night, or complain at not seeing Him who carries her, let her shut her eyes. It is the one sacrifice God asks. By remaining thus, the dark will cease to terrify, because she will not see it, and before long, peace--if not joy--will re-enter her soul."
* * * * * *
To help me accept a humiliation she confided to me what follows:
"If I had not been received into the Carmel, I would have entered a Refuge, and lived there unknown and despised among the poor 'penitents.' My joy would have been to pass for one, and I would have become an apostle among my companions, telling them my thoughts on the Infinite Mercy of God."
"But how could you have hidden your innocence from your Confessor?"
"I would have told him that while still in the world I made a general confession, and that it was forbidden me to repeat it."
* * * * * *
"Oh! When I think of all I have to acquire!"
"Or rather to lose! It is Jesus Who takes upon Himself to fill your soul according as you rid it of imperfections. I see clearly that you are mistaking the road, and that you will never arrive at the end of your journey. You want to climb the mountain, whereas God wishes you to descend it. He is awaiting you in the fruitful valley of humility."
* * * * * *
"To me it seems that humility is truth. I do not know whether I am humble, but I do know that I see the truth in all things."
* * * * * *
"Indeed you are a Saint!"
"No, I am not a Saint. I have never wrought the works of a Saint. I am but a tiny soul whom Almighty God has loaded with His favours.
"The truth of what I say will be made known to you in Heaven."
"But have you not always been faithful to those favours?"
"Yes, from the age of three I have never refused our Good God anything. Still I cannot glorify myself. See how this evening the tree-tops are gilded by the setting sun. So likewise my soul appears to you all shining and golden because it is exposed to the rays of Love. But should the Divine Sun no longer shine thereon, it would instantly be sunk in gloom."
"We too would like to become all golden--what must we do?"
"You must practise the little virtues. This is sometimes difficult, but God never refuses the first grace--courage for self-conquest; and if the soul correspond to that grace, she at once finds herself in God's sunlight. The praise given to Judith has always struck me: 'Thou hast done manfully, and thy heart has been strengthened.' In the onset we must act with courage. By this means the heart gains strength, and victory follows victory."
* * * * * *
In conformity with the Rule, Soeur Thérèse never raised her eyes in the refectory, and, as I found great difficulty in this observance, she composed for me the following prayer. It reveals her exceeding humility, because in it she asked a grace of which I alone stood in need:
"O Jesus, in honour and in imitation of the example Thou gavest in the house of Herod, Thy two little Spouses resolve to keep their eyes cast down in the refectory. When that impious king scoffed at Thee, O Infinite Beauty, no complaint came from Thy Lips. Thou didst not even deign to fix on him Thy Adorable Eyes. He was not worthy of the favour, but we who are Thy Spouses, we desire to draw Thy Divine Gaze upon ourselves. As often as we refrain from raising our eyes, we beg Thee to reward us by a glance of love, and we even dare ask Thee not to refuse this sweet glance when we fail in our self-control, for we will humble ourselves most sincerely before Thee."
* * * * * *
I confided to her that I made no progress, and that consequently I had lost heart.
"Up to the age of fourteen," she said, "I practised virtue without tasting its sweetness. I desired suffering, but I did not think of making it my joy; that grace was vouchsafed me later. My soul was like a beautiful tree the flowers of which had scarcely opened when they fell.
"Offer to God the sacrifice of never gathering any fruit. If He will that throughout your whole life you should feel a repugnance to suffering and humiliation--if He permit that all the flowers of your desires and of your good will should fall to the ground without any fruit appearing, do not worry. At the hour of death, in the twinkling of an eye, He will cause fair fruits to ripen on the tree of your soul.
"We read in the Book of Ecclesiasticus: 'There is an inactive man that wanteth help, is very weak in ability, and full of poverty: yet the Eye of God hath looked upon him for good, and hath lifted him up from his low estate, and hath exalted his head: and many have wondered at him, and have glorified God. . . . Trust in God, and stay in thy place. For it is easy in the Eyes of God, on a sudden, to make the poor man rich. The blessing of God maketh haste to reward the just, and in a swift hour His blessing beareth fruit.'"
"But if I fall, I shall always be found imperfect; whereas you are looked upon as holy."
"That is, perhaps, because I have never desired to be considered so. . . . But that you should be found imperfect is just what is best. Here is your harvest. To believe oneself imperfect and others perfect--this is true happiness. Should earthly creatures think you devoid of holiness, they rob you of nothing, and you are none the poorer: it is they who lose. For is there anything more sweet than the inward joy of thinking well of our neighbour?
"As for myself I am glad and rejoice, not only when I am looked upon as imperfect, but above all when I feel that it is true. Compliments, on the contrary, do but displease me."
* * * * * *
"God has a special love for you since He entrusts souls to your care."
"That makes no difference, and I am really only what I am in His Eyes. It is not because He wills me to be His interpreter among you, that He loves me more; rather, He makes me your little handmaid. It is for you, and not for myself, that He has bestowed upon me those charms and those virtues which you see.
"I often compare myself to a little bowl filled by God with good things. All the kittens come to eat from it, and they sometimes quarrel as to which will have the largest share. But the Holy Child Jesus keeps a sharp watch. 'I am willing you should feed from My little bowl,' He says, 'but take heed lest you upset and break it.'
"In truth there is no great danger, because I am already on the ground. Not so with Prioresses; set, as they are, on tables, they run far more risks. Honours are always dangerous. What poisonous food is served daily to those in high positions! What deadly fumes of incense! A soul must be well detached from herself to pass unscathed through it all."
* * * * * *
"It is a consolation for you to do good and to procure the Glory of God. I wish I were equally favoured."
"What if God does make use of me, rather than of another, to procure His Glory! Provided His Kingdom be established among souls, the instrument matters not. Besides, He has no need of anyone.
"Some time ago I was watching the flicker, almost invisible, of a tiny night-light, when one of the Sisters drew near, and, lighting her candle in the dying flame, passed it round to light all those of the Community. 'Who dare glory in his own good works?' I reflected. 'From one faint spark such as this, it would be possible to set the whole earth on fire.' We often think we receive graces and are divinely illumined by means of brilliant candles. But from whence comes their light? From the prayers, perhaps, of some humble, hidden soul, whose inward shining is not apparent to human eyes; a soul of unrecognised virtue and, in her own sight, of little value--a dying flame.
"What mysteries will yet be unveiled to us! I have often thought that perhaps I owe all the graces with which I am laden, to some little soul whom I shall know only in Heaven.
"It is God's Will that in this world souls shall dispense to each other, by prayer, the treasures of Heaven, in order that when they reach their Everlasting Home they may love one another with grateful hearts, and with an affection far in excess of that which reigns in the most perfect family on earth.
"There no looks of indifference will meet us, because all the Saints will be mutually indebted to each other. No envious glances will be cast, for the happiness of each one of the Blessed will be the happiness of all. With the Doctors of the Church we shall be like unto Doctors; with the Martyrs, like unto Martyrs; with the Virgins, like unto Virgins; and just as the members of one family are proud one of the other, so without the least jealousy shall we take pride in our brothers and sisters.
"When we see the glory of the great Saints, and know that through the secret working of Providence we have contributed to it, who knows whether the joy we shall feel will not be as intense, perhaps sweeter, than the happiness they themselves possess?
"And do you not think that the great Saints, on their side, seeing what they owe to all little souls, will love them with a love beyond compare? The friendships of Paradise will be both sweet and full of surprise, of this I am certain. The familiar friend of an Apostle, or of a great Doctor of the Church, may be a shepherd boy, and a simple little child may be united in closest intimacy with a Patriarch. . . . I long to enter that Kingdom of Love!"
* * * * * *
"Believe me, the writing of pious books, the composing of the sublimest poetry, all that does not equal the smallest act of self-denial. When, however, our inability to do good gives us pain, our only resource is to offer up the good works of others, and in this lies the benefit of the Communion of Saints. Recall to mind that beautiful verse of the canticle of our Father, St. John of the Cross:
'Return, my dove! See on the height The wounded Hart, To whom refreshment brings The breeze, stirred by thy wings.'
"Thus the Spouse, the wounded Hart, is not attracted by the height, but only by the breeze from the pinions of the dove--a breeze which one single stroke of wing is sufficient to create."
* * * * * *
"The one thing which is not open to envy is the lowest place. Here alone, therefore, there is neither vanity nor affliction of spirit. Yet, 'the way of a man is not his own,' and sometimes we find ourselves wishing for what dazzles. In that hour let us in all humility take our place among the imperfect, and look upon ourselves as little souls who at every instant need to be upheld by the goodness of God. From the moment He sees us fully convinced of our nothingness, and hears us cry out: 'My foot stumbles, Lord, but Thy Mercy is my strength,' He reaches out His Hand to us. But, should we attempt great things, even under pretext of zeal, He deserts us. It suffices, therefore, to humble ourselves, to bear with meekness our imperfections. Herein lies--for us--true holiness."
* * * * * *
One day I was complaining of being more tired than my Sisters, for, besides the ordinary duties, I had other work unknown to the rest. Soeur Thérèse replied:
"I should like always to see you a brave soldier, never grumblng at hardships, but considering the wounds of your companions as most serious, and your own as mere scratches. You feel this fatigue so much because no one is aware of it.
"Now the Blessed Margaret Mary, at the time she had two whitlows, confessed that she really suffered from the hidden one only. The other, which she was unable to hide, excited her Sisters' pity and made her an object of compassion. This is indeed a very natural feeling, the desire that people should know of our aches and pains, but in giving way to it we play the coward."
* * * * * *
"When we are guilty of a fault we must never attribute it to some physical cause, such as illness or the weather. We must ascribe it to our own imperfections, without being discouraged thereby. 'Occasions do not make a man frail, but show what he is.'"
* * * * * *
"God did not permit that our Mother should tell me to write my poems as soon as I had composed them, and, fearful of committing a sin against poverty, I would not ask leave. I had therefore to wait for some free time, and at eight o'clock in the evening I often found it extremely difficult to remember what I had composed in the morning.
"True, these trifles are a species of martyrdom; but we must be careful not to alleviate the pain of the martyrdom by permitting ourselves, or securing permission for, a thousand and one things which would tend to make the religious life both comfortable and agreeable."
* * * * * *
One day, as I was in tears, Soeur Thérèse told me to avoid the habit of allowing others to see the trifles that worried me, adding that nothing made community life more trying than unevenness of temper.
"You are indeed right, I answered, "such was my own thought. Henceforward my tears will be for God alone. I shall confide my worries to One Who will understand and console me."
"Tears for God!" she promptly replied, "that must not be. Far less to Him than to creatures ought you to show a mournful face. Our Divine Master has only our monasteries where He may obtain some solace for His Heart. He comes to us in search of rest--to forget the unceasing complaints of His friends in the world, who, instead of appreciating the value of the Cross, receive it far more often with moans and tears. Would you then be as the mediocre souls? Frankly, this is not disinterested love. . . . It is for us to console our Lord, and not for Him to console us. His Heart is so tender that if you cry He will dry your tears; but thereafter He will go away sad, since you did not suffer Him to repose tranquilly within you. Our Lord loves the glad of heart, the children that greet Him with a smile. When will you learn to hide your troubles from Him, or to tell Him gaily that you are happy to suffer for Him?"
"The face is the mirror of the soul," she said once, "and yours, like that of a contented little child, should always be calm and serene. Even when alone, be cheerful, remembering always that you are in the sight of the Angels."
* * * * * *
I was anxious she should congratulate me on what, in my eyes, was an heroic act of virtue; but she said to me:
"Compare this little act of virtue with what our Lord has the right to expect of you! Rather should you humble yourself for having lost so many opportunities of proving your love."
Little satisfied with this answer, I awaited an opportunity of finding out how Soeur Thérèse herself would act under trial, and the occasion was not long in coming. Reverend Mother asked us to do some extremely tiring work which bristled with difficulties, and, on purpose, I made it still more difficult for our Mistress.
Not for one second, however, could I detect her in fault, and, heedless of the fatigue involved, she remained gracious and amiable, eager throughout to help others at her own expense. At last I could resist no longer, and I confessed to her what my thoughts had been.
"How comes it," I said, "that you can be so patient? You are ever the same--calm and full of joy." "It was not always the case with me," she replied, "but since I have abandoned all thought of self-seeking, I live the happiest life possible."
* * * * * *
Our dear Mistress used to say that during recreation, more than at any other time, we should find opportunities for practising virtue.
"If your desire be to draw great profit, do not go with the idea of procuring relaxation, but rather with the intention of entertaining others and practising complete detachment from self. Thus, for instance, if you are telling one of the Sisters something you think entertaining, and she should interrupt to tell you something else, show yourself interested, even though in reality her story may not interest you in the least. Be careful, also, not to try to resume what you were saying. In this way you will leave recreation filled with a great interior peace and endowed with fresh strength for the practice of virtue, because you have not sought to please yourself, but others. If only we could realise what we gain by self-denial in all things!"
"You realise it, certainly, for you have always practised self-denial."
"Yes, I have forgotten myself, and I have tried not to see myself in anything."
* * * * * *
"When some one knocks at our door, or when we are rung for, we must practise mortification and refrain from doing even another stitch before answering. I have practised this myself, and I assure you that it is a source of peace."
After this advice, and according as occasion offered, I promptly answered every summons. One day, during her illness, she was witness of this, and said:
"At the hour of death you will be very happy to find this to your account. You have just done something more glorious than if, through clever diplomacy, you had procured the good-will of the Government for all religious communities and had been proclaimed throughout France as a second Judith."
* * * * * *
Questioned as to her method of sanctifying meals, she answered:
"In the refectory we have but one thing to do: perform a lowly action with lofty thoughts. I confess that the sweetest aspirations of love often come to me in the refectory. Sometimes I am brought to a standstill by the thought that were Our Lord in my place He would certainly partake of those same dishes which are served to me. It is quite probable that during His lifetime He tasted of similar food--He must have eaten bread and fruit.
"Here are my little rubrics:
"I imagine myself at Nazareth, in the house of the Holy Family. If, for instance, I am served with salad, cold fish, wine, or anything pungent in taste, I offer it to St. Joseph. To our Blessed Lady I offer hot foods and ripe fruit, and to the Infant Jesus our feast-day fare, especially rice and preserves. Lastly, when I am served a wretched dinner I say cheerfully: 'To-day, my little one, it is all for you!'"
Thus in many pretty ways she hid her mortifications. One fast-day, however, when our Reverend Mother ordered her some special food, I found her seasoning it with wormwood because it was too much to her taste. On another occasion I saw her drinking very slowly a most unpleasant medicine. "Make haste," I said, "drink it off at once!" "Oh, no!" she answered; "must I not profit of these small opportunities for penance since the greater ones are forbidden me?"
Toward the end of her life I learned that, during her noviciate, one of our Sisters, when fastening the scapular for her, ran the large pin through her shoulder, and for hours she bore the pain with joy. On another occasion she gave me proof of her interior mortification. I had received a most interesting letter which was read aloud at recreation, during her absence. In the evening she expressed the wish to read it, and I gave it to her. Later on, when she returned it, I begged her to tell me what she thought of one of the points of the letter which I knew ought to have charmed her. She seemed rather confused, and after a pause she answered: "God asked of me the sacrifice of this letter because of the eagerness I displayed the other day . . . so I have not read it."
* * * * * *
When speaking to her of the mortifications of the Saints, she remarked: "It was well that Our Lord warned us: 'In My Father's House there are many mansions, otherwise I would have told you.' For, if every soul called to perfection were obliged to perform these austerities in order to enter Heaven, He would have told us, and we should have willingly undertaken them. But He has declared that, 'there are many mansions in His House.' If there are some for great souls, for the Fathers of the Desert and for Martyrs of penance, there must also be one for little children. And in that one a place is kept for us, if we but love Him dearly together with Our Father and the Spirit of Love."
* * * * * *
"While in the world, I used, on waking, to think of all the pleasant or unpleasant things which might happen throughout the day, and if I foresaw nothing but worries I got up with a heavy heart. Now it is quite the reverse. I think of the pains and of the sufferings awaiting me, and I rise, feeling all the more courageous and light of heart in proportion to the opportunities I foresee of proving my love for Our Lord, and of gaining--mother of souls as I am--my children's livelihood. Then I kiss my crucifix, and, laying it gently on my pillow, I leave it there while I dress, and I say: 'My Jesus, Thou hast toiled and wept enough during Thy three-and-thirty years on this miserable earth. Rest Thee, to-day! It is my turn to suffer and to fight.'"
* * * * * *
One washing-day I was sauntering towards the laundry, and looking at the flowers as I passed. Soeur Thérèse was following, and quickly overtook me: "Is that," she said quietly, "how people hurry themselves when they have children, and are obliged to work to procure them food?"
* * * * * *
"Do you know which are my Sundays and feast-days? They are the days on which God tries me the most."
* * * * * *
I was distressed at my want of courage, and Soeur Thérèse said to me: "You are complaining of what should be your greatest happiness. If you fought only when you felt eagerness, where would be your merit? What does it matter, even if you are devoid of courage, provided you act as though you possessed it? If you feel too lazy to pick up a bit of thread, and yet do so for love of Jesus, you acquire more merit than for a much nobler action done in a moment of fervour. Instead of grieving, be glad that, by allowing you to feel your own weakness, Our Lord is furnishing you with an opportunity of saving a greater number of souls."
* * * * * *
I asked her whether Our Lord were not displeased at the sight of my many failings. This was her answer: "Be comforted, for He Whom you have chosen as your Spouse has every imaginable perfection; but--dare I say it?--He has one great infirmity too--He is blind! And there is a science about which He knows nothing--addition! These two great defects, much to be deplored in an earthly bridegroom, do but make ours infinitely more lovable. Were it necessary that He should be clear-sighted, and familiar with the science of figures, do you not think that, confronted with our many sins, He would send us back to our nothingness? But His Love for us makes him actually blind.
"If the greatest sinner on earth should repent at the moment of his death, and draw His last breath in an act of love, neither the many graces he had abused, nor the multiplied crimes he had committed, would stand in his way. Our Lord would see nothing, count nothing, but the sinner's last prayer, and without delay He would receive him into the arms of His Mercy.
"But, to make Him thus blind and to prevent Him doing the smallest sum of addition, we must approach Him through His Heart--on that side He is vulnerable and defenceless."
* * * * * *
I had grieved her, and had gone to ask her pardon: "If you but knew what I feel!" she exclaimed. "Never have I more clearly understood the love with which Jesus receives us when we seek His forgiveness. If I, His poor little creature, feel so tenderly towards you when you come back to me, what must pass through Our Lord's Divine Heart when we return to Him? Far more quickly than I have just done will He blot out our sins from His memory. . . . Nay, He will even love us more tenderly than before we fell."
* * * * * *
I had an immense dread of the judgments of God, and no argument of Soeur Thérèse could remove it. One day I put to her the following objection: "It is often said to us that in God's sight the angels themselves are not pure. How, therefore, can you expect me to be otherwise than filled with fear?"
She replied: "There is but one means of compelling God not to judge us, and it is--to appear before Him empty-handed." "And how can that be done?" "It is quite simple: lay nothing by, spend your treasures as you gain them. Were I to live to be eighty, I should always be poor, because I cannot economise. All my earnings are immediately spent on the ransom of souls.
"Were I to await the hour of death to offer my trifling coins for valuation, Our Lord would not fail to discover in them some base metal, and they would certainly have to be refined in Purgatory. Is it not recorded of certain great Saints that, on appearing before the Tribunal of God, their hands laden with merit, they have yet been sent to that place of expiation, because in God's Eyes all our justice is unclean?"
"But," I replied, "if God does not judge our good actions, He will judge our bad ones." "Do not say that! Our Lord is Justice itself, and if He does not judge our good actions, neither will He judge our bad ones. It seems to me, that for Victims of Love there will be no judgment. God will rather hasten to reward with eternal delights His own Love which He will behold burning in their hearts."
"To enjoy such a privilege, would it suffice to repeat that Act of Oblation which you have composed?" "Oh, no! words do not suffice. To be a true Victim of Love we must surrender ourselves entirely. . . . Love will consume us only in the measure of our self-surrender."
* * * * * *
I was grieving bitterly over a fault I had committed. "Take your Crucifix," she said, "and kiss it." I kissed the Feet.
"Is that how a child kisses its father? Throw your arms at once round His Neck and kiss His Face." When I had done so, she continued: "That is not sufficient--He must return your caress." I had to press the Crucifix to both my cheeks, whereupon she added: "Now, all is forgiven."
* * * * * *
I told her one day that if I must be reproached I preferred deserving it to being unjustly accused. "For my part," she replied, "I prefer to be charged unjustly, because, having nothing to reproach myself with, I offer gladly this little injustice to God. Then, humbling myself, I think how easily I might have deserved the reproach. The more you advance, the fewer the combats; or rather, the more easy the victory, because the good side of things will be more visible. Then your soul will soar above creatures. As for me, I feel utterly indifferent to all accusations because I have learned the hollowness of human judgment."
She added further: "When misunderstood and judged unfavourably, what benefit do we derive from defending ourselves? Leave things as they are, and say nothing. It is so sweet to allow ourselves to be judged anyhow, rightly or wrongly.
"It is not written in the Gospel that Saint Mary Magdalen put forth excuses when charged by her sister with sitting idle at Our Lord's Feet. She did not say: 'Martha, if you knew the happiness that is mine and if you heard the words that I hear, you too would leave everything to share my joy and my repose.' No, she preferred to keep silent. . . . Blessed silence which giveth such peace to the soul!"
* * * * * *
At a moment of temptation and struggle I received this note: "'The just man shall correct me in mercy and shall reprove me; but let not the oil of the sinner perfume my head.' It is only by the just that I can be either reproved or corrected, because all my Sisters are pleasing to God. It is less bitter to be rebuked by a sinner than by a just man; but through compassion for sinners, to obtain their conversion, I beseech Thee, O my God, to permit that I may be well rebuked by those just souls who surround me. I ask also that the oil of praise, so sweet to our nature, may not perfume my head, that is to say, my mind, by making me believe that I possess virtues when I have merely performed a few good actions.
"Jesus! 'Thy Name is as oil poured out,' and it is into this divine perfume that I desire wholly to plunge myself, far from the gaze of mankind."
* * * * * *
"It is not playing the game to argue with a Sister that she is in the wrong, even when it is true, because we are not answerable for her conduct. We must not be Justices of the peace, but Angels of peace only."
* * * * * *
"You give yourselves up too much to what you are doing," she used to say to us; "you worry about the future as though it were in your hands. Are you much concerned at this moment as to what is happening in other Carmelite convents, and whether the nuns there are busy or otherwise? Does their work prevent you praying or meditating? Well, just in the same way, you ought to detach yourselves from your own personal labours, conscientiously spending on them the time prescribed, but with perfect freedom of heart. We read that the Israelites, while building the walls of Jerusalem, worked with one hand and held a sword in the other. This is an image of what we should do: avoid being wholly absorbed in our work."
* * * * * *
"One Sunday," Thérèse relates, "I was going toward the chestnut avenue, full of rejoicing, for it was spring-time, and I wanted to enjoy nature's beauties. What a bitter disappointment! My dear chestnuts had been pruned, and the branches, already covered with buds, now lay on the ground. On seeing this havoc, and thinking that three years must elapse before it could be repaired, my heart felt very sore. But the grief did not last long. 'If I were in another convent,' I reflected, 'what would it matter to me if the chestnut-trees of the Carmel at Lisieux were entirely cut down?' I will not worry about things that pass. God shall be my all. I will take my walks in the wooded groves of His Love, whereon none dare lay hands."
* * * * * *
A novice asked her Sisters to help her shake some blankets. As they were somewhat liable to tear because of their worn condition, she insisted, rather sharply, on their being handled with care. "What would you do," said Thérèse to the impatient one, "if it were not your duty to mend these blankets? There would be no thought of self in the matter, and if you did call attention to the fact that they are easily torn, it would be done in quite an impersonal way. In all your actions, you should avoid the least trace of self-seeking."
* * * * * *
Seeing one of our Sisters very much fatigued, I said to Soeur Thérèse: "It grieves me to see people suffer, especially those who are holy." She instantly replied: "I do not feel as you do. Saints who suffer never excite my pity. I know they have strength to bear their sufferings, and that through them they are giving great glory to God. But I compassionate greatly those who are not Saints, and who do not know how to profit by suffering. They indeed awake my pity. I would strain every nerve to help and comfort them."
* * * * * *
"Were I to live longer, it is the office of Infirmarian that would most please me. I would not ask for it, but were it imposed through obedience, I should consider myself highly favoured. I think I should fulfill its duties with much affection, always mindful of Our Lord's words: 'I was sick, and you visited Me.' The infirmary bell should be for you as heavenly music, and you ought purposely to pass by the windows of the sick that it might be easy for them to summon you. Consider yourself as a little slave whom everyone has the right to command. Could you but see the Angels who from the heights of Heaven watch your combats in the arena! They are awaiting the end of the fight to crown you and cover you with flowers. You know that we claim to rank as little Martyrs . . . . but we must win our palms.
"God does not despise these hidden struggles with ourselves, so much richer in merit because they are unseen: 'The patient man is better than the valiant, and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh cities.' Through our little acts of charity, practised in the dark, as it were, we obtain the conversion of the heathen, help the missionaries, and gain for them plentiful alms, thus building both spiritual and material dwellings for Our Eucharistic God."
* * * * * *
I had seen Mother Prioress showing, as I thought, more confidence and affection to one of our Sisters than she extended to me. Expecting to win sympathy, I told my trouble to Soeur Thérèse, and great was my surprise when she put me the question: "Do you think you love our Mother very much?" "Certainly! otherwise I should be indifferent if others were preferred to me."
"Well, I shall prove that you are absolutely mistaken, and that it is not our Mother that you love, but yourself. When we really love others, we rejoice at their happiness, and we make every sacrifice to procure it. Therefore if you had this true, disinterested affection, and loved our Mother for her own sake, you would be glad to see her find pleasure even at your expense; and since you think she has less satisfaction in talking with you than with another Sister, you ought not to grieve at being apparently neglected."
* * * * * *
I was distressed at my many distractions during prayers: "I also have many," she said, "but as soon as I am aware of them, I pray for those people the thought of whom is diverting my attention, and in this way they reap benefit from my distractions. . . . I accept all for the love of God, even the wildest fancies that cross my mind."
* * * * * *
I was regretting a pin which I had been asked for, and which I had found most useful. "How rich you are," said Thérèse, "you will never be happy!"
* * * * * *
The grotto of the Holy Child was in her charge, and, knowing that one of our Mothers greatly disliked perfumes, she never put any sweet-smelling flowers there, not even a tiny violet. This cost her many a real sacrifice. One day, just as she had placed a beautiful artificial rose at the foot of the statue, the Mother called her. Soeur Thérèse, surmising that it was to bid her remove the rose, was anxious to spare her any humiliation. She therefore took the flower to the good Sister, and, forestalling all observations, said: "Look, Mother, how well nature is imitated nowadays: would you not think this rose had been freshly gathered from the garden?"
* * * * * *
"There are moments," she told us, "when we are so miserable within, that there is nothing for it but to get away from ourselves. At those times God does not oblige us to remain at home. He even permits our own company to become distasteful to us in order that we may leave it. Now I know no other means of exit save through the doorway of charitable works, on a visit to Jesus and Mary."
* * * * * *
"When I picture the Holy Family, the thought that does me most good is --the simplicity of their home-life. Our Lady and St. Joseph were well aware that Jesus was God, while at the same time great wonders were hidden from them, and--like us--they lived by faith. You have heard those words of the Gospel: 'They understood not the word that He spoke unto them'; and those others no less mysterious: 'His Father and Mother were wondering at those things which were spoken concerning Him.' They seemed to be learning something new, for this word 'wondering' implies a certain amount of surprise."
* * * * * *
"There is a verse in the Divine Office which I recite each day with reluctance: 'I have inclined my heart to do Thy justifications for ever, because of the reward.' I hasten to add in my heart: 'My Jesus, Thou knowest I do not serve Thee for sake of reward, but solely out of love, and a desire to win Thee souls."
* * * * * *
"In Heaven only shall we be in possession of the clear truth. On earth, even in matters of Holy Scripture, our vision is dim. It distresses me to see the differences in its translations, and had I been a Priest I would have learned Hebrew, so as to read the Word of God as He deigned to utter it in human speech."
* * * * * *
Soeur Thérèse often spoke to me of a well-known toy with which she had amused herself when a child. This was the kaleidoscope, shaped like a small telescope, through which, as it is made to revolve, one perceives an endless variety of pretty-coloured figures.
"This toy," she said, "excited my admiration, and I wondered what could provide so charming a phenomenon, when one day, after a lengthy examination, I found that it consisted simply of tiny bits of paper and cloth scattered inside. A further examination revealed that there were three mirrors inside the tube, and the problem was solved. It became for me the illustration of a great truth.
"So long as our actions, even the most trivial, remain within Love's kaleidoscope, so long the Blessed Trinity, figured by the three mirrors, imparts to them a wonderful brightness and beauty. The eye-piece is Jesus Christ, and He, looking from outside through Himself into the kaleidoscope, finds perfect all our works. But, should we leave that ineffable abode of Love, He would see but the rags and chaff of unclean and worthless deeds."
* * * * * *
I told Soeur Thérèse of the strange phenomena produced by magnetism on persons who surrender their will to the hypnotiser. It seemed to interest her greatly, and next day she said to me: "Your conversation yesterday did me so much good! How I long to be hypnotised by Our Lord! It was my waking thought, and verily it was sweet to surrender Him my will. I want Him to take possession of my faculties in such wise that my acts may no more be mine, or human, but Divine--inspired and guided by the Spirit of Love."
* * * * * *
Before my profession I received through my saintly Novice-mistress a very special grace. We had been washing all day. I was worn-out with fatigue and harassed with spiritual worries. That night, before meditation, I wanted to speak to her, but she dismissed me with the remark: "That is the bell for meditation, and I have not time to console you; besides, I see plainly that it would be useless trouble. For the present, God wishes you to suffer alone." I followed her to meditation so discouraged that, for the first time, I doubted of my vocation. I should never be able to be a Carmelite. The life was too hard.
I had been kneeling for some minutes, when all at once, in the midst of this interior struggle--without having asked or even wished for peace-- I felt a sudden and extraordinary change of soul. I no longer knew myself. My vocation appeared to me both lovely and lovable. I saw the sweetness and priceless value of suffering. All the privations and fatigues of the religious life appeared to me infinitely preferable to worldly pleasures, and I came away from my meditation completely transformed.
Next day I told my Mistress what had taken place, and, seeing she was deeply touched, I begged to know the reason. "God is good," she exclaimed. "Last evening you inspired me with such profound pity that I prayed incessantly for you at the beginning of meditation. I besought Our Lord to bring you comfort, to change your dispositions, and show you the value of suffering. He has indeed heard my prayers."
* * * * * *
Being somewhat of a child in my ways, the Holy Child--to help me in the practice of virtue--inspired me with the thought of amusing myself with Him, and I chose the game of ninepins. I imagined them of all sizes and colours, representing the souls I wished to reach. The ball was-- love.
In December, 1896, the novices received, for the benefit of the Foreign Missions, various trifles towards a Christmas tree, and at the bottom of the box containing them was a top--a rare thing in a Carmelite convent. My companions remarked: "What an ugly thing!--of what use will it be?" But I, who knew the game, caught hold of it, exclaiming: "Nay, what fun! it will spin a whole day without stopping if it be well whipped"; and thereupon I spun it around to their great surprise.
Soeur Thérèse was quietly watching us, and on Christmas night, after midnight Mass, I found in our cell the famous top, with a delightful letter addressed as follows:
To My Beloved Little Spouse
Player of Ninepins on the Mountain of Carmel
Christmas Night, 1896.
MY BELOVED LITTLE SPOUSE,--I am well pleased with thee! All the year round thou hast amused Me by playing at ninepins. I was so overjoyed that the whole court of Angels was surprised and charmed. Several little cherubs have asked me why I did not make them children. Others wanted to know if the melody of their instruments were not more pleasing to me than thy joyous laugh when a ninepin fell at the stroke of thy love-ball. My answer to them was, that they must not regret they are not children, since one day they would play with thee in the meadows of Heaven. I told them also that thy smiles were certainly more sweet to Me than their harmonies, because these smiles were purchased by suffering and forgetfulness of self.
And now, my cherished Spouse, it is my turn to ask something of thee. Thou wilt not refuse Me--thou lovest Me too much. Let us change the game. Ninepins amuse me greatly, but at present I should like to play at spinning a top, and, if thou dost consent, thou shalt be the top. I give thee one as a model. Thou seest that it is ugly to look at, and would be kicked aside by whosoever did not know the game. But at the sight of it a child would leap for joy and shout: "What fun! it will spin a whole day without stopping!"
Although thou too art not attractive, I--the little Jesus--love thee, and beg of thee to keep always spinning to amuse Me. True, it needs a whip to make a top spin. Then let thy Sisters supply the whip, and be thou most grateful to those who shall make thee turn fastest. When I shall have had plenty of fun, I will bring thee to join Me here, and our games shall be full of unalloyed delight.--Thy little Brother,
* * * * * *
I had the habit of constantly crying about the merest trifles, and this was a source of great pain to Soeur Thérèse. One day a bright idea occurred to her: taking a mussel-shell from her painting table, and, holding my hands lest I should prevent her, she gathered my tears in the shell, and soon they were turned into merry laughter.
"There," she said, "from this onwards I permit you to cry as much as you like on condition that it is into the shell!"
A week, however, before her death I spent a whole evening in tears at the thought of her fast-approaching end. She knew it, and said: "You have been crying. Was it into the shell?" I was unable to tell an untruth, and my answer grieved her. "I am going to die," she continued, "and I shall not be at rest about you unless you promise to follow faithfully my advice. I consider it of the utmost importance for the good of your soul."
I promised what she asked, begging leave, however, as a favour, to be allowed to cry at her death. "But," she answered, "why cry at my death? Those tears will certainly be useless. You will be bewailing my happiness! Still I have pity on your weakness, and for the first few days you have leave to cry, though afterwards you must again take up the shell."
It has cost me some heroic efforts, but I have been faithful. I have kept the shell at hand, and each time the wish to cry overcame me, I laid hold of the pitiless thing. However urgent the tears, the trouble of passing it from one eye to the other so distracted my thoughts, that before very long this ingenious method entirely cured me of my sensibility.
* * * * * *
Owing to a fault which had caused Soeur Thérèse much pain, but of which I had deeply repented, I intended to deprive myself of Holy Communion. I wrote to her of my resolution, and this was her reply: "Little flower, most dear to Jesus, by this humiliation your roots are feeding upon the earth. You must now open wide your petals, or rather lift high your head, so that the Manna of the Angels may, like a divine dew, come down to strengthen you and supply all your wants. Good-night, poor little flower! Ask of Jesus that all the prayers offered for my cure may serve to increase the fire which ought to consume me."
* * * * * *
"At the moment of Communion I sometimes liken my soul to that of a little child of three or four, whose hair has been ruffled and clothes soiled at play. This is a picture of what befalls me in my struggling with souls. But Our Blessed Lady comes promptly to the rescue, takes off my soiled pinafore, and arranges my hair, adorning it with a pretty ribbon or a simple flower. . . . Then I am quite nice, and able, without any shame, to seat myself at the Banquet of Angels."
* * * * * *
In the infirmary we scarcely waited for the end of her thanksgiving before seeking her advice. At first, this somewhat distressed her, and she would make gentle reproaches, but soon she yielded to us, saying: "I must not wish for more rest than Our Lord. When He withdrew into the desert after preaching, the crowds would come and intrude upon His solitude. Come, then, to me as much as you like; I must die sword in hand--'the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.'"
* * * * * *
"Advise us," we said to her, "how to profit by our spiritual instructions." "Go for guidance with great simplicity, not counting too much on help which may fail you at any moment. You would then have to say with the Spouse in the Canticles: 'The keepers took away my cloak and wounded me; when I had a little passed by them, I found Him whom my soul loveth.' If you ask with humility and with detachment after your Beloved, the keepers will tell you. More often, you will find Jesus only when you have passed by all creatures. Many times have I repeated this verse of the Spiritual Canticle of St. John of the Cross:
'Messengers, I pray, no more Between us send, who know not how To tell me what my spirit longs to know. For they Thy charms who read-- For ever telling of a thousand more-- Make all my wounds to bleed, While deeper then before Doth an--I know not what!--my spirit grieve With stammerings vague, and of all life bereave.'"
* * * * * *
"If, supposing the impossible, God Himself could not see my good actions, I would not be troubled. I love Him so much I would like to give Him joy without His knowing who gave. When He sees the gift being made, He is, as it were, obliged to make a return. . . . I should wish to spare Him the trouble."
* * * * * *
"Had I been rich, I could never have seen a poor person hungry without giving him to eat. This is my way also in the spiritual life. There are many souls on the brink of hell, and as my earnings come to hand they are scattered among these sinners. The time has never yet been when I could say: 'Now I am going to work for myself.'"
* * * * * *
"There are people who make the worst of everything. As for me, I do just the contrary. I always see the good side of things, and even if my portion be suffering, without a glimmer of solace, well, I make it my joy."
* * * * * *
"Whatever has come from God's Hands has always pleased me, even those things which have seemed to me less good and less beautiful than the gifts made to others."
* * * * * *
"When staying with my aunt, while I was still a little girl, I was given a certain book to read. In one of the stories great praise was bestowed on a schoolmistress who by her tact escaped from every difficulty without hurting anyone's feelings. Her method of saying to one person: 'You are right,' and to another: 'You are not wrong,' struck me particularly, and as I read I reflected that I would not have acted in that way because we should always tell the truth. And this I always do, though I grant it is much more difficult. It would be far less trouble for us, when told of a worry, to cast the blame on the absent. Less trouble . . . nevertheless I do just the contrary, and if I am disliked it cannot be helped. Let the novices not come to me if they do not want to learn the truth."
* * * * * *
"Before a reproof bear fruit it must cost something and be free from the least trace of passion. Kindness must not degenerate into weakness. When we have had good reason for finding fault, we must leave it, and not allow ourselves to worry over having given pain. To seek out the delinquent for the purpose of consoling her, is to do more harm than good. Left alone, she is compelled to look beyond creatures, and to turn to God; she is forced to see her faults and to humble herself. Otherwise she would become accustomed to expect consolation after a merited rebuke, and would act like a spoilt child who stamps and screams, knowing well that by this means its mother will be forced to return and dry its tears."
* * * * * *
"'Let the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, be ever in your mouth and in your hearts.' If we find any one particular person disagreeable we should never be disheartened, much less cease our endeavour to reform that soul. We should wield the sword of the Spirit, and so correct her faults. Things should never be allowed to pass for the sake of our own ease. We must carry on the war even when there is no hope of victory. Success matters nothing, and we must fight on and never complain: 'I shall gain nothing from that soul, she does not understand, there is nothing for it but to abandon her.' That would be the act of a coward. We must do our duty to the very end."
* * * * * *
"Formerly, if any of my friends were in trouble, and I did not succeed in consoling them when they came to see me, I left the parlour quite heart-broken. Soon, however, Our Lord made me understand how incapable I was of bringing comfort to a soul, and from that day I no longer grieved when my visitors went away downcast. I confided to God the sufferings of those so dear to me, and I felt sure that He heard my prayer. At their next visit I learned that I was not mistaken. After this experience, I no longer worry when I have involuntarily given pain. . . . I simply ask Our Lord to make amends."
* * * * * *
"What do you think of all the graces that have been heaped upon you?"-- "I think 'the Spirit of God breatheth where He will.'"
* * * * * *
"Mother," she one day said to the Prioress, "were I unfaithful, were I to commit even the smallest infidelity, I feel that my soul would be plunged into the most terrible anguish, and I should be unable to welcome death."
Mother Prioress evinced surprise at hearing her speak in this strain, and she continued: "I am speaking of infidelity in the matter of pride. If, for example, I were to say: 'I have acquired such or such a virtue and I can practise it'; or again: 'My God, Thou knowest I love Thee too much to dwell on one single thought against faith,' straightway I should be assailed by the most dangerous temptations and should certainly yield. To prevent this misfortune I have but to say humbly and from my heart: 'My God, I beseech Thee not to let me be unfaithful.'
"I understand clearly how St. Peter fell. He placed too much reliance on his own ardent nature, instead of leaning solely on the Divine strength. Had he only said: 'Lord, give me strength to follow Thee unto death!' the grace would not have been refused him.
"How is it, Mother, that Our Lord, knowing what was about to happen, did not say to him: 'Ask of Me the strength to do what is in thy mind?' I think His purpose was to give us a twofold lesson--first: that He taught His Apostles nothing by His presence which He does not teach us through the inspirations of grace; and secondly: that, having made choice of St. Peter to govern the whole Church, wherein there are many sinners, He wished him to test in himself what man can do without God's help. This is why Jesus said to him before his fall: 'Thou being once converted confirm thy brethren'; that is, 'Tell them the story of thy sin--show them by thy own experience, how necessary it is for salvation to rely solely upon Me.'"
* * * * * *
I was much afflicted at seeing her ill, and I often exclaimed: "Life is so dreary!" "Life is not dreary"--she would immediately say; "on the contrary, it is most gay. Now if you said: 'Exile is dreary,' I could understand. It is a mistake to call 'life' that which must have an end. Such a word should be only used of the joys of Heaven--joys that are unfading--and in this true meaning life is not sad but gay--most gay. . . ."
Her own gaiety was a thing of delight. For several days she had been much better, and we were saying to her: "We do not yet know of what disease you will die. . . ." "But," she answered, "I shall die of death! Did not God tell Adam of what he would die when He said to him: 'Thou shalt die of death'?"
"Then death will come to fetch you?"--"No, not death, but the Good God. Death is not, as pictures tell us, a phantom, a horrid spectre. The Catechism says that it is the separation of soul and body--no more! Well, I do not fear a separation which will unite me for ever to God."
"Will the Divine Thief," some one asked, "soon come to steal His little bunch of grapes?" "I see Him in the distance, and I take good care not to cry out: 'Stop thief!' Rather, I call to Him: 'This way, this way!'"
* * * * * *
Asked under what name we should pray to her in Heaven, she answered humbly: "Call me Little Thérèse."
* * * * * *
I was telling her that the most beautiful angels, all robed in white, would bear her soul to Heaven: "Fancies like those," she answered, "do not help me, and my soul can only feed upon truth. God and His Angels are pure spirits. No human eye can see them as they really are. That is why I have never asked extraordinary favours. I prefer to await the Eternal Vision."
"To console me at your death I have asked God to send me a beautiful dream."--"That is a thing I would never do . . . ask for consolations. Since you wish to resemble me, you know what are my ideas on this:
'Fear not, O Lord, that I shall waken Thee: I shall await in peace the Heavenly Shore.'
"It is so sweet to serve God in the dark night and in the midst of trial. After all, we have but this life in which to live by faith."
* * * * * *
"I am happy at the thought of going to Heaven, but when I reflect on these words of Our Lord: 'I come quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to his works,' I think that He will find my case a puzzle: I have no works. . . . Well, He will render unto me according to His own works!"
* * * * * *
"The chief plenary indulgence, which is within reach of everybody, and can be gained without the ordinary conditions, is that of charity-- which 'covereth a multitude of sins.'"
* * * * * *
"Surely you will not even pass through Purgatory. If such a thing should happen, then certainly nobody goes straight to Heaven."--"That gives me little thought. I shall be quite content with the Merciful God's decision. Should I go to Purgatory, I shall--like the three Hebrew children in the furnace--walk amid the flames singing the Canticle of Love."
* * * * * *
"In Heaven you will be placed among the Seraphim." "If so, I shall not imitate them. At the sight of God they cover themselves with their wings: I shall take good care not to hide myself with mine."
* * * * * *
I showed her a picture which represented Joan of Arc being comforted in prison by her Voices, and she remarked: "I also am comforted by an interior voice. From above, the Saints encourage me, saying: 'So long as thou art a captive in chains, thou canst not fulfill thy mission, but later on, after thy death, will come thy day of triumph.'"
* * * * * *
"In Heaven, God will do all I desire, because on earth I have never done my own will."
* * * * * *
"You will look down upon us from Heaven, will you not?"--"No, I will come down."
* * * * * *
Some months before the death of Soeur Thérèse, The Life of St. Aloysius was being read in the refectory, and one of the Mothers was struck by the mutual and tender affection which existed between the young Saint and the aged Jesuit, Father Corbinelli.
"You are little Aloysius," she said to Thérèse, "and I am old Father Corbinelli--be mindful of me when you enter Heaven." "Would you like me to fetch you thither soon, dear Mother?" "No, I have not yet suffered enough." "Nay, Mother, I tell you that you have suffered quite enough." To which Mother Hermance replied: "I dare not say Yes. . . . In so grave a matter I must have the sanction of authority." So the request was made to Mother Prioress, who, without attaching much importance to it, gave her sanction.
Now, on one of the last days of her life, Soeur Thérèse, scarcely able to speak owing to her great weakness, received through the infirmarian a bouquet of flowers. It had been gathered by Mother Hermance, and was accompanied by an entreaty for one word of affection. The message: "Tell Mother Hermance of the Heart of Jesus that during Mass this morning I saw Father Corbinelli's grave close to that of little Aloysius."
"That is well," replied the good Mother, greatly touched; "tell Soeur Thérèse that I have understood. . . ." And from that moment she felt convinced her death was near. It took place just one year later, and, according to the prediction of the "Little Aloysius," the two graves lie side by side.
* * * * * *
The last words penned by the hand of Soeur Thérèse were: "O Mary, were I Queen of Heaven, and wert thou Thérèse, I should wish to be Thérèse, that I might see thee Queen of Heaven!"
 Cf. Matt. Mt 20,23
 Cf. Ps. 67:28.
 Cf. Prov. Pr 1,4
 Judith 15:11.
 Ecclus. 11:12, 13, 22, 23, 24.
 Jer. Jr 10,23
 Cf. Psalm 93:18.
 Imit., I, xvi. 4.
 John Jn 14,2
 Cf. Psalm 111:5.
 Cant. 1:2.
 Cf. 2 Esdras 4:17.
 Matt. Mt 25,36
 Prov. Pr 16,32
 Luke Lc 2,50
 Luke Lc 2,33
 Ps. 118:112.
 Ephes. 6:17.
 Cf. Cant. 5:7, 3:4.
 In this and the following "counsel" it should be remembered that it Novice-Mistress who is speaking. [Ed.]
 Cf. Ep 6,17 Is 61,21.
 Cf. John Jn 3,8
 Luke Lc 22,32
 Cf. Gen. Gn 2,17 play on the French: Tu mourras mort. [Ed.]
 Apoc. Ap 22,12
 Prov. Pr 10,12
 Cf. Is 6,2.
The Story of a Soul C 36