the Carmel

Autobiography of Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face (1909) - continued

  I had in my God an invincible confidence and while believing to deserve his disgrace, I begged him to have pity on me and I was certain that he would deliver me, or at least that he would not allow me to do so. 'insulted. I had listened to his precepts when he said to me: “My daughter, support your father in his old age. Should his spirit come to weaken, be indulgent, and do not despise him in the fullness of your strength" so I had the right to count on the reward: "for the good done to a father will not be forgotten , and in place of your sins, your house will prosper. On the day of your tribulation the Lord will remember you, as the ice melts in serene weather, so will your sins be dispelled (Eccl. III,
   My Mother, yes, the Lord has remembered me… that is the whole mystery of my preservation. Ah! now you understand how true I was when I compared my soul to a brand snatched from the fire!..
   So I will never be able to thank him enough, the One who saved me! What did I do to attract this grace! The great saints rose before Satan like formidable giants, touched by the sting they rolled in thorns, or plunged into icy water, and by their valor they extinguished
  the fire, me in my weakness I contented myself not to blow on it…
  In truth, the fire was not extinguished then, but since it is a greater miracle that Jesus did to keep his brand in the ardor of the flame than to have extinguished this flame, glory be returned to his power, which has triumphed in me with more brilliance!
   Alas! when I consider the incalculable number of poor souls blinded by the devil who makes the pleasures of the senses and the attractions of human love dangle before their eyes, I am seized with great sadness. I
wish I could go find them and tell them how easy it is to come out of the crucible, purer than you entered it. If we were left to our own strength obviously it would be impossible and the cursed voice of the serpent is true in this. (allusion to the spoken word…see p. 317, end of the 1st paragraph). Yes, in my humble opinion, without direct help from heaven, these fights are those where one is defeated before entering the lists. Without this help from on high the fall is absolutely certain and the Sage is right when he says: “The vertigo of passion seduces a spirit even far from evil. » (Eccl. ) because the flesh being the weight that drags us down if Jesus does not hold back we truly fall. Just as it is impossible for a man thrown from the top of a ship into the sea with a millstone around his neck not to fall into the water and when he has fallen there can swim and save himself, so he it is impossible to pull oneself out of the ocean of temptation. The millstone is our concupiscence, the devil uses it, but it is not on his account, it is on ours, what is his share, to him, it is the action of us cast into the sea by temptation. Oh my God! how will we manage to save ourselves from this double danger if you yourself do not come to our aid!
   Since it is obvious that, without the help of God, we are lost, we must therefore ask for this help and attract it. We ask for it by prayer, we attract it by fidelity to little things and by trust in God. For me, I felt that if I had the misfortune to give myself a moment of relaxation I was lost. So I was stricter than ever in my rules, more vigilant on the side of vanity. I remember that at my cousin Jeanne's wedding, her sister Marie and I, who were bridesmaids, paid great attention to this point. We, being bound to a sober distinction for our toilet,
we didn't even want to take care of our hairstyle more than usual so as not to attract attention in any way. Because of the state of my soul I carefully sought every opportunity to mortify myself, the mirror was banished and I remember that at the party I was very careful not to cross my feet because it was a graceful gesture and I even tucked them under my dress to deprive myself of seeing and showing off my charming cut-out shoes. These little nothings are small things, but they are the bond that binds us to Jesus, the bond that keeps us from falling. Thus we remain between heaven and earth with our millstone around our necks, or if we touch the waves, far from swallowing us up they carry us softly.
   If, on the contrary, breaking this bond of small sacrifices and vigilance, we say to Jesus: “I am tired of fighting with such unequal forces, I will let myself go at the mercy of circumstances! if you want to save me, you are almighty! If we say this, we are imitating the executioners who, after nailing Jesus to the Cross, said “If you are all-powerful come down from the Cross!” He did not come down, although he was all-powerful, nor will he come to the aid of the imprudent who will have bound him by his infidelities. Or if, in his goodness, he comes to it at the end to prevent the final loss, it will only be after having humiliated him by many falls.
   It is, that indeed, the fall is often the punishment of pride. The Wise said it: "The beginning of all sin is pride" (Prov.) so we can be sure that it is only the proud who fall, those who have presumed their strength or who, leaving the oars, have tempted God. The little ones, the weak ones, those who humbly trust in the Lord doing small things in their little power, these do not fall!

   Ah! my Mother, I find that this simple and consoling truth is not told enough to souls. In our pride we want, so to speak, to forget that all of us, without exception, are steeped in mud and we dare not raise these questions. The children of darkness dare to lift them, but it is to say to souls in despicable novels: "open your doors, your windows, all your exits in order to breathe deeply the voluptuous atmosphere that we make dense around your home.
   And we, we, under the pretext of a reserve of good taste, we are silent around this important question, which interests almost everyone and the poor souls are lost for lack of advice, for lack of hope. Ah! if only I could!.. My Mother, how great my desire is to steal from the poor tempted souls, from the poor seduced hearts, I would tell them about my pains, my little efforts and the victory that Jesus won, I would tell them that this victory is ensured by means of an easy and very small co-operation. I would tell them these words borrowed from our holy Books: “When I was still young, before going astray in the way of error, I prayed openly to obtain Wisdom. Seeing her flower as at the sight of a cluster that takes on color, my heart rejoiced in her. I asked for her in front of the temple, for her my soul struggled and I took great care in my actions. To her I directed my soul, with her my heart followed the right path, and the purity of life I found. With her, from the beginning I acquired intelligence, that is why I will never be abandoned.

  Bend your neck under the yoke and let your soul receive Wisdom. You don't have to go far to find it. See with your eyes that I have worked a short time and that I have found a great rest” (Eccl. 41)
   What Jesus asks for is therefore prayer and the simple action of bending one's neck under the yoke which is none other than to take great care in one's actions. all accidents and even on one's own life, to ensure the mercy and compassion of the good God also requires a small fee, but who would not want to pay it to obtain such security!
   My Mother, it is time for me to stop, because on this subject I would not say anything if I listened to myself. To make you forget this too long dissertation here is a little line that will make you smile. When the “Journal La Croix” appeared for the first time, Thérèse and I were still young. We were on the boulevard going to Les Buissonnets when we heard shouting: 'Vla! the newspaper La Croix, only 9 cents!' At first glance, we thought we had heard the wrong thing, but still perceiving the same sound, we began to laugh: 'You have to agree, said Thérèse, that it's not expensive! a penny to go the way of glory!'
   Ah my Mother, when I was paying him this penny, it cost me and I found that I gave millions, but today a penny in compensation for the brilliant victory he won in my states.

   When the enemies had withdrawn, the country became extremely prosperous. I mean that my soul, far from being weakened by two years of war, was enriched with all sorts of goods. As I wrote immediately quoting the passage from Ecclesiastes, Jesus rewarded me, he seemed to forget, this gentle Friend, that to Him alone belonged the honors of triumph...
   At that moment I can say like St Thérèse that I had the conquered world under my feet. My soul and my heart were lifted above the things of the earth and I felt within me a noble assurance. Ah! if I had been free, how quickly I would have flown away and hidden in a cloister! But my dear little Father needed me, a need that was disputed, it is true, because I could not relieve him in any way, he was too ill even to enjoy my visits in the ordinary way. However, I did not stop doing them to him so that he saw himself surrounded and loved, so alas! he could still enjoy these sweets! To withdraw would have been to condemn him to die far from his family and I always hoped that the good Lord would return it to us.
   So I remained in the world exposed to new seductions, but firmly convinced that Jesus would still save me from them. I led a serious life which would have been very pleasant in the company of my father and my dear sisters… The morning was reserved for painting. After the morning mass I set to work. I composed paintings for the Carmel and I also did studies from nature, I called old people and children into my studio to serve as models. It cost me a lot, because in all sorts of things I prefer to be able to get by on my own than to be a burden on other people.

  However, my models were very happy to come and pose, because I rewarded them generously. But the children fell asleep, I had to distract them as well as the old people, by talking to them almost all the time, so I only undertook this work from nature only to please God and prove my good will to him. . It seemed to me that after these efforts, I could hope for everything from his liberality when later I needed to use my art for his glory. My cooperation at the time was therefore to do all that was in me without fear of work.
   At that time I had very much wanted to have a master who would guide me in my work and the good Lord allowed an artist from Paris out of competition, member of the Jury etc. (Mr Krug) to come on holiday to Normandy. Friends having put me in touch with him, my uncle invited him several times and he gave me excellent lessons. I made a portrait under his direction and several studies. He was very surprised at my arrangements and greatly admired my various compositions. Later, when I asked him for advice for my paintings, he invariably answered me: “I have already told you that for composition, no one can show you how! As for the execution, there were indeed a few faults, but my excellent master never discouraged me, he even promised to have me admitted to the salon if I went to spend a few months in Paris following his courses. But other duties kept me in Lisieux and I again refused.
   By explaining to us the method of studies, the competitions for the Salon, as he was very frank and loyal, he introduced us to the tricks to be received, to the protections that we had to ensure. Among other things he tells us that, if the competitors were not part of such a company, I would not
don't remember the name but I know that there was a subscription to take out… if they hadn't entered this militia they could not be received whatever the value of their works. I cannot say how much this declaration disgusted me with all the honors of the land where the palm is not given to merit, but to intrigue or enslavement, and I was no longer surprised to have seen salon so many works which, in my opinion, were very mediocre.
   I did not only enjoy my master's lessons one summer, every year during the holidays I saw him again and submitted to him the work done during his absence. He even came to see me at the Carmel where, having shown him a bust portrait, from the photograph, which I had just completed, he told me that it was worth no less than 400 f. (a bust portrait was then worth 300 f., with hands 500f. (price of my mistress of painting)
   These details in the story of my soul will seem childish to you, my Mother, and yet they have their importance, in this fortuitous meeting with a renowned painter seemed to me a very great delicacy of Jesus. He seemed to say to me: "As for me, you had given up on going to Paris to follow the lessons of the great masters, well, it's one of them who comes to you, it's me who sends him to you for prove to you that even human help is not lacking to those who have abandoned everything for my love.”
   I greatly appreciated this grace and I tasted the fruits of it, for the protection of such an authorized master was of great help to me. When he had said that something was good, you had to believe it, no one dared to criticize my works when the censor had passed. This gave me a certain confidence that made me advance in my art by leaps and bounds. Until then shyness had paralyzed my strength, which proved once again that encouragement is often necessary.

   With painting I also cultivated science and literature. I read books on geology, zoology, physics, chemistry, I also read Plato and it is with pleasure that I would have devoted myself to the study of philosophy if I had had someone to teach me. to guide. Every evening my uncle read us some fine play by our best authors which he chose (carefully eliminating all the passages of dubious morality). So we got to know Corneille, Racine, Shakespeare and others.
   At that time, I learned more than 40 poems by heart, there was something for everyone, some were tender, delicate, melancholy, graceful, others were grandiose, severe, sublime while still others were patriotic stories or war songs, the latter were the most numerous. Of course no one ever knew my repertoire, I murmured that in a low voice when I was alone busy with a job that did not captivate the mind. I need not say that all these poems were in the best taste and all pious, I sang the heroes of my choice, and, among these heroes, Joan of Arc was my favourite.
   Chivalric tales had long been my delight, but not content with mere stories I had studied books dealing with chivalry itself. So I knew the names of all the weapons that the Knights used, their duties, their mores, no detail had escaped me.
   If I instructed myself thus by interesting and historical readings, I nourished my soul with sound doctrine and the examples of the Saints. My darling Thérèse undertook to provide it for me, I usually read and meditated after her on what she had tried out herself. I read the Fundamentals of Spiritual Life by Fr. Surin. The works of St John of the Cross, St Thérèse, Fr. d'Argentan, Henri Suso and many others,
for piety always held the greatest place in my life.
   I was still busy with various jobs. I did electroplating, photography and all sorts of artistic things. I really liked making inventions and understanding the mechanism. Having had a sewing machine, I took it apart completely and after cleaning each part, I put them back in their place. Speaking of the sewing machine, I also knew how to make it work and often our cousins ​​and I made toilets for ourselves.
   Ah! my Mother, what a multiplicity of things! When I consider all this I am dizzy! And yet it is the truth that my poor mind has applied itself to many vanities. I was going to say “unfortunately” for me, I have always been very skillful and heard at a lot of work. As a child, at the age when the little girl still only puts on pearls, I asked for a cloth and some thread and to the great amazement of everyone I cut and made a dress for my doll, a fashionable dress like the one that I saw beautiful ladies. It is true that the points were a centimeter long, but the way was executed in a surprising way. This aptitude for all things was so evident that a notary said to Papa, pointing to me: "You don't need to endow that one, she carries her fortune with her!" “Ah! may he have said the truth, may all these riches with which my nature was endowed have served me to acquire this imperishable fortune which is called Holiness!
   Thérèse thanked the good God for not having given her these exterior gifts which attract the praises of creatures. 'I look at this as a grace, she wrote. Jesus, wanting my heart for himself alone, was already answering my prayer, changing the consolation of the earth to bitterness'. I needed it all the more because I would not have been insensitive to the compliments.' But later she says
that when still young she was seized "with an extreme desire to know." This extreme desire to know in a child who was not yet 15 years old did not denote in germ this aptitude for all things which blossomed in me at the age of 20-25 years? and shouldn't she rather thank God for having hidden her in the shade of the cloister so that she wouldn't waste her time in useless acquaintances?
   As for me, should I be sorry to have employed, in a way less lucrative than her, the best years of my youth? Oh! no, being in the world I was there by the will of God and, in his condescension, he did not ask me then to live as a nun. Also, am I
  persuaded that I was agreeable to him by granting a special culture to
  intelligence. From the moment we first seek his kingdom and his justice he is happy with us. And I am certain that even in occupations which did not have eternity as their immediate goal, I always gave myself up to them with the intention of finding there some beauty which would bring me closer to my Creator. Besides, it wasn't difficult, everything raised me to him, even the things that naturally should have taken me away from him.
   I still think that, if Jesus wanted me to be exposed to the seductions of 'knowledge', it was in order to continue his mission of preservation in me by withdrawing his brand from this fire no less dangerous than that of the passions, even more dangerous since it is called pride and vainglory, and for that sin there is scarcely any mercy.
   But God allowed that on this point the temptations of the demon failed completely without even giving me a fight, because there was much less control in me on this ground than on the other. I have always hated pride more than the devil itself, and I must confess that I do not understand it.
not even. I am alas! proud when I am accused unjustly, I feel a reproach keenly and I need all my energy to keep silent, only encountering humility of heart after mature reflection. In this respect, therefore, pride is the first movement with me, while humility is only the second. But for the pride that comes from vainglory I find it so stupid, so unworthy of a noble and generous soul that I despise it with disdain.
   However, I remember a circumstance when the good Lord allowed the devil to tempt me on this point and, having left me to myself, he wanted to see what I was going to do. I hasten to say that, if there was victory, it was still he who won it. The little child who brings to the unfortunate the coin his father has just given him is giving alms, it is true, but does not the credit go to his father? It is always the same for me who won the piece that I have only the small merit of carrying it to its destination. Oh! how deeply I feel this truth!
   I anticipate the events, because I had already been in Carmel for several years, but this trait relating to my subject classified itself here. In order to organize a laboratory for the photo, ie I had given the commission to make carry out a tank and a pond. As the latter needed a very special shape because of the location intended for it, I had made a sketch and a small caption opposite. These objects were perfectly executed, as I had requested them. I expressed my surprise to the messenger, that the workers had understood so well: "It is not surprising," he replied, "it was so well explained that a child would have grasped immediately; the workers were in admiration, they said: but that sister is a real architect! - At that moment I felt a feeling of very lively pleasure,
without paying attention to it. However, as this impression persisted, it pained me and I wanted to chase it away, at that moment it returned with such great violence that I took fright and, quickly having recourse to the Blessed Virgin, I begged her to come to my aid: 'C 'is of course a temptation to pride, I thought, O my dear Mother, have mercy on me!'    
   But the temptation became more and more intense, what to do? I prayed fervently and got nothing! At that moment I had a bright thought. – We had been given, for New Year's gifts, a little pencil with an iron end, which gave me great pleasure, at recess a Sister had borrowed it from me and I knew very well that she would forget who had given it to her. lent it and would never return it to me unless I asked him back, which I intended to do without delay. But as I just said, a bright thought crossed my mind, I said to the good Lord: "Well, I'll give you my little pencil if you take me away from this fire of pride that burns me and I'll promise not only not to claim it, but not to take it from him if I find it lying around. »
   My Mother, it was at the same instant that the temptation disappeared never to return. I kept my word and never got my pencil back, which, you won't believe, was a very big sacrifice for me. By giving it to Jesus, I was offering whatever was costing me the most at that time.
   Since then, I have made this reflection inspired by the palpable result before my eyes: that only prayer united with sacrifice is truly effective. This is a point to make. Prayer and sacrifice are the two scales of the balance, just balance that the good Lord is absolutely forced to fill...

   But this reflection took me away from my subject and I don't know where to start again. I said, I believe, that I had never had to fight under the report of the pride which is born from vainglory. I was in fact able to profit in safety from the enjoyment of the goods of the mind tasted in order, and I thank the good Lord for having placed me successively in circles which were so sympathetic to me. No more at my uncle's than at Les Buissonnets did they talk about banal things. The toilet question was agitated with the seasons and quickly resolved, after which we no longer bothered about it. At the table it was these gentlemen who had the floor and I didn't regret it, because I was hanging on their lips. Nothing interested me like scientific or even political questions. But the latter made me suffer because I wanted to get up to fight for the good cause.
   At this time, a new newspaper was founded in Lisieux and the one to which it belonged opened its career by attacking the Church and the Pope. At the same time the good newspaper was going to sink, its editor, a devout Catholic, from the Lexovian Society, Mr. Lemeignan, who had been busy with this work for many years with a disinterestedness worthy of his faith, was ill and could no longer rest. take care of it. In this pressing difficulty, my uncle said to me one day: 'Perhaps the good Lord would be happy if I did an article to defend the Holy Father, but that would be engaging in journalism, if I do that I foresee that the newspaper will fall on my arms. We were at the table, hearing these words, my
Aunt, so sweet and so shy, began to cry. She objected that given the character of the adversary there would be duel proposals at every moment and that it would be a source of trouble in all respects. Then I spoke, quivering with emotion: “O my uncle! are you going to stop for so little! You just have to refuse the duels and then everything will be said, it doesn't matter if you become a target of the enemies, as long as you make a rampart to the Holy Father and to the good cause! ha! if only I could! »
   I do believe that my uncle was struck by what I said then, and it was the good Lord who permitted it thus, because instantly all his hesitations ceased and he resumed with assurance: “Well yes, I will answer! You have defeated girl with a big heart! »
   He answered, in fact, and wrote an article of masterly eloquence; the journal did indeed fall on his arms, but in such hands it took on a new life; the provocations to the duel were addressed to him, indeed, but he despised them. In a word, everything that had been foreseen happened, but without any other result for him than a crown of honor and for religion a powerful support Oh! I cannot say how much I find useful to a cause to have a public sheet in order to be able to speak when necessity requires it. Even if this organ would only hold the adversaries in check, that would already be a great deal. Also to give us this latitude to raise our voices when we see fit, no sacrifice should seem too costly, no more those of his fortune,
than those of his own person, nothing! It would be better to condemn yourself to eating dry bread all your life and to give yourself the right to be able to cry out at injustice and lies when necessary.
   Regarding what I was saying earlier about the enjoyments of the mind tasted in order, they are so great and so superior to those of the senses that there is not even a comparison to be established. between them. Sometimes I consider myself with a kind of respect, I say to myself: I am an intelligent and free being, I think what I want, my mind runs over all things and wants to penetrate all things, I have a will of my own, so independent of everything around me that no one in the world can do violence to her in spite of me, God himself counts with her. Reflecting on this I find myself so big that I can hardly believe it, I touch myself and I say with enthusiasm. Yes, it's quite true that I exist (several lines crossed out) But in the face of these marvels, how can we fail to recognize the supremacy of Him who is our origin and our end, of Him who makes his thoughts known to man! (Amos IV, 13) And yet, how alas! move away from their divine Principle to debase themselves and freely choose the rank
of the most abject beings!
   I cannot say how much this thought pains me. These days I had a few minutes in my hands, a fashion catalog. At the sight of all these frivolous heads my heart sank. No doubt these are only images, but it should not be deluded, however, the designers always reproduce the types and the looks of the characters of their time. If their pencil stroke gives these poses and these effeminate figures it is because they see them before their eyes. It's so sad! I noticed, among others, a person who, after turning her train towards her by a certain movement, looked at her with complacency as if she were hypnotized by this splendid horizon. The handsome spaniel we had at Les Buissonnets did that often!
   O my Mother! and to think that it is creatures so great and so perfect, creatures with eternity before them, who amuse themselves thus! That vanity is therefore ugly and repugnant since we must look for its model not in God but in animals. This reminds me that in the country, we had a beautiful mare who, under the weight of the years, had preserved the graces of her youth when it was honored to show them, for as soon as she went to the fields modestly driving a cart of hay, she lowered her head almost to the ground, while à la Victoria she assumed dashing gaits, straightened up making the neck of a swan, in a
word, you immediately recognized the beautiful carriage horse of yesteryear. She was therefore aware that it was necessary to be beautiful! I cannot say how much this study of the instinct of animals relating to vanity was profitable to me by making me despise such a base and servile feeling, since it makes our satisfaction depend not on the joys tasted in God, or in ourselves. -even by the culture of the spirit, but in the others by the desire to appear.
   Alongside this serious and interesting life that I led at my uncle's are placed two journeys which are connected with this period. One was aimed at Lourdes, the other at Paray-le-Monial. The first of the two journeys took us to the principal towns of France, for we had gone there as tourists and, like the Three Kings: we left by one road and returned by another. This excursion, very pleasant on the one hand, had a black point, it was to be in Lourdes without a pilgrimage, but the good Lord provided for it because we met at the Grotto a Vendéan pilgrim, so we had the joy of unite there and my cousin Marie thus had the opportunity to make her beautiful voice heard by the Blessed Virgin. I remember that at the torchlight procession many people turned around to see what this nightingale with such pure vibrations was. After having made our devotions in this unique place in the world, we made excursions in the mountains and passed through Spain. Our journey was pious, charming and instructive, but what left me with lasting memories
it was a visit to the Sanctuary of the Holy Face in Tours and a visit to the Grotto of Massabielle.
   Later, I also made the pilgrimage to Paray-le-Monial, I was accompanied by Léonie, or rather it was I who accompanied her, because it was to please her that I set out again, I had enough and even too many journeys on earth... In order to prove to Jesus that I loved him and that the place where he had manifested his Heart, symbol of the Love he bears me, was dear to me above all others, I did not want to follow other pilgrims who were taking the road to Ars. And yet I would have liked to pay a visit to this blessed place. I say this, my Mother, to prove to you how much I wanted to give the Sacred Heart of Jesus a proof of my attachment since this proof brought with it a sacrifice. And yet if you ask me what I thought of the Oratory of Tours, of the Grotto of Lourdes, of the sanctuary of Paray, I will answer that I suffered more than enjoyed there and I understood these words of the Imitation: "that there are few who sanctify themselves by many pilgrimages."
   It was in vain that I looked for Jesus there, that I looked for Mary there. I tried to penetrate myself with the thought that my Jesus had appeared in such a place, that my Mother had occupied such another, that finally they whom I love so much had come there to visit our humanity and reveal divine secrets to it. , my spirit
stopped short and my heart cried out as the disciples of old seeking to know Jesus: "Master, where are you staying?..." Where are you, where can I find you, O my Beloved? It is not by feeling that I want to meet you, but in reality, I want to grab you and take you wherever I go. As Madeleine "the place where you have been put" is not enough for my tenderness, I cry looking at it because this blessed place no longer possesses my Treasure. “Where did you hide, my Beloved, leaving me in groans? You fled like the deer, after hurting me, I came out after you screaming and you were already gone. (St John of the Cross)
   Such, my Mother, are the feelings which spring up in spite of myself from my heart, when I visit on earth the places sanctified by Jesus or by my Heavenly Mother. But in these anguishes of love the profound word of the Imitation always comes to console me: “The pious man carries Jesus everywhere with him”. ( ) So what have I to desire here below after such an assurance that I feel fulfilled in me? Yes, I feel Jesus living in me and I carry him everywhere with me! May the malice of men manage to deprive us of our tabernacles, to take away the Eucharist from us, as long as I have breath within me, Jesus will reside in the sanctuary of my heart and I will only see this mysterious presence cease to possess him. in the clear vision of eternity.
   Oh! here is the pilgrimage of pilgrimages, to visit Jesus in ourselves through interior life and union with God… This is where he lodges…

  He used to reply to the disciples who asked him about his place of residence: “Come and see”. Yes, to see we must go first, it is our cooperation with the divine call, it supposes an effort, but what a reward to see the place where our Beloved dwells and to enter it with him!.. Oh! how much after this sublime discovery the heart, finally satisfied, exclaims with joy: "For me to be united with God is my happiness, with you, Jesus, I desire nothing on earth!" (Ps. 73, 25.26)
   It is quite true that on earth I only wanted the loving will of my Jesus. Often, ah! very often my heart turned to the dear Father who lived in exile far from us, the wound was still sharp on that side, but it was without bitterness, I was so delivered to the good God that I would not have known to want r something that he would not have wanted and it was patiently that I waited, from his tenderness, for the grace to surround my Father's last days myself.
   What would I have lacked in the life I have just described if I had had the pleasures of the heart? But those were no longer made for me. The rosebush had been cut and the flowers were scattered. Oh! how I suffered from being deprived of drawing my lifeblood from my father's branch! Sacrificing that joy for me was sacrificing what I held dearest. It is true that my good parents did all they could to ease this ordeal for me, but it cannot be that sometimes small troubles and
I am certain that the good Lord permitted it thus for my greatest good.
   One day my cousin Jeanne having come with her husband, my uncle wanted to tease her and said to her: "Leave your Francis and come back to my place, you won't pay board there, you!" Immediately a sword pierced me. I was paying board, because I wasn't at home! But where was I, where was my home? I therefore had no family! Ah! if I had one once, once I too had been 'the child of the house', but the good Lord had let the storm rage and the revered chef was far from his own and that delicious interior, of which I I was one of the happy members had been devastated… All these memories crowded into my heart and, back in my little room, I gave free rein to my tears.
   You should not believe, my Mother, by what I have told you about the intellectual pleasure tasted in study, that my mind was exclusively captivated by it. It would have been very unfortunate especially if the proverb had been true when it says 'what we acquire on the side of the mind we lose on the side of the heart' Because to choose between the two goods, I would have preferred the enjoyments of love, but as love increases according to the knowledge of the beloved object I applied myself to study to better know the good God since he reveals himself in his works. I have experienced it so much that I wonder how scholars can ignore God, it is a problem that
I cannot resolve. In my case, the goal was thus achieved and I was leading a very intense inner life.
   Carmel was everything to me. Every week I went there again with my Thérèse. Léonie sat on one side of the gate and I on the other, she would see one of the two eldest or both together and I would chat in a little corner with Thérèse, it never changed. It was only at the end of the parlor that we had a general conversation.
   I was not satisfied with receiving advice from my darling sister, I consulted her for everything. I also managed to get letters from her, here's how I did it. Because of the special circumstances in which I found myself, there was some privilege, so she wished me my holidays and my birthdays. So, in order to get her to write to me, I was careful not to go to the parlor around those days, and when I had my letter, I immediately went to thank my dear Thérèse in person. It is for this reason that almost all the letters she sends me are either for April 28, my birthday, or for October 21, the feast of St Celine. Thanks to this stratagem I now have treasures.
   O my Mother! what union of souls there was between us! there I found the family, and my heart was warmed by this contact, it was the birds of the same nest, we spoke of the dear absent one, it was the same interests that occupied us, the same joys and the
sorrows that made our hearts beat…
   When I consider this divine institution called the family, I think that modern legislators will do their best, they will not abolish it. The nations and the peoples will be able to merge, perhaps, by pursuing this goal, the homeless do they serve in spite of themselves the designs of the Most High, because we do not know what must happen in the last times of the world and the mode of legislation that God is preparing before the final catastrophe or that which human malice is preparing, but the family, this sacred bond will remain until the end of time, more than that, as Thérèse sang: 'We will find the roof father in Heaven!... I cannot say how comforting this thought is for me and how much it helps me to face exile.
   My visit to the Carmel and the one I made to my dear little Father therefore shared my week. I still remember the deep thoughts that filled my heart during those trips to Caen. The speed with which I traversed the beautiful countryside reminded me of the speed of life, the sunsets gilding the horizon, 'scalloping the clouds' spoke softly to my soul. It seems to me that in the light of these marvels I saw the truth about all things, the vicissitudes of our pilgrimage here below appeared to me in their true light and to deserve eternal delights no trial on earth seemed to me too great. . Several times, often even, wanting to prove my love to Jesus and not knowing what testimony to give him, I offered myself to him to do with me what he pleased,
I tell him that I would accept everything from his hand: even, ah! even the deprivation of my reason if he deigned to ask me. The only grace I asked for was never to offend her. After this offering of myself, my love for Jesus found a little relief, because it seemed to me that I could not go further in my giving, I had reached the last limits.
   During this time, the good Lord was preparing to make the waves of his tenderness overflow on us, and on May 10, 1892 he returned our beloved Father to us. (several lines crossed out)
   My joy was great to be able to heal my beloved Father myself. The paralysis having become general, he could no longer move except with extreme difficulty, aided by a vigorous arm, the legs especially refusing him any service. His head wound was, this time, completely healed, only a trace remained. As for morale, it was now a sweet childhood, so sweet and lovable that it had all the charms of youth united with those of white hair. I never tired of kissing my darling papa, I showed him my affection in a thousand ways and didn't know what to invent to please him. He
was interested in everything that was going on around him, without however taking part in it, for he hardly ever spoke; however, it was clear that he understood. He especially liked to hear my cousin Marie play the piano and spent long hours listening to her, mainly when she performed melodies. We recognized there his deep soul and his meditative spirit of yesteryear.
   However, a house had to be rebuilt. My uncle rented a house very close to his. Ah! it was not the Buissonnets! But what did the case matter as long as we had the 'fine pearl'! And I had her my 'fine pearl', and I was so happy that the stay in a dungeon would have seemed delicious to me with her. Nothing, nothing would have cost me in his company and, to surround him with honour, I would have gained by the sweat of my brow the means to procure it for him if that had been necessary. No, it was not an ordinary filial love that I had for my Father, I believe it, it was a cult.
   We took two servants to look after Papa. Unfortunately, at the beginning, we could not get the cleaning and this was the source of great difficulties, difficulties of all kinds and of all kinds. Since I am on this chapter, I will tell you a word about it, my Mother. It is true that these worries are very secondary, but they still tease and sometimes poison life. Having suffered particularly, it is fair to give it a mention in the story of my life. I think that the good Lord allowed me these trials, like all the others, to prevent me from attaching myself to the earth.

   At Les Buissonnets, my domestic preoccupations had begun as soon as I took up my duties as mistress of the house, which took place when Marie left for the Carmel, which coincided with the marriage of our amiable and devoted servant “Félicité”. I must admit that from that time on, despite my prayers and the caution I brought to find out about the choice of her replacements, I did not have a happy hand. There would be a book to write on this subject, which would not lack piquancy because of the many adventures that happened to me in this field.
   They were never to stop because, at the time of my life that I am recounting at the moment, they were literally all the rage. Indeed, when we undertook to look after Papa, first at my uncle's, then in our new home, rue Labbey, difficulties arose and we quickly recognized the absolute necessity of taking on a household whose services would be totally devoted to our revered patient.
   I remain silent on the unsuccessful attempts, real dramas that we had to live, to speak only of our last servant, named "Désiré". This man whose final story compensated me for all my setbacks was very devoted to my dear Father who, for his part, showed him a lot of affection. Cheerful in character, he made his life happy and knew how to entertain him, so I didn't take his faults into account. He and his wife looked after the household.
   His faults, he had some to his credit!

  Although he came from an honest and Christian family, he had not always been serious in his conduct and, like so many others, gave way to the miserable passion of drinking. However, he was easily reasoned with and, as I said, because of his devotion, probity and happy character, I closed my eyes to everything else to attach him to me. Nor did he make it difficult to go to church on Sunday.
   We only asked our servants for external practices: they had to go to Mass on Sundays, follow the processions of the Blessed Sacrament with us, without our ever worrying about their conscience. However, I sought to instruct them in their duties towards the good God, I took advantage of every opportunity to achieve this goal and even gave birth to them if necessary.
   That year, it was 1893, we were approaching the beautiful feast of Easter and I knew that my servant would not make it, which caused me excessive grief. Seeing that I was not earning anything from him, I started a novena to St Joseph, which was to end on March 19. I had written a little letter to my beloved Heavenly Father which was placed under his statue, and every day I prayed fervently for the conversion of my sinner.
   One of the days of this novena, I was in my room while the servant was busy waxing the next room when, suddenly, I saw him come in hastily and throw himself on his knees.
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to my feet. His face was flooded with tears and he said to me in the middle of his sobs: "I am a wretch, for so many years I have been far from the good Lord, I am committing sacrileges while seeming to accomplish my duty to please my family, but I want to be converted, it was just now looking at the painting of the Blessed Virgin that my heart melted like wax, oh! Miss forgive me, have pity on me! This poor man made a true general confession to me, so great was his repentance. As for me, I was very moved and picking him up I told him to leave his work there and go without delay to confess to a priest what he had confessed to me, so as not to miss the grace of God.
   He immediately obeyed me and went to confession. The scene I had just witnessed was truly touching and I thanked St Joseph for the extraordinary grace he had granted me. As for the painting from which the ray of repentance came, it represented Saint Madeleine weeping for her sins at the feet of the Blessed Virgin. This painting was of my composition, one of my superb 'crusts', which proves that the good Lord does not preferably use works of art to touch hearts but works where love has directed the brush, c is what had happened for this painting.
   The servant finally returned from his journey happier than the happiest king on earth. His face was no longer
even she breathed peace, joy of heart. Oh! How true it is that only purity of heart in this world gives happiness! This man was so happy after the humble confession of his faults, that if he had--he had been offered riches and honors in exchange for his peace, he certainly wouldn't have given it. It must be so, because the good God is just and he has placed true happiness within the reach of all his creatures. Yes, all of them, even the poorest in the world, can possess the treasure of a good conscience, which turns all the base metals in which our stupidity believes it finds the satisfaction of our immense hunger for happiness, a hunger hollowed out in us by the Infinite and that the Infinite alone can satiate.
   The day after this memorable day, Mr. le Curé came to visit me to have the opportunity to see his penitent again and as I spoke to him about this great grace of conversion, he confessed to me that it was one of the most consoling of his whole ministry. This good old man seemed radiant and if there was at this moment "a lot of joy in heaven for a single sinner who was doing penance", in a small intimate corner of our immense planet, there was also a lot in this small corner. , where all hearts united in the same faith and the same hope, were very near to heaven.

   In this period of my life which extends from my residence with my uncle until my entry into Carmel, I spoke to you, my Mother, of the place I made in study, but I told you nothing from that which I gave to the assistance of the poor, as also from that other necessarily granted to worldly demands and innocent diversions, which are the consequence of the position which we occupied. I will first mention my happiness in exercising charity because I had a real attraction for taking care of the unfortunate and I would have liked to be allowed to satisfy it by visiting the poor in their dens, but my Aunt thought it was not the place for a young girl. No matter how much I told her that I was no longer a very young girl by age and that my life experience made up for the years, nothing could persuade her to give me carte blanche on this subject. So my cousin Marie and I decided to open a kind of workshop at home. We had invited several of our friends to come and work there. Their assistance was required once a week. In addition, we had a piggy bank where everyone discreetly deposited their savings for this work. I cannot say the number of little dresses, petticoats, blouses, boys' hoods which then came out of our hands. We worked tirelessly after buying our goods at a discount to get more, nothing disconcerted us and for our work we were not ashamed to take our supplies from
poor bankrupt shops, whose fabric coupons hung on the doors in a lamentable mess. But what a reward then to see the joy of all our little people when the day had come to put on the famous clothes! I remember a whole family of 5 or 6 children that we had dressed from head to toe, I would live 100 years that this painting would not be erased from my memory. The faces of all these little ones were so blooming that to enjoy this picture is already a more than sufficient reward for the little trouble we have taken and it is hardly if I understand that the good Lord still promises a reward eternal. To act with this liberality is really to reward not with pain but with great pleasure, because it is so sweet to give!
   So I say that our little ones were delighted, they looked at us with wide eyes where envy and recognition shone successively. Envy when dresses and coats unfolded, gratitude when everyone was dressed in his hand. The little hands then moved away from the clothes so as not to crease them, it was really charming. Before letting them go, we addressed pious recommendations to them, making them promise to be very wise and to love the good Jesus with all their heart.
   Yes, I was very fond of pleasing children. One day when there were street vendors and I bought a whole supply
of waffles for my dear Carmel I saw, beside me, a little boy who, with both hands in his pockets, was looking at me and especially looking at the waffles with lust. When I had finished my shopping, I said to him: “Here, draw the lottery! His eyes shining with happiness he spun the wheel and won some cakes, he made a turn, two turns, and, when his hands were full, he fled, uttering such a cry of joy that the whole place resounded with it. The merchant gazed at this stupefied scene. She seemed very moved and expressed it to me with a eulogy. I remember her change of face which, from rough, had suddenly become friendly and tender, as if this spectacle had opened up a horizon in front of her that she had never suspected.
   I spoke to you a moment ago, my Mother, of goods bought at a discount. On this subject, a feature is naturally under my pen and I do not want to pass it over in silence, because it was an instruction to me for all my life. It was during our trip to Italy, we were in Naples and, as in the other cities of this country, harassed by crowds of small merchants who absolutely wanted to force us to take their objects. If we had listened to them, we would have needed a second train to return to France, so we ruthlessly refused their offers. Among all these poor people there was a young boy who
chasing me with a pretty, finely crafted straw basket. He wanted to sell it 4f. As I didn't want the basket, which I thought was destined to embarrass me, I said to keep the petitioner away. “I'll take it for 1 f 50 I thought I'd tire him out by that but he came back to the charge by lowering his first price, I held on to mine. He finally went away, and I thought I was done with it, when I saw an old man arrive who gave me the basket for the price I had said. When he was in possession of his money I saw him turn away from afar with a certain sadness as if he regretted his bargain. At that moment I would have liked to run to give him back his pretty basket while leaving him my offering, alas! it was too late, we had to rejoin our group. But what passed in my heart I cannot express. Even today after more than 20 years I never think about it without regret. And yet, this poor man must not have been impoverished by his market, because I recommended him so many times to the good Lord that of course, aided by the help of my Spouse who is so rich and so powerful, the wrong that I 've been able to cause him unintentionally has been largely repaired. But this incident was, as I said, an example to me for all my life, and from that moment I resolved never to pay for an object below its value. This poor man was no doubt in great need of money to agree to give, in exchange for a few pennies, such a beautiful work representing so many hours of work, and if I had
accepted this exchange for love of gain, I think that there would have been fault on my part. Oh! as one must be fair towards the poor workers who toil and tire themselves to earn their living and that of their family. We should be happy to find an opportunity not only to pay them, but to earn them at our expense.
   If there is any merit in feeling in oneself this need for justice as perfect as possible, it should not be attributed to me but rather to my dear parents who gave me the example and brought me up. in these principles. I never saw my Father wrong anyone, he preferred to be deceived himself than to deceive others. Thus he would not agree to circulate a bad coin that had been passed to him, louis d'or and white coins were then pitilessly fixed to his work table as a perpetual memorial of his exquisite honesty.
   In the Guérin family I also witnessed touching examples of charity. Before the good Lord gave my uncle his fortune, I often heard him say: "How I would like to be rich to do good!" because his big heart suffered to see that his scholarship was not up to his aspirations. But when he was rich, he was also poor because he finds himself in contact with more numerous miseries and, in the face of this multiplication, his fortune seemed to him as small as at the time.
of its mediocrity. His vestibule was always occupied by bands of the poor, he gave handfuls of pennies or white coins, he never counted, and if he gave more to those who deserved it the most, he nevertheless refused no one. But in order to be able to support this liberality he suffered no useless expense, he said that it was doing wrong to the unfortunate, and I have seen him serving wine at table depriving himself of it, because this relief does not being not necessary to his health, he preferred to make this saving for his dear poor. I relate only one fact, but I could cite a thousand, because it was the same for all things and yet everything was so well ordered in his house, that by taking the obol of the poor on the superfluous, one there himself enjoyed the best understood ease.
   I had therefore only to follow such laudable examples and I would have been very responsible for deviating from a path so clearly traced. However, if I wanted to give material alms to the poor, it was with the aim of reaching their souls. The benefit which only reaches the outside seems to me a lifeless body, and just as one would not leave a dog to die of hunger at his door without giving him a piece of bread, so it is such an obligation to relieve his fellows in their needs, it is hardly the act of a good heart. Also when we stop at this material alms the goal is very down to earth and the merit very small.
   To do so is to throw food at a prisoner without
to deliver him from his chains is to break the saving cable that the castaway holds in his hand. We threw it at him and then instead of attracting him to ourselves, we abandon him after this first aid.
   Yes, when we give alms to a reasonable being, we make him indebted to us, because the benefit attracts recognition, it's like a link that binds his heart to ours, we become its master and can do what we want. Not to take advantage of this power, placed in our hands, to elevate this heart to supernatural things and give it to God, is to voluntarily break this saving bond, and doing charity under these conditions is no more meritorious than to rescue a being for no reason. It is a higher and more urgent action and that is all. Our Lord himself explained the condition of merit, it does not depend on the value of the offering, but only on the intention 'since a glass of cold water given in his name will not go unrewarded'. So here is the capital point 'to give in his name' and if we observe him how not to speak of him, the benefactor, to the one who receives the benefit? It therefore goes without saying that it must be made known to his obligee! keeping this intention in one's heart is not enough. Thus, for example, if a wealthy person has given me a sum to distribute to the poor on his behalf, it would be wrong for me to suggest that I am the author of this largesse and I must make known the benefactor in whose name I give alms.
   It is in order to put this course of action into practice
that I loved to speak of the good Lord to the unfortunate. My cousin Marie and I used to bring children together to teach them catechism. They were preferably little boys because they are usually more neglected and less educated than little girls, so despite being chosen from among the most deprived and those whom no one wanted, they did not stop giving us good consolation.
   I also took care of preparing for first communion another child whose board my uncle paid for at the minor seminary. I put all my heart into this sweet office and made him follow the same method that I myself had used. I composed a little notebook for him in which he was to write down his sacrifices each day, and each time I went out I took him aside to explain to him the great deed he was about to accomplish, I did so with the help of comparisons which doubtless struck his imagination, because when he returned to the seminary he said to his teachers: “Oh! prepare me for my First Communion like Miss Celine does! But these good gentlemen knew neither Miss Celine nor her stories and could not satisfy the child. One of them, however, a young priest friend of the family, told me about it and asked me to teach him my method.
   I have noticed that we often do not suspect the success that crowns our pious efforts and sometimes we are tempted to become discouraged by thinking that we are preaching in the desert. So since the child I'm talking about was not very expansive, he didn't even seem to understand and wasn't interested in what I was saying to him, I would have
could believe without this anecdote which was reported to me by chance, that I was not doing any good. I was even so convinced of it that after her First Communion, having asked her for her notebook to put the finishing touches to it, I forgot to give it to her. Later he left the seminary and I lost sight of him. What was my surprise when one day I saw a tall young man come and claim the famous object. I didn't know it was in my possession, but I soon found it and returned it to its owner. This little detail showed me how much he held to this memory of his childhood and I concluded that the seeds thrown into the ground at that distant time later produced their flowers and their fruits.
   No, we must not disassemble when the task seems arduous and sterile, we must work with the same ardor as if success were certain and depended on our efforts, we must dispense without counting the word of God of which we are the happy depositaries. . Let us have no fear, for despite the passions of men and the pitfalls of the devil, the word of the Lord will always be true: "As the rain and the snow, he says, come down from heaven and do not return have watered and fertilized the earth, and covered it with greenery, but have given seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so it is with my word which comes out of my mouth: it does not come back to me without effect, without having executed what I wanted, and accomplished what I sent it for”. (Is. 45, 10.11)
   This consoling promise has always been present before
my eyes when I undertook any good work aimed at the glory of God and it has been a precious comfort to me. I have never been afraid to speak my mind, I have always tried to instruct and enlighten the people who have approached me. Among my friends, I had several who loved the world very much and believed themselves obliged to sacrifice to this idol with such seductive attractions. I let them tell me all their vanities and I said nothing, but it was precisely by saying nothing that I talked a lot, because not seeing themselves approved, they resumed: “You are a saint, you! and I'm sure you're laughing at us inside! »
   They had just opened the door to me, I entered very quickly and without directly attacking their behavior I revealed my thoughts on the foolish vanities of the world so unworthy of occupying an immortal soul, I concluded by saying to them: "Don't worry about it. you don't want to let you know my way of seeing things, you're the one who asked me to, when you don't want to know it, don't hire me on that ground! Strangely enough, in my presence they were as if compelled to come back to it and to confess to me in a way all their peccadilloes.
   One day, not wanting to be mean to one of them who was trying to persuade me that there were position requirements, I asked her: "Tell me if, in the society in which you find yourself, there are Are there any dressed more modestly than you? She blushed and told me yes. So I resumed: “Well. Go to the ball if your parents force you to but always be the most modest in your toilet, don't let this
greatness of soul to others, take it for yourselves. And that's not all: to restore the balance of the scales and put something in front of this grain of incense offered to pleasure, wear an instrument of penance while you dance. Bishop d'Outremont, in his youth was obliged like you to lend himself to this entertainment, but as he did not want to indulge in it he took care to introduce nails into his elegant shoes so that the pain would constantly remind him of himself and to God. »
   My friend hearing this and seeing an iron bracelet opposite the gold bracelet, a belt bristling with points opposite the pearl necklace did not bite very hard on the bait. She was amazed to find that there were souls generous enough to impose these sacrifices on themselves, for I quoted them to her, and these examples by causing her admiration certainly produced their fruits.
   If they did not prevent him from continuing his frivolous life, they were nevertheless like the bit and the reins that held the steed in his ardor.
   Yes, it is always good to enlighten and instruct our brothers, I have experienced that. To not do so is to participate in their mistakes. There is an old proverb that goes, “Handlers are worse than thieves.” Yes, to listen to the language of the passions whether it is that of jealousy, anger or that of vanity without daring to give a salutary opinion is to take on one's shoulders the same burden as the next one without however lightening it. Such condescension, which results in nothing, is not charity, but cowardice.
  It is a lower action than to stare coldly at a fire without throwing a bucket of water on it, and yet God knows what such an action would be in his eyes and in the eyes of our fellow men!
   I am not unaware that, generally, one does not judge of it thus among human beings, I mean for what concerns the things of God and the eternal salvation of our brothers. At the slightest attempt one is immediately accused of being indiscreet, it is claimed that zeal is often more harmful than lax patience. I say soft patience because zeal being taken here in bad part it is right to also take this patience which would rather deserve the epithet of recklessness. Ah! if we saw a beloved being on the point of being crushed by a heavy machine, what cries would we not utter to prevent the danger, with what promptitude would we not rush on this object of our tenderness! Oh! we wouldn't calculate where we seized him we wouldn't look even if we hurt him while trying to save him. What would abruptness matter in the face of such a great evil! And to save a soul we take gloves, we whisper, we wait, finally we try nothing or almost nothing and the souls of those we love are lost for eternity and an immense chasm separates them from us forever, so that “where they are we cannot go and they cannot come where we are…”
   I have always felt deep pain in the presence of such a great misfortune, it is not me who gives me this feeling, it is Jesus who puts it in my heart, because as a child I [145] remember that he was already within me to make me suffer because “the zeal of love is inflexible like Hades, its ardors are ardors of fire. (Cant. VIII, 6) If he is inflexible, who can reduce him? if his ardors are penetrating like fire, who can stifle them? Person! for it is not a human fire but "a flame of Jehovah" (Cant. VIII, 6) and many waters cannot extinguish this flame and the rivers will not submerge it. »
   When I was very young, I was devoured by this flame lit by God in my heart, here is an example: One of my little companions who was to make her first communion told me that her grandfather alone would not join the party pious because he was distant from the good God, he had indeed been shaken by a mission, but he had let this breath of the Holy Spirit pass without corresponding to grace. I then dared to ask this child if she said a word to her grandfather and on her negative answer I remember that I was bubbling inside. I just thought about it and I put together in my little head what I would have done in my mate's place, the means I would have used to take the dear sinner by the heart on such a beautiful day, this plan put all my ardor into play and I believe that the good Lord was grateful to me for it as if I had really accomplished it.
   I know very well, Mother, that it is through prayer and sacrifice that one succeeds in converting the hearts of one's creatures, it is he who
enlightens them and pierces them with a stroke of contrition and love and we, without his help, can only do awkwardness. But if we use our ardor to sacrifice ourselves in secret, to pray for beloved beings who do not enjoy the light like us, he will give fruitfulness to our works, and just as he once enhanced the beauty of Judith. so that she might more easily execute the plan she had devised to save her people, thus he would give luster to our poor little deeds and make our persuasive words. Who then, after such protection, would dare to call our efforts 'indiscreet zeal' when Our Lord tells us in the Gospel not to tire of knocking at the door, for if our friend does not get up willingly, he will open to us, however, to escape our importunity because "whoever seeks will find, to him who knocks will be opened and to him who asks will be given." so true it is, according to the expression of the valiant Joan of Arc, 'that we must fight for God to give victory!' It is in the same sense, I believe, that St. Paul declares that 'we make ourselves commendable by the offensive and defensive arms of justice' (II Cor. VI, 7). giving no praise to those who preserve zeal in the bottom of their hearts, he still commands us not only to defend justice, but to attack, to provoke this defense by offensive weapons. We are therefore more commendable when we go ahead than when we procrastinate because, in this lull, there is more often pusillanimity, which arises from the apprehension of being refused, than the real fear of imprudence in the face of delay the reign of God in this soul
that we are trying to win to the truth.
   But here I am far from my subject. I was speaking of the principal charity to be done to the poor, which consists in the ministry of the word and the outpouring of the heart. Corporal alms is the key that opens the door, it is absolutely necessary to enter through this door, but not to content yourself with furtively throwing a piece of bread there. Allow me, my Mother, to explain to you my thoughts on certain rather delicate prejudices, it is true, and yet very deplorable in my opinion.
   I have noticed that many pious people make distinctions in the distribution of their alms, ruthlessly rejecting the unfortunate whom the plague of sin has touched. Not only do we move away from their home, but these double disinherited of nature and grace are struck off the charitable lists and they find no access to the ordinary benefactors of the poor.
   My Mother, I cannot say how annoying I find this intransigence which contrasts so obviously with the doctrine and conduct of the divine Master. For the Holy Gospel tells us that “all publicans and sinners approached Jesus to hear him” (Luke xv, 1). If they approached him it was because he welcomed them with effusion, if they wanted to hear him it was because he was not humiliating them in his speeches. The Gospel also points out to us that it is Jesus who speaks first to the Samaritan woman, he lowered himself to the point of asking her for a service, and why not
to give birth to the occasion of instructing her and consequently of converting her.
   As for us, that's not what we do, not only do we despise such women, but far from going so far as to talk to them and ask them for a favor, we don't even deign to answer them when they ask us for it. Let's go! it would be defiling to touch them even with the tip of the finger!
   O my Mother! to act thus is not to imitate the proud Pharisees who scrupulously cleaned the exterior of the cup and the platter and who were themselves nothing but whitened sepulchres, odious receptacle of corruption. Who among us is without sin?... I compare all souls to a dwelling, palace or hovel, it doesn't matter. In this house, whatever it is, there are abject and hidden places. If there is a garden around this house, whether it is a park or a simple flowerbed, there is a secret place where all sorts of rubbish is deposited. Such is the condition of human life.
   Thus our soul, a splendid edifice built by the very hand of God, destined to become his sanctuary, our soul has inherited the original fault, it bears an indelible stain, it is agitated by the three concupiscences described by the Apostle and which she knows well without being taught to her, alas! .. These are the secret places that she carefully conceals from the eyes of those who approach her, thus she stands like a queen in her sumptuous salons, she is where she receives visitors. And she's right, our beautiful soul to respect itself like that, who would blame her?
   And yet it is a truth that is easy to see every day, other beautiful souls abandoning these splendid apartments, go away without false shame to establish their headquarters in the abject places of their home. It is then that all flee and one could add: with good reason. No, it is not with good reason! because it is a great mistake, since it is at the moment when these poor souls need us that we abandon them. They would need good advice, a helping hand to get them out of this rut, but we are not extending this hand to them and this voice is not ours that they will hear! Oh what! but would be prostituting oneself!
   Ah! my Mother, to prostitute oneself! and one is not afraid to prostitute oneself by saluting the proud, by shaking hands with those potentates who impose by the opulent place they occupy. Yes, we give our hand to those who lead us astray, who plunder the heritage of the Lord, who tear the robe of our Holy Mother Church or the garment of that other Mother: the Homeland, and we do not call that prostitute us!
   The Apostle St John who had rested on the Heart of the Master and who had drawn there the science of truth and charity did not judge like us. The story goes that one day finding himself in a public bath with the heresiarch Cerinthe he came out as soon as he noticed his presence, fleeing like the plague the ground that
trampled on this proud man and the air he breathed, while, overwhelmed with years, he pursued a voluptuous youngster into the mountains and finally reaching him brought this lost sheep back to the fold.
   Yes, this is the example given to us by gentle Jean: he fled the one we salute, he pursued the one we push with our feet like a heap of filth. Oh! why not go up the current of the river and come and instruct us at the very source of the doctrine in the divine Heart of the most gentle Master!
   I read somewhere that a Pope had established in Rome a tower where they came in the evening to deposit little abandoned children. This tower was built in such a way that no one could see where this child came from. Many were indignant at such a measure, or went so far as to say that the Pontiff favored vice, but he was not moved by blame and continuing his extraordinary charity he saved the life of the body and that of the soul at times. hundreds of little beings.
   Today many use the same language as in the time of this good Pope. "It is to favor vice" to give charity to this class of the world, it is better to reserve one's alms for those who deserve it. It is obvious indeed, that one should not give money to those who, without a doubt, will spend it to sin, but there are other ways of doing charity than giving money, if we approached the poor more closely, if we visited him on his manure, we would know better what he needs and it is precisely because he sins because disorder reigns in his home
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that he is more miserable and needs more pity.
   But I take up this word that "to approach the unfortunate who, by their conduct do not deserve it, is to favor vice" because I have not finished my thought. There are vices which can be dominated by fear: man will be put to death if he kills his neighbour, so criminals in general avoid killing, but the vice in question here cannot be reduced by fear. It is not because beautiful, disgusted virtues will refuse their alms that vice will be punished. The lure of the senses, the lure of the heart can only be defeated by their fellows. Beneficence must be opposed to the deceptive lure of the senses, tender compassion to the lure of the heart. To this man thirsty for love it is necessary to lead the lips to the thirst-quenching source, to the very bosom of God… And to achieve this, the supreme goal of charity, it is necessary to wean this soul from false pleasures by offering it real pleasures. And what are these real pleasures if not the ease, the well-being brought by discreet and well-meaning charity? This charity is the hook that attracts the poor sinner; once taken when it is not let go, it is easily given to God. The Holy Spirit said it: "If he finds as an intercessor an Angel among a thousand who makes him know his duty, God has mercy on him" (Job, 23) And we would not want to be this angel on whom salvation depends of this
poor sinner! However, the condition is easy, because the Lord does not say: "If he is converted by turning away from his evil way", but he anticipates, so to speak, his pity and grants it even before the conversion, at the sole touch of this angel who proposes to make known to him his duty. And if the pity of God rests on the head of this unfortunate, forgiveness is not far away!..
   My Mother, how I would have liked to be the apostle of sinners! it seems to me from what I feel in my heart that I would have had a lot of patience to wait for them and a lot of consideration to attract them. I would have sought out the most fallen in particular, leaving the pure souls to fly with their own wings, I would have gone to give some to those who have none. To imitate my divine Master would have been all my ambition, he who said: "I did not come to call the just, but the sinners" and again: "It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but only the sick”, he who so fully forgave the adulterous woman, who asked nothing, forgiving him without a single reproach! No, "God does not act like man, he does not make us ashamed of what is no longer, he only shows us love when we go to him" (St John Chrysostom) This poor woman had gone to him, she had been taken there by force and yet she returned justified. What an encouragement for us to lead sinners to him, to bring them there at his feet!
   But to bring them you have to take them, oh my God take them away
of our breasts this heart of man hard like the rock and put there yours which is all goodness and all love, and we will operate with the help of your grace, miracles of sanctification.
   Jesus had said it "The children of darkness are much wiser in their business than the children of light" and one of them, trying to pervert souls expressed himself thus: "Love succeeds better on the stage than the other passions, because there is more love in the world than revenge and ambition. (Voltaire) Yes, in that he spoke the truth and if we Catholics want to play our role well in this theater of life, we must use this always seductive bait, we must love our neighbour, love his soul to the love of him who bought it at such a high price. What does disdain lead to? Isn't it madness to use that hook that always hurts?
   We seem to really ignore how far our power would go if we knew how to use love. St John Chrysostom reports this fact which comes so well in support of what I want to say: "A hermit had already poured out many sweats in the desert with a single companion for all society, he had lived the life of angels and he touched in his old age, when I do not know how, listening to a satanic suggestion, and giving access by his negligence to the spirit of evil in his heart, he was suddenly seized with impure love. He began by asking his companion to serve him wine and meat, assuring him that if he refused, he would go away.
on the field to the city. If he spoke in this tone, it was not that he wanted what he was asking for, but he was only looking for an opportunity and a pretext to leave his solitude. His companion, surprised at this language, and fearing that a refusal on his part would have unfortunate consequences, lent himself fully to his whim. When the first saw his useless expedient, he put aside all shame, threw off his mask and declared that he absolutely had to go to town. The other tried to dissuade him, but in vain; he therefore let him go except to follow him to discover the reason for his resolution. Having seen him enter a public house, and understanding that he was going to find some courtesan there, he waited until he had satisfied his inconceivable passion, and as soon as he saw him reappear, he received him with open arms, hugged him. against his heart, kissed him tenderly, and without reproaching him in any way for his criminal action, he only begged him, since he had nothing more to desire, to return to his solitude. This extreme kindness confused his unfortunate companion: touched to the core, he lamented his weakness and followed his friend into the mountains. When he arrived, he begged him to leave him in another cell, to close the doors carefully, to give him a little bread and water on certain days, and to respond to people who inquired about him. that he was no more. His friend acceded to his wishes: the penitent shut himself up in his cell, where by prayers, tears and continual macerations, he labored to purify the stains of his soul. – Shortly after, the drought devastating the region and throwing
in affliction all the inhabitants: one of them warned in a dream to go find the recluse and to beg him that he would obtain by his prayers the cessation of the plague. As a result, he leaves with some of his friends. Seeing only the companion of the one they had come to fetch, they asked for his news and learned that he was no more. Convinced that they were deceived, they had recourse to prayer, and they received, by the same vision, the same warning. So they surround the one who had misled them and urge him to show them his companion in solitude, assuring him that he was not dead and that he was full of life. Hearing these words, the solitary seeing that he could not push the fidelity of his promise further, led the suppliants to the cell of the pious penitent. They knock down the wall, for there was no way out, they enter and prostrate themselves at the feet of the recluse, they tell him all that has happened and beg him to deliver them from starvation. At first he refused, saying that he was far from having such confidence in her intercession; for he had his sin before his eyes, as if he had only committed it. However, after explaining all that had happened, it was obtained from him that he would start praying. No sooner had he prayed than the drought ceased. »
   My Mother, this example is the striking story of what love can do to a human heart. To be clear I should have stopped my story at the conversion of the solitaire since I wanted to do
bring out this power of goodness which goes so far as to instantly convert a soul, enabling it to climb the heights of holiness in a short time. If I followed my hermit up to these summits, it is because it is my subject to notice the honor with which the good Lord surrounds these souls, formerly plunged in the mire, until then to lavish on them more favors than to those whose sin has not approached. “By eradicating evil, says a Saint, God restores to the soul its primitive beauty and makes the one who has committed the sin the equal of the one who has not committed it. The fault disappears, there is nothing left of it and it is as if it had never existed. She is completely destroyed. With God everything is possible, because it is easy to draw purity from a heap of defilements. (St John Chrysostom)
   It is so true that he is pleased to give us manifest proofs of it himself by touching emblems. I have read in the life of the Fathers of the desert that Saint Thaïs, the sinner, having died in the exercise of her austere penance before the time of her seclusion was completed, the solitary who had converted her was very sad. to know if she had satisfied for her many disorders. The Lord then sent him a dream. He saw a splendid bed guarded by four ravishingly beautiful virgins. The holy hermit understood...
   Ah! Mother, I cannot evoke this memory, nor even think about it, without shedding tears, so touched am I at the sight of the good Lord's delicacies. For just as the stigmata of martyrs far from disfiguring them
They will be an eternal ornament, likewise penance, this laborious baptism, according to Tertullian's expression, changes the trace of sins into glorious imprints. Thus in this trait borrowed from the life of St. Thaïs God uses to exalt him the emblem which recalls all his faults and, in order to honor this emblem, it is virgins that he places in his care! Yes, the sinner who did not even dare to pronounce the name of God and whose only prayer was this cry thrown towards heaven: “O you, who created me, have mercy on me! This sinner who had dropped the crown of purity from her forehead, it is for her that God is making a guard of honor and it is virgins who compose her!
   O my God, this is really too much goodness for your puny and miserable creature! What is the name of this strange love that you have for him! She offends you, she betrays the most sacred promises and you, you watch in her for the smallest sign of repentance because "you take pleasure in doing her grace" and this sign, however timid it may be, immediately discovered that "you put all its iniquities under your feet, you cast all its sins to the bottom of the sea! (Micah vii, 18.19) This is the God we have!... and to say that among us there are some who do not love him, there are some who blaspheme him. May we be forgiven, the rest of us who know him, for loving him to the point of madness, may we be forgiven this zeal for love which devours us. How when one loves him not to die of pain seeing him so little loved and not quiver with hope in
trying to make him like it! O Love! ardent furnace, bath of fire, when will you give me a truce?... and why did you pull me out of the fire so many times (imitation of fire!) for fear that I would burn myself, to then consume me with your ardor devouring?..- O ember deified, tell me are you sufficiently penetrated by my flames? – Flee from me, my Beloved, because I can't stand it any longer!
   My Mother, I no longer know where I am from, forgive me for having left you to fly away to my God. This subject of his mercy towards us is very shocking for me, when I think about it, there comes a time when I can no longer bear the intensity of my gratitude. Also sometimes, my love exhales in complaints, in reproaches on his kindness, I say to him that it is not reasonable to crush his poor creature thus, the fight is too unequal! Why don't we have just one adorable God? Ah! very quickly we would give him the homage that is due to him like those tributes that are paid to sovereigns. Our debt discharged we would be at peace. But to have such an amiable God! Ah! it is a martyrdom, because the disproportion is too great… it comes, it wants to enter our soul, it forgets that it is infinite and wants the finite to contain it. He delivers assaults as if he were fighting with an equal, he does not realize that he is a burden and the poor little soul faints in the vehemence of his transports. What to do then, if not leave him abruptly and conjure him
to do like the Bride of Songs!
   Oh! yes, we conjure him to flee and, at the same time, we call him back, we have too much and we still want more, we find that we know him well enough for his strength and we pursue our research further. It is an intoxication of love, a pleasure and a martyrdom.
   My Mother, only the good God alone can provoke such excesses in our souls, it is he who stirs up and agitates the depths. What do you want us to do? Will we ask the boiling lava to account for the damage that its immersion causes? Let us rather accuse the abyss which conceals it and puts it in fusion!
   The abyss is God, it is his infinite goodness, his mercy and his tenderness for the children of men. As soon as you go down there, you are overwhelmed and you lose yourself never to find yourself again. But I'm wrong, we don't have to go down being so close down by our misery. It is God who, to transform us, descends where we are.
   Yes, the good Lord, great as he is, is coming down and that's why he's so lovable. It should be noted that the great of the earth still elevate the little ones quite easily, but they never lower themselves to their lowliness. Here is an example that characterizes my thinking well: At the beginning of this story, I said that as a child, I was going to play with the prefect's daughter. But when she wanted
my company, she sent for me through her governess or, from her balcony, beckoned me to go to her. She never came to us. She made us 'up', Thérèse and me, without ever 'down' to us.
   And the good Lord, he comes down... Later, on the day of our deliverance, he will raise us up to him, but here below, he moves away from us when we go up, or rather it is we who move away of him, for he stands in the depths. O blessed humility which in advance makes us meet our Heavenly Father who humbles himself towards us, who, through his Son, makes himself one of us, not one of us as before sin, but clothed in infirmity of our flesh, that to better resemble us! Ah! this is true love, to descend, to annihilate, to conform in everything to the object of one's love… And it is our God who has done that! and every day he renews this descent for each wounded and guilty soul!
   My Mother, I imagine that if the chosen ones could have any sorrow in Heaven, it would be, not for having lost, by their negligence, degrees of glory and happiness, but only for not having loved someone enough. so kind. And I understand that deprivation of God for the damned
be the greatest of tortures before which all their sorrows pale. They will have glimpsed his goodness on the day of their judgment and that will be enough to open up an eternity of torment for them. Ah! to have been so mistaken not to have loved such a good God!...
   But I stop and quickly resume my thought about charity. This is where my lead the story of Ste Thaïs! quite an unforeseen path that I had no intention of following. Forgive me, my Mother, for making you retrace your steps in order to find there the poor sinners whom I left asking us for help and protection.
   Yes, their souls are crying out to us and it seems to me that we have no excuse for moving away from them, the example of the good Lord is there to show us our duty, we cannot resort to a finer model. Jesus, the saint of God came to show us in person how we should behave and he told us, he even gave us the condition in which we will recognize his disciples: "It is by this sign that we will love each other each other." And joining practice to theory, he bows to his disciples and washes their feet, he says: "As I have done with you, so you must act among yourselves, I have given you the example so that , as I have done, you also do yourselves…” (John 13, 15) If he, the Master and Lord, did not disdain to fulfill this office of charity with Judas himself, what reason will we give? us to apologize
our severity towards sinners?
   I have often thought that what prevents us from being charitable is that we always look at our neighbor by his thorny side. If he reveals his faults in broad daylight, if he prefers his pleasure to his honor, we serve him at will and pay him with contempt. When his heart goes astray he will laugh at our contempt and our disdain will be a very small concern to him, he will not try to bend this iron bar, but the hours of peace will come, then he will timidly advance from side of the obstacle and seeing it still there stiff and firm, he will turn back, saying: "The chariot is launched, it must roll" and he will sink into his bad path.
   Our contempt or only our reserve with regard to sinners will therefore be the cause of their hardening in evil. (Note: "It is through prayer and by showing interest in them that we can do them good" writes a nun in charge of "repentants", in a Refuge. (End of the note.) And why if not because we have not been fair? We only wanted to judge them by one side without thinking that if there were one, or two, or three disadvantageous there was at least the same number of them. "extremely beautiful. Is it because a precious diamond will be soiled and frosted on one side that the jeweler will throw it in the garbage? Ah! he is more careful than that, he turns and turns the stone, his soiled side matters to him bit, what is this mud in his eyes, will this priceless object in his hands not regain its brilliance?
   It must be admitted that with our principles of intransigence, we are hardly artists, yet we should take
who made us! We should know that the devil is like the hornets and wasps that attack the most beautiful fruits and tempt the most beautiful souls. “The greatest storms are always for the greatest saints: as if the sky had no other entrance than the breach, as if virtues could only grow in well beaten soil…” (P. Seurin [Surin] , sj) and “like a saint, says the Marquis de Ségur, is called by God but called who responds to the call, who is an elite soldier who has received, it is true, excellent weapons, but who uses it excellently and that if he is crowned in heaven it is only by a strong correspondence to grace, that because he fought and triumphed on earth" it should not be surprising that many, that many do not have this courage and succumb during this war. I find that one should rather be surprised that there are relatively so few who fall, because in this miserable life which is a general rescue, it seems that it would be more natural that there were still more scandals than there are. This preservation is undoubtedly due to the army of the good Angels and the elect who fight the spirits of darkness and protect and defend us without any merit on our part.
   Knowing this, knowing that the value of the prey is what tempts the eternal enemy of men, who with unspeakable perfidy and art knows how to play our passions and wound us with our own weapons, it seems to me that we should be filled with tender condescension for souls who stray from the right path,
particularly for souls consecrated to God, who by their high spiritual position are particularly targeted by the jealousy of the fallen angel. Sometimes I think, for example, that the directors of seminaries, by warning their students against the certain and very special dangers which await them in the exercise of their ministry, should pose as a father with a compassionate heart, unceasingly and always ready to welcome with tenderness the imprudent poor, because there will be some!.. ready to reconcile them with the good God, but also to do the impossible to get them out of the difficulties in which they will have engaged by their fault. Is not the father of the prodigal son a perfect model of this loving conduct!
   Let no one say “You give too much credit to the sinner”. This would be the reflection of the eldest son jealous of the honors rendered to his brother. It is not vice that is exalted, but full rehabilitation that is made easy. Man being the masterpiece of infinite Beauty, it is only natural that his aspirations should lean in this direction like the plant which of itself turns towards the sun. It is therefore absolutely necessary to attract it by the bait of some kind of beauty. Tell him: you have fallen, you have soiled yourselves, but come and your first robe will be returned to you and, not content with resuming your place in the hearth, there will be celebrations and rejoicings in honor of your return. There will be more joy because of you in the family than for all the other children who have been constantly
docile. This is the beauty that the good Lord causes to shine before the eyes of the poor lost man.
   But the demon has seen this and since he is God's monkey, he too wants to attract souls by dangling beauty in their eyes. How is he going to go about it, he only has the wrong cards in his hands, it is the Lord who has everything in play. How is he going to go about it? He will blind souls to the point of persuading them that black is white and mud all clean, he has no other way out. It's not fair, because it's deceiving the world about the real value of things, but what does it matter to him, he's not ready for that! Then one of his coryphées, Voltaire, traces this line of conduct, a true echo of the abyss: "There is an art to embellish vices and to give them an air of nobility". Here is the mask lifted! there is no mistaking it, it is the vice, the vice hidden under the gracious appearance of amiability, under the irresistible charms of a great heart, or the masculine appearances of a noble character, that Satan will present to the poor human heart hungry for beauty and greatness. St Augustine was also able to say: “By reading bad books one learns to see evil without horror, to speak of it without shame, to commit it without restraint. And how could it not be so, the artificial fly presented by the demon is so brilliant and so golden that it seduces the unfortunate fish hungry for food and makes it captive of its enemies.
   To oppose such a great evil, we therefore run no risk of making beautiful and very beautiful the part of the reconciled sinner and it is our duty to pursue him in his wanderings by varying at will the sparkling fires of this savior beacon. .
   But how to get there? a kind of modesty hovers over these delicate subjects, there is silence all around. Ah! we are silent we saviors of souls, and the losers of souls act during our slumber. What? aren't we all made of the same mud? If we had to talk about this with the angels, I would understand our restraint, but between us it should go by itself, I say should, because alas! "extremes meet" and strange contrast, "those who see evil without horror, who speak about it without shame and commit it without restraint" are those who are the strictest and surround themselves with more decorum. It has been remarked that it is the peoples who are the most dissolute in their morals who, outwardly, are the most prudish, just as it is the scrupulous who give themselves up most easily to sin. Yes, it is these men with a correct and irreproachable exterior who cross themselves on hearing the naive language of the amiable St. Francis de Sales, these are the ones who become the most generous in allowing themselves all sorts of pleasures. And what a simpler time saw with a good eye, our century softened by a more refined well-being is offended.
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   But it is time for me to leave this subject, which is already far too extensive. Forgive me, my Mother, these long dissertations which should interest you so little, and allow me to summarize these scattered thoughts, for I have not yet finished all that I wanted to say. If it is a fault of culpe that with my natural impetuosity I sometimes commit: "To give my opinion without being asked", I am not reprehensible in
  saying here my way of seeing, no, I am not making a mistake, but an act of virtue, since you have done me a work of obedience. It is this thought which commits me to continue, thinking that in this I am accomplishing the will of the good God manifested by you, my Mother.
   Regarding charity towards the soul of our neighbour, it seems to me that no human consideration should hold us back. It would be necessary to imitate the hunters who do not content themselves with leaving armed but go 1° to the place where they know that there is the most game and 2° pursues it to its last entrenchments and forces it to come out of its cottage. What would one say of the hunter who sets out on a long journey to reach a place where he has foreseen that he will do nothing, or who, sitting by the side of a path, waits patiently for the hares to pass within range? of his gun? One would laugh at such a hunter. Well! Shouldn't the Angels "who watch us fight in the arena" make fun of us, hunters of souls, and for that we should preferably choose the neighborhoods where the poor sinners take refuge? But that's not all, we have to lift the game and therefore go by ourselves or by devious and ingenious means to get the wounded souls out of their dens, we have to throw our dogs, that is to say, say to use all our resources for this eminently interesting and fruitful work.
   But once the game has been discovered, what should be done? Ah! even if it would lodge in the bottom of a ravine we must go there
find. The precaution with which one executes this descent and the degrees traversed are the image of the material gifts which open the door of a heart and give access into a soul. By this natural means we will surely succeed little by little in winning this soul, but we must use it, it is urgent to succeed. If we wait for souls to present themselves to us, we won't make many conquests. It would be, moreover, a ready-made task and it is rare in life where one has to toil, work, sweat blood and water to arrive at a result that is even slightly satisfactory. We must therefore convert souls and not wait for them to come to us all converted, we must descend to them and not think of arriving there in one leap, but humbly use degrees, humbly and patiently, because the patience is much needed in this kind of apostolate.
   No, you must not be stingy with means. The explorers whom Joshua sent to reconnoitre the country, returned to tell him that the inhabitants being few in number, three thousand men would suffice to reduce them. They left and were beaten. So Jehovah said to Joshua: "Take with you all the men of war" and the victory was in their hands (Joshua 7,3-8,1)
  Which proves that, when you want to conquer a soul, you have to put together your whole army, I mean all your resources. And the leader of this army is love. Beware, if we go into the field without him, we run the risk of losing both our time and our trouble.
   Alas! yes, we would lose them, we who want to save souls, because souls are only saved by love: love of God, love of souls. As for those who study to corrupt them, it is fortunate that they banish this weapon from their arsenal because with the means at their disposal the evil would be at its height.
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   My Mother, I stop, a little ashamed of everything I have written. It seems to me that when you read these pages you will think to yourself: “After all, it is not for a Carmelite to deal with all these subjects! It is true, my Mother, that St Thérèse does not concern herself with it, she does not touch the earth, she takes us up to the heights of Heaven, describing to us the degrees of prayer and union with God, me, alas! I am not Saint Thérèse but a poor "brand pulled from the fire", so it seems to me that my place in the family is very close to the hearth... been rewarded myself. Yes, I want, in my turn, to remove from the fire the unfortunate embers which are consumed there, to throw them into the burning furnace of Merciful Love...
   How shall I arrive at my goal, I helpless and miserable creature? I know it well, it will be while standing humbly in the most vulgar place of the house, there very close to the hearth… my clothes will be covered with ashes, but what does it matter! Yes, it will be by applying myself to humility and to well-hidden little virtues that I will reach my goal. Yesterday evening I read in prayer a passage from Holy Scripture which was very enlightening to me. In order to take a city, Joshua had placed 30.000 warriors in ambush behind the city, with orders to swoop down on it and to seize it as soon as the inhabitants had come out, for Joshua, who was attacking them from the opposite side, with all the people of Israel, had to, pretending to flee, lure the enemy into the desert to
give the other part of the army time to loot their city. But how would these warriors know the right time for it? They were too far from their leader to receive his command “Jehovah then said to Joshua: “Stretch out the javelin that you have in your hand towards the city, for I will deliver them into your power”. And Joshua stretched out the javelin in his hand toward the city. As soon as he had stretched out his hand, the men in ambush rose hastily from where they were, and running they entered the city, occupied it and set it on fire. (Joshua, VIII, 18.19)
   It was therefore this sign made in the distance which directed the whole maneuver and assured the victory. In the same way, in our cloisters we seem to do nothing for the cause of God and yet it is to us that the Lord says: "Extend on this side the javelin which you hold in your hand." And we stretch out our hand and the army of good is victorious. But, for that, one must not get tired of holding the outstretched hand because it is said that: "Joshua did not withdraw his hand which he held outstretched with the javelin until he had treated as anathema all his enemies. (VIII, 26). The hand is our will to accomplish that of the Lord, the javelin is our little sacrifices made out of love.
   Since it is so, I hope to arrive at the goal of my desires. I too want to enter hearts in order to have them occupied by Jesus, I want by removing them from a corruptible blaze to set them on fire with divine Love! And I will get there by my little ones
daily renunciations directed towards the half-burned embers.
   One day, I witnessed a scene which again gave me a luminous instruction, in this same direction. piercing cries of birds. It was like a battle and I wondered what I was going to find along the way. There, I was in the presence of a bird of prey which held in its claws a small bird, while another was lying on the ground. I wanted to free the poor little animal, but the hawk began to flit around my head, seeming to threaten me with its beak. I was not afraid and, unfolding our handkerchief, I waved it so violently that it renounced its first capture and fled into the yard, still carrying the living bird in its claws. But his first victim tempted him, he didn't want to lose her and came back to me, still circling around my head, then fled again, then came back. I was really sorry to see the poor little bird hanging from its legs and I did so much and so well that, by dint of pursuing its executioner with my handkerchief, it fled, letting its prey escape, which flew away without having lost a single feather.
   I then thought to myself: if simple strokes of harmless handkerchiefs made the vulture flee, without any fruit of its victory, my poor little actions can therefore
also in the order of grace, to snatch his victims from the devil.
   The dead bird represented to me the souls that sin has killed but who, being still on earth, still have the hope of living again. The living bird reminded me of tempted souls, fallen prey to Satan, without however being affected by mortal sin.
   Forgive me, Mother, for this long dissertation on the zeal of souls; covered with the mantle of charity. I leave it to resume the story of my life. Alas! this story will be further interrupted by the multiple reflections that naturally occur under my pen and for which I apologize in advance without being able to correct myself.
   I have spoken to you, my Mother, of the place I gave to the study and assistance of the poor in my life as a young girl; it still remains for me to record here this other tuned to the demands and amusements of the world.
   When I name the amusements of the world, I do not mean by that the pumps of the devil, that is to say the balls and the spectacles properly so called, for neither my cousins ​​nor I had a taste for these kinds. of amusements. Even after her marriage, my cousin Jeanne never accepted the many invitations extended to her, invitations which, if she had responded to them, would have launched her into the most distinguished world. If she had wanted to amuse herself, she could have asserted her position and created obligations for herself, but she did not do so and never regretted it.
   When I say: create obligations, is the expression correct, because there are no real obligations for a free being, except those towards his Creator? And people who have worldly obligations have created them for themselves. I have seen proof of this truth at home. Yes, we can very well free ourselves from the tutelage of the world, we always can. When we don't do it, we don't want it.
   So we confined ourselves to attending the many weddings that took place in my aunt's family. We could not refuse also, some meals back from weddings with friends. But that was all, and it is in these different circumstances.
that I was 'forced to dance' and that the famous adventure of which Thérèse speaks in her manuscript happened to me.
   As this diversion was completely antipathetic to me and I only lent myself to it in order not to make myself ridiculous, I admit that Thérèse's insistence pained me and I resisted her a little while trying to convince her of my willingness to refuse as long as I could. But she was not satisfied with that, she wanted me not to dance at all. Why did she want, this time in such a formal way, that I abstain? I didn't understand the reason then and I found my darling sister a little too severe. She spoke to me with fire, I rarely saw her so animated and she told me, among other things, that a future wife of Jesus should not compromise with his principles, that if the three young Israelites had allowed themselves to be thrown into the fiery furnace rather than to bow before the golden statue, I had to bear the tiny evil of being laughed at, rather than commit the great evil of bowing before the customs of the world which the Church condemns.
   I listened to my little Thérèse with great respect, but I nevertheless left her without promising to abstain, because knowing the difficulty that existed in doing so, I did not believe the thing was humanly possible and I was afraid of failing to speak to her. I know she cried a long time and prayed a lot...
   For my part, I was more than determined to do the impossible
to please her. Not really knowing how to succeed, I asked Jesus to come to my rescue. I only loved him, I only tried to please him, he was my only friend. I then said to him: "O my Beloved, you see the need for me to go to this meeting, I do not see why, since I am your wife, you would let me go alone, it is therefore necessary that you accompanied me and guarded me so that I would do nothing that would please you. »
   In order for Jesus to come with me, I put a big crucifix in my pocket, as big as it could hold, and I left. You know the end of the story, Mother, there came a time when, pressed more than usual by the solicitors, forced, so to speak, by the group of ladies to which I had taken refuge, I finally had to execute. But, as Thérèse tells it, it was impossible for my partner and me to begin a single dance step. It was in vain that we tried to follow the music, so we had to 'walk around very religiously' until the end of this dance figure. After which my poor cavalier escaped and did not reappear during the evening. He really made me pity and I prayed to the good Lord for him, he didn't know the poor wretch that he had tried to dance with Jesus!.. As for me, I knew it well and, returning to my group, I laughed heartily of my adventure. The people in my company looked at me in amazement
but on seeing me so easily they dared to laugh too, saying that they had never seen such a thing.
   Here I have a little thought. As I have just said, on returning to my group I read a sort of concern on their faces, people were wondering how to welcome me. So if I had looked ashamed and embarrassed they would have called the failure that had just happened to me shameful. Instead they saw the good humor painted on my features and my adventure immediately took on an original color that was not lacking in spice. This is how, in life, we would always be, if we wanted, master of events, without ever becoming their slave. I say this with respect to human respect. We say to ourselves, for example: “if I go to church they will laugh at me” and stretching our backs we go there trembling. Oh! we can be certain that indeed, we will become the subject of the laughing stock of those whose opinion we have feared. But if you say, “I will be laughed at? here is a story! it is I who will make fun of those who do not have the courage to imitate me in doing their duty! If we say this, we immediately become a subject of respect for others. It is so true that on earth where so many things are relative, that is to say, are only such in relation to others, we are truly what we want to be, the opinion people have of us. is somehow in our hands, we make it
and if, like Esau, we sell our right to freedom for a dish of lentils, which here represented human respect, we become the captives of the world.
   But I'm going back to my dance history. Externally I laughed, while internally I was very moved by the supernatural intervention that had just taken place. The impotence that had taken hold of us was inexplicable, I felt it… Oh! how I thanked Jesus for having thus manifested his presence to me! And I then understood that, really the good Lord does not approve of this kind of entertainment, since he also categorically refuses to take part in it, more than that, that the souls who indulge in it are left to their own devices, since Jesus did not even want to pray for them! Oh! what a danger to be somewhere where the good God is not to protect and bless! Thérèse was inspired by heaven when she struggled with my prejudices, I recognized that.
   It is true that my prejudices were not great and I never took any pleasure in worldly parties, if I was ever bored in my life it was at these meetings. I apprehended them as one apprehends an unpleasant thing and it is not surprising since my sole occupation was to mortify myself there and I had a great fear of offending God there. No, I didn't feel safe there and when you need to be so
on your guard you are not happy, it is better to walk in less flowery and safer paths.
   Thérèse was right to insist on this truth and to instill it in me anyway, even with severity, because I feel very well that if I had been brought up in another environment I could have let myself be taken in by the baits of the world. , so I need not boast of the feelings I express. O my Mother, what would have become of me if, instead of having with me an angel who carefully closed all the exits leading to the earth, I had been left to myself? It is Jesus alone who can answer... And I can answer a little too, because I know that when a vessel takes on water through an opening that no one thinks of stopping up, because no one is unaware of its existence, or that it was considered insignificant at its beginning, the water gains strength and, suddenly making a larger hole, rushes in whirling and soon sinks the ship to the bottom. Yes, I know that all disasters begin with little, a timid beginning that is always easy to remedy when you do it in time. It is this help that Jesus bestowed on me by placing my beloved Thérèse beside me.
   Certainly without the vigilance of my Angel, my little basket would have taken on water like many others! because I have to record several failures which were a small door open to temptation. So one day I spent my gift money buying myself a
bracelet. It was a pretty chiseled silver bracelet. I intended to use it daily, but as soon as I put it on my arm I was seized with an immense disgust for this object and I pushed it away disdainfully, it seemed to me that, carrying it on me, I was a prisoner. "What! I said to myself, I would have a chain riveted to my wrist! Am I therefore a slave? It seemed to me that with that I had lost something of my freedom. And it was true, this chain would have attached me somewhat to the world if I had allowed it to adorn my hand.
   Another time, it was during my great ordeal of temptation, I held within myself the language which I put on the lips of those who become discouraged and, leaving the oars, letting their boat drift adrift, saying "If God wants to save me, let him save me!" I only had this failure once and, on that occasion, I allowed myself a look, just one, of which I bitterly repented. But Jesus, who was watching over his little wife, allowed no harm to happen to me, my heart suddenly becoming insensitive, it seemed to me that I was clothed in an armor that prevented me from being hurt.
   I cannot say how deeply this grace touched me, for the goodness of Jesus was fully revealed there. No, he does not abandon the soul which suffers war within itself and the psalmist was right when he sang: "When the righteous fall, he is not hurt, for the hand of the Lord upholds him" (Ps. )
   By these two traits you see, my Mother, how weak I was and how much, therefore, I needed the virile education that I received. She was all the more necessary to me because the demon, there as elsewhere, set many traps for me. As you have noticed in the course of this story the demon tempted me by the attraction of the senses, by the attraction of the heart and by vainglory. It only remained for him to tempt me with vanity, and this last test I can say he blew it away.
   It is very simply, my Mother, that I am going to tell you this and, if there is some detail to my praise, very quickly I will bring back all the glory to Jesus, it is a habit that I have taken and which gives me great peace. Thus, when someone pays me a compliment, I turn interiorly to my Jesus and I say to him: “This is for you, my Beloved, because everything that is praised in me comes from you! .and I'm glad to see that its benefits are appreciated. If, on the contrary, I or others notice my many imperfections, I feel sorry for Jesus, because it is so hard to hear oneself criticize his works! so I hasten to say to him: "What I deplore, O my Jesus, it is not you who put it in me, for you have endowed me very well, it is I who deform your work into making use of my passions to satisfy my nature, it is thus for me the reproaches. Make no mistake about it since I am not mistaken about it. The compliments addressed to your little wife are yours by right and the reproaches are the share that she deserves. "So, the roles well decided, I'm like relieved
and I no longer have any trouble finding myself mean. Without this little convention, I would have thought I was doing something indelicate by moaning about my many faults because I find that in us there is much more reason to thank than to complain.

   With all that we have received from the good Lord, I wonder how we
  can knowingly be proud. Being surprised for a moment is still admissible, but that is where tolerance ends. No, my Mother, I cannot be vain about what I am going to tell you, it is impossible, because I am too deeply persuaded that all the gifts that have been my share came to me from the good God, without any deserves from me. A comparison will perfectly explain my thought. I suppose a millionaire man by inheritance. If someone is going to praise him for having acquired so much wealth, he will not be tempted to pride, because he knows very well that his personal genius has no part in the heap of his immense fortune. Surely, he will think in his heart of hearts that we are mistaken in him in attributing the merit, saying to himself: let people rather praise my luck to have had, in my relationship, someone who left me so much Goods!
   Just as it is impossible for this man to be proud in attributing to himself the source of his treasures, so I find, as I have said, that it is impossible for me to be proud in counting my riches, the sentiment which will spring from my heart will rather be that of gratitude for my
Benefactor and one of distrust of myself in fear that these riches will make me unjust. Because the demon is there all ready who will try to use it to destroy me.
   These riches of which I am going to speak to you, my Mother, it was in me a certain amiability which drew all hearts to me. As soon as I went out a little I heard the echoes of it. It was not always after social gatherings, but after simple visits or even in the exercise of good works. I particularly remember one occasion when a committee of ladies having been formed in connection with a feast in honor of Joan of Arc, we met in the sacristy of St. Peter. Soon people formed a circle around me and several people who didn't know me came back, full of praise for me. It was from all sides that I heard compliments addressed to me. It even became so strong that a person, friend of the family, came to tell my uncle to urge his daughter to follow in my footsteps so that all the votes would not be so for me. The reflection was made to my cousin Marie, but she did not take it into account, because she had too great a character to try to shine by effort. So I remained, without looking for it either, queen of this little kingdom
   In the summer in the country, other opportunities arose and I felt the same attraction. My uncle then made many invitations among which [189] were often friends of Dr. La Néele. They all had a predilection for me. The revelations of the mothers, several of whom came to address their complaints to me at Carmel, would not have left me in doubt if I had had any: they deplored my entry into the cloister and showed me their disappointment. They also told me that they had heard the name 'Céline' mentioned many times in their homes. Finally, it was impossible for me to receive more explicit testimonies, I even received here at Carmel, a long poem from one of these young people.
   The assiduity around me was so obvious that my uncle called me one day in his office and told me "that I was too kind, that we had not been brought up like that and that I had to watch over myself" I received the reprimand without however understanding it, because I was not trying to please in any way, I acted with simplicity and absolute freedom in all my actions like someone who has nothing to expect from anyone. Finally, I myself was expansive and frank, clearly speaking my thoughts and it was impossible for me to resemble my cousin Marie who was naturally cold. Ah! how I longed to fly away to the cloister! I found that this escape was the only remedy for what I was reproached for, not seeing the possibility of remaking myself. So I suffered the humiliation of seeing myself watched. My cousin Marie was always to accompany me and act as my "third party", but as my heart was absolutely free, her control did not bother me at all.
  She was very happy with this order that had been given to her, because she loved me extremely and could not leave me for a single minute, which sometimes offended her parents. One would have liked her to show me less affection and to be more attentive to her sister. This order then, as I say, was very agreeable to both of us.
   My Mother, by all that I have just written you will perhaps believe that there was some levity in my conduct. As for me, I can affirm that I never act with a view to captivating the hearts of creatures. It is true that I repeated after Father de Ravignan: "Let's be distinguished" and I practiced it, but there all my worldliness ends, which I did not allow myself to attract attention, but for my own satisfaction. As I told you, neither my cousin nor I ever curled our hair and we would have considered it a great immortality to use perfumes, everything was natural, which did not prevent a young and brilliant officer, who came to spend part of his vacation at home, to tell his mother that "he had never seen young girls so good as us". And yet he went a great deal in society. Which proves that simplicity is all that is most seductive.
   Just as my exterior was well regulated, so was my interior. The storm hadn't been heard for a long time and I was entirely at my
Beloved. However, as my weakness was always present before my eyes and as I totally lacked self-confidence, I only repeated to her this prayer of the Spouse of Songs: "Show me where you graze, where you rest at noon, so that I do not get lost following the herds of your companions…” (Cant.) Yes, I was afraid of getting lost and it was in all sincerity that I addressed this supplication to him. But he had no doubts about his wife and, without fear, he gave me all the latitude by saying: "If you don't know yourself, go out and follow the tracks of the herds and feed your kids near the tabernacles of the pastors." (Song.)
   Reflecting on these words, I said to myself, "My Beloved only exhorts me to humility and if I am humble I can go out and graze, without trouble, my flocks following the flocks of his companions, I am sure of not not get lost…” Oh! seeing this, I applied myself to acquiring this virtue! it was always my favorite virtue, my friend and my adviser and it was without respite that I asked the good Lord to grant it to me. Yes, where others get lost a hundred times, the humble soul is safe, "it does not know itself" that is to say, it is unaware of its beauty and, feeling only its weakness, it puts all its trust in his God. This is the secret to not falling.
   O my Mother, internally how happy I was at that time of my life! I don't know if I was humble, but I know that my soul was like a quiet lake whose azure surface nothing ripples. Only the Heavens were reflected in this mirror and peace, a universal peace hovered sovereign over all my interior. Senses, powers, everything belonged to Jesus, I only lived and breathed for him...
   Along with the seductions that I have just described and that the demon dangled to no avail, before my eyes, were found others that were less personal, but nevertheless quite tempting as well. The good Lord, it seems, wanted me to taste all the cups of pleasure so that I could freely reject them. He left the demon the leeway to put his 'brand' in the worldly fires of the earth and reserved himself to tear him from it at his first groan. Ah! this groaning was not long in coming, the green wood whose sap rose vigorously towards Jesus, was not suitable for the action of the infernal fire, as soon as he was plunged into it he wept and crackled and Jesus attentive to his prayer tore him from it to throw him into the brazier of his love.
   I said that, as a child, I had wanted to live in castles, it seemed to me then that happiness resided under the elegant wings of a princely villa and in the alleys
shadows of an enchanting park, in order to demolish this illusion, it was necessary for Jesus to make me consider its vanity closely, and he did so.
   The countryside where we lived in the summer, and which had been bequeathed to my aunt as an inheritance, consisted of a delightful chateau and a no less pleasant park. It measured more than 40 hectares surrounded by walls and included, in addition to the lawns, a very picturesque place nicknamed 'little Switzerland' because of its gigantic trees and its undulating terrain, then the artistically distributed wood, in the center of which one saw an immense fish tank decorated with water lilies of various colors. Here the herons met to come and fish for the innumerable goldfish while further on the dens of foxes announced the lairs of the cunning host, the envied prey of the skilful hunter.
   I cannot describe all the charms of this delightful site, raised to a great height above the valley. The habitation like an eagle's nest sat on sheer quarries, so the view stretched far away on all sides. We could see at our feet in the valley a stream that meandered gracefully while in front of us, on the other hill, the forest where the sound of the horn sometimes resounded announcing the hunts.
   My Mother, I have seen very beautiful things in my life and yet this stay would have left me nothing to be desired, if I had been there in the company of my dear sisters, if my Thérèse had shared it with me. Yes, he was as I would have dreamed, but did I have to complain? my dear little Father accompanied me there… The trip was difficult it is true,
however, once we got there, we forgot all our troubles, moreover our dedicated staff put a lot of effort into it, and the dear paralytic with his bed, the small car and all his equipment soon saw himself installed in this ideal residence. I can still see my dear little Father's happiness when seated on the esplanade he looked with joined hands at the magnificent landscape that unfolded before his eyes. To the right and to the left the horizon was as far as the eye could see, this grandiose spectacle in its immensity, still spoke to his poetic and tender soul. Often in the evening we walked at the entrance to the woods, I drove her little car with Marie and he was happy. Once we had lingered longer than usual the nightingale made us hear its melodies. None of us could tear ourselves away and we followed him deep into the woods. Ah! if already, on this land of exile, our souls are suspended on the voice of a bird that will be our ecstasy when we hear, in Heaven, the sweet harmonies of the angels and when we are allowed to unite ourselves with their accents!
   While waiting for the eternal concerts we enjoyed to the full the beauties of nature and from our souls exhaled hymns of gratitude to the beloved Creator, author of so many marvels. How I loved to sit on the slope of the hill and dream of the sky! .. I would have remained effortlessly for entire days lost in the contemplation of these
foresee and touch the celestial beauties in a way numberless stars… Above all I loved the brilliance in the dark night of the moon with the silver disk, shining. » I loved… ah! I loved everything that was beautiful and pure, everything that raised my soul to Heaven.
   This evoked memory of the small village church reminds me of a very strong suffering that I felt then. I saw our rich and spacious abode, adorned with gold paneling and silken carpets, and, looking down the valley, I saw in the distance the dusty steeple indicating the residence here below of our God. Yes, he lived with us and I saw him, his tabernacle!... Repulsive corner, black and dirty, no hangings in his house! and, while the keys to my furniture were gilded, his rusty one creaked in a wretched lock supported by rotten wood.
   My Mother, I am not exaggerating anything, desolation reigned in this church. The old priest who served her was discouraged and no longer thought of reacting, so our presence did her good. We bought a suitable ciborium, it was the most urgent thing, as for the rest we had to put up with it, praying, however, to the good Lord to send there a young priest whose zeal would revive the faith of the population, while his vigilance would properly maintain the
Holy place. But what sadness for my heart! O my Mother, what a shame to live in a sumptuous dwelling when Jesus lodges in a hovel! To fully understand this pain you have to have been through it, mine was stinging and constant. Every evening, casting a last glance at the landscape, my gaze stopped on the sad bell tower and I asked forgiveness from Jesus for having a more beautiful dwelling than his…Ah! I understand the indignation of faithful Uriah when David exhorted him to take rest at home. Would the ark of the Lord cried out dwell in the tent and I would come into my house? “(2 Sam. X, 12) He did not enter it and slept under the stars beside his Master, that is what I would have liked to do, too.
   To respond as much as possible to this need of my heart, I asked and easily obtained to go up to the top floor, my cousin Marie followed me there and, under the pretext of leaving the beautiful apartments to the guests, we lodged in the attics, under the lead. . There I thought of Sylvio Pellico, because the heat was torrid, but living there was a real relief for me, because Jesus could not envy it.
   On this point I was therefore satisfied. It now remains for me to write down the reflections I made on the vanity of the riches of the earth. As soon as I was put in their possession I despised them. I who had desired to own splendid dwellings
I should have this seems to be at the height of my wishes. There, it is true, there is no "corridor" as in the ancient palace of the Dukes of Guise, but graceful steps, elegant spires so that the little "prefect" of yesteryear would not have "came down" when coming visit me there.
   Yes, I should have been satisfied, but my heart was too big to be seduced by stones arranged in a certain way. Arms crossed, in one of the alleys of the park, I looked at the buildings. Ah! that's what I said to myself, that's what humans value! Because this house is not square, but narrower here, wider there, more slender on this side, shorter on this other because one window has a long shape, another a round aspect, because white stones protrude at this angle, that the steps vary in layout, that's why we are proud of our home, that's why! do I believe my eyes! but what folly!
   O my Mother, yes, what folly! The Prophet-King was right when, meditating on the vanity of men, he was not afraid to call them fools. "The foolish and the stupid, he said, put their confidence in their goods, their glory in their riches, they imagine that their houses will be eternal, that their dwellings will remain from age to age and they give their names to their domains, but death is their shepherd, in the midst of his splendor man does not last, he does not understand, he is like the beasts that perish” (Ps. 49, 7-15)
   Carried away by my reflections, I saw the contrast between
this brilliant dwelling and the thatched house where the poor take their antics. I went back to my childhood when we went to visit my little Thérèse at her nanny's, we were received in the one and only room serving at the same time as kitchen, bedroom and living room, room whose floor was quite simply dirt that a sweep of the broom cleaned in an instant. And making the connection of this rustic interior with the luxury of ours I found that truth and freedom, consequently happiness, dwelt better under the old rough beams than under the paneled ceilings. And I longed for the happy moment when leaving these rattles of lies I would be transported to the humble cell where I am writing these lines at this moment.
   Ah! my Mother, how much happiness I tasted in this little cell and in this blessed Carmel! I often took myself to consider its poverty with pride and voluptuousness, I felt the worn and bare walls to convince myself that it was true that I enjoyed their charms, because who would believe that of me who loves beauty so much? I found real charms only in these contemptible objects, all the more charming in my eyes as they more eloquently preach to me disdain for the comforts of life. This is how, in recent years, my happiness increased when, to protect them from spoliation, our furniture, which was already so poor, was replaced by old packing boxes serving at the same time as tables, chests of drawers and
of cabinets. It is there that I saw by experience how little is enough for man on this earth.
   Many would no doubt disagree with me, but I sincerely find that the less we have, the happier we are and the more free we are. Indeed, a valuable object, for example, requires precautions, maintenance, how much time spent cleaning, beautifying our homes! And then, one thing calls for another, it's the endless chain. While when we have nothing or only objects of little value, we treat them according to their dignity, that is to say that we do not devote any care to them and the precious time of our life s flow to praise the Lord and to serve him in a much more direct way, since, according to the advice of the author of the Imitation: "We pass through the cares of this life without worrying about any care" ( ) O blessed abandonment, O wise ignorance which gives the heart so much peace and freedom, why then are you not the lot of all souls on the march towards eternity! Why do we spend our labor on what does not satisfy? (Is. 55-2) thinking that the Holy Spirit makes us hear this pressing call: “Let him who thirsts come! let whoever wishes take the water of life freely! (Apoc. XXII, 17) Yes, it is for free and more than free that the good God offers us the water of divine life since he does not ask us for any compensation in exchange and that to obtain it, he enough to be poor in mind and heart by simplifying our human life as much as possible.

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