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Circular of Sr Marie of the Trinity

Marie-Louise Castel   1875-1944

circular-keys
Translation used with the courteous agreement of Fr Colaresi, O.Carm.

My dear Reverend and Respected Mother
Peace and humble greeting in Our Saviour, who, on the 16th of January, 1944, during the time conscecrated to His Infancy, wished to bring to eternal happiness (of this we are quite confident), our dearly beloved Sister Louise Josephine, MARIE of the TRINITY and of the HOLY FACE, a professed religious of our community who had the grace of being one of the novices of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus. She was 69 years old and had been a religious for nearly 52 years. She spent about two years and two months of this time in our second Monastery in Paris, located on Messine Avenue; and nearly 50 years in our Convent. Except for Sister Genevieve [Céline] and ourselves, she was the last to have known our little Saint Therese—and her passing leaves a big vacancy in our midst!
   
1. Family - birth - girlhood  4. Happy little nine-pin on Mount Carmel

2. Carmelite Vocation; Trials and Disappointment

 5. Her Great Practical Abilities
3. A Novice of Saint Therese                                                        6. Her Long Illness                                                      7. Her Last Years

 

CHAPTER I

Family - Birth - Girlhood

Our dear Sister MARIE of the TRINITY was the 13th of a family of 19 children—nine of whom departed for Heaven at a tender age. Her father was a public school teacher whose intrepid faith made him lead his pupils each morning in prayer at the beginning of each class. He would not countenance the secularization of schools, thus ruining his career and partially depriving himself of the privilege of a pensioned retirement. His straightforwardness and goodness were more than once the victims of human malignity—but never were his charity and his z,eal for good works, shaken or dis' turbed.

His wife was equally holy and these two excellent Catholic parents played up to the part God destined for them in their family. Their second son had become a monk in the Premonstratension Abbey of Mondaye (Calvados), when the religious persecution of 1880 forced him to quit the monastery and join the Army.

He was so profoundly disappointed and completely heartbroken that he died two years later at the age of 25. Another son was a Christian brother for a long time—but, entertaining a desire for the Priesthood, he belatedly undertook the study of Latin and finally had the joy of saying Mass the last 25 years of his life. One of the girls is a Sister of Providence at Lisieux and the youngest is a Visitation Nun in the convent at Caen.

Our Carmelite was born on August 12, 1874, in Saint'Pierre'sur-Dives (Calvados) and was baptized the following day. Two days later she was brought to the home of one of her Aunts in Saint'Martin'de la-Lieuse —very close to Lisieux, where she stayed until she was four years of age. When she returned home, she quickly learned by example, the solid virtues that ruled this household— and she later admitted she always felt the desire of becoming a religious. 

A little before her eleventh Birthday, on May 21, 1885, she made her First Holy Communion at the Church of St. Lambert de Vaugirard in Paris—while on this same day, Saint Therese of the Child Jesus solemnly renewed her First Holy Communion in the Benedictine Abbey at Lisieux. Other common interests and events would soon reunite these two souls. Marie Louise was the pupil of the Daughters of the Cross on l'Abbé Groult street for four years—and one of her teachers in particular remained an intimate life' long friend. The Motherhouse of this good Congregation has recently assured us that they vividly shared our sorrow at Sister's death.

There is one extraordinary fact from the youth of our child that deserves to be told, for it seems to be almost prophetic in nature. This is the account of it that Sister has left to us: "We had a great devotion to the Holy Face in our family. Father always kept a devotional lamp burning day and night to the Holy Face, and despite the ex' pensiveness of olive oil, he insisted on its use, and demanded the best. We gathered before this holy picture for morning and night prayers—and we recited in common the long Litany of the Holy Face every day.

One evening, while we were trimming the lamp, it fell and broke; it was too late to buy another and Father was saddened by the thought that no lamp would burn that night. Now, Mother had made a present to me of a beautiful glass; I had seen it at a fair and fallen in love with its cut-glass, diamond-like beauty. I felt so proud using it at table instead of my old cup. But seeing how down­hearted Papa was—I said spontaneously to him: 'Here, Daddy—take my beautiful glass: I will give it to the Holy Face to be His night-watchman. The gift was accepted.

One morning, several months later, when Father arose, he went to our little oratory of the Holy Face and found the lamp out and the glass all blackened. Well, he found it very hard to clean the glass, and much to his surprise, impossible to remove a brown triangle that had encrusted itself into the glass. Completely moved, he came, woke us, and said: "Come and see the wonderful thing that has happened. Almighty God, in order to repay us for burning this lamp night and day before His Shrine, has autographed our glass, for this triangle represents the Holy Trinity."

"Oh, that's for me," I cried, "because that's my glass!"

And I heard Daddy say to Mamma, "Perhaps that's true. Marie-Louise is right; this must be a sign for her. You'll see; the good God is going to do some­thing with our daughter!"

I was then thirteen. One day when I was home alone, I began to doubt and think that Papa should have rubbed a bit harder to remove that triangle from the

glass. And so, to settle my conscience, I emptied the lamp and tried to clean the bottom of the glass with sand. It was useless. The triangle glistened as it lay engraved in the glass; this gave me a most peculiar feeling.

Well, the glass remained engraved like that for many months. Then one fine morning we found it broken. The vigilant flame of my night'watchman had grown too warm and caused the glass to break.'"

 

CHAPTER II

Carmelite Vocation; Trials and Disappointment

Before examining the meaning of this mysterious augury, Reverend Mother, we have to borrow from the writings of our dear daughter, the rather unique story of her call to Carmel; and the account will give us an insight into the rather naive character of our heroine.

"About two years after my First Communion," Marie Louise writes, "I discovered in my prayer book (Livre de Piete de la Jeune Fille), a prayer for the Grace of knowing one's vocation. This wets a revelation to me, and for nine consecutive days I said the prayer to learn to which religious order I was called. My prayers were completely heard at the end of my novena. It was one Saturday evening about 4 to 5 o'clock, (the time when the Salve Regina is sung at Carmel) ; I was in our little oratory of the Holy Face examining my conscience for I was to go to Confession in preparation for tomorrow's Communion. I looked at the Holy Face and tried to excite contrition in my heart. Then I began to understand the love Jesus had for me and I began to feel my heart glowing with a desire to return His Love

—even unto death. And thinking about the religious whose joy it is to immolate themselves for Him, I said aloud: Ah, how happy those Carmelites must be! An immense joy flooded my soul! God had just unveiled my vocation for me and I would have answered His call at once, but alas, I was only 12.

An ineffable ardor had been enkindled in my heart —making my enforced waiting a veritable martyrdom.

I will not give details—but even my health was affected. However, when I was about 14, I understood why God, in His Mercy, had permitted this exaggerated desire; it was to counterbalance the great need I felt of loving and being loved by creatures. It saved me from dangers into which I surely would have fallen! Later on, my dear little Sister Therese of the Child Jesus, who had become my Mistress and my confidential friend, had surmised my trouble when she composed the following verses for me.
Oh Jesus, when the flame called love
Was lit in my young breast,
You claimed it for Your own
And I was more than blessed;
I craved for endless love
That only You possessed!
As a little lamb—far from the sheep-fold
I wandered foolishly, gaily—unconscious of danger,
But Heaven's Queen,
My beloved Shepherdess
With hand unseen
Protected me.
Thus as I played so close to precipice
She guided me to Camel's peak.
And then I knew the bitter things
That I must love, to fly to Heaven."

Unaware of the danger involved, Marie-Louise, in spite of her Cloister aspirations, led a very free life in Paris. Often, unknown to her parents, she made the rounds of the Capital stores, and attended the fairs. She used to amuse us once in a while by relating her escapades: for instance, the innocent zeal that made her decapitate, out of devotion, in a game of murder, the silhouettes of priests and nuns. Didn't she even tell us that on the day she entered the Monastery, she said to her Father as they passed the amusement park: "Papa, before I enter Carmel, let me have one last ride on the merry-go-round!" In the Flower of her youth, she takes a Vow of Virginity. In the meanwhile, our Sister continues, while I was a student at the boarding school run by the Sisters of St. Francis Regis, the Chaplain had permitted me and one of my companions who also wanted to be a Carmelite, to take a temporary Vow of virginity.

On the day of the children's First Communion, in May, 1890—during the noon recreation period, my friend and I, evading the watchful eye of the teacher, ran to the chapel. It was magnificently decorated, but at this particular moment only the Sanctuary light was burning. The big Gospel book was opened on the Altar, in readiness for the ceremony of the renewal of Baptismal vows. Since we were alone, everything seemed to breathe of a mysterious secrecy. Jesus Himself seemed to be waiting to receive the offering of our hearts. Then, each of us in turn placed our hand on the Gospel and promised to belong to no one but Jesus, and to consecrate our services to Him until death. Then we kissed the center of the Altar. After this solemn act, we rejoined our companions at recreation.

She is confirmed by Bishop Gay! "Confirmation was to be administered by Bishop Gay; I was overjoyed at the prospect of seeing him, for I knew he was the Superior of several Carmelite Convents. But I felt bound to promise God the sacrifice of not looking at him at all in order to obtain the grace of entering Carmel the following August. I kept my promise, and when I next went to Confession, the Chap' lain informed me that he had spoken of me to Mother Prioress of the Carmel on Messine Avenue in Paris, and that she would receive me in August to make an eight' day Retreat outside the cloister. While waiting, I was to write to her and tell her why I wanted to be a Carmelite. This made me so happy! I did not know how to thank God sufficiently.

Nevertheless, I was at a loss as to how to write the required letter. Luckily, I remembered having read in my friend's notebook (she was three years older than I) twelve reasons why she wanted to enter Carmel. Since she has the same vocation, I said to myself, then I should have the same twelve reasons as she; maybe the Mother Prioress will find one of them that will convince her I should be accepted. So, I began my letter thus:

"You ask me, Reverend Mother, for the reasons that make me want to enter Carmel? To be truthful, I know only one: God is calling me and I am coming. He suffered and died for love of me, and I want to suffer for love of Him. However, here are twelve reasons why I want to leave the world. So, I began to copy the reasons from my friend's notebook. One of them was: the instability of the human heart.

During the following Pentecost vacation, I visited for the first time with the Prioress of Carmel on Messine Avenue. She opened the grille and when I saw her, I thought I saw an angel appear. I seemed to be utterly out of this world. She spoke about my famous letter and said that only its beginning gave her any assurance that I had a vocation. And that all the other reasons created no impressions whatsoever on her.

"My dear child—what do you know at your age, about the instability of the human heart and the other reasons that follow?"

I blushed a bit, but did not reveal my secret. And deep down in my heart I was glad that another's thoughts had not been the reason for my acceptance.

In the month of August, after graduation (I would soon be 16), I went to Carmel to make my retreat, at the end of which I expected to be admitted to the Cloister forever. But Reverend Mother thought it would be more prudent to put off my admission eight months in order that I might become stronger. Only God knows the suffering this delay caused me.

It was during this retreat that I met Reverend Father Blino, S.J., extraordinary confessor of this Carmel of Paris. He spoke to me in praise of Sister Therese of the Child Jesus from the Carmel in Lisieux, where he had just preached a retreat. He told me how she even

went to the Pope to obtain permission to enter Carmel at 15. I told him I thought I had courage enough to walk to Rome to obtain the same favor.

Finally on April 30th, 1891,1 crossed the threshold of the Cloister and received the name of Sister Agnes of Jesus. My greatest desires were realized! But I entered the cloister, my head in the clouds and was soon to fall back to earth and reality. I thought I would feel the ardor of my love for God, as I felt the depth of my love for creatures, and that since this would be so, why my greatest pleasure would be in suffering for God. But, on the contrary, the smallest penances were very costly and I had to summon all my will-power to persevere.

For some time I had been very desirous of knowing and having for a friend, a Carmelite who would one day be canonized, and I begged God for this Grace.

Once I even said to my Novice-Mistress who was very friendly to me, that I thought I would make more progress in Divine Love if I were guided by a com­panion older than myself—one who had the same at­tractions and who would be not only my Mistress, but also an intimate friend. Thus, the Lord was making me desire exactly that which He was later to give me in Saint Therese of the Child Jesus.

A year after my entry, I had the joy of receiving the Holy Habit. Up to that time, my health had been excellent and I felt that I was where I belonged. I expected to reach Profession without trouble. But, during the retreat preceding the reception of the Habit, these spiritual trials that were to continue until my exit from Carmel, began. Curiously enough, I began to picture ceaselessly in my imagination, my leaving this dear Monastery, my being exiled in the world, and finally my entering another Carmel. This caused me a lot of pain because I was very attached to my first religious house. My Mistress, from whom I held no secret, tried to console me by answering me that nothing of the kind would ever happen. This strange mental conflict caused me to become ill and I grew so weak that they began to worry about me. When the doctor was consulted, he gave this answer: "If you want her to die, all you have to do is to keep her with you." To ascertain God's Will, the Prioress made me begin a Novena to the Holy Face, since it was before this Image that I received my vocation. In the course of the novena, my Father came to see me. Reverend Mother saw him first in the Parlor and explained the situation. The best thing Father could do was to propose bringing me to Trouville where he was about to rejoin the family, and we saw heaven's answer in this solution.

Mother Prioress sadly informed me of this and promised that she would take me back as soon as I was strong enough.

I cannot describe my sorrow. When I left Carmel, everything turned black to my eyes. It was a night of agony and I was crushed. I left my beloved community on the 8th of July, 1893, having spent two years and two months there. Oh how sorrowful my eleven months exile in the world! I was lost! My heart was in Carmel and the separation was an agony!

Fifteen days after I arrived at Trouville, I wanted to visit the Lisieux Carmel to seek a bit of comfort. Reverend Mother Agnes of Jesus came to the Parlor, accompanied by Mother Mary Gonzaga. They had heard about me from the Parisian Carmelites with whom they were on very friendly terms. During this inter' view, I had sort of a premonition that perhaps this was the Carmel for which God had destined me, but I banished the thought since I figured on returning to my original religious family.

 

CHAPTER III

A Novice of Saint Therese

When I returned to Paris, I learned that the Superior of the Messine Avenue Carmel was opposed to my reentry until I had reached my 21st year—thus to give my health a chance to improve. This unexpected news upset me. The sympathetic Mother Prioress suggested that I try to seek admission to the Carmel of Lisieux, for the home air might be more favorable to my health. Since I desired to shorten my stay in the world, I accepted. The plans worked, but I had difficulty in winning Lisieux Superior to my side. When I was most discouraged, I saw in the calendar that June 16th was the feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help—to whom I had great devotion since my childhood. My confidence was reanimated and I begged Our Lady to grant me the favor of being admitted to Carmel on that very day. My prayers were heard and on precisely that day of the year 1894, the Carmel where God wanted me always to remain, opened its doors to me.

I received the name of Sister Marie Agnes of the Holy Face and as a guardian angel I was given Saint Therese of the Child Jesus. Our Mother Agnes of

Jesus, whose first child I was, gave me complete freedom to go to my angel in all my troubles, for she assured me that it would be good for my soul to consult her frequently. It did not take me long to realize the treasure I had, and to find in SAINT THERESE the holy com­panion and friend about whom I had been dreaming for so long.

In her turn, the dear little Sister told me how she herself, when she heard of my entry into the Carmel of Paris, had desired to know me and to have me near to herself. We were both profoundly moved at the realization of how God had brought us together.

Six months later, I received again the Carmelite Habit—without any ceremony, on December 18th, the feast of Our Lady's Expectation."

Our dear Sister's debut in Carmel was very pre­carious. Her delicate health caused the Community to doubt seriously concerning her fitness; and her deep- rooted habit of being independent was making her spiritualization more difficult. Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, in a letter to her sister Celine, made reference to this, when jokingly comparing herself to a little hunting- dog who chases all day after its little rabbits, she adds: "I laugh, but deep down in my heart I am thinking very seriously that one of these little rabbits, the one that you know, is worth a hundred times more than the little dog. This little rabbit faced many dangers and I admit that, in her place, I would have been lost a long time ago in the deep forest of the world."

One day, when our little Sister had been severely reprimanded, she came, all discouraged, to find her Novice Mistress, and said very sadly to her, "I have no more vocation." But the Saint, too farseeing to be impressed by these words of discouragement, began to laugh. Anytime anything went wrong, she foresaw the same answer and used to say: "So, you have no more vocation today, is that right?" And the trouble would disappear.

However, during this first year of the Novitiate of our Sister, difficulties kept mounting to such a point that despair seemed to be the answer. Then Saint Therese of the Child Jesus asked her companion: "Have you still confidence that you will succeed nevertheless?"

"Yes," she answered, "I am convinced that God will give me this grace, of that nothing can make me doubt!"

Her angelic Mistress advises "confidence" . . . "Keep up your confidence," the Novice Mistress resolutely repeated, "for it is impossible that God will not help you, because He always measures His gifts in proportion to our trust in Him. However, I admit that, if I had seen you growing weak in hope, I would have begun to doubt myself, for humanly speaking, there is no hope."

Heaven was going to reward the blind trust of these two faithful souls, and then it was that the old story of the night watchman of the Holy Face was to have its meaning. On the Feast of the Holy Shroud, in 1896, her name of Sister Marie Agnes was changed to Sister MARIE of the TRINITY and of the HOLY FACE without anyone ever dreaming that this could happen.

Finally the time came to present the dear Novice to the members of the Chapter for profession. She maintained a joyful hope, but the powers of evil tried a last time to destroy this vocation that had been tested so often. "In the evening, during Compline," our Sister tells us, "I was sorely tempted and I said to myself: 'I have been in the Novitiate for five years in two Carmels before reaching Profession; has not God clearly shown me that this is not to be my way of life, since I left one Carmel because of my health, and maybe I just put it into my own head that I want to be a Carmelite, despite all the difficulties that I faced up to now. Now I shall decide; after Compline I will go to Reverend Mother and tell her that I do not want to stay. After all, I am being a bit naïve in forcing myself to embrace an austere life for which I am not called.'

"At this moment, in the Capitulum of Compline, I suddenly saw with my mind's eye the marvelous tri' angle engraved in my old glass, and a voice within me said: 'How can you doubt that you are not where I want you to be, since they have even given you the name that I chose?' And then peace and thanksgiving replaced the agony of my soul."

I told everything to our dear little Sister Therese of the Child Jesus. She was very much impressed and said: "This glass which first became completely black, is a figure of your soul during the night of your long trial; we could not see God's designs concerning you. Little by little everything cleared up, became limpid, and we saw that the Holy Trinity had branded you for' ever with His Divine Seal. And your end will be similar to that of your little glass which destroyed itself from the heat of the too ardent flame; the burning flame of Divine Love destroy your earthly dwelling. Oh, spend your whole life in thanking God because He has loved you in a particular way."

The 30th of April, 1896, exactly five years after her first entry into the Carmel at Paris, Sister MARIE of the TRINITY and of the HOLY FACE, finally had the joy of pronouncing her Holy Vows. This day, she tells us in her diary, was more of Heaven than of earth. Sister Therese of the Child Jesus seemed to be just as happy as I.

"I feel like Joan of Arc assisting at the Coronation of Charles VII," she told me, "and as for myself, I was convinced that I owed this priceless grace to her."

As a souvenir of this day, the Saint painted the picture of the Holy Face which she gave to the joyful Professed nun, along with three poems that would ex' press her happiness. Two of these are printed in the "Story of a Soul" ( "Comment on Divinity" and "I Thirst for Love"). In the evening she covered her bed with forget-me-nots and put this little note with the flowers: Saint Therese pens a note to her Novice!

"My little Sister, I wish I had immortal flowers to give you but these we will only find in Heaven. These little forget-me-nots will at least tell you that in the heart of your little Sister there will always remain, perpetually engraved, the memory of the moment when Jesus gave you the kiss of union which will only end or rather, be fully realized, in Heaven."

 

CHAPTER IV

"Happy little nine-pin on Mount Carmel"

We are trying to fulfill your desire, Reverend Mother, in giving you more details of the association of Sister Marie of the Trinity with our dear little Saint. The counsels and souvenirs published in the "Story of a Soul" contain many references to this association. Let it suffice to point out in the Circular that our be­loved daughter was the novice called "happy little Car­melite nine-pin" and also the novice of the "shell."

Here is, in its entirety, that which she herself has recorded about these two typical traits:

"When my character was still young and in its process of formation, the Infant Jesus inspired me, in order to help me to practice virtue, to play with Him. I chose the game of nine-pins. I pictured them to my­self as being of all sizes and of all colors in order to per­sonify the souls that I wished to conquer. The ball with which I played was my love."

In the month of September 1896, the novices re­ceived, for the benefit of the Missions, different little knick-knacks for a Christmas tree. By chance under the magic box there lay an object that is very rare in Carmel,—a spinning top. My companion said: "Isn't it ugly. I wonder what it's for?" and I, who under' stood the game, took hold of the top and said: "You can have a lot of fun with this. It will spin a whole day without stopping if you know how to make it run." And then I gave them a sample of what I meant and they were astounded.

Sister Therese of the Child Jesus watched me with' out saying a word but on Christmas, after the mid' night Mass, I found in our cell the famous top with a note whose envelope bore this address: "To my dear little spouse, Happy little "ninepin" on Mount Carmel, Christmas Eve — 1896.

"My dear little Spouse: Ah! how content I am with you! All year you have amused me very much with your game of ninepins. I took so much pleasure in it that the Court of the angels was surprised and charmed. Several little Cherubs asked me why I did not make them children; others wanted to know if the music of their instruments was no more pleasing to me than your joyful laugh, whenever you hit a ninepin with the ball of your love.

"I answered all of them that they should not be disappointed in not being children, for, one day, they would all be able to play with you in the fields of Heaven. And I told them that your smile was certainly more pleasing to me than their music, because you could

not play and smile without suffering and forgetting yourself.

"My dear little Spouse, I have a request I would like to make. Are you going to refuse Me? Oh! no, you love me too much for that! Well, I would like to watch your game. It's true the ninepins amuse me, but now, I would like to see you play with the top.

"And if you want, you will be My top. I gave you one as a model; you see that it has no exterior charms, and whoever does not know how to use it, will throw it away; but if a child were to see it, he would dance with joy and say, 'isn't this fun; this top can spin a whole day without stopping.'

"And I, the Little Jesus, I love you even though you have no charms, and I am begging you to spin all day to amuse me. But, as you know, to make the top spin, the string must be pulled, the whip must be used. Well, leave the other Sisters do this for you and be grateful to them who will be the most industrious in making you spin. Then, when I have amused Myself enough with you, I will bring you up there where we both will be able to play without suffering."

"(Signed) Your Little Brother,

"JESUS."

I often cried, and for nothing, and this caused my dear Mistress a lot of sorrow. One day she had a brilliant idea: taking from her painting table, a moulding shell and holding my hands so I could not wipe my eyes, she started to gather my tears in the shell. Instead of continuing my crying, I could no longer keep from laughing.

"All right," she said, "from now on you can cry as much as you want, providing you cry into this shell."

Then, eight days before her death, I cried all night, thinking about the fact that Sister Therese would soon leave us. She noticed it and said, "You have been crying; did you cry into the shell?"

I could not lie and my denial made her sad. She answered, "I am going to die, and I will not rest easy because of you, if you do not promise me to obey faith­fully my recommendation, since I attach primary im­portance to it for the benefit of your soul."

I promised her, asking only as a favor, the permis­sion to cry freely when she died.

"But why cry over my death; those tears are use­less; you are crying because I am happy."

She added, "However, I pity your weakness, and I permit you to weep for the first few days, but after that you have to go back to the shell."

I must say that I was faithful to my promise, even though it cost me heroic efforts. When I wanted to cry, I armed myself with courage, and my pitiable instru­ment; but the trouble I had to take in going from one eye to the other, distracted me from the thought of my own sorrow, and this ingenious means did not take long to cure me entirely of my sensitiveness."

We admit, Reverend Mother, that we were moved, when, the day after the death of our Sister, upon opening her desk, we saw in the first drawer, the historic little tear'shell and the legendary top.

In order to more clearly show the supernatural prudence and the sublime virtues of her angelic Mistress, our lamented Sister, with charming simplicity, made known many of Sister Therese's traits during her deposition at the canonization process. And we will never forget the impression created on the Ecclesiastical Tribunal by the long and interesting account of Sister MARIE of the Trinity. It was she whom our Saint advised to imitate the little child who does not yet know how to walk, and who must ceaselessly lift his little foot to climb the stairway of perfec­tion.

How many times, to the end of her life, did not our dear Sister compare herself to this child, because of her inability to reach her goal by herself? But she waited in confidence to be lifted up to Heaven in the Arms of our good God.

Sister Therese of the Child Jesus taught her sensitive novice not to cry even before God; to grow to like the troublesome work of the laundry; and this in order

to gain the life of her children—the souls to be saved. She also taught her that we should present ourselves before our Sovereign Judge with empty hands. And how many other heavenly lessons could we not cite?

Sister Marie of the Trinity reports humbly that she permitted herself to become attached inordinately to her Mother Prioress, and as soon as this happened, her wise Mistress used to tell her that she did not love her Superior but herself.

"Oh what a sad life," the novice wrote in a moment of discouragement. "Life is not sad, on the contrary, it is gay," responded Saint Therese. "If you were to say that exile is sad, I could understand. We really fool ourselves in giving the name 'life' to something that has to end."

She also stimulated the fervor of her companion, who thought that she was deprived of zeal for doing good. "You are weeping about that which should cause you the greatest happiness. If you feel too tired to pick up a piece of thread, and nevertheless you do it for love of Jesus, you will have more merit than if you had performed a far greater deed in a moment of fervor. Where would be the merit if you only had to fight when you felt courageous?"

The pupil accepted these ingenious corrections with docility and all her life praised the Lord for having initiated her in this manner, in the marvelous secrets in the Way of Spiritual Childhood.

The judicious Mistress also knew how to uncover and increase the strength that she would need to main­tain the fight. After an infidelity which she bitterly re­gretted, Sister MARIE of the Trinity had resolved to deprive herself of Holy Communion on the following day. The Saint, who was already sick, wrote her this note: "Dear 'little flower' of Jesus,—It is sufficient that in the humiliation of your soul, your roots eat the earth. You have to open up wide, or rather lift up high, your cup, so that the Bread of Angels may come as a 'Divine Dew' to strengthen you, and to give you all the things that you are lacking."

Regarding the devotion of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus to the Holy Eucharist, we read in the Summarium the following testimony of her novice:—

"While Sister Therese was Sacristan, I was a wit­ness of the spirit of Faith with which she fulfilled the duties of her office. She used to speak to me of the joy that was hers over the privilege that she had, along with the Priest, of touching the Sacred Vessels. She used to kiss them respectfully; but her joy reached its peak the day on which, after replacing the Communion plate, she discovered on it a particle of the Sacred Host. I met her in the cloister, carrying her precious Treasure which she carefully sheltered with her Scapular. 'Fol­low me,' she whispered, 'I am carrying Jesus.'

In the Sacristy, she placed the Plate on the table, and made me get down on my knees beside her until the Priest, whom she had notified, would arrive."

It was to this dear novice also that Sister Therese of the Child Jesus, at her request, revealed how she prepared herself for Holy Communion, calling upon the Blessed Virgin to help her; and it was to her also that she expressed her desire to be magnetized by Our Lord.

But, Reverend Mother, you already know all these things so let us make known in the Deposition of Sister MARIE of the Trinity, and from some pages of her diary, some traits that have not been mentioned.

Besides their common devotion to the Holy Face, (the Canticle in His honor was composed by Saint Therese for Sister Marie of the Trinity)—their two souls found a common bond in a fervent devotion to our Father, Saint John of the Cross. Let us listen to our dear Sister Marie on the subject:

"Saint Therese of the Child Jesus had a special devotion for our Father, Saint John of the Cross, a devotion full of thanksgiving for the good and the con- solation found in his writings. She used to talk to me about them and quoted from memory the passages that impressed her most." "He is the Saint of love par excel­lence," she used to say to me.

"I can still hear her repeating in her inimitable way: "In lowering myself so low, so low, I was elevated so high, so high; And thus I reached my Heaven!" —This end of love for which she was striving with all her might.

After having written for my profession, the poem, "Comment on Divinity," Sister Therese mentioned the thought which stirred her so deeply: "Love knows just as well how to use the bad in us as the good."

"To continue," writes Sister Marie, "I would have to cite too much; but that which I cannot omit is this: this insistent tone in which Sister Therese of the Child Jesus emphasized the fact that her Little Way of humility and love was related to the doctrine of our Father: "The nothing of ourselves and the all of God."

A passage of the "Living Flame of Love" strengthened her marvelously in the time of her great trial. "I found it so sublime and so deep," she vised to tell me, "that, when I read it, I lost my breath!" Here are a few extracts:

"Oh souls, who wish to march in joy and security, if you only knew how good it is for you to be afflicted to reach this stage,—you would never look elsewhere for consolation, you would never want anything else but the cross with its gall and vinegar, you would think yourselves supremely happy to have a share in sorrow!

In bearing with patience exterior sufferings, you would merit that the Savior should cast upon you His Divine glance, and thus purify you by the most intimate spiritual pain!

God acts in this manner with those souls whom He wishes to bring to an eminent perfection. He permits them to be tempted, afflicted, tormented, interiorly and exteriorly purified by sufferings carried to the extreme, in order to finally deify them by union with His infinite Wisdom!"

In 1895, having been given the charge of the hermitage of Saint John of the Cross, Sister MARIE of the Trinity conceived the project, for his feast on November 24, of representing in rock like paper the delineation of the Saint's "The Ascent of Carmel." Saint Therese of the Child Jesus expressed her complete satisfaction, and remarked that these two sentences were the ones she liked the most:

"Every good was given to me, when I did not want them through my self love"; and "There is no road here, because there is no law for the just one!"

Our dear daughter adds on the page, under the date of November 1942: "I had occasion to speak about the thing which I had just written, to Canon Travert when he was our Chaplain."

"My child," he told me, "I can now no longer read Saint John of the Cross without comparing his doctrine with that of our Little Saint Therese of the Child Jesus; I find bottomless depths in these accurate harmonizations. Only Saint John of the Cross shows us the naked cross, and Saint Therese, the cross covered with roses; but the thorns, even though hidden, exist nevertheless."

The Act of Oblation to the Merciful Love of God united still more intimately our novice and her angelic Mistress. The latter only made known her "surrender" as a victim of Love on November 1895.

Sister MARIE of the Trinity and of the Holy Face immediately made known her desire to imitate her, and it was decided that she would consecrate herself on the following day. But when she was alone, and had re fleeted upon her unworthiness, she concluded that a longer time of preparation would be needed for an act of such importance. She returned then to see Sister Therese of the Child Jesus and explained to her the rea­sons for which she was going to defer her offering.

"Yes," said the Saint, "this Act is important, more important than we can imagine, but do you know—the only preparation which the good God asks of us? Well, it is that we recognize humbly our unworthiness! And since He has given you this grace, abandon yourself to Him without fear. Tomorrow morning, after thanksgiv­ing, I will kneel near you in the oratory where the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed. And while you pronounce your act, I will offer you to Jesus as a little victim which I prepared for Him."

Let us take up a few more passages of the Deposition which throw a light on the moral character of the novice, and the eminent sanctity of the Mistress.

"I had just arrived at Carmel," declares Sister Marie of the Trinity, "and my angel, Sister Therese of the Child Jesus, was keeping an eye on me, especially since I had asked her to let me know when she noticed anything in me that should be corrected. She had done quite a few favors for me for which I was grateful, but for which I had never expressed my gratitude. Then she said to me, "You must acquire the habit of revealing your gratitude, of rendering wholehearted thanks for the slightest favor. To do this is to practice charity, otherwise, even though the intention is only exterior, perhaps it freezes the heart and destroys cordiality which is so necessary in a community."

Later on, Saint Therese developed this thought in her Manuscript in saying that "charity should not re- main locked in the bottom of the heart, because no one lights a candle to put it under a bushel, but to put it on a candlestick so that it may illumine all those that are in the house."

Sister Therese also reprimanded me each time she saw me wrinkle my brow or put on a stern face.

"The facial expression," she said, "is a reflection of the soul, and it should always be as calm and serene as that of a little child who is always happy, and this even when you are alone, because you are constantly in the sight of God and His angels." And that is why she tried to reform in me a certain tendency to resort to cunning to learn new things and to get out of embarrassing situations.

On another subject, our witness continues, I used to say to her in recreation and at other times: "What are you thinking about—please tell me!" "What am I thinking about?" she answered with a profound sigh. "It's how much I want to be unknown and considered as nothing."

"Why do you want to be so forgotten," I retorted one day. "As for myself I think it is very agreeable to be loved and to be thought about."

"I agree with you," she answered, and explained: "but only in Heaven, for on earth that is only a mirage and an illusion." And laughing, she added, "If up in Heaven the saints did not love me, it seems to me that I would have to say to God, 'Lord, as long as he does not love me, my happiness cannot be complete. "

She never ceased to warn me to be on my guard against the demon of pride.

"He wanders about us," she used to say; "we are blinded and we fool ourselves so easily." "Consider poor Lamennais who had written so many beautiful things about humility. All that we say, and all that we write is nothing; that which lasts is our being at all times disposed to accept humbly reproof—even if we are not aware of having done wrong, and particularly, of not excusing ourselves interiorly. The humble peace which will follow will be the reward of our efforts. It is often good for us, and even necessary, to see ourselves, at times, humbled, to realize our imperfections; this does more good than rejoicing over our progress."

"One day I was speaking to her, continues Sister Marie of the Trinity, "regarding the desire of certain Saints of always doing that which seemed to them more perfect."

Then she said to me, "There is no need to take a vow of doing this in order to practice it. As for myself I try to act as if I had always done so, for really I do not understand why a soul who loves God, and especially a Carmelite, can act otherwise, because this is a duty of our vocation."

On one of the community feasts in 1894, we drew for several pious sentences, and this is the one that fell to Sister Therese:

"If at every moment you are asked what are you doing, what would your answer be? It would be: I

love! In the refectory? I love! In the choir? I love! Every place? I love!"

This note, which she kept until her death, gave her great pleasure, and she confided to me: "It is the echo of my soul, for it is just so that I am trying to live for love at all places and in all circumstances."

I admired her faithfulness and her charity, particu­larly to a religious who was for many years her super- visor at work, whose unnatural insistence on trifles was as boring as possible. One day, when this Sister had given me a confused sermon of pious thoughts with her habitual lack of clarity, I said to her impatiently: "I'm very busy. Please tell me just exactly what you want."

"Oh my little Sister," she answered, "Sister Therese of the Child Jesus never talked to me like that."

I related this incident to the Servant of God who said to me, "Be very sweet with this good Sister. She is sick, and it is only charity to let her believe that she is doing good for us with her little sermons, for they really do give us occasions for practicing patience."

And here is another incident that illustrates the humility of our pious child:

"On a feast-day in the refectory, they forgot to give me, as they did the others, a dessert that I liked. After dinner I went to see Sister Therese of the Child Jesus, and I found next to her, my neighbor at table. Without further ado I made known the fact that I had not received the proper attention. When Sister Therese heard me, she made me go to the Sister in charge of the dining' room and ask for my dessert.

I begged her not to submit me to this humiliation.

"That will be your penance," she answered severely; "you were not worthy of the sacrifice that Almighty God was asking of you. It was He Who permitted you to be forgotten and you spurned His attention in re- claiming your dessert."

"And I can say," concludes our modest Sister, "that the lesson bore fruit for my whole life."

Another time Sister Therese said, "Study the method which they use to polish brass. First they put it in clay or mud, and these things soil and dirty it. After that we rub it vigorously and then it shines like gold. Well, temptations are as this mud for the soul, for they cause the virtues opposed to these temptations to glow and shine in our souls."

One day when our dear novice, Sister Marie of the Trinity, was repentant about something she had done, our Saint was moved and exclaimed: "If you only knew how I felt. I never understood as well with what love Jesus receives us when we ask pardon after a fault. Yes, certainly, far faster than I have just done will He forget all our sins, and never more remember them! In fact, He will do more; He will love us more after than before our fault."

Sister Marie of the Trinity drank deeply from this delicious well of pure truth, and became more and more enthusiastic about the consummate sanctity with which she came into so close a contact.

Having kept a pleasant and impulsive character from her Parisian youth, she even went so far, one time, as to get down on her knees, in a gesture of admiration before her young Mistress, and joining her hands and bowing her head, she exclaimed, "Oh, Sister Therese of the Child Jesus, you are so different from the rest! I am sure that after your death we will kneel before you and say "Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, pray for us."

This drew a friendly reprimand from the Saint, "What a child you are! Come now, you are making fun of me!"

At any rate, the novice suspected the hidden riches of her whom she held in such affection and instinctive respect. The Divine Master inspires the Saint's "Way of Love!"

"Tell me," one day she asked her, "who taught you this Little Way of Love, that gladdens so the heart?"

"Only Jesus," replied Saint Therese, "no book, no Theologian taught it to me, and nevertheless I feel deep down in my heart that I am right."

"I have such faith in it," her companion answered, "that if the Pope were to tell me that you were wrong, I would not believe him!"

"Oh," cried Therese, "the Pope must be believed before everyone else, but have no fear, for if, when I get to Heaven, I learn I have led you into error, I will soon appear to you to instruct you to take another route; but if I do not return, believe in the truth of my teach." 

However, distrusting a bit the impulsive zeal of her novice, she recommended to her not to tell others about her little doctrine, except in a most prudent manner, in order to avoid false interpretations. In this regard, here is rather a significant note of our dear Sister:

"A Religious from Carmel on Messine Avenue had begged me to ask Sister Therese of the Child Jesus for a poem on detachment, and our Saint composed the 'Unpetalled Rose/ The good Mother was very happy, but she wrote to me and said that a few lines more were needed to express why, at death, God would gather these plucked petals to make again a beautiful rose, that should bloom for all eternity. Then Sister Therese said to me, 'Let the good Mother compose this verse herself in the way she understands it. As for myself, I do not

feel the least inspired in this matter. My desire is to be continuously plucked forever in order to give God pleasure.' Nevertheless, she never had any doubts as to what God would do. Other writings of hers give us proof of this."

"My desires are infinite," the Saint admitted in one of her intimate effusions; "that which the good God re­serves for me after death, the glory and the love that I foretaste now, so far surpasses all that can be imagined, that I am forced at times, to stop thinking." "I grow dizzy at the thought."

About a year before her death, she confided again in Sister Marie of the Trinity: "Last night, during the hour of silence before Matins, I thought about my im­pending death, and I fell asleep immediately. During this half sleep, I found myself in a center of a field that looked like a cemetery. The hawthorns were in bloom, the birds were singing, and I saw a great crowd cele­brating as if it were a day of triumph, and I said to my­self 'what is going on there?'—'for whom is this celebration?—surely it is not a funeral.' And in spite of everything, I had a presentiment that it was taking place for me. This dream seems to be very mysterious, and I cannot help thinking that sooner or later we shall know its meaning."

Now, on the day of the translation of the remains of our Saint, March 26, 1923, this prophetic announcement suddenly returned to the memory of our Sister Marie of the Trinity, who could not help but see in it the realization of the events foreseen. For it seemed to be a spring-time feast for the pious crowd who stood about eagerly when the virginal remains of the holy Carmelite left the graveyard the night before her Beatification.

During the last months of Sister Therese of the Child Jesus, in order not to tire her too much and perhaps also because of the danger of contagion, the novices were not permitted to see her often. We can imagine the immense sacrifices involved for Sister Marie of the Trinity.

She tells us about it simply in her Deposition.

"One day, being filled with sorrow and hardships, I went to the infirmary and revealed my complaints before another Sister. The Servant of God scolded me for my lack of virtue and sent me away. But in the evening she sent me this note:

"My dear little sister, I don't want you to be sad; you know how much perfection I am hoping for in your soul. That is why I spoke severely to you. I would have understood your struggle, and I would have con- soled you sweetly, if you had not spoken so loudly, and if you had kept your secret in your heart for the whole time that God wished. I have nothing more to remind you of than this:—our affection must henceforth be hidden."

Another time the lovable Saint extended to the little novice this gesture of exquisite goodness. Let us have Sister Marie of the Trinity relate this personal story: "The reports about the health of our sick Saint were becoming more and more sad, and they choked me with sorrow. One afternoon I went into the garden and I saw her little wheel-chair in the chestnut-tree path. She was alone and signaled me to approach.

"No," I said, "you will be seen, and I have not per­mission to speak to you." I entered into the hermitage of the Holy Face which was very near there, and I began to cry, my head in my hands.

"When I lifted up my head again, I was surprised to see my Little Sister seated on the trunk of the tree at my side. She said to me:

"They have not forbidden me to come to you and even if it were to kill me, I want to console you." She dried my tears and laid my head against her heart.

"I begged her to return to her wheel-chair for she was trembling with fever.

"All right,'" she said, "but not before you smile for me.

I obeyed immediately, for I feared she would hurt herself, and I helped her to return to her wheel-chair.

"Another time, when I felt the need for going to her for consolation," our dear daughter writes again, "I approached the infirmary, but they would not let me enter. Filled with disappointment, I went before the Blessed Sacrament which was exposed before the Ora­tory. As soon as I arrived, my sorrow vanished.

Several days later I had the occasion of saying to Sister Therese of the Child Jesus, "Don't worry about me any more for I no longer feel sad. I know that you are praying for me, and that your sufferings are win­ning many graces for me."

"Oh, what consolation you give me," she answered, "and how good Jesus is for so hearing my prayers for you!

On the 12th of August, 1897, on my 23rd birth­day, she wrote for me with a trembling hand, on a holy card:

"May your life be one of humility and love, so that soon you may come where I am going: into the Arms of Jesus!"

"When I am in Heaven," she said to me again, "you will have to fill my hands often with little sacrifices and prayers, to give me the pleasure of scattering a shower of graces upon souls."

On the 30th of September, Sister Marie of the Trinity was a witness of the final ecstasy of our Sister Therese, a scene which she never forgot. We read in her Deposition: "Immediately after her death, the countenance of the Servant of God be­came remarkably beautiful, animated by a heavenly smile; it radiated peace and happiness!"

"She had told us that the weather on the day of her death would be beautiful; now the 30th of Sep­tember had been cold and rainy, but as soon as she breathed her last, all the clouds disappeared, and the stars glittered in the Heavens."

Our Saint wanted, no doubt, to console the sorrow of this poor novice, for, the latter writes:

"When Sister Therese of the Child Jesus was laid in state at the Choir grille, as is the custom, many persons came to see her, and to touch her out of devo­tion with objects of piety, and even with toys. At this moment, a rather curious thing happened.

"Contrary to the directions of the Servant of God, I did not stop crying, and could not console myself about her death. Then approaching her in order to touch her with a rosary that a person had handed to me, she held it in her fingers. Very delicately I lifted her fingers to move the rosary, but just as soon as I detached it from one finger, it was caught again by another. I repeated this five or six times without any result, and my Little Therese said to me interiorly:

"If you don't smile for me, I will not give it back."

And I answered her, "No, I am too unhappy, and want to cry."

In the meantime, the people behind the grille were wondering what I could be doing for so long a time. I was very embarrassed and begged my Little Therese to let me return the rosary.

I pulled on the rosary. It was useless! Then, completely defeated, I began to smile. That was just what she wanted, for immediately, she let go of the rosary of her own accord, and I was able to return the rosary!"

Our dear Sister Marie was taught another lesson which she explains in these words:

"For convenience sake, I had stitched on our Habit the pleats that we were supposed to make in our Habit before putting on the cincture. Several days before her death, the Saint noticed this, and told me to remove the stitches, since it was not the custom to do things that way.

Nevertheless, I still left them there, putting off their removal until later.

But these unfortunate pleats haunted me so much that the day after the death of Sister Therese of the Child Jesus, I said to myself: "she sees that I still have them, and perhaps this is causing her pain." Finally, I made this prayer, "Dear little Sister, if these pleats dis- please you too much, remove them yourself, and I promise you that I will never sew them in again." And strange to say, on the next morning I saw that the pleats were no longer there. I was both frightened and, at the same time, con­soled. This was a warning for me to observe punctually all her counsels and recommendations.

From Heaven, Saint Therese of the Child Jesus maintained an affectionate solicitude for her trusting novice, Sister Marie of the Trinity, and often granted her very special favors.

In 1909 she delivered her suddenly of a dilatation of the stomach, which no remedy had been able to help her for over two years.

On the 15th of September, 1910, Sister Marie of the Trinity noticed the perfume of incense coming from a worm-eaten fragment of the coffin of the Servant of God, found after the first exhumation of the 6th of September, and which had been placed on the table near the tower without any identifying marks.

A few years previous in June, 1903, she had seen Saint Therese of the Child Jesus in a dream and had cried out, "Oh, my dear little Sister, are you finally coming to get me?"

The Saint looked at her in deep thought, and said with a sweet smile: "No, not yet."

"And why not?" retorted her former novice. "It seems to me that I have already suffered so much."

"Yes," answered Therese, "you have already suffered a great deal, but you still have much to suffer. It is necessary that this should be, and rest assured that you will not be sorry for it!" Then she kissed her and disappeared. Sister Marie of the Trinity woke up with a heavy heart, filled with the saddening presentiment of sorrow that would soon be a reality. 

The most crushing trials were to be visited on her own family. And this dream was to be her comfort not only in these sorrows, but in the suffering that was to be her own. Moreover, her little Saint Therese also helped her venerable Parents.

These valiant Christians celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1906. Permit us, Reverend Mother, to tell you a few edifying details on this subject.

At the end of the family banquet, an old man, the same age as the Jubilarian, took him suddenly by the arm and said to him, "Come, old friend of God, let us sing a song together." They intoned together:

"Happy is he who from his childhood, Has obeyed the laws of God. He has lost neither his innocence nor his peace of heart."

The canticle was very appropriate, and was sung by them with such childlike fervor that no one among the guests could refrain from crying. Sister Marie's Father died in 1912. Several hours before his last breath, he said to one of his relatives who asked him if he needed anything, "Oh! no, I need nothing! I am in the company of little Sister Therese."

After that, the Mother came with one of the daughters to live in Les Buissonnets, of which they had been given the guardianship, and it was there that she ended her pious life in 1915. Successively, the sisters of our dear daughter Sister Marie devoted themselves for many long years to the pilgrims who visited Lisieux and the house of our Saint; two of them worked for her in their respective Communities, and the brother who was a Priest, devoted his evenings as Chaplain in Carmel, to the services of the pilgrims.

Finally, we must mention also the indefatigable zeal of one of the brothers of Sister Marie of the Trinity, for the work of the orphans of Auteuil, a place which had

been blessed by Saint Therese of the Child Jesus. The Father of our Sister Marie was one of the most assiduous collaborators of its Founder, Father Roussel, and it is thus that our Little Saint heard mention of this dear House of Charity for unfortunate youth, and prayed for its development. She did not doubt that in time she would become the providential Patroness, and the heavenly Provider for this home.

 

CHAPTER V

Her Great Practical Abilities

But it is time, Reverend Mother, to give you a more direct insight into the religious life of our beloved first child.

When Saint Therese of the Child Jesus left for Heaven, Sister Marie of the Trinity was still in the Novitiate. Her precocious vocation had hardly given her time for intellectual development, but she had a very remarkable natural talent for mathematics, to which she devoted herself with pleasure.

This talent was very valuable to us when we had to organize the sale of books about our Saint. She has al- ways been, since that time, our intermediary with the printers and the Directors of the Central Office, who were most appreciative of "her great practical ability, her competence, and at the same time her holiness and her virtue.''

Her inventive genius enabled her to discover the most facile or rapid manner of performing her current work, and better still, prompted her to undertake tre­mendous tasks, where patience and minute attention were required. Thus, in 1902, unaware, as we also

were, of the existence of the concordance of the Holy Gospels, she composed one herself, which was very complete, and she made several copies of it. Each year she organized the Theresian calendar and had arranged, for her own personal use, a table of the Sunday Epistles and Gospels and a daily Psalter. Her ability to print well made her the preferred choice to copy important articles, and her agile pen, in every spare moment, copied down the thoughts of the various authors that im­pressed her during the reading period. Sister Marie of the Trinity has just left us a most interesting treasure where we can find the texts of Holy Scripture, the Epistles of Saint Paul, the Homilies of Saint John Chrysostom, the Sermons of Saint Bernard, the coun­sels of Saint Francis de Sales, many quotations bor­rowed from the sayings of the saints of every age and pious persons, and even quotations from the most mod­ern Catholic authors.

Her memory fortunately retained the details of the spiritual library, and when anyone wanted a reference or text of the Bible, Gospel, or any other work, she went to Sister Marie of the Trinity with a certainty that she would receive the desired information.

In order to take down notes more easily during ser­mons, our dear child used the shorthand which, as a young girl, she had learned, and had never forgotten. She used this art to be helpful to the Sisters.

And so, being a lover of change, she was willing to try anything. And she went, always under obedience, from one job to another. She tried them all! But her chief occupation was the baking of Altar breads, and since the Theresian works had been published, she de' voted more and more of her time to this duty. She was the first archivist of our Saint, and it was a real joy for her to devote herself to Therese, and thus contribute to the spread of her devotion.

She had a good singing voice and used to like, in this regard, to tell us the story of her postulant days.

"We were coming out of Office one day, when Sister Therese of the Child Jesus beckoned me to follow her, and said with an expression of great joy, "how happy I am! I had asked Almighty God that our new postulant might have a strong voice to sustain the Choir, in order to make up for that which I cannot supply myself, and behold He has heard me! Really, you have the voice that I desire; I am not sad at not having one myself, since the good God has given me a daughter who has enough for both of us.'"

"This memory is very sweet," continues our Sister, "and doubles the fervor of my singing. I say to my Little Sister in Heaven: 'I am singing for both of us and I want this to be always understood. Give me your love so that my song may please Jesus, and I, I will give you the merit of my fatigue during the Divine Office."

Even though her health was very delicate, our courageous child observed our holy regulations until her last years. Weakness came early to cripple her figure, and oblige her to use a cane. These premature signs of old age stood in sharp contrast to her face which was always young, to her gay character and her pleasant humor. But as long as she was able to, and longer, she wanted to observe the common life. Even when she was unable to climb into the reading stand in the refectory, she nevertheless took her turn at reading. In like manner, she assisted at Office in Choir, holding in one hand her inseparable cane, and in the other her Breviary. When she was no longer able to be hebdomadary or chantress, she still reserved the honor of reading one of the Liturgical Lessons on the feast of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus. And we kept the Fifth Lesson for her where mention is made of her novices.

 

CHAPTER VI

Her Long Illness

And when she could no longer come to the Divine Office, she made up for it by being the first to come to the Chapel for morning prayer. We were extremely edified at this, since she was suffering from a lupus (tubercular skin disease), which was pursuing its un- hindered course. This disease manifested itself after an attack of pneumonia in February 1923.

It was during this long and terrible trial, Reverend Mother, that Sister Marie of the Trinity proved her- self, by her heroic abandonment, a faithful pupil of her holy Mistress, Saint Therese.

Whenever we praised her resignation or her en- durance, she would quickly answer that she had no strength of her own, but that it was Jesus who was suffering for her.

In April 1931, the Doctor, knowing full well that the disease was incurable, sought to check its growth by fire.

Our poor Sister wrote these lines: "Our dear Lord made me realize vividly that it was He Who was sus­taining me while I submitted myself to this treatment.

I thought with sweetness, that He balanced the intensity of the pain with the strength He gave me to endure it. It was so ineffable a thought, that I was moved to tears, but I wiped them away very quickly, because at that moment, the Infirmarian entered, and she might have thought that it was the pain that made me cry."

"Oh, my dear little Mother, you must never be afraid of suffering, because He always gives the strength we need."

"And our Little Therese was right in saying, when we praised her patience, that it was not hers but rather belonged to Jesus. Yes, when we humbly recognize our weakness, and when we expect everything from God, we can say with assurance: 'I can do all things in Him Who strengthens me,' and we can go to martyrdom as to a feast. But ordinarily, He gives this enthusiasm to the weakest, in order to encourage them; and those who have not this enthusiasm are even more virtuous; our Saint has said so."

A famous Doctor, a friend of her family, visited her during that last year, and openly manifested his admira­tion at her patience in bearing such a disease for which there was no hope of cure. After his visit, our humble Sister gave us this message:

"My Mother, how this Doctor exaggerated! If he judged things objectively, he would see that only God deserves this praise, for it is His grace that is working

in us, and gives us the strength to bear the sufferings which He demands."

Here is what she wrote in 1935, when her poor body is already bent over and her head agonized by the growing wound:

"I profited from the cleaning of our cell to take again the pleasure of using our straw mattress. Everything which, in spite of my sickness, brings me a bit closer to the Rule, pleases me, because I think that God has attached a special grace to it, the grace that is given to the type of life to which we are called. He also gave me the grace to accept voluntarily the dispensations im­posed upon me by my compassionate Mother, when His Divine Will is to change my usual suffering to another that He prefers, and I wish to love in spite of everything."

But she wished by no means to lose these treasures which still had to be gained, and she offered the merit for the salvation of souls. "Oh! how good God is for not sparing us these humiliations," she used to say, "for He has sent many of them to us! This saying of the Prophet: "The Lord only strikes in order to cure" was very helpful to me, particularly in regard to my lupus. Yes, all of our sor­rows, either physical or moral, when united with the sufferings of Jesus, act as reparation for souls, and what a privilege it is to be thus associated in Redemption!"

In the month of June 1939, there was a Novena to Saint Therese made in our Community to obtain her cure. On the last day of the Novena, she wrote us these touching lines:

"The Novena is finished and I am not cured. From a human viewpoint, I would have been overjoyed at being cured for many reasons, the principal one being the freeing of my devoted Infirmarian from her long and tedious daily task. But, judging from the dispositions in which God has placed my soul, I really did not hope for a cure. I used to say to Him: 'My God, if I would be a little more pleasing to You with my lupus, I would prefer very much to keep it in order to be entirely satisfactory to You,' and it seemed that He looked at me more complacently in the condition I was, because of the resemblance to the Sorrowful Face of His Son."

And she concluded, "No, I am not a propitious subject for miracles, since the Novena has left me in my status quo. God will give me the strength to bear my pain until the end, just as He has strengthened me to do so till the present."

"I am counting on Him," she added, "and I shall not be disappointed. I thank Him for associating me in this Little Way, with the Passion of Jesus, for the salvation of souls. And actually, I do not count much, because it is He Who is carrying this cross behind His little child." However, sometimes the agony disheartened our dear Sister and ourselves, because where would this spreading disease end?

After having completely eaten away the left ear, and having consumed the side of the face right up to the eye, which was threatening to pop out, it had covered the whole top of the head, and reached the other ear. The mouth was becoming very swollen, and the process of eating was likewise becoming very difficult. The dressings lasted two hours each morning, and they had to be partly remade in the evening. Our sweet patient always was most profuse in her thanks to her good Samaritans: first, our lamented Sister Madeleine of Jesus, and then, our present Infirmarian.

During one of these periods of spiritual uneasiness, she received a light of which she immediately informed us. It was on the 6th of August, 1940:

"My dear Mother, I want to tell you about a grace which I had just been granted on the Feast of the Holy Face. Yesterday, as I was discouraged with this continual suffering resulting from our disease, I reproached myself for bearing so little resemblance to our dear Saint Therese, in her love for suffering. And I begged her

immediately to obtain this love for me. This morning, during Mass, I understood clearly that this desire would make me leave her Little Way, and that it would be better for me to always be poor, and without strength in suffering.

"Can we ask a small child to love suffering? He cries and is unhappy when he suffers! I understood that our Saint had to practice heroic virtue in order to be canonized, but she outlined for little souls a small and completely ordinary path which would keep them in humility. Almighty God likes to hear us say with His Divine Son: 'Father, let this chalice pass from me . . but He knows that in spite of this, we are abandoned to His Will."

And she finished with her customary humor: "So here I am as big a booby as I ever was, with my sickness, but in an in' effable peace." She recovered in this manner each time that a trace of melancholy overshadowed her soul.

After an interview in which she seemed to us to be a victim of a certain sorrow, we received this note: "Mother, I wish to correct the statement that I made to you a little while ago, that there would be no more feast days for me ... I meant to say: no more

natural joys on account of my physical condition but in reality, I am living in a state of perpetual festivity on account of my abandonment to the Will of God. I will say voluntarily, as did our Little Therese: "The good God took me and placed me there!" So God has given me the greatest good, and I would not change place with the happiest human. I love my lot as it is, because it is the fate that God has given to me, and so it is pleasing to Him."

"From your little daughter who is so grateful for the sweetness which you put into suffering!" And really the slightest thing made our dear Sister grateful.

She had asked us to receive her a few minutes every day, and a short time before the five o'clock prayer, she used to rap regularly at the door of our Office and sat down next to us. "Well, dear Mother, here is your poor little leper." And we used to try to encourage her to carry her cross in order to cure the leprosy of sin that disfigured so many souls.

Often she begged us for a few words of consolation. And then, opening at any place, the notebook in which we had gathered some of the thoughts of Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart, we gave her a few of them as a spir­itual bouquet. She left encouraged, with a sweet smile on one side of her face, since the other side was only a terrible open wound.

Our dear daughter had a great devotion to the Sta­tions of the Cross, but her crippling infirmity no longer permitted her to perform this exercise in Choir, as often as she desired to do so. One day she expressed her pro­found regrets. We tried to console her by saying: "Well, be content with making your Stations of the Cross beneath the pictures. And since you can no longer lift your head, only say within your heart, while you pass before each image, and picture to yourself each scene: "Sweet and humble Jesus!" And when you picture to yourself the Blessed Virgin, you shall add: "Sweet and humble Mary!" Then you can finish with this double invocation: "Sweet and humble Jesus, sweet and humble Mary, make my heart like unto yours."

The good Lord attached a great grace to this advice, and many times afterwards, our fervent Sister used to repeat: "Oh Mother, what a consolation you gave to us! The Stations of the Cross now give me more pleasure than ever, and no one even notices me making them. So, I seem to be taking a walk with my cane around the cloister, and I return to our little infirmary strengthened, and ready to begin a hundred times over."

 

CHAPTER VII

Her Last Years

Our dear Saint could not refuse to help her former well-beloved novice in the sorrowful Calvary to which she in turn was climbing. All that which precedes, shows the intimate action of her example, but her help was, at times, more noticeable. Sister Marie of the Trinity describes it to us in a few simple words, on the 23rd of August, 1942:

"Last night when the bandages were changed, a hemorrhage of the wound was noticed, and I suddenly found myself surrounded by the strong smell of incense, and then I remembered what our little Saint Therese had said to me: "I have not forgotten about you, but I am watching over you." I assure you, Reverend Mother, that I was very much consoled by this heavenly visit, and encouraged to continue my sufferings, in accordance with God's designs in my regard."

On the 8th of December, last, she had a fall in the infirmary, which caused her a persistent and vivid pain in the heel. Since she seemed a bit worried about this, we said to her: "There is nothing astonishing about this, for in aiding the Blessed Virgin as you are doing with your lupus, in crushing the head of the serpent, he has also tried to bite your heel too!" She began to laugh pleasantly, and derived an almost joyful courage from this thought.

Nevertheless we saw her failing day by day. The state of her mouth in particular was causing us worry. It used to take her half an hour, during these last weeks, to drink a half a cup of liquid with the aid of a straw!

But the end of her martyrdom was near. In the beginning of January, an epidemic of the grippe broke out in the Community, and she was mortally afflicted. Despite the best of care, the fever and the oppression mounted, and we had the good Chaplain bring her Holy Communion on Wednesday, January 12th. The next day and the day following that, she got up again and laboriously completed the sorting of the letters that the mailman had brought. In giving them to one of the Sisters she said simply: "Tomorrow, I will not be able to do it!"

We should point out here that for three years, she had assumed, after we had first inspected the mail, the considerable task of filing the letters, concerning Saint Therese of the Child Jesus. Deformed as she was and having only one eye with which she could see, we were often astonished that she could fulfill such a task. And often, after one of her nights of insomnia, she would get up before the rest, and go to her desk; she used to say to us: "Mother, we have to thank God that I can still help our overworked Sisters."

"And," she added, "this absorbing work is a big help to me, for it offers me a salutary diversion."

She did not give up her arms until the day before the eve of her death. On Saturday morning, seeing that she was growing weaker and weaker, we decided to have her anointed. She received Viaticum and joined completely in the en- tire ceremony. In the afternoon she answered our ques­tion: "Are you afraid of death?" "I am only afraid that death may miss me!"

Our Sisters came to assure her of their prayers. To Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face, her former novitiate companion, who had always been very intimate with her, she whispered a word of affection. Several weeks before this, when this nun asked her: "Does Saint Therese console you in your trial?" Sister Marie of the Trinity had to answer: "She obtains peace for me but peace in Faith."

To another Sister who congratulated her at being so devoted, even to the limit of her strength, she admitted: "It's true that I have been so unto the end, and then I used to always say to myself—'when will these painful changing of bandages end? well, it is finished ill now!

She seemed to be happy in our presence, and when we asked her if she recognized our voice, she answered affectionately: "I would recognize it in a thousand!" And then we suggested a few consoling thoughts, but she stopped us right away with a smile, saying: "Sweet and humble Jesus!"—as if to make us understand that this aspiration of love was enough. The following night was calm. She was completely conscious, and said to her Infirmarian: "In Heaven I shall follow Little Therese every place!"

Sunday morning it was very difficult for her to speak, and she seemed to have lost her hearing. The agony was beginning, and seemed to be a peaceful sleep which lasted until eleven o'clock, when, with the whole Community around her, she expired sweetly, as a little trusting child falls asleep in its Father's arms.

And then, opening her arms for her, her heavenly Mistress must have said, quoting the dream of forty years ago: "You have suffered enough now; come and see that you have no need to be sorry for anything!"

On the 19th of January, before the funeral Mass which our Chaplain was to sing, several seminarians from the French Mission came, wearing their surplices, to the door of the cloister, and took the coffin of our very dear deceased Sister, to carry it into the Chapel. It was a fitting homage given to her, who, after the example of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, Patroness of the Missions, had prayed and sacrificed herself for these future missionaries of a new Catholic France. These same seminarians formed a circle around the coffin during the three Absolutions. The first was given by the Chaplain of L'OEuvre d'Auteuil, the second by Monsignor Germain, Director of the Pilgrimages; and the third by His Excellency, Monsignor Fallaize, the Bishop of Thmuis.

The mortal remains of our humble and worthy Sister rest in the Carmelite section of the town cemetery, very close to the statue of our Saint, who seems still to shelter her with her protection.

Please accept, Reverend and respected Mother, this expression of our religious and fraternal reverence, and add to the prayers already requested for our dear Sister MARIE of the TRINITY and the HOLY FACE, the indulgence of the Stations of the Cross and the invocation to our Lady of Perpetual Help and to Saint Therese of the Child Jesus. She will be very grateful for these things and so shall we who have the honor of calling ourselves,
Your humble Sister and Servant, in Our Lord and Savior,
Agnes of Jesus
C.D.I. Prioress.

From our Monastery of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Conception, under the protection of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, of the Carmelites of Lisieux, on the 20th of February, 1944.

P. S. Many of our Carmels, who are familiar with the life of Saint Therese in pictures, have noticed the painting: "Saint Therese in the midst of her Novices," and ask us to point out our dear Sister Marie of the Trinity. She is the one who is seated on the steps at the right of our Saint.
"Oh souls, who wish to march in joy and security, if you only knew how good it is for you to be afflicted:
"You would never want anything else but the cross, with its gall and vinegar!
"You would think yourselves supremely happy to have a share in sorrow!
"You would merit that the Savior should cast upon you His Divine Glance, and thus purify you by the most intimate spiritual pain.'"
"The Living Flame of Love", by Saint John of the Cross, Carmelite.

"Love knows just as well how to use the bad in us as the good!"—Saint Therese.  

 

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