Counsels and Reminiscenses

COUNSELS AND REMINISCENCES OF SOEUR THERESE,
THE LITTLE FLOWER OF JESUS
__________________________________________________________________

Most of what follows has been gathered from the conversations of Soeur
Therese with her novices. Her advice cannot but prove helpful to souls
within the cloister, and likewise to many in the world who may be
attracted by her simple and easy little way to God.

* * * * * *

One of the novices, greatly discouraged at the thought of her
imperfections, tells us that her mistress spoke to her as follows:

”You make me think of a little child that is learning to stand but does
not yet know how to walk. In his desire to reach the top of the stairs
to find his mother, he lifts his little foot to climb the first step.
It is all in vain, and at each renewed effort he falls. Well, be like
that little child. Always keep lifting your foot to climb the ladder of
holiness, and do not imagine that you can mount even the first step.
All God asks of you is good will. From the top of the ladder He looks
lovingly upon you, and soon, touched by your fruitless efforts, He will
Himself come down, and, taking you in His Arms, will carry you to His
Kingdom never again to leave Him. But should you cease to raise your
foot, you will be left for long on the earth.”

* * * * * *

”The only way to advance rapidly in the path of love is to remain
always very little. That is what I did, and now I can sing with our
holy Father, St. John of the Cross:

‘Then I abased myself so low, so very low, That I ascended to such
heights, such heights indeed, That I did overtake the prey I chased!'”

* * * * * *

Under a temptation which seemed to me irresistible, I said to her:
”This time, I cannot surmount it.” She replied: ”Why seek to surmount
it? Rather pass beneath. It is all well for great souls to soar above
the clouds when the storm rages; we have simply to suffer the showers.
What does it matter if we get wet? We shall dry ourselves in the
sunshine of love.

”It recalls a little incident of my childhood. One day a horse was
standing in front of the garden gate, and preventing us from getting
through. My companions talked to him and tried to make him move off,
but while they were still talking I quietly slipped between his legs .
. . Such is the advantage of remaining small.”

* * * * * *

Our Lord said to the mother of the sons of Zebedee: ‘To sit on my right
or left hand is for them for whom it is prepared by my Father.’ [167] I
imagine that these chosen places, which have been refused alike to
great Saints and Martyrs, will be reserved for little children; and did
not David foretell it when he said, that ‘the little Benjamin will
preside amidst the assemblies [168] of the Saints.'”

* * * * * *

”You are wrong to find fault with this thing and with that, or to try
and make everyone see things as you see them. We desire to be ‘as
little children,’ and little children do not know what is best: to them
all seems right. Let us imitate their ways. Besides, there is no merit
in doing what reason dictates.”

* * * * * *

”My patrons and my special favourites in Heaven are those who, so to
speak, stole it, such as the Holy Innocents and the Good Thief. The
great Saints won it by their works; I wish to be like the thieves and
to win it by stratagem–a stratagem of love which will open its gates
both to me and to poor sinners. In the Book of Proverbs the Holy Ghost
encourages me, for He says: ‘Come to me, little one, to learn
subtlety!'” [169]

* * * * * *

”What would you do if you could begin over again your religious life?”

”I think I should do as I have already done.”

”Then you do not share the feeling of the hermit who said: ‘While a
quarter of an hour, or even a breath of life still remains to me, I
shall fear the fires of hell even though I should have spent long years
in penance’?”

”No, I do not share that fear; I am too small. Little children are not
damned.”

”You are ever seeking to be as little children are, but tell us what
must be done to obtain that childlike spirit. ‘Remaining little’–what
does it mean?”

”‘Remaining little’ means–to recognise one’s nothingness, to await
everything from the Goodness of God, to avoid being too much troubled
at our faults; finally, not to worry over amassing spiritual riches,
not to be solicitous about anything. Even amongst the poor, while a
child is still small, he is given what is necessary; but, once he is
grown up, his father will no longer feed him, and tells him to seek
work and support himself. Well, it was to avoid hearing this, that I
have never wished to grow up, for I feel incapable of earning my
livelihood, which is Life Eternal!”

* * * * * *

In imitation of our saintly Mistress I also wished never to grow up;
she called me therefore ”the little one,” and during a retreat she
wrote to me the following notes:

”Do not fear to tell Jesus that you love him, even though you may not
feel that love. In this way you will compel Him to come to your aid,
and to carry you like a little child who is too weak to walk.

”It is indeed a great source of trial, when everything looks black, but
this does not depend entirely on yourself. Do all in your power to
detach your heart from earthly cares, especially from creatures; then
be assured Our Lord will do the rest. He could not permit you to fall
into the abyss. Be comforted, little one! In Heaven everything will no
longer look black, but dazzling white. There all will be clothed in the
Divine radiance of Our Spouse–the Lily of the Valley. Together we will
follow Him whithersoever He goeth. Meantime we must make good use of
this life’s brief day. Let us give Our Lord pleasure, let us by
self-sacrifice give Him souls! Above all, let us be little–so little
that everyone might tread us underfoot without our even seeming to
suffer pain.

”I am not surprised at the failures of the little one; she forgets that
in her role of missionary and warrior she ought to forgo all childish
consolations. It is wrong to pass one’s time in fretting, instead of
sleeping on the Heart of Jesus.

”Should the little one fear the dark of the night, or complain at not
seeing Him who carries her, let her shut her eyes. It is the one
sacrifice God asks. By remaining thus, the dark will cease to terrify,
because she will not see it, and before long, peace–if not joy–will
re-enter her soul.”

* * * * * *

To help me accept a humiliation she confided to me what follows:

”If I had not been received into the Carmel, I would have entered a
Refuge, and lived there unknown and despised among the poor
‘penitents.’ My joy would have been to pass for one, and I would have
become an apostle among my companions, telling them my thoughts on the
Infinite Mercy of God.”

”But how could you have hidden your innocence from your Confessor?”

”I would have told him that while still in the world I made a general
confession, and that it was forbidden me to repeat it.”

* * * * * *

”Oh! When I think of all I have to acquire!”

”Or rather to lose! It is Jesus Who takes upon Himself to fill your
soul according as you rid it of imperfections. I see clearly that you
are mistaking the road, and that you will never arrive at the end of
your journey. You want to climb the mountain, whereas God wishes you to
descend it. He is awaiting you in the fruitful valley of humility.”

* * * * * *

”To me it seems that humility is truth. I do not know whether I am
humble, but I do know that I see the truth in all things.”

* * * * * *

”Indeed you are a Saint!”

”No, I am not a Saint. I have never wrought the works of a Saint. I am
but a tiny soul whom Almighty God has loaded with His favours.

”The truth of what I say will be made known to you in Heaven.”

”But have you not always been faithful to those favours?”

”Yes, from the age of three I have never refused our Good God anything.
Still I cannot glorify myself. See how this evening the tree-tops are
gilded by the setting sun. So likewise my soul appears to you all
shining and golden because it is exposed to the rays of Love. But
should the Divine Sun no longer shine thereon, it would instantly be
sunk in gloom.”

”We too would like to become all golden–what must we do?”

”You must practise the little virtues. This is sometimes difficult, but
God never refuses the first grace–courage for self-conquest; and if
the soul correspond to that grace, she at once finds herself in God’s
sunlight. The praise given to Judith has always struck me: ‘Thou hast
done manfully, and thy heart has been strengthened.’ [170] In the onset
we must act with courage. By this means the heart gains strength, and
victory follows victory.”

* * * * * *

In conformity with the Rule, Soeur Therese never raised her eyes in the
refectory, and, as I found great difficulty in this observance, she
composed for me the following prayer. It reveals her exceeding
humility, because in it she asked a grace of which I alone stood in
need:

”O Jesus, in honour and in imitation of the example Thou gavest in the
house of Herod, Thy two little Spouses resolve to keep their eyes cast
down in the refectory. When that impious king scoffed at Thee, O
Infinite Beauty, no complaint came from Thy Lips. Thou didst not even
deign to fix on him Thy Adorable Eyes. He was not worthy of the favour,
but we who are Thy Spouses, we desire to draw Thy Divine Gaze upon
ourselves. As often as we refrain from raising our eyes, we beg Thee to
reward us by a glance of love, and we even dare ask Thee not to refuse
this sweet glance when we fail in our self-control, for we will humble
ourselves most sincerely before Thee.”

* * * * * *

I confided to her that I made no progress, and that consequently I had
lost heart.

”Up to the age of fourteen,” she said, ”I practised virtue without
tasting its sweetness. I desired suffering, but I did not think of
making it my joy; that grace was vouchsafed me later. My soul was like
a beautiful tree the flowers of which had scarcely opened when they
fell.

”Offer to God the sacrifice of never gathering any fruit. If He will
that throughout your whole life you should feel a repugnance to
suffering and humiliation–if He permit that all the flowers of your
desires and of your good will should fall to the ground without any
fruit appearing, do not worry. At the hour of death, in the twinkling
of an eye, He will cause fair fruits to ripen on the tree of your soul.

”We read in the Book of Ecclesiasticus: ‘There is an inactive man that
wanteth help, is very weak in ability, and full of poverty: yet the Eye
of God hath looked upon him for good, and hath lifted him up from his
low estate, and hath exalted his head: and many have wondered at him,
and have glorified God. . . . Trust in God, and stay in thy place. For
it is easy in the Eyes of God, on a sudden, to make the poor man rich.
The blessing of God maketh haste to reward the just, and in a swift
hour His blessing beareth fruit.'” [171]

”But if I fall, I shall always be found imperfect; whereas you are
looked upon as holy.”

”That is, perhaps, because I have never desired to be considered so. .
. . But that you should be found imperfect is just what is best. Here
is your harvest. To believe oneself imperfect and others perfect–this
is true happiness. Should earthly creatures think you devoid of
holiness, they rob you of nothing, and you are none the poorer: it is
they who lose. For is there anything more sweet than the inward joy of
thinking well of our neighbour?

”As for myself I am glad and rejoice, not only when I am looked upon as
imperfect, but above all when I feel that it is true. Compliments, on
the contrary, do but displease me.”

* * * * * *

”God has a special love for you since He entrusts souls to your care.”

”That makes no difference, and I am really only what I am in His Eyes.
It is not because He wills me to be His interpreter among you, that He
loves me more; rather, He makes me your little handmaid. It is for you,
and not for myself, that He has bestowed upon me those charms and those
virtues which you see.

”I often compare myself to a little bowl filled by God with good
things. All the kittens come to eat from it, and they sometimes quarrel
as to which will have the largest share. But the Holy Child Jesus keeps
a sharp watch. ‘I am willing you should feed from My little bowl,’ He
says, ‘but take heed lest you upset and break it.’

”In truth there is no great danger, because I am already on the ground.
Not so with Prioresses; set, as they are, on tables, they run far more
risks. Honours are always dangerous. What poisonous food is served
daily to those in high positions! What deadly fumes of incense! A soul
must be well detached from herself to pass unscathed through it all.”

* * * * * *

”It is a consolation for you to do good and to procure the Glory of
God. I wish I were equally favoured.”

”What if God does make use of me, rather than of another, to procure
His Glory! Provided His Kingdom be established among souls, the
instrument matters not. Besides, He has no need of anyone.

”Some time ago I was watching the flicker, almost invisible, of a tiny
night-light, when one of the Sisters drew near, and, lighting her
candle in the dying flame, passed it round to light all those of the
Community. ‘Who dare glory in his own good works?’ I reflected. ‘From
one faint spark such as this, it would be possible to set the whole
earth on fire.’ We often think we receive graces and are divinely
illumined by means of brilliant candles. But from whence comes their
light? From the prayers, perhaps, of some humble, hidden soul, whose
inward shining is not apparent to human eyes; a soul of unrecognised
virtue and, in her own sight, of little value–a dying flame.

”What mysteries will yet be unveiled to us! I have often thought that
perhaps I owe all the graces with which I am laden, to some little soul
whom I shall know only in Heaven.

”It is God’s Will that in this world souls shall dispense to each
other, by prayer, the treasures of Heaven, in order that when they
reach their Everlasting Home they may love one another with grateful
hearts, and with an affection far in excess of that which reigns in the
most perfect family on earth.

”There no looks of indifference will meet us, because all the Saints
will be mutually indebted to each other. No envious glances will be
cast, for the happiness of each one of the Blessed will be the
happiness of all. With the Doctors of the Church we shall be like unto
Doctors; with the Martyrs, like unto Martyrs; with the Virgins, like
unto Virgins; and just as the members of one family are proud one of
the other, so without the least jealousy shall we take pride in our
brothers and sisters.

”When we see the glory of the great Saints, and know that through the
secret working of Providence we have contributed to it, who knows
whether the joy we shall feel will not be as intense, perhaps sweeter,
than the happiness they themselves possess?

”And do you not think that the great Saints, on their side, seeing what
they owe to all little souls, will love them with a love beyond
compare? The friendships of Paradise will be both sweet and full of
surprise, of this I am certain. The familiar friend of an Apostle, or
of a great Doctor of the Church, may be a shepherd boy, and a simple
little child may be united in closest intimacy with a Patriarch. . . .
I long to enter that Kingdom of Love!”

* * * * * *

”Believe me, the writing of pious books, the composing of the sublimest
poetry, all that does not equal the smallest act of self-denial. When,
however, our inability to do good gives us pain, our only resource is
to offer up the good works of others, and in this lies the benefit of
the Communion of Saints. Recall to mind that beautiful verse of the
canticle of our Father, St. John of the Cross:

‘Return, my dove! See on the height The wounded Hart, To whom
refreshment brings The breeze, stirred by thy wings.’

”Thus the Spouse, the wounded Hart, is not attracted by the height, but
only by the breeze from the pinions of the dove–a breeze which one
single stroke of wing is sufficient to create.”

* * * * * *

”The one thing which is not open to envy is the lowest place. Here
alone, therefore, there is neither vanity nor affliction of spirit.
Yet, ‘the way of a man is not his own,’ [172] and sometimes we find
ourselves wishing for what dazzles. In that hour let us in all humility
take our place among the imperfect, and look upon ourselves as little
souls who at every instant need to be upheld by the goodness of God.
From the moment He sees us fully convinced of our nothingness, and
hears us cry out: ‘My foot stumbles, Lord, but Thy Mercy is my
strength,’ [173] He reaches out His Hand to us. But, should we attempt
great things, even under pretext of zeal, He deserts us. It suffices,
therefore, to humble ourselves, to bear with meekness our
imperfections. Herein lies–for us–true holiness.”

* * * * * *

One day I was complaining of being more tired than my Sisters, for,
besides the ordinary duties, I had other work unknown to the rest.
Soeur Therese replied:

”I should like always to see you a brave soldier, never grumblng at
hardships, but considering the wounds of your companions as most
serious, and your own as mere scratches. You feel this fatigue so much
because no one is aware of it.

”Now the Blessed Margaret Mary, at the time she had two whitlows,
confessed that she really suffered from the hidden one only. The other,
which she was unable to hide, excited her Sisters’ pity and made her an
object of compassion. This is indeed a very natural feeling, the desire
that people should know of our aches and pains, but in giving way to it
we play the coward.”

* * * * * *

”When we are guilty of a fault we must never attribute it to some
physical cause, such as illness or the weather. We must ascribe it to
our own imperfections, without being discouraged thereby. ‘Occasions do
not make a man frail, but show what he is.'” [174]

* * * * * *

”God did not permit that our Mother should tell me to write my poems as
soon as I had composed them, and, fearful of committing a sin against
poverty, I would not ask leave. I had therefore to wait for some free
time, and at eight o’clock in the evening I often found it extremely
difficult to remember what I had composed in the morning.

”True, these trifles are a species of martyrdom; but we must be careful
not to alleviate the pain of the martyrdom by permitting ourselves, or
securing permission for, a thousand and one things which would tend to
make the religious life both comfortable and agreeable.”

* * * * * *

One day, as I was in tears, Soeur Therese told me to avoid the habit of
allowing others to see the trifles that worried me, adding that nothing
made community life more trying than unevenness of temper.

”You are indeed right, I answered, ”such was my own thought.
Henceforward my tears will be for God alone. I shall confide my worries
to One Who will understand and console me.”

”Tears for God!” she promptly replied, ”that must not be. Far less to
Him than to creatures ought you to show a mournful face. Our Divine
Master has only our monasteries where He may obtain some solace for His
Heart. He comes to us in search of rest–to forget the unceasing
complaints of His friends in the world, who, instead of appreciating
the value of the Cross, receive it far more often with moans and tears.
Would you then be as the mediocre souls? Frankly, this is not
disinterested love. . . . It is for us to console our Lord, and not for
Him to console us. His Heart is so tender that if you cry He will dry
your tears; but thereafter He will go away sad, since you did not
suffer Him to repose tranquilly within you. Our Lord loves the glad of
heart, the children that greet Him with a smile. When will you learn to
hide your troubles from Him, or to tell Him gaily that you are happy to
suffer for Him?”

”The face is the mirror of the soul,” she said once, ”and yours, like
that of a contented little child, should always be calm and serene.
Even when alone, be cheerful, remembering always that you are in the
sight of the Angels.”

* * * * * *

I was anxious she should congratulate me on what, in my eyes, was an
heroic act of virtue; but she said to me:

”Compare this little act of virtue with what our Lord has the right to
expect of you! Rather should you humble yourself for having lost so
many opportunities of proving your love.”

Little satisfied with this answer, I awaited an opportunity of finding
out how Soeur Therese herself would act under trial, and the occasion
was not long in coming. Reverend Mother asked us to do some extremely
tiring work which bristled with difficulties, and, on purpose, I made
it still more difficult for our Mistress.

Not for one second, however, could I detect her in fault, and, heedless
of the fatigue involved, she remained gracious and amiable, eager
throughout to help others at her own expense. At last I could resist no
longer, and I confessed to her what my thoughts had been.

”How comes it,” I said, ”that you can be so patient? You are ever the
same–calm and full of joy.” ”It was not always the case with me,” she
replied, ”but since I have abandoned all thought of self-seeking, I
live the happiest life possible.”

* * * * * *

Our dear Mistress used to say that during recreation, more than at any
other time, we should find opportunities for practising virtue.

”If your desire be to draw great profit, do not go with the idea of
procuring relaxation, but rather with the intention of entertaining
others and practising complete detachment from self. Thus, for
instance, if you are telling one of the Sisters something you think
entertaining, and she should interrupt to tell you something else, show
yourself interested, even though in reality her story may not interest
you in the least. Be careful, also, not to try to resume what you were
saying. In this way you will leave recreation filled with a great
interior peace and endowed with fresh strength for the practice of
virtue, because you have not sought to please yourself, but others. If
only we could realise what we gain by self-denial in all things!”

”You realise it, certainly, for you have always practised self-denial.”

”Yes, I have forgotten myself, and I have tried not to see myself in
anything.”

* * * * * *

”When some one knocks at our door, or when we are rung for, we must
practise mortification and refrain from doing even another stitch
before answering. I have practised this myself, and I assure you that
it is a source of peace.”

After this advice, and according as occasion offered, I promptly
answered every summons. One day, during her illness, she was witness of
this, and said:

”At the hour of death you will be very happy to find this to your
account. You have just done something more glorious than if, through
clever diplomacy, you had procured the good-will of the Government for
all religious communities and had been proclaimed throughout France as
a second Judith.”

* * * * * *

Questioned as to her method of sanctifying meals, she answered:

”In the refectory we have but one thing to do: perform a lowly action
with lofty thoughts. I confess that the sweetest aspirations of love
often come to me in the refectory. Sometimes I am brought to a
standstill by the thought that were Our Lord in my place He would
certainly partake of those same dishes which are served to me. It is
quite probable that during His lifetime He tasted of similar food–He
must have eaten bread and fruit.

”Here are my little rubrics:

”I imagine myself at Nazareth, in the house of the Holy Family. If, for
instance, I am served with salad, cold fish, wine, or anything pungent
in taste, I offer it to St. Joseph. To our Blessed Lady I offer hot
foods and ripe fruit, and to the Infant Jesus our feast-day fare,
especially rice and preserves. Lastly, when I am served a wretched
dinner I say cheerfully: ‘To-day, my little one, it is all for you!'”

Thus in many pretty ways she hid her mortifications. One fast-day,
however, when our Reverend Mother ordered her some special food, I
found her seasoning it with wormwood because it was too much to her
taste. On another occasion I saw her drinking very slowly a most
unpleasant medicine. ”Make haste,” I said, ”drink it off at once!” ”Oh,
no!” she answered; ”must I not profit of these small opportunities for
penance since the greater ones are forbidden me?”

Toward the end of her life I learned that, during her noviciate, one of
our Sisters, when fastening the scapular for her, ran the large pin
through her shoulder, and for hours she bore the pain with joy. On
another occasion she gave me proof of her interior mortification. I had
received a most interesting letter which was read aloud at recreation,
during her absence. In the evening she expressed the wish to read it,
and I gave it to her. Later on, when she returned it, I begged her to
tell me what she thought of one of the points of the letter which I
knew ought to have charmed her. She seemed rather confused, and after a
pause she answered: ”God asked of me the sacrifice of this letter
because of the eagerness I displayed the other day . . . so I have not
read it.”

* * * * * *

When speaking to her of the mortifications of the Saints, she remarked:
”It was well that Our Lord warned us: ‘In My Father’s House there are
many mansions, otherwise I would have told you.’ [175] For, if every
soul called to perfection were obliged to perform these austerities in
order to enter Heaven, He would have told us, and we should have
willingly undertaken them. But He has declared that, ‘there are many
mansions in His House.’ If there are some for great souls, for the
Fathers of the Desert and for Martyrs of penance, there must also be
one for little children. And in that one a place is kept for us, if we
but love Him dearly together with Our Father and the Spirit of Love.”

* * * * * *

”While in the world, I used, on waking, to think of all the pleasant or
unpleasant things which might happen throughout the day, and if I
foresaw nothing but worries I got up with a heavy heart. Now it is
quite the reverse. I think of the pains and of the sufferings awaiting
me, and I rise, feeling all the more courageous and light of heart in
proportion to the opportunities I foresee of proving my love for Our
Lord, and of gaining–mother of souls as I am–my children’s
livelihood. Then I kiss my crucifix, and, laying it gently on my
pillow, I leave it there while I dress, and I say: ‘My Jesus, Thou hast
toiled and wept enough during Thy three-and-thirty years on this
miserable earth. Rest Thee, to-day! It is my turn to suffer and to
fight.'”

* * * * * *

One washing-day I was sauntering towards the laundry, and looking at
the flowers as I passed. Soeur Therese was following, and quickly
overtook me: ”Is that,” she said quietly, ”how people hurry themselves
when they have children, and are obliged to work to procure them food?”

* * * * * *

”Do you know which are my Sundays and feast-days? They are the days on
which God tries me the most.”

* * * * * *

I was distressed at my want of courage, and Soeur Therese said to me:
”You are complaining of what should be your greatest happiness. If you
fought only when you felt eagerness, where would be your merit? What
does it matter, even if you are devoid of courage, provided you act as
though you possessed it? If you feel too lazy to pick up a bit of
thread, and yet do so for love of Jesus, you acquire more merit than
for a much nobler action done in a moment of fervour. Instead of
grieving, be glad that, by allowing you to feel your own weakness, Our
Lord is furnishing you with an opportunity of saving a greater number
of souls.”

* * * * * *

I asked her whether Our Lord were not displeased at the sight of my
many failings. This was her answer: ”Be comforted, for He Whom you have
chosen as your Spouse has every imaginable perfection; but–dare I say
it?–He has one great infirmity too–He is blind! And there is a
science about which He knows nothing–addition! These two great
defects, much to be deplored in an earthly bridegroom, do but make ours
infinitely more lovable. Were it necessary that He should be
clear-sighted, and familiar with the science of figures, do you not
think that, confronted with our many sins, He would send us back to our
nothingness? But His Love for us makes him actually blind.

”If the greatest sinner on earth should repent at the moment of his
death, and draw His last breath in an act of love, neither the many
graces he had abused, nor the multiplied crimes he had committed, would
stand in his way. Our Lord would see nothing, count nothing, but the
sinner’s last prayer, and without delay He would receive him into the
arms of His Mercy.

”But, to make Him thus blind and to prevent Him doing the smallest sum
of addition, we must approach Him through His Heart–on that side He is
vulnerable and defenceless.”

* * * * * *

I had grieved her, and had gone to ask her pardon: ”If you but knew
what I feel!” she exclaimed. ”Never have I more clearly understood the
love with which Jesus receives us when we seek His forgiveness. If I,
His poor little creature, feel so tenderly towards you when you come
back to me, what must pass through Our Lord’s Divine Heart when we
return to Him? Far more quickly than I have just done will He blot out
our sins from His memory. . . . Nay, He will even love us more tenderly
than before we fell.”

* * * * * *

I had an immense dread of the judgments of God, and no argument of
Soeur Therese could remove it. One day I put to her the following
objection: ”It is often said to us that in God’s sight the angels
themselves are not pure. How, therefore, can you expect me to be
otherwise than filled with fear?”

She replied: ”There is but one means of compelling God not to judge us,
and it is–to appear before Him empty-handed.” ”And how can that be
done?” ”It is quite simple: lay nothing by, spend your treasures as you
gain them. Were I to live to be eighty, I should always be poor,
because I cannot economise. All my earnings are immediately spent on
the ransom of souls.

”Were I to await the hour of death to offer my trifling coins for
valuation, Our Lord would not fail to discover in them some base metal,
and they would certainly have to be refined in Purgatory. Is it not
recorded of certain great Saints that, on appearing before the Tribunal
of God, their hands laden with merit, they have yet been sent to that
place of expiation, because in God’s Eyes all our justice is unclean?”

”But,” I replied, ”if God does not judge our good actions, He will
judge our bad ones.” ”Do not say that! Our Lord is Justice itself, and
if He does not judge our good actions, neither will He judge our bad
ones. It seems to me, that for Victims of Love there will be no
judgment. God will rather hasten to reward with eternal delights His
own Love which He will behold burning in their hearts.”

”To enjoy such a privilege, would it suffice to repeat that Act of
Oblation which you have composed?” ”Oh, no! words do not suffice. To be
a true Victim of Love we must surrender ourselves entirely. . . . Love
will consume us only in the measure of our self-surrender.”

* * * * * *

I was grieving bitterly over a fault I had committed. ”Take your
Crucifix,” she said, ”and kiss it.” I kissed the Feet.

”Is that how a child kisses its father? Throw your arms at once round
His Neck and kiss His Face.” When I had done so, she continued: ”That
is not sufficient–He must return your caress.” I had to press the
Crucifix to both my cheeks, whereupon she added: ”Now, all is
forgiven.”

* * * * * *

I told her one day that if I must be reproached I preferred deserving
it to being unjustly accused. ”For my part,” she replied, ”I prefer to
be charged unjustly, because, having nothing to reproach myself with, I
offer gladly this little injustice to God. Then, humbling myself, I
think how easily I might have deserved the reproach. The more you
advance, the fewer the combats; or rather, the more easy the victory,
because the good side of things will be more visible. Then your soul
will soar above creatures. As for me, I feel utterly indifferent to all
accusations because I have learned the hollowness of human judgment.”

She added further: ”When misunderstood and judged unfavourably, what
benefit do we derive from defending ourselves? Leave things as they
are, and say nothing. It is so sweet to allow ourselves to be judged
anyhow, rightly or wrongly.

”It is not written in the Gospel that Saint Mary Magdalen put forth
excuses when charged by her sister with sitting idle at Our Lord’s
Feet. She did not say: ‘Martha, if you knew the happiness that is mine
and if you heard the words that I hear, you too would leave everything
to share my joy and my repose.’ No, she preferred to keep silent. . . .
Blessed silence which giveth such peace to the soul!”

* * * * * *

At a moment of temptation and struggle I received this note: ”‘The just
man shall correct me in mercy and shall reprove me; but let not the oil
of the sinner perfume my head.’ [176] It is only by the just that I can
be either reproved or corrected, because all my Sisters are pleasing to
God. It is less bitter to be rebuked by a sinner than by a just man;
but through compassion for sinners, to obtain their conversion, I
beseech Thee, O my God, to permit that I may be well rebuked by those
just souls who surround me. I ask also that the oil of praise, so sweet
to our nature, may not perfume my head, that is to say, my mind, by
making me believe that I possess virtues when I have merely performed a
few good actions.

”Jesus! ‘Thy Name is as oil poured out,’ [177] and it is into this
divine perfume that I desire wholly to plunge myself, far from the gaze
of mankind.”

* * * * * *

”It is not playing the game to argue with a Sister that she is in the
wrong, even when it is true, because we are not answerable for her
conduct. We must not be Justices of the peace, but Angels of peace
only.”

* * * * * *

”You give yourselves up too much to what you are doing,” she used to
say to us; ”you worry about the future as though it were in your hands.
Are you much concerned at this moment as to what is happening in other
Carmelite convents, and whether the nuns there are busy or otherwise?
Does their work prevent you praying or meditating? Well, just in the
same way, you ought to detach yourselves from your own personal
labours, conscientiously spending on them the time prescribed, but with
perfect freedom of heart. We read that the Israelites, while building
the walls of Jerusalem, worked with one hand and held a sword in the
other. [178] This is an image of what we should do: avoid being wholly
absorbed in our work.”

* * * * * *

”One Sunday,” Therese relates, ”I was going toward the chestnut avenue,
full of rejoicing, for it was spring-time, and I wanted to enjoy
nature’s beauties. What a bitter disappointment! My dear chestnuts had
been pruned, and the branches, already covered with buds, now lay on
the ground. On seeing this havoc, and thinking that three years must
elapse before it could be repaired, my heart felt very sore. But the
grief did not last long. ‘If I were in another convent,’ I reflected,
‘what would it matter to me if the chestnut-trees of the Carmel at
Lisieux were entirely cut down?’ I will not worry about things that
pass. God shall be my all. I will take my walks in the wooded groves of
His Love, whereon none dare lay hands.”

* * * * * *

A novice asked her Sisters to help her shake some blankets. As they
were somewhat liable to tear because of their worn condition, she
insisted, rather sharply, on their being handled with care. ”What would
you do,” said Therese to the impatient one, ”if it were not your duty
to mend these blankets? There would be no thought of self in the
matter, and if you did call attention to the fact that they are easily
torn, it would be done in quite an impersonal way. In all your actions,
you should avoid the least trace of self-seeking.”

* * * * * *

Seeing one of our Sisters very much fatigued, I said to Soeur Therese:
”It grieves me to see people suffer, especially those who are holy.”
She instantly replied: ”I do not feel as you do. Saints who suffer
never excite my pity. I know they have strength to bear their
sufferings, and that through them they are giving great glory to God.
But I compassionate greatly those who are not Saints, and who do not
know how to profit by suffering. They indeed awake my pity. I would
strain every nerve to help and comfort them.”

* * * * * *

”Were I to live longer, it is the office of Infirmarian that would most
please me. I would not ask for it, but were it imposed through
obedience, I should consider myself highly favoured. I think I should
fulfill its duties with much affection, always mindful of Our Lord’s
words: ‘I was sick, and you visited Me.’ [179] The infirmary bell
should be for you as heavenly music, and you ought purposely to pass by
the windows of the sick that it might be easy for them to summon you.
Consider yourself as a little slave whom everyone has the right to
command. Could you but see the Angels who from the heights of Heaven
watch your combats in the arena! They are awaiting the end of the fight
to crown you and cover you with flowers. You know that we claim to rank
as little Martyrs . . . . but we must win our palms.

”God does not despise these hidden struggles with ourselves, so much
richer in merit because they are unseen: ‘The patient man is better
than the valiant, and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh
cities.’ [180] Through our little acts of charity, practised in the
dark, as it were, we obtain the conversion of the heathen, help the
missionaries, and gain for them plentiful alms, thus building both
spiritual and material dwellings for Our Eucharistic God.”

* * * * * *

I had seen Mother Prioress showing, as I thought, more confidence and
affection to one of our Sisters than she extended to me. Expecting to
win sympathy, I told my trouble to Soeur Therese, and great was my
surprise when she put me the question: ”Do you think you love our
Mother very much?” ”Certainly! otherwise I should be indifferent if
others were preferred to me.”

”Well, I shall prove that you are absolutely mistaken, and that it is
not our Mother that you love, but yourself. When we really love others,
we rejoice at their happiness, and we make every sacrifice to procure
it. Therefore if you had this true, disinterested affection, and loved
our Mother for her own sake, you would be glad to see her find pleasure
even at your expense; and since you think she has less satisfaction in
talking with you than with another Sister, you ought not to grieve at
being apparently neglected.”

* * * * * *

I was distressed at my many distractions during prayers: ”I also have
many,” she said, ”but as soon as I am aware of them, I pray for those
people the thought of whom is diverting my attention, and in this way
they reap benefit from my distractions. . . . I accept all for the love
of God, even the wildest fancies that cross my mind.”

* * * * * *

I was regretting a pin which I had been asked for, and which I had
found most useful. ”How rich you are,” said Therese, ”you will never be
happy!”

* * * * * *

The grotto of the Holy Child was in her charge, and, knowing that one
of our Mothers greatly disliked perfumes, she never put any
sweet-smelling flowers there, not even a tiny violet. This cost her
many a real sacrifice. One day, just as she had placed a beautiful
artificial rose at the foot of the statue, the Mother called her. Soeur
Therese, surmising that it was to bid her remove the rose, was anxious
to spare her any humiliation. She therefore took the flower to the good
Sister, and, forestalling all observations, said: ”Look, Mother, how
well nature is imitated nowadays: would you not think this rose had
been freshly gathered from the garden?”

* * * * * *

”There are moments,” she told us, ”when we are so miserable within,
that there is nothing for it but to get away from ourselves. At those
times God does not oblige us to remain at home. He even permits our own
company to become distasteful to us in order that we may leave it. Now
I know no other means of exit save through the doorway of charitable
works, on a visit to Jesus and Mary.”

* * * * * *

”When I picture the Holy Family, the thought that does me most good
is–the simplicity of their home-life. Our Lady and St. Joseph were
well aware that Jesus was God, while at the same time great wonders
were hidden from them, and–like us–they lived by faith. You have
heard those words of the Gospel: ‘They understood not the word that He
spoke unto them’; [181] and those others no less mysterious: ‘His
Father and Mother were wondering at those things which were spoken
concerning Him.’ [182] They seemed to be learning something new, for
this word ‘wondering’ implies a certain amount of surprise.”

* * * * * *

”There is a verse in the Divine Office which I recite each day with
reluctance: ‘I have inclined my heart to do Thy justifications for
ever, because of the reward.’ [183] I hasten to add in my heart: ‘My
Jesus, Thou knowest I do not serve Thee for sake of reward, but solely
out of love, and a desire to win Thee souls.”

* * * * * *

”In Heaven only shall we be in possession of the clear truth. On earth,
even in matters of Holy Scripture, our vision is dim. It distresses me
to see the differences in its translations, and had I been a Priest I
would have learned Hebrew, so as to read the Word of God as He deigned
to utter it in human speech.”

* * * * * *

Soeur Therese often spoke to me of a well-known toy with which she had
amused herself when a child. This was the kaleidoscope, shaped like a
small telescope, through which, as it is made to revolve, one perceives
an endless variety of pretty-coloured figures.

”This toy,” she said, ”excited my admiration, and I wondered what could
provide so charming a phenomenon, when one day, after a lengthy
examination, I found that it consisted simply of tiny bits of paper and
cloth scattered inside. A further examination revealed that there were
three mirrors inside the tube, and the problem was solved. It became
for me the illustration of a great truth.

”So long as our actions, even the most trivial, remain within Love’s
kaleidoscope, so long the Blessed Trinity, figured by the three
mirrors, imparts to them a wonderful brightness and beauty. The
eye-piece is Jesus Christ, and He, looking from outside through Himself
into the kaleidoscope, finds perfect all our works. But, should we
leave that ineffable abode of Love, He would see but the rags and chaff
of unclean and worthless deeds.”

* * * * * *

I told Soeur Therese of the strange phenomena produced by magnetism on
persons who surrender their will to the hypnotiser. It seemed to
interest her greatly, and next day she said to me: ”Your conversation
yesterday did me so much good! How I long to be hypnotised by Our Lord!
It was my waking thought, and verily it was sweet to surrender Him my
will. I want Him to take possession of my faculties in such wise that
my acts may no more be mine, or human, but Divine–inspired and guided
by the Spirit of Love.”

* * * * * *

Before my profession I received through my saintly Novice-mistress a
very special grace. We had been washing all day. I was worn-out with
fatigue and harassed with spiritual worries. That night, before
meditation, I wanted to speak to her, but she dismissed me with the
remark: ”That is the bell for meditation, and I have not time to
console you; besides, I see plainly that it would be useless trouble.
For the present, God wishes you to suffer alone.” I followed her to
meditation so discouraged that, for the first time, I doubted of my
vocation. I should never be able to be a Carmelite. The life was too
hard.

I had been kneeling for some minutes, when all at once, in the midst of
this interior struggle–without having asked or even wished for
peace–I felt a sudden and extraordinary change of soul. I no longer
knew myself. My vocation appeared to me both lovely and lovable. I saw
the sweetness and priceless value of suffering. All the privations and
fatigues of the religious life appeared to me infinitely preferable to
worldly pleasures, and I came away from my meditation completely
transformed.

Next day I told my Mistress what had taken place, and, seeing she was
deeply touched, I begged to know the reason. ”God is good,” she
exclaimed. ”Last evening you inspired me with such profound pity that I
prayed incessantly for you at the beginning of meditation. I besought
Our Lord to bring you comfort, to change your dispositions, and show
you the value of suffering. He has indeed heard my prayers.”

* * * * * *

Being somewhat of a child in my ways, the Holy Child–to help me in the
practice of virtue–inspired me with the thought of amusing myself with
Him, and I chose the game of ninepins. I imagined them of all sizes and
colours, representing the souls I wished to reach. The ball was–love.

In December, 1896, the novices received, for the benefit of the Foreign
Missions, various trifles towards a Christmas tree, and at the bottom
of the box containing them was a top–a rare thing in a Carmelite
convent. My companions remarked: ”What an ugly thing!–of what use will
it be?” But I, who knew the game, caught hold of it, exclaiming: ”Nay,
what fun! it will spin a whole day without stopping if it be well
whipped”; and thereupon I spun it around to their great surprise.

Soeur Therese was quietly watching us, and on Christmas night, after
midnight Mass, I found in our cell the famous top, with a delightful
letter addressed as follows:

To My Beloved Little Spouse

Player of Ninepins on the Mountain of Carmel

Christmas Night, 1896.

MY BELOVED LITTLE SPOUSE,–I am well pleased with thee! All the year
round thou hast amused Me by playing at ninepins. I was so overjoyed
that the whole court of Angels was surprised and charmed. Several
little cherubs have asked me why I did not make them children. Others
wanted to know if the melody of their instruments were not more
pleasing to me than thy joyous laugh when a ninepin fell at the stroke
of thy love-ball. My answer to them was, that they must not regret they
are not children, since one day they would play with thee in the
meadows of Heaven. I told them also that thy smiles were certainly more
sweet to Me than their harmonies, because these smiles were purchased
by suffering and forgetfulness of self.

And now, my cherished Spouse, it is my turn to ask something of thee.
Thou wilt not refuse Me–thou lovest Me too much. Let us change the
game. Ninepins amuse me greatly, but at present I should like to play
at spinning a top, and, if thou dost consent, thou shalt be the top. I
give thee one as a model. Thou seest that it is ugly to look at, and
would be kicked aside by whosoever did not know the game. But at the
sight of it a child would leap for joy and shout: ”What fun! it will
spin a whole day without stopping!”

Although thou too art not attractive, I–the little Jesus–love thee,
and beg of thee to keep always spinning to amuse Me. True, it needs a
whip to make a top spin. Then let thy Sisters supply the whip, and be
thou most grateful to those who shall make thee turn fastest. When I
shall have had plenty of fun, I will bring thee to join Me here, and
our games shall be full of unalloyed delight.–Thy little Brother,

JESUS.

* * * * * *

I had the habit of constantly crying about the merest trifles, and this
was a source of great pain to Soeur Therese. One day a bright idea
occurred to her: taking a mussel-shell from her painting table, and,
holding my hands lest I should prevent her, she gathered my tears in
the shell, and soon they were turned into merry laughter.

”There,” she said, ”from this onwards I permit you to cry as much as
you like on condition that it is into the shell!”

A week, however, before her death I spent a whole evening in tears at
the thought of her fast-approaching end. She knew it, and said: ”You
have been crying. Was it into the shell?” I was unable to tell an
untruth, and my answer grieved her. ”I am going to die,” she continued,
”and I shall not be at rest about you unless you promise to follow
faithfully my advice. I consider it of the utmost importance for the
good of your soul.”

I promised what she asked, begging leave, however, as a favour, to be
allowed to cry at her death. ”But,” she answered, ”why cry at my death?
Those tears will certainly be useless. You will be bewailing my
happiness! Still I have pity on your weakness, and for the first few
days you have leave to cry, though afterwards you must again take up
the shell.”

It has cost me some heroic efforts, but I have been faithful. I have
kept the shell at hand, and each time the wish to cry overcame me, I
laid hold of the pitiless thing. However urgent the tears, the trouble
of passing it from one eye to the other so distracted my thoughts, that
before very long this ingenious method entirely cured me of my
sensibility.

* * * * * *

Owing to a fault which had caused Soeur Therese much pain, but of which
I had deeply repented, I intended to deprive myself of Holy Communion.
I wrote to her of my resolution, and this was her reply: ”Little
flower, most dear to Jesus, by this humiliation your roots are feeding
upon the earth. You must now open wide your petals, or rather lift high
your head, so that the Manna of the Angels may, like a divine dew, come
down to strengthen you and supply all your wants. Good-night, poor
little flower! Ask of Jesus that all the prayers offered for my cure
may serve to increase the fire which ought to consume me.”

* * * * * *

”At the moment of Communion I sometimes liken my soul to that of a
little child of three or four, whose hair has been ruffled and clothes
soiled at play. This is a picture of what befalls me in my struggling
with souls. But Our Blessed Lady comes promptly to the rescue, takes
off my soiled pinafore, and arranges my hair, adorning it with a pretty
ribbon or a simple flower. . . . Then I am quite nice, and able,
without any shame, to seat myself at the Banquet of Angels.”

* * * * * *

In the infirmary we scarcely waited for the end of her thanksgiving
before seeking her advice. At first, this somewhat distressed her, and
she would make gentle reproaches, but soon she yielded to us, saying:
”I must not wish for more rest than Our Lord. When He withdrew into the
desert after preaching, the crowds would come and intrude upon His
solitude. Come, then, to me as much as you like; I must die sword in
hand–‘the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.'” [184]

* * * * * *

”Advise us,” we said to her, ”how to profit by our spiritual
instructions.” ”Go for guidance with great simplicity, not counting too
much on help which may fail you at any moment. You would then have to
say with the Spouse in the Canticles: ‘The keepers took away my cloak
and wounded me; when I had a little passed by them, I found Him whom my
soul loveth.’ [185] If you ask with humility and with detachment after
your Beloved, the keepers will tell you. More often, you will find
Jesus only when you have passed by all creatures. Many times have I
repeated this verse of the Spiritual Canticle of St. John of the Cross:

‘Messengers, I pray, no more Between us send, who know not how To tell
me what my spirit longs to know. For they Thy charms who read–For ever
telling of a thousand more–Make all my wounds to bleed, While deeper
then before Doth an–I know not what!–my spirit grieve With
stammerings vague, and of all life bereave.'”

* * * * * *

”If, supposing the impossible, God Himself could not see my good
actions, I would not be troubled. I love Him so much I would like to
give Him joy without His knowing who gave. When He sees the gift being
made, He is, as it were, obliged to make a return. . . . I should wish
to spare Him the trouble.”

* * * * * *

”Had I been rich, I could never have seen a poor person hungry without
giving him to eat. This is my way also in the spiritual life. There are
many souls on the brink of hell, and as my earnings come to hand they
are scattered among these sinners. The time has never yet been when I
could say: ‘Now I am going to work for myself.'”

* * * * * *

”There are people who make the worst of everything. As for me, I do
just the contrary. I always see the good side of things, and even if my
portion be suffering, without a glimmer of solace, well, I make it my
joy.”

* * * * * *

”Whatever has come from God’s Hands has always pleased me, even those
things which have seemed to me less good and less beautiful than the
gifts made to others.”

* * * * * *

”When staying with my aunt, while I was still a little girl, I was
given a certain book to read. In one of the stories great praise was
bestowed on a schoolmistress who by her tact escaped from every
difficulty without hurting anyone’s feelings. Her method of saying to
one person: ‘You are right,’ and to another: ‘You are not wrong,’
struck me particularly, and as I read I reflected that I would not have
acted in that way because we should always tell the truth. And this I
always do, though I grant it is much more difficult. It would be far
less trouble for us, when told of a worry, to cast the blame on the
absent. Less trouble . . . nevertheless I do just the contrary, and if
I am disliked it cannot be helped. Let the novices not come to me if
they do not want to learn the truth.”

* * * * * *

”Before a reproof [186] bear fruit it must cost something and be free
from the least trace of passion. Kindness must not degenerate into
weakness. When we have had good reason for finding fault, we must leave
it, and not allow ourselves to worry over having given pain. To seek
out the delinquent for the purpose of consoling her, is to do more harm
than good. Left alone, she is compelled to look beyond creatures, and
to turn to God; she is forced to see her faults and to humble herself.
Otherwise she would become accustomed to expect consolation after a
merited rebuke, and would act like a spoilt child who stamps and
screams, knowing well that by this means its mother will be forced to
return and dry its tears.”

* * * * * *

”‘Let the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, be ever in
your mouth and in your hearts.’ [187] If we find any one particular
person disagreeable we should never be disheartened, much less cease
our endeavour to reform that soul. We should wield the sword of the
Spirit, and so correct her faults. Things should never be allowed to
pass for the sake of our own ease. We must carry on the war even when
there is no hope of victory. Success matters nothing, and we must fight
on and never complain: ‘I shall gain nothing from that soul, she does
not understand, there is nothing for it but to abandon her.’ That would
be the act of a coward. We must do our duty to the very end.”

* * * * * *

”Formerly, if any of my friends were in trouble, and I did not succeed
in consoling them when they came to see me, I left the parlour quite
heart-broken. Soon, however, Our Lord made me understand how incapable
I was of bringing comfort to a soul, and from that day I no longer
grieved when my visitors went away downcast. I confided to God the
sufferings of those so dear to me, and I felt sure that He heard my
prayer. At their next visit I learned that I was not mistaken. After
this experience, I no longer worry when I have involuntarily given
pain. . . . I simply ask Our Lord to make amends.”

* * * * * *

”What do you think of all the graces that have been heaped upon
you?”–”I think ‘the Spirit of God breatheth where He will.'” [188]

* * * * * *

”Mother,” she one day said to the Prioress, ”were I unfaithful, were I
to commit even the smallest infidelity, I feel that my soul would be
plunged into the most terrible anguish, and I should be unable to
welcome death.”

Mother Prioress evinced surprise at hearing her speak in this strain,
and she continued: ”I am speaking of infidelity in the matter of pride.
If, for example, I were to say: ‘I have acquired such or such a virtue
and I can practise it’; or again: ‘My God, Thou knowest I love Thee too
much to dwell on one single thought against faith,’ straightway I
should be assailed by the most dangerous temptations and should
certainly yield. To prevent this misfortune I have but to say humbly
and from my heart: ‘My God, I beseech Thee not to let me be
unfaithful.’

”I understand clearly how St. Peter fell. He placed too much reliance
on his own ardent nature, instead of leaning solely on the Divine
strength. Had he only said: ‘Lord, give me strength to follow Thee unto
death!’ the grace would not have been refused him.

”How is it, Mother, that Our Lord, knowing what was about to happen,
did not say to him: ‘Ask of Me the strength to do what is in thy mind?’
I think His purpose was to give us a twofold lesson–first: that He
taught His Apostles nothing by His presence which He does not teach us
through the inspirations of grace; and secondly: that, having made
choice of St. Peter to govern the whole Church, wherein there are many
sinners, He wished him to test in himself what man can do without God’s
help. This is why Jesus said to him before his fall: ‘Thou being once
converted confirm thy brethren’; [189] that is, ‘Tell them the story of
thy sin–show them by thy own experience, how necessary it is for
salvation to rely solely upon Me.'”

* * * * * *

I was much afflicted at seeing her ill, and I often exclaimed: ”Life is
so dreary!” ”Life is not dreary”–she would immediately say; ”on the
contrary, it is most gay. Now if you said: ‘Exile is dreary,’ I could
understand. It is a mistake to call ‘life’ that which must have an end.
Such a word should be only used of the joys of Heaven–joys that are
unfading–and in this true meaning life is not sad but gay–most gay. .
. .”

Her own gaiety was a thing of delight. For several days she had been
much better, and we were saying to her: ”We do not yet know of what
disease you will die. . . .” ”But,” she answered, ”I shall die of
death! Did not God tell Adam of what he would die when He said to him:
‘Thou shalt die of death’?” [190]

”Then death will come to fetch you?”–”No, not death, but the Good God.
Death is not, as pictures tell us, a phantom, a horrid spectre. The
Catechism says that it is the separation of soul and body–no more!
Well, I do not fear a separation which will unite me for ever to God.”

”Will the Divine Thief,” some one asked, ”soon come to steal His little
bunch of grapes?” ”I see Him in the distance, and I take good care not
to cry out: ‘Stop thief!’ Rather, I call to Him: ‘This way, this way!'”

* * * * * *

Asked under what name we should pray to her in Heaven, she answered
humbly: ”Call me Little Therese.”

* * * * * *

I was telling her that the most beautiful angels, all robed in white,
would bear her soul to Heaven: ”Fancies like those,” she answered, ”do
not help me, and my soul can only feed upon truth. God and His Angels
are pure spirits. No human eye can see them as they really are. That is
why I have never asked extraordinary favours. I prefer to await the
Eternal Vision.”

”To console me at your death I have asked God to send me a beautiful
dream.”–”That is a thing I would never do . . . ask for consolations.
Since you wish to resemble me, you know what are my ideas on this:

‘Fear not, O Lord, that I shall waken Thee: I shall await in peace the
Heavenly Shore.’

”It is so sweet to serve God in the dark night and in the midst of
trial. After all, we have but this life in which to live by faith.”

* * * * * *

”I am happy at the thought of going to Heaven, but when I reflect on
these words of Our Lord: ‘I come quickly, and My reward is with Me, to
render to every man according to his works,’ [191] I think that He will
find my case a puzzle: I have no works. . . . Well, He will render unto
me according to His own works!”

* * * * * *

”The chief plenary indulgence, which is within reach of everybody, and
can be gained without the ordinary conditions, is that of
charity–which ‘covereth a multitude of sins.'” [192]

* * * * * *

”Surely you will not even pass through Purgatory. If such a thing
should happen, then certainly nobody goes straight to Heaven.”–”That
gives me little thought. I shall be quite content with the Merciful
God’s decision. Should I go to Purgatory, I shall–like the three
Hebrew children in the furnace–walk amid the flames singing the
Canticle of Love.”

* * * * * *

”In Heaven you will be placed among the Seraphim.” ”If so, I shall not
imitate them. At the sight of God they cover themselves with their
wings [193] : I shall take good care not to hide myself with mine.”

* * * * * *

I showed her a picture which represented Joan of Arc being comforted in
prison by her Voices, and she remarked: ”I also am comforted by an
interior voice. From above, the Saints encourage me, saying: ‘So long
as thou art a captive in chains, thou canst not fulfill thy mission,
but later on, after thy death, will come thy day of triumph.'”

* * * * * *

”In Heaven, God will do all I desire, because on earth I have never
done my own will.”

* * * * * *

”You will look down upon us from Heaven, will you not?”–”No, I will
come down.”

* * * * * *

Some months before the death of Soeur Therese, The Life of St. Aloysius
was being read in the refectory, and one of the Mothers was struck by
the mutual and tender affection which existed between the young Saint
and the aged Jesuit, Father Corbinelli.

”You are little Aloysius,” she said to Therese, ”and I am old Father
Corbinelli–be mindful of me when you enter Heaven.” ”Would you like me
to fetch you thither soon, dear Mother?” ”No, I have not yet suffered
enough.” ”Nay, Mother, I tell you that you have suffered quite enough.”
To which Mother Hermance replied: ”I dare not say Yes. . . . In so
grave a matter I must have the sanction of authority.” So the request
was made to Mother Prioress, who, without attaching much importance to
it, gave her sanction.

Now, on one of the last days of her life, Soeur Therese, scarcely able
to speak owing to her great weakness, received through the infirmarian
a bouquet of flowers. It had been gathered by Mother Hermance, and was
accompanied by an entreaty for one word of affection. The message:
”Tell Mother Hermance of the Heart of Jesus that during Mass this
morning I saw Father Corbinelli’s grave close to that of little
Aloysius.”

”That is well,” replied the good Mother, greatly touched; ”tell Soeur
Therese that I have understood. . . .” And from that moment she felt
convinced her death was near. It took place just one year later, and,
according to the prediction of the ”Little Aloysius,” the two graves
lie side by side.

* * * * * *

The last words penned by the hand of Soeur Therese were: ”O Mary, were
I Queen of Heaven, and wert thou Therese, I should wish to be Therese,
that I might see thee Queen of Heaven!”
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[167] Cf. Matt. 20:23.

[168] Cf. Ps. 67[68]:28.

[169] Cf. Prov. 1:4.

[170] Judith 15:11.

[171] Ecclus. 11:12, 13, 22, 23, 24.

[172] Jer. 10:23.

[173] Cf. Psalm 93[94]:18.

[174] Imit., I, xvi. 4.

[175] John 14:2.

[176] Cf. Psalm 111[112]:5.

[177] Cant. 1:2.

[178] Cf. 2 Esdras 4:17.

[179] Matt. 25:36.

[180] Prov. 16:32.

[181] Luke 2:50.

[182] Luke 2:33.

[183] Ps. 118[119]:112.

[184] Ephes. 6:17.

[185] Cf. Cant. 5:7, 3:4.

[186] In this and the following ”counsel” it should be remembered that
it is a Novice-Mistress who is speaking. [Ed.]

[187] Cf. Ephes. 6:17; Isaias 61:21.

[188] Cf. John 3:8.

[189] Luke 22:32.

[190] Cf. Gen. 2:17. A play on the French: Tu mourras de mort. [Ed.]

[191] Apoc. 22:12.

[192] Prov. 10:12.

[193] Cf. Isaias 6:2.
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