In February 1889, Saint Louis Martin was committed to Bon Sauveur Mental Hospital in Caen, France. That difficult closing chapter in the saint’s life certainly was preceded by difficult days and months for the family. St. Louis wandered away from his home and disappeared, much like dementia patients today. This 1889 letter from Céline Martin to her cousin Jeanne Guérin, dated on 21 or 22 January, asking her to contact Saint Zélie’s brother, Isidore, gives us insight into the challenges that Céline faced as she cared for her father.
My dear little Jeanne,
You can write to my uncle (he’s in Evreux) that the day really wasn’t bad. This morning, the same restlessness as yesterday, no shouting, laughter for 1 or 2 hours, crying, clapping hands, conversations as if I were in his room and he would respond to me about something. This afternoon a complete calm, even sleep, he said that of course, I had made him take something to make him sleep. He wanted to be alone. There were loud shouts and again he was having conversations with himself.
Dear little Sister, the Cross is heavy but Jesus is there. He carried it for us, why shouldn’t we carry it for him?
Our Lord told Blessed Margaret Mary [Alacoque] that the Cross was the most precious pledge of his love that he could give us in this life.
St. Francis Xavier used to say: The absence of the Cross is the absence of life!
How vile the earth seems to those who see it from Heaven.
Dearest little sister, life is short.
… Our little boat is at the moment being rocked by a violent storm, the furious waves are submerging it and almost swallowing it up but the dear Captain—Jesus—won’t let it sink. Soon—the port… Soon—joy, rest, happiness! …
Right away, we are not giving Jesus pearls, but diamonds, jewels of all kinds. It’s up to us to draw from the source that is inexhaustible and this source is suffering, bitterness—this treasure is the Cross!
Your little sister who loves you
This English translation from the French original text of Céline Martin's letter is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission and attribution.