Whispers from Carmel to encourage and inspire | Susurros del Carmelo Teresiano
Léonie Martin—Sr. François-Thérèse, V.H.M.—was the seventh witness at the diocesan inquiry for the cause of beatification of her sister, Thérèse. In her response to the 21st question concerning the theological virtue of faith, she mentioned this incident…
Her spirit of faith allowed her to see all things from a spiritual point of view. The letters she wrote to me spoke only of God and she only ever considered events from the point of view of faith. When our father died, she wrote (20th August 1894):
“I am thinking more than ever about you ever since our dear Father went up to heaven… Papa’s death does not give me the impression of a death but of a real life. I am finding him once more after an absence of 6 years, I feel him around me, looking at me and protecting me. Dear little Sister, are we not more united now that we gaze on the heavens to find there a Father and a Mother who offered us to Jesus? … Soon their desires shall be accomplished, and all the children God gave them are going to be united to Him forever.”
Saint Louis Martin died 29 July 1894
Read more from Léonie, Witness 7 at the Diocese of Lisieux Interrogatory
My dear Mother, now I would like to tell you what I understand by the fragrance of the perfumes of the Beloved.
Since Jesus has re-ascended to Heaven, I can only follow him through the footprints that he left, but how illuminated are these footprints, how aromatic they are! I only have to cast my eyes on the holy gospel; all of a sudden I’m breathing in the perfumes of the life of Jesus and I know on which side to run…
It’s not the first place, but the last place that I aim for; rather than moving forward with the pharisee, I repeat, full of trust, the humble prayer of the tax-collector;
but above all I imitate the conduct of Magdalene: her astonishing—or rather her loving audacity—that charms the Heart of Jesus, seduces mine.
Yes, I feel it, even if I had on my conscience all the sins that can be committed, I would go—my heart, broken in repentance—throw myself in the arms of Jesus because I know how much he cherishes the prodigal child who comes back to Him.
It’s not because the good God, in his prevenient mercy, has preserved my soul from mortal sin that I raise myself to Him through trust and love…
Renowned Discalced Carmelite scholar Father François-Marie Léthel concluded Meditation 8 of the 2011 Lenten Exercises for the Roman Curia by citing this final paragraph from Manuscript C. He also notes that, “at the same moment, Thérèse writes to her spiritual brother Bellière:
“You love St. Augustine, St. Magdalene; these souls to whom “many sins were forgiven because they loved much”. Me too, I love them; I love their repentance, and especially… their loving audacity! When I see Magdalene come forward in the midst of the numerous guests, showering the feet of her adorable Master with her tears, that she’s touching for the first time, I sense that her heart has understood the abysses of love and mercy of the Heart of Jesus and that, total sinner that she is, this Heart of love is not only disposed to pardon her but still more to lavish upon her the benefits of his divine intimacy, to lift her up to the highest summits of contemplation. Ah! my dear little Brother, since it was given to me also to understand the love of the Heart of Jesus, I admit to you that has chased away all fear from my heart. The memory of my faults humiliates me, it brings me to never learn on my strength, which is only a weakness, but even more this memory speaks to me of mercy and love. How—when you throw your faults with total, filial trust in the burning all-consuming brazier of love—how wouldn’t they be consumed without coming back?”
Read Father John Clarke’s translation of Letter 247 from Saint Thérèse to Abbé Maurice Bellière (21 June 1897) here.
Nota Bene: We have elected to be as faithful to the original text as possible in our translation, avoiding a re-cast into contemporary idioms. There is the age-old question among translators of French: does avoir confiance mean to be confident, to have confidence, or does it mean to trust? As an example, again and again today, theological translators agree: the best and truest translation of Jésus, j’ai confiance en toi is, Jesus, I trust in you.
Remember that your holy will
Is my rest, my only happiness.
I abandon myself and I fall asleep without fear
In your arms, O my divine Savior.
If you also fall asleep when the storm rages,
I always want to stay in deep peace.
But, Jesus, while you are asleep,
For the awakening!
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux Jesus, My Beloved, Remember!… “Rappelle-toi” (PN 24), Stanza 32
Read the full text of the poem in French here and in English here. Read this and more entries from Mother Agnès’ yellow notebook of her last conversations with Saint Thérèse during July 1897 here. You can explore the English website of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux here.
We arrived yesterday afternoon at four-thirty. My brother was waiting for us at the station and was delighted to see us. He and his wife are doing everything they can to entertain us. This evening, Sunday, there’s a beautiful reception in their home in our honor….
As for me, I’m finding it hard to relax! None of that interests me! I’m absolutely like the fish you pull out of the water. They’re no longer in their element and they have to perish! This would have the same effect on me if I had to stay a lot longer. I feel uncomfortable, I’m out of sorts. This is affecting me physically, and it’s almost making me sick. However, I’m reasoning with myself and trying to gain the upper hand. I’m with you in spirit all day, and I say to myself, “Now he must be doing such and such a thing.”
I’m longing to be near you, my dear Louis. I love you with all my heart, and I feel my affection so much more when you’re not here with me. It would be impossible for me to live apart from you.
Saint Zélie Guérin Martin Letter CF 108 to Saint Louis Martin (excerpt) Lisieux, 31 August 1873
Explore more of the correspondence of Louis Martin and Zélie Guerin here.
She went for the last time before the Blessed Sacrament in the oratory in the afternoon; but she was at the end of her strength. I saw her look at the Host for a long time and I guessed it was without any consolation but with much peace in her heart.
I recall that in the morning after the Mass, when the community was going to the oratory to make thanksgiving, no one thought of helping her. She walked very quietly close to the wall. I didn’t dare offer her my arm.
Mother Agnès of Jesus (Pauline Martin) Yellow Notebook, 2 July 1897
You can’t be sort of a saint, you have to be a total saint
or not at all.
This quote comes from St. Thérèse’s letter to seminarian Maurice Bellière, written 21 June 1897. Thérèse had been corresponding with the seminarian since October 1896.
Thérèse’s remark falls within the context of Bellière’s comments to Mother Agnès in his initial letter of 15 October 1895 that he had aspirations of sanctity as a seminarian, but in the awareness of his weakness, he requested that one of the nuns should pray for him.
Thérèse describes Bellière’s letter in Manuscript C and makes mention of that letter when she writes to him on 21 June:
Sometimes Jesus likes “to reveal his secrets to infants“; the proof is that after having read your first letter from 15 Oct 95, I thought the same thing as your Director: you can’t be sort of a saint, you have to be a total saint or not at all.
Mother Agnès responded to Bellière’s initial letter of 15 October with words of encouragement for his spiritual life and tells him that she has assigned Thérèse to accompany him in prayer and sacrifice.
On 23 October 1895, the young seminarian — bursting with hope and renewed spiritual energy — replied to Mother Agnès:
Now, I’m not afraid anymore, and I feel in my heart a new passion that will prevail. I will be a saint, I want to be a saint — besides that, a priest, a missionary, especially a Saint — and if I say saint, why not say martyr. What an ideal, Mother — priest, apostle, and martyr!
To cast the words of Thérèse in the 21st-century context, the translator researches the use of the modifier à demi in the previous centuries. How did André Gide and Georges Bernanos use the expression? In the examples given in the University of Lorraine’s online masterpiece, the 16-volume dictionary Trésor de la Langue Française, Gide and Bernanos evoke concepts such as somewhat, partial, tentative, and incomplete. The TLF couldn’t be any clearer when it states that the antonym is tout à fait (which was the choice of Thérèse), i.e., completely or totally.
Our desire as a translator is always to preserve fidelity to the original text by thoroughly researching the context, the setting, and the historical record of the language. Today’s tools, such as ATILF and the invaluable online Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux, offer many expanded options to achieve these goals. We are grateful to our Discalced Carmelite predecessors who labored long and hard over the past century to bring the words of Thérèse to English-speaking readers. From time to time, we will continue to add our small contributions to their monumental work.
As St. Thérèse herself noted in her letter, “I sensed that you might have an energetic soul and it’s for that reason that I was happy to become your sister.” Translators need energetic souls to undertake and persevere in their work, too. Thanks for being our sister, Thérèse!
Quelquefois Jésus se plaît «à révéler ses secrets aux plus petits», la preuve, c’est qu’après avoir lu votre première lettre du 15 oct. 95, j’ai pensé la même chose que votre Directeur: Vous ne pourrez être un saint à demi, il vous faudra l’être tout à fait ou pas du tout. J’ai senti que vous deviez avoir une âme énergique et c’est pour cela que je fus heureuse de devenir votre soeur.
You can read the complete text of Letter 247 here in French and the English translation by Fr. John Clarke, OCD here. The complete text of Abbé Bellière’s 23 October 1895 letter to Mother Agnès is found here in French. Studies on the 15 October correspondence and the subsequent reply were published in the scholarly journal Vie Thérèsienne, nos. 12, 13, 14, October 1963 — April 1964; and nos. 66-69, October 1963 — April 1964.
Translation from the French is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission. This blog post is dedicated in honor of Père François-Marie Léthel, O.C.D. —sine qua non
The third stage is… communion with the greatness of Jesus, the infinite greatness of his Divinity in the Trinity. It is the sense of the Offering to Merciful Love (9 June 1895), in the account of the final pages of Manuscript A (Ms A, 83v-84v), and in the Act of the Offering itself (Pri 6). Here the Christocentrism of Thérèse becomes explicitly Trinitarian: to the love of the Father who gave his Son to Thérèse as Savior and Spouse, and who looks upon her and always loves her through the Face of Jesus, and in his Heart burning with love in the Fire of the Holy Spirit, Thérèse responds through the total gift of herself as “victim of holocaust” for the salvation of all: she offers herself to the Father through Christ in the Spirit, through the hands of Mary. This Offering is central within the doctrine of Thérèse. It is her fundamental proposition of holiness for all the baptized. We also can say that it is at the heart of her theological methodology because this total gift of self to Jesus through Love is absolutely indispensable in order to know, in-depth, the Mystery of the Love of Jesus.
François-Marie Léthel, O.C.D. La Lumière du Christ dans le Coeur de l’Église
I have come to bring you news of our sick, and it is quite satisfactory. Uncle is having great difficulty recovering from his last attack. His breathing is very heavy at times like someone out of breath, then there are two minutes when he has no air to breath at all. He has been looking very exhausted and despondent since his last attack, so his condition is still very precarious….
Your little sister
Marie Guérin Sister Marie of the Eucharist (1870-1905)
On 5 June 1894, St. Louis Martin suffered the first of two serious heart attacks that ultimately led to his death on 29 July 1894 at 70 years of age. Read the account of his heart attack here and the rest of Marie’s letter here.
we had the happiness of going to com[muni]on, the Same hour as before. mr neale receiv’d it from mr P. after having given it to us. the weather fine wind fair, some part of the day was almost a calm. I was dressed in a fine Silk petticoat and a chince jacket th[a]t had been given me in alms — w[hi]ch was So becoming & made me look So Extraordinarily fine th[a]t all my companions were jealous of me.
Mother Clare Joseph of the Sacred Heart, O.C.D. (Frances Dickinson, 1755-1830) Journal of a Trip to America, 3rd June 1790
Mother Clare Joseph of the Sacred Heart, O.C.D. was one of four foundresses of the Teresian Carmel in the United States of America in the summer of 1790. To her fell the task of keeping a daily journal of their ocean voyage aboard the three-masted, square-sailed, merchant frigate Brothers from Texel, Netherlands— departing 25 April — to New York, where they arrived on “friday Morning the 2d of July”. Although she makes no mention of it in her diary entry on the third of June, Mother Clare Joseph was quietly celebrating the anniversary of her profession in the Carmel of Antwerp on 3 June 1773. As for the mention of the petticoat and jacket: the nuns traveled in civilian attire.
You make me feel that it’s not impossible
To follow in your footsteps, O Queen of the elect.
You made visible the narrow road to Heaven
While always practicing the humblest virtues.
Near you, Mary, I like to stay little.
I see the vanity of greatness here below.
At the home of Saint Elizabeth, receiving your visit,
I learn how to practice ardent charity.
~ ~ ~
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux Why I Love You, O Mary (PN54, Stanza 6)
Saint Thérèse’s first draft of the poem is featured in the image above. Stanza 6 is the second stanza on the right side of the page. Lines 5-6 and 7-8 of the stanza appear in brackets.
View the complete image of St. Thérèse’s first draft of the poem, an image of her second draft, details of her corrections, and images of the finished poem and its full text in English or French at the website of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux.
I’m writing to recommend myself to your prayers, because I’m beginning my annual retreat this very evening. Pray also for our little Sr Louise of Jesus, a Lay Sister who is taking her profession on 5th June.
I’ll quickly reply to your question. We were not paid a visit by Cardinal di Belmonte, fortunately! I was dreading it.
Sr M. of the Trinity must tell Sr Marguerite afterwards that we went to Les Buissonnets, and I assure you, it was a worthwhile visit. It would take too long to give you the reasons for it, and they wouldn’t interest you anyway, but what a trip it was! I thought I was going to suffocate in the car because Sr M. of the S.H. had to half stand half sit on us. She was crushing us and we were crushing each other! Then we had to go up the path on foot! Fortunately, we were wearing Turn Sisters’ veils over our own and very loose black cloaks! Otherwise, we would have been lost! I met a lady who said something to me about taking advantage of our arrival to visit Les Buissonnets, because she had found the house closed. Boldly, I said, “Madam, we are strangers and the door will open for no one but us, because we cannot come back.” etc. and the lady left saying, “Oh, I understand!” Had she but known!
The Mother Superior of the Refuge and her assistant along with Sr Scholastica and Miss Mikaëlle welcomed us with open arms. It was thanks to the Mother Superior of the Refuge that we had the car and a very discreet person to drive us.
This was at about 4 o’clock. We stayed until about 6 o’clock, and didn’t waste a moment, as Sr Geneviève had to take measurements for the altar in Thérèse’s bedroom and for putting the bed that Jeanne is giving back to us in the alcove, etc. etc. There will be a railing in front of it to stop pilgrims from cutting it into little pieces. Since then, we have been advised to arrange things as they are currently, with the altar in the alcove and the bed with the keepsakes.
The path leading to Les Buissonnets was absolutely filthy! You have no idea, and apparently the Mayor is expecting us to pay to clean it up. I assure you, it’s scandalous and we’re going to seek His Lordship’s advice to find a clever solution, one that spares us a flogging. The house is very well kept. What memories! Truly, I wasn’t lying to the lady when I said that we were strangers. Yes, we really have become strangers to things here below. Nothing moves us and nothing interests us other than God’s glory.
This visit was a blessing for the three of us and made us feel that through God’s grace, we were indeed detached from everything.
When we arrived back at the Carmel, the Community was waiting for us in the garden, wearing long veils because the car came into the enclosure through the workers’ entrance (we had our faces uncovered of course).
And when the entrance closed again after the car left, there was an eruption of joy as though we had come back from China!
I was very touched by this welcome.
Goodbye, much-loved little sister. This letter is bound to make you laugh. I send my love and our little sisters do the same. Your little sister and mamma
The Mother Superior of the Refuge was very discrete and left us alone after a while. Sr Marie-Emmanuel was with us. There were 5 of us with Sr M. of the S.H. and myself. Sr M. of the S.H. and I looked at ourselves in the bedroom mirror. We laughed out loud at the transformation that has been wrought over the last 40 years!!!! It was before this very mirror that we gazed at ourselves as young girls!
The garden looks delightful.
This letter from Sister Agnes of Jesus (Pauline Martin) to her younger sister Sr Françoise-Therese (Léonie Martin) at the Visitation Monastery in Caen tells the story of the trip the three sisters of St. Therese in the Carmel of Lisieux — Pauline, Marie (Sr M. of the S.H.), and Céline (Sr Geneviève) — took to Les Buissonnets to prepare their childhood home to become a place of pilgrimage.
Note Pauline’s comment, “Sr M. of the S.H. and I looked at ourselves in the bedroom mirror. We laughed out loud at the transformation that has been wrought over the last 40 years!!!!” It was the custom among Discalced Carmelites prior to the conciliar reforms of the 20th c. not to keep any mirrors in a monastery, a custom that is still observed in many monasteries today. Was this the first time that Pauline and Marie had seen a mirror since they entered Carmel? A question that may remain unanswered…
Like my father, my mother was very detached from earthly things. She was highly intelligent and had extraordinary energy: difficulties were nothing to her. Her spirit of faith was remarkable and helped her to endure life’s many hardships. When she lost her children, she knew immediately where they would be and overcame her immense grief. She wrote, “I wanted to have many children in order to bring them up for heaven”.
Sr. Geneviève of Saint Teresa, O.C.D. (Céline Martin) Witness 8 for the Diocesan Process
My father and mother had a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin. That’s why they gave the name Mary to all their children, both boys and girls. Before he married, my father placed a statue of the Blessed Virgin on a path in his garden, and later it would become very dear to the whole family. It was this very statue that was in Thérèse’s childhood bedroom and which came to life and smiled at her when she was very sick. Praying at the foot of the same statue, my mother was granted very great favors. My parents were very helpful to the poor. When a servant happened to fall ill with rheumatoid arthritis, my mother treated her herself, day and night, for several weeks, not wishing to send her back to her parents because they were poor.
Sr. Marie of the Sacred Heart, O.C.D. (Marie Martin) Witness 7 for the Diocesan Process
My mother was abnegation personified; she was gifted with extraordinary energy. The lace-making business that she established alone, and which she looked after tirelessly to assure her children’s future, made her life very meritorious. When my little brothers and sisters died, her submission to God’s will, despite her deep grief, was so great that people less Christian than herself were almost shocked, to the point of saying that she did not love her children.
It was my parents’ wish that all of us be consecrated to God; they would have liked to give Him priests and missionaries. My mother had been struck by the life of Madame Acarie, and many times I heard her say, “To think that all her daughters became Carmelites! Can a mother have any greater honor?”
Sr. Agnes of Jesus, O.C.D. (Pauline Martin) Witness 6 for the Apostolic Process
View more lace-making patterns from Saint Zélie’s workshop here
Learn more about Saint Louis and Zélie’s life together here
But in Jerusalem a bitter sadness
Comes to flood your heart like a vast ocean.
For three days, Jesus hides from your tenderness.
That is indeed exile in all its harshness!…
At last you find him and you are overcome with joy,
You say to the fair Child captivating the doctors:
“O my Son, why have you done this?
Your father and I have been searching for you in tears.”
And the Child God replies (O what a deep mystery!)
To his dearest Mother holding out her arms to him:
“Why were you searching for me? I must be about
My Father’s business. Didn’t you know?”
Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus Why I Love You, O Mary! (PN 54), Stanzas 13-14
The best thing to do is to put everything in the hands of God and await the outcome in peace and abandonment to His will.
I’m happy to see, my dear sister, that your little girl is your pride and joy. I, too, was so happy with my first child. To my eyes, there had never been a child like her. I hoped that it would go as easily for all the others. I was mistaken. What I’ll learn for another time is not to dream of lasting happiness, something quite impossible here below!
So, you can’t imagine how frightened I am of the future, about this little person that I’m expecting. It seems to me that the fate of the last two children will be his fate, and it’s a never-ending nightmare for me. I believe the dread is worse than the misfortune. When misfortunes come, I resign myself well enough, but the fear, for me, is torture. This morning, during Mass, I had such dark thoughts about this that I was very deeply moved. The best thing to do is to put everything in the hands of God and await the outcome in peace and abandonment to His will. That’s what I’m going to try very hard to do.
Saint Zélie Guérin Martin Letter CF 45, excerpt to Madame Guérin (Céline Fournet Guérin) 28 February 1869
Marie Céline Martin was born on 28 April 1869, the seventh child of Saints Louis and Zélie Guérin Martin. Her two older brothers, Joseph Louis (20 September 1866 – 14 February 1867) and Joseph Jean-Baptiste (19 December 1867 – 24 August 1868) had both died in infancy. One can understand Saint Zélie’s emotions and admire her practice of heroic faith despite her fear.
Read more correspondence from the family and friends of Saint Thérèse here
Dear Céline, you who used to ask me so many questions when we were little, I wonder how it happened that you had never asked me this question: “Why did God not create me an angel?” Ah, Céline, I shall tell you what I think. If Jesus did not create you an angel in heaven, it is because He wants you to be an angel on earth; yes, Jesus wants to have His heavenly court here below just as up above! He wants angel-martyrs, He wants angel-apostles, and He has created an unknown little flower, who is named Céline, with this intention in mind. He wills that His little flower save souls for Him; for this, He wills only one thing: that His flower look at Him while suffering her martyrdom. …
Oh! Céline, let us love Jesus to infinity, and from our two hearts let us make only one so that it may be greater in love!…
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux Letter 127 (excerpt) to her sister, Céline Martin 26 April 1891
NDLR: The original French text, il a créé une petite fleur ignorée qui se nomme Céline, is clearly a reference to the close relationship between Thérèse who referred to herself as une petite fleure blanche (literally, little flower white), and to her sister, to whom she ascribes here the title, une petite fleure ignorée (literally, little flower unknown). With all due respect to the Rev. Father John Clarke, O.C.D. for his monumental work as the U.S. translator of the letters of St. Thérèse, we think there was a missed opportunity to show this intimate relationship in the rendering of the title in this translation. As you will see in the full text of the letter, Fr. Clarke elected to translate Céline’s title as a little unknown flower. We believe that the order of the adjectives could easily be interchanged and the fullness of the relationship between the two little flowers would be more apparent and better appreciated by the reader. We have indicated this above by editing his translation: “unknown little flower”. As we are the first to admit, traduire c’est trahir (the translator is a traitor).
Comme la veille toute la famille se trouva réunie pour entendre la Ste Messe et y communier. Aussitôt que Jésus fut descendu dans le coeur de mes parents chéris, je n’entendis autour de moi que des sanglots, il n’y eut que moi qui ne versai pas de larmes, mais je sentis mon coeur battre avec une telle violence qu’il me sembla impossible d’avancer lorsqu’on vint nous faire signe de venir à la porte conventuelle ; j’avançai cependant tout en me demandant si je n’allais pas mourir par la force des battements de mon coeur… Ah ! quel moment que celui-là ! Il faut y avoir passé pour savoir ce qu’il est…
Mon émotion ne se traduisit pas au dehors : après avoir embrassé tous les membres de ma famille chérie, je me mis à genoux devant mon incomparable Père, lui demandant sa bénédiction ; pour me la donner il se mit lui-même à genoux et me bénit en pleurant… C’était un spectacle qui devait faire sourire les anges que celui de ce vieillard présentant au Seigneur son enfant encore au printemps de la vie !…Quelques instants après, les portes de l’arche sainte se fermaient sur moi et là je recevais les embrassements des soeurs chéries qui m’avaient servi de mères et que j’allais désormais prendre pour modèles de mes actions… Enfin mes désirs étaient accomplis, mon âme ressentait une paix si douce et si profonde qu’il me serait impossible de l’exprimer et depuis 7 ans et demi cette paix intime est restée mon partage, elle ne m’a pas abandonnée au milieu des plus grandes épreuves.
From Marie Martin (Marie of the Sacred Heart) to her father, Saint Louis Martin 9th April 1888
What Céline tells us is worthy of you! Ah! What a remarkable father we have! He truly is unique… Also, I’m not surprised that God is taking all the children away from this incomparable father! He is too dear to his Heart for Him not to look upon him and his family with a very special love. How our dear mother must be smiling down upon you, she must be rejoicing to see her darling boat being so well directed by you towards Heaven.
O best of fathers, how accountable we would be if we didn’t become saints, and if we didn’t follow in the footsteps of your generosity… Ah! How Jesus will have to repay you a hundredfold for the lily barely in bloom, the lily, filled with freshness, that you are offering him today. Oh, your crown in heaven! Darling Father, how radiant and beautiful it will be. Ah! Pray that your diamond may not be too pale beside so many beauties.
I can’t continue any longer, my heart is too full of affection for you and is all yours.
Our Mother couldn’t help crying as she read Céline’s account. Ah! What a remarkable father you are!!
M. of the S. H.
O best of fathers, how accountable we would be if we didn’t become saints
N.B. — St. Thérèse entered the Carmel of Lisieux on the Feast of the Annunciation, which was deferred to Monday, April 9 in the year 1888 because March 25 was Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord. “Our Mother” refers to the prioress, Mother Marie de Gonzague. You can read a brief biographical sketch of Mother Marie here; as Sr. Geneviève (Céline) remarked at the end of her life to another younger member of the community, “But we loved her! But you would have loved her! Only…” she continued with an appropriate facial expression “she was feared as a storm is feared when you have no umbrella … “
Read an outstanding essay concerning Thérèse’s entry to the Carmel of Lisieux on April 9, written by St. Thérèse expert Maureen O’Riordan and illustrated with 19th-century photos, published on her blog Saint Therese of Lisieux: A Gateway.
The letter from Marie of the Sacred Heart to her father, Saint Louis Martin, all correspondence by family and friends, and other texts and sources concerning St. Thérèse are found on the official website of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux
As for me, I’m not confined to my bed, but I’m not doing well at all. I often have a fever, or, more accurately, I have a fever every day. I’m not suffering very much, but I have a constant headache and a general weakness. I have no more energy. I have no stamina for work, and I don’t have the heart for it. Sometimes I imagine that I’ll go away as gently as my little Hélène. I assure you that I barely care for my own life. Ever since I lost this child, I feel a burning desire to see her again. However, those that remain need me, and, because of them, I ask God to leave me on this earth a few more years.
Saint Zélie Martin
From the Saint to her sister-in-law, Madame Guérin (Céline Fournet Guérin) Letter CF 54, 27 March 1870
Read the entire letter on the website of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux
When an angel from Heaven bids you be the Mother
Of the God who is to reign for all eternity,
I see you prefer, O Mary, what a mystery!
The ineffable treasure of virginity.
O Immaculate Virgin, I understand how your soul
Is dearer to the Lord than his heavenly dwelling.
I understand how your soul, Humble and Sweet Valley,
Can contain Jesus, the Ocean of Love!…
Oh! I love you, Mary, saying you are the servant
Of the God whom you charm by your humility.
This hidden virtue makes you all-powerful.
It attracts the Holy Trinity into your heart.
Then the Spirit of Love covering you with his shadow,
The Son equal to the Father became incarnate in you,
There will be a great many of his sinner brothers,
Since he will be called: Jesus, your first-born!…
O beloved Mother, despite my littleness,
Like you I possess The All-Powerful within me.
But I don’t tremble in seeing my weakness:
The treasures of a mother belong to her child,
And I am your child, O my dearest Mother.
Aren’t your virtues and your love mine too?
So when the white Host comes into my heart,
Jesus, your Sweet Lamb, thinks he is resting in you!…
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
Why I Love You, O Mary! Stanzas 3, 4, and 5
See the complete text of the poem in English here and photos of St. Therese’s rough drafts, complete with corrections, here