Quote of the day: 30 September

The Yellow Notebook

30 September

Thursday, the day of her holy death


In the morning, I was with her during the Mass. She didn’t speak a word to me. She was exhausted, gasping for breath; her sufferings, I thought, were indescribable. One moment she joined her hands and looked at the statue of the Blessed Virgin.

“Oh! I prayed fervently to her! But it’s the agony, really, without any mixture of consolation.”

I spoke a few words of sympathy and affection and I added that she had edified me very much all through her illness:

“And you, the consolations you’ve given me! Ah! they are very great!”

 

Carnet Jaune 30sep97 page 263
The Yellow Notebook of Mother Agnès of Jesus, 30 September 1897, page 263. The words of Thérèse are written in black ink. View the complete image of pages 262 and 263 here.

 

All through the day, without a moment’s respite, she remained, we can say without any exaggeration, in veritable torments.

She appeared to be at the end of her strength and nevertheless, to our great surprise, she was able to move, to sit up in her bed.

“You see the strength that I have today! No, I’m not going to die! I still have strength for months, perhaps years!”

“And if God willed it, ” asked Mother Prioress, “would you accept it?”

She began to answer in her agony: “It would really have to be . . .”

But checking herself immediately, she said with a tone of sublime resignation, falling back on her pillows: “I really will it!”

I was able to gather these exclamations, but it is impossible to ex­press the tone in which they were said:

“I no longer believe in death for me. … I believe only in suf­fering. . . . Well, so much the better! . . .” “O my God! . . .” “I love God!”

“O good Blessed Virgin, come to my aid! ” “If this is the agony, what is death?! . . .”

“Ah! my God! . . . Yes, He is very good, I find Him very good. . . .” Looking at the statue of the Blessed Virgin: “Oh! you know I’m suffocating!”

 

Carnet Jaune 30sep97 page 264-5
The Yellow Notebook of Mother Agnès of Jesus, 30 September 1897, pages 264 and 265. The words of Thérèse are written in black ink. View the complete image of pages 264 and 265 here.

 

“God is going to aid you, poor little one, and it will soon be all over. “

“Yes, but when?”

“. . . My God, have pity on Your poor little child! Have pity on her!”

To Mother Prioress:

“O Mother, I assure you, the chalice is filled to the brim! …”

“But God is not going to abandon me, I’m sure. . . .”

“He has never abandoned me.”

“Yes, my God, everything that You will, but have pity on me!”

“Little sisters! little sisters! pray for me!”

“My God! my God! You who are so good!”

“Oh, yes, You are good! I know it. . . .”

After Vespers, Mother Prioress placed a picture of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on her knees. She looked at it for a moment and said, when Mother Prioress assured her she’d be soon caressing the Blessed Virgin and the Child Jesus:

“O Mother, present me quickly to the Blessed Virgin; I’m a baby who can’t stand anymore! . . . Prepare me for death.”

Mother Prioress told her that since she had always understood humility, her preparation was already made. She reflected a moment and spoke these words humbly:

“Yes, it seems to me I never sought anything but the truth; yes, I have understood humility of heart. . . . It seems to me I’m humble.”

 

Carnet Jaune 30sep97 page 266-7
The Yellow Notebook of Mother Agnès of Jesus, 30 September 1897, pages 266 and 267. The words of Thérèse are written in black ink. View the complete image of pages 266 and 267 here.

 

She repeated once more:

“All I wrote about my desires for suffering. Oh! it’s true just the same!”

“And I am not sorry for delivering myself up to Love.”

With insistence:

“Oh! no, I’m not sorry; on the contrary!”

A little later:

“Never would I have believed it was possible to suffer so much! never! never! I cannot explain this except by the ardent desires I have had to save souls.”

 

Carnet Jaune 30sep97 page 268 voir appendice
The Yellow Notebook of Mother Agnès of Jesus, 30 September 1897, page 268. The words of Thérèse are written in black ink, the words of Mother Agnès are written in red ink. View the complete image of pages 268 and 269 here.
Note the penciled annotation: “X voir appendice”. This refers to materials that were found later and appended to the yellow notebook. On 28 August 1940 Mother Agnès swore to the authenticity of these newly-discovered words of Thérèse.

 

 

Towards five o ‘clock, I was alone by her side. Her face changed all of a sudden; I understood it was her last agony.

When the community entered the infirmary, she welcomed all the Sisters with a sweet smile. She was holding her Crucifix and looking at it constantly.

For more than two hours, a terrible rattle tore her chest. Her face was blue, her hands purplish, her feet were cold, and she shook in all her members. Perspiration stood out in enormous drops on her forehead and rolled down her cheeks. Her difficulties in breathing were always increasing, and in order to breathe she made little in­voluntary cries.

All during this time, so full of agony for us, we heard through the window—it made me suffer very much—the twittering of robins, and other little birds, but this twittering was so strong, so close, and so prolonged! I prayed to God to make them keep silent; this concert pierced my heart, and I feared it would tire out our poor little Thérèse.

At one moment, her mouth seemed to be so dry that Sister Geneviève, thinking to relieve her, placed on her lips a little piece of ice. She accepted it, giving her a smile which I’ll never forget. It was like a last farewell.

At six o’clock, when the Angelus was ringing, she looked at the statue of the Blessed Virgin for a long time.

Finally, at a few minutes past seven, Mother Prioress dismissed the community, and she sighed:

“Mother! Isn’t this the agony! . . . Am I not going to die? . . .”

“Oh! I would not want to suffer for a shorter time!”

And looking at her Crucifix, the prioress replied: “Yes, my poor little one, it’s the agony, but God perhaps wills to prolong it for several hours. “

She answered with courage:

“Well . . . All right! . . . All right!”

“Oh! I love Him! …

“My God … I love you! . . .”

 

Carnet Jaune 30sep97 page 270
The Yellow Notebook of Mother Agnès of Jesus, 30 September 1897, page 270. The words of Thérèse are written in black ink. View the complete image of pages 270 and 271 here.

 

Suddenly, after having pronounced these words, she fell back, her head leaning to the right. Mother Prioress had the infirmary bell rung very quickly to call back the community.

“Open all the doors, ” she said at the same time. These words had something solemn about them, and made me think that in heaven God was saying them also to His angels.

The Sisters had time to kneel down around her bed, and they were witnesses to the ecstasy of the little, dying saint. Her face had regained the lily-white complexion it always had in full health; her eyes were fixed above, brilliant with peace and joy. She made certain beautiful movements with her head as though someone had divinely wounded her with an arrow of love, then had withdrawn the arrow to wound her again…

Sister Marie of the Eucharist approached with a candle to get a closer view of that sublime look. In the light of the candle, there didn’t appear any movement in her eyelids. This ecstasy lasted almost the space of a Credo, and then she gave her last breath.

After her death, she had a heavenly smile. She was ravishingly beautiful. She was holding her Crucifix so tightly that we had to force it from her hands to prepare her for burial. Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart and I performed this office, along with Sister Aimée of Jesus, and we noticed she didn’t seem any more than twelve or thirteen years old.

Her limbs were supple right up to her burial, on Monday, October 4, 1897.

Sr. Agnès of Jesus, r.c.i.

(unworthy Carmelite religious)

 

Carnet Jaune 30sep97 page 272
The Yellow Notebook of Mother Agnès of Jesus, 30 September 1897, page 272. The commentary of Mother Agnès is written in red ink. View the complete image of pages 272 and 273 here.

 


APPENDIX

Words
that I found
in my notes

30 September

 

… All my little desires have been fulfilled… Now this great one (to die of love) should be fulfilled!

In the afternoon:

Ah! I have such strength today!… I’ve got enough for months! And tomorrow, every day, it will still be worse!…

… Oh well! So much the better!

I can’t breathe, I can’t die!…

(Mother Agnès adds in the margin, “she never had oxygen, I believe that it wasn’t popular back then.”)

…I will never know how to die!. . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

Carnet Jaune 30sep97 page 280 oxygen
The Yellow Notebook of Mother Agnès of Jesus, 30 September 1897, page 281. The footnote of Mother Agnès concerning the fact that Thérèse never used oxygen is written in red ink. View the complete image of pages 280 and 281 here.

 

… Yes, my God!… Yes! . . . . . . . . . .

… I really want to keep suffering … ………….

Toward 5 o’clock, Mother Marie de Gonzague had the relics of Bl. Théophane and Mother Anne of Jesus brought down, that had been pinned to her curtain on the right-hand side. They brought them to her and she gave them a little caress.

 

Carnet Jaune 30sep97 page 289 remarque

 

Important point.

 

When my holy little Thérèse told me 16 July 1897: “You know all the secret places of my soul, you alone…” I am sure that, in her mind, she wasn’t excluding Sr. Marie of the Sacred Heart and Sr. Geneviève of the Holy Face from that complete knowledge of her soul. Sr. Marie of the Sacred Heart, to whom she owed the smile of the Blessed Virgin, and who prepared her for her First Communion, to whom we owe even more the marvelous response of her goddaughter the 17th September 1896. Sr. Geneviève of the Holy Face, her Céline whom she sweetly called “the gentle echo of my soul.”

But she was inspired by the good God to say this to me in a very particular way so that later, because of the authority that would be given to me, one might rely entirely upon that which I would say and write about her.

Sr. Agnès of Jesus, c.d.i.

(unworthy Discalced Carmelite nun)

28 August 1940

 

Carnet Jaune 30sep97 page 290 signature
The Yellow Notebook of Mother Agnès of Jesus, 30 September 1897, page 290. The conclusion of the Appendix added by Mother Agnès containing additional words of St. Thérèse, which Mother found later in her notes. View the complete image of page 290 here.

 


Note from the blogger . . .

We present for our readers an idea of what Mother Agnès’ yellow notebook actually looks like. Neither Father John Clarke’s translation of the Last Conversations that was published by ICS Publications in 1977 (print edition out of stock) nor the same translation that appears on the English pages of the Archives website for the Carmel of Lisieux include these images of the notebook. Only the French version of the website provides photographic images of Pauline Martin’s months of note-taking and bedside companionship.

On the English pages of the Archives website, the Yellow Notebook ends with Mother Agnès’ comment concerning the body remaining supple until 4 October. The Appendix is not included.

The entire Appendixwith photographic imagesis found only on the French version of the Archives website. The translation of the Appendix for 30 September is our own. Thus, we encourage our readers to explore the links in the caption of each photo to see the complete pages of Mother’s Yellow Notebook, or to view the images for the entire month of September here. For further, in-depth analysis of St. Thérèse’s last conversations with her family and community at her bedside, as well as Mother Agnès’ record-keeping in her notebook, you can read an English translation of historian Claude Langlois’ commentary and analysis here. It is subdivided into 16 sections; click next at the bottom of each page or navigate back to the top of his analysis.

sainte petite Thérèse, pray for us!

de l'Enfant Jésus, T 1977, St. Thérèse of Lisieux: Her Last Conversations, translated from the French by Clarke, J, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

The English translation of the Appendix is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission and proper attribution.

 

Quote of the day: 20 September

Map_of_Spain,_1685__(another_view)
Map of Spain by Alain Manesson Mallet, Paris, 1683
View more maps in his collection, Description de l’Univers

 

From the Autobiography of Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew

Third Book, Chapter 1

Deputation Sent From France

 

Some years before our departure for France, M. de Bretigny made a journey to Spain. He begged most earnestly of the Superiors of the Order permission to take some Spanish Carmelites to France; but he could not then succeed in his design.

Not having been able to get the Carmelites, he took home the writings of the Saint and had them translated into French. As in these works there is so much said in favor of France, the French servants of God who had devotion to our holy Foundress loved her more and more, and took new courage.

In several cities they gathered together some very virtuous high-born ladies to initiate them little by little into the spirit of this new Order. These reunions once well established, they asked permission of the king to found a monastery in Paris, desiring for this purpose to have Spanish Carmelites brought there; but in case the Carmelites were not willing, their plan was to have our Constitutions brought from Spain and be taught to these young ladies whom they had gathered together, with the intention of giving them the habit and making them daughters of the Order of our Holy Mother, St. Teresa.

 

NATTIER_Jean-Marc_Madame Louise de France
Madame Louise-Marie of France (1737-1787)
Jean-Marc Nattier (French, 1685-1766)
Oil on canvas, 1748
Venerable Thérèse of Saint-Augustine, better known as Madame Louise, like the French novices who helped to found the Teresian Carmel in France, was “a very virtuous high-born” lady. The youngest of the ten children of King Louis XV and Maria Leszczyńska, she entered the Carmel of Saint-Denis (now a museum) in 1770. The martyred prioress of the Carmel of Compiègne, Blessed Thérèse of Saint-Augustine, was named for Madame Louise. | Palais de Versailles / Wikimedia Commons, Joconde

 

This first foundation having been arranged, the servant of God whom I mentioned above, M. de Bretigny, returned to Spain, bringing with him three noble French ladies. They intended, if their enterprise was successful, to take Spanish religious with them to France. Besides, during their stay in Spain, they were to learn the language of the country.

Messrs. Rene Gauthier and de Berulle also went to Spain, not without meeting great dangers at sea, as they themselves narrated. For our Lord tried their courage in every way and on all sorts of occasions. But they were so faithful to God and so firm in their design, that nothing terrified them.

They were several months in Spain without succeeding in obtaining religious from the Order. Seeing this, M. de Berulle and the others did their utmost and labored for a whole year before obtaining from the Superiors of the Order what they asked.

The deputation sent from France had to endure much labor and many affronts; this, because it was not known what great servants of God they were; for they certainly were such—their works and the zeal they showed for the glory of God proved their great fervor. But in order that their virtue might be more purified, God permitted that they should not be esteemed at their proper worth. Some said that they were heretics, and other things of a similar nature. They suffered with much patience and humility, and, persevering in this way, their enterprise was crowned with success.

At last our Father General, Francis of the Mother of God, came to Avila with several Fathers of the Order to arrange for our departure. We left on the morning of the Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist. [1604] Our Father General accompanied us a great part of the day. When he was obliged to leave us we begged his blessing. He gave it with an emotion that was shared by all the religious. In parting, both Fathers and daughters made a great sacrifice to God.

Two friars of our Order, great servants of God, two French priests, one of whom was M. de Berulle, and the other, M. Rene Gauthier, together with three Frenchmen on horseback, and several Spaniards, accompanied us on this journey. The three French ladies were alone in one carriage and the six religious in another. We were together in the inns.

 

Pierre de Bérulle LaRochelle
Cardinal Bérulle at the Foot of the Cross
Lagrenée the Younger (French, 1739-1821)
Oil on canvas, 1784
Saint-Sauveur Parish, La Rochelle (Charente-Maritime)

 

The French ladies taught us their language; it must be acknowledged we did not make great progress in it; we learned sufficient, however, to understand most of what was said to us. But we did not speak fluently; we could, with difficulty, say only a few sentences. Our Lord wished to humble us in this, and I think it was best for us, for by speaking little we did not give disedification. Every nation has its own customs.

Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew

“Every nation has its own customs,” wrote Blessed Anne. Truer words were never spoken. The influence of “Monsieur de Bérulle” upon the Carmelites in France grew and expanded as his authority expanded not only in the Church but also in government.

Considered by many as the founder of the French School of Spirituality, he collaborated with Blessed Marie of the Incarnation, better known as Madame Acarie, in the foundation of the first Discalced Carmelite monastery in Paris, the original destination of Blessed Anne and her traveling companions in 1604.

 

marieoftheincarnationblogfeatimage
Blessed Marie of the Incarnation, Madame Acarie

 

As a priest, Pierre de Bérulle was passionate in his ministry. Educated by the Jesuits, he had only been ordained five years earlier when he set out on his great adventure in Spain in the year 1604. In 1611, he undertakes another great project: the foundation of an Oratory in France similar to the Oratory founded by Philip Neri in Italy.

In the space of 18 years, Bérulle founded 40 Carmels and 60 houses for his Oratorians in France.

 As his fame spread in the Church in France, he naturally attracted the attention of the royal family, as well. In 1625, he became a personal chaplain to Queen Consort Henrietta Maria of France, the wife of England’s King Charles I.

In 1627, Pope Urban VIII insisted upon creating him a Cardinal. And his influence in affairs of state continued to develop when he was named head of the queen’s council, then councilor of state. Through all of this, Bérulle’s influence on the French Carmelites remained firm.

But there was dissension. The Servant of God Anne of Jesus, Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew’s companion in making the original foundation, believed that Bérulle was leaving an imprint upon the Carmels in France that decidedly was not in keeping with the Teresian ideal. Further, she desired for the nuns to be directed by Discalced Carmelite friars. Frustrated, in 1607, she accepted an offer from the Archduke of Belgium to transfer to Flanders, where she founded Carmels in Brussels, Louvain, and Mons.

 

Ana-de-Jesus_Teresa-de-Jesus_Ana-de-SBart
The holy foundresses: Anne of Jesus, Teresa of Avila, and Anne of Saint Bartholomew

 

Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew had moved from Paris to Pontoise where she was elected prioress (1605) and then assumed the same office in the Carmel of Tours (1608). But in 1611, she too was called to make the journey north. She left on 5 October, “the day following the anniversary of the death of the Saint.” She wrote that she “had no desire to go to Flanders,” but Anne of Jesus needed her in Mons, and she would go on to found the Carmel of Antwerp.

Meanwhile, in France, the spirituality of le Carmel Bérullien that so concerned Venerable Anne of Jesus continued to thrive without the Spanish foundresses. Cardinal de Bérulle died suddenly while he was celebrating Mass 2 October 1629, making the greatest ecclesiastical figure in France seem larger than life. His legacy did not fade.

Discalced Carmelite theologian François-Marie Léthel points out that the Bérullien influence is seen in the writings of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus. For example, Christocentrism is one of the hallmarks of his French School of spirituality. Father Léthel indicates that Thérèse refers to the name of Jesus twice as much as she mentions “God”: more precisely, she writes the name of Jesus more than 1600 times, but she only makes roughly 800 references to “God” (Léthel 2011).

Antoinette Guise Castelnuovo has carefully documented the history of the Bérullien crisis in the 20th century. In response to the promulgation of the new Code of Canon Law in 1917, all religious orders were obliged to revise their constitutions, including the Discalced Carmelites. In France, disorder reigned supreme; every Carmel’s superior was the local bishop, and none of the local superiors consulted with one another. Thus, the nuns of the Carmel of Clamartthe post-revolutionary re-foundation of the original Carmel of Paris in Faubourg Saint Jacquesundertook the task to issue a set of constitutions in 1924 that might unify the Discalced Carmelites of the so-called “French Observance”. Getting Vatican approval for their text was another matter completely. (Castelnuovo 2015)

Every other Discalced Carmelite monastery worldwide turned to the general curia of the Discalced Carmelite friars for their care and direction. In short order, the friars’ revised constitutions for the nuns were approved in 1926. In France, no word of approval had been received yet.

At this point, St. Thérèse’s own sister, Mother Agnès of Jesus—then the prioress in Lisieuxsaw an opportunity to restore a true Teresian spirit in France and make Venerable Anne of Jesus’ dream a reality, that the nuns in France might once again submit to the governance of the Discalced Carmelite friars in Rome.

 

Mutter_Agnes_von_Jesus
Mother Agnes of Jesus (Pauline Martin), photo circa 1900

 

Although Mother Agnès herself enjoyed an office that was hardly Teresian, having been named prioress-for-life by Pope Pius XI in 1923, she had gained a level of influence, unlike no other prioress, due to her tireless efforts to make Thérèse known, loved, and canonized. She set forth to use that influence to seek the imposition of the friars’ constitutions in France.

Castelnuovo describes the conflict between Mother Agnès and the Carmel of Clamart as degenerating from a struggle for influence into an all-out fratricidal war. Letters to the apostolic nuncio, the Sacred Congregation for Religious, even to the pope were flying fast and furious. Mother Agnès wrote in 1925 to the nuncio, Archbishop Cerretti, that she was confident that 12 to 15 monasteries would pass to the Teresian observance with Lisieux; she said the “Bérullien Carmels” who would stick with Clamart were blind.

In 1927, Mother Agnès sent a confidential report to the new nuncio, Archbishop Maglione, outlining why this or that Carmel—although desirous to adopt the friars’ constitutions—could not do so. In every case, although the nuns were in favor of the change, the superior (either the bishop or his delegate) prevented such a transition. Nevertheless, a handful of monasteries joined Lisieux and adopted the friars’ constitutions of 1926.

Sadly, Mother Agnès learned in 1931 that the prioress of the Carmel of Agen circulated a letter among her fellow prioresses in the circle of Bérullien Carmels, accusing those who followed the 1926 Constitutions like Lisieux of being “lax” and “mitigated”. In her historical study, Castelnuovo draws a distinct correlation at this point between the Lisieux-Clamart conflict in the 1920s and the constitutional crisis between the followers of Saint Maria Maravillas and the Discalced Carmelite friars in the 1980 and ’90s. The similarities are striking.

To resolve the conflict in France, the Sacred Congregation for Religious issued a decree on 20 September 1936 to impose the adoption worldwide of the 1926 Constitutions revised by the Discalced Carmelite friars’ general curia in Rome.

This was an unprecedented action that proved unsuccessful; the Bérullien Carmelites refused to accept the decree of the Sacred Congregation and continued to follow their French Observance.

Divine intervention finally came with the nomination of an apostolic visitator in 1948: the vicar general of the Discalced Carmelite friars who was himself a native of France, Blessed Marie-Eugène of the Child Jesus. It was a stroke of genius. Castelnuovo notes that  Bérulle in his day had placed great importance in the role of a visitator. St. Teresa, for her part, had great recourse to the visitators to save her reform.

 

 

Marie-Eugene-de-l'Enfant-Jesus
Blessed Marie-Eugène of the Child Jesus

 

Marie-Eugène was known and respected by all, thanks to his preaching during the canonization of Thérèse. Now, he had 130 Carmels to visit; he began in September 1948 and completed his visits in March 1951, delivering his report at the end of the month. In the meantime, Pope Pius XII published Sponsa Christi and an Instruction concerning the cloister.

No longer was there simply a matter of constitutional conformity in France to deal with; Blessed Marie-Eugène also realized that the Carmelites needed guidance in the implementation of Sponsa Christi, as well. He set to work as an invaluable courier between the Holy See and the nuns, helping the pope to safeguard the contemplative vocation and helping the nuns to broaden their horizons.

In a final, grand effort to assure that his hard work would not be wasted and that the new-found unity of the Discalced Carmelite nuns in France might be preserved, Blessed Marie-Eugène of the Child Jesus took the bold step of assisting the nuns to organize themselves into four federations according to geographic location. Two federations in the north, conforming to the friars’ Paris Province, and two federations in the south under the care of the Province of Avignon-Aquitaine were established, and Marie-Eugène himself was the assistant to all four federations.

 

Marie-Eugene-of-the-Infant-Jesus_with-2-nuns
Blessed Marie-Eugène of the Child Jesus, Apostolic Visitator

 


Sources

Anne of St. Bartholomew, M; Bouix, M 1917,  Autobiography of the Blessed Mother Anne of Saint Bartholomew, inseparable companion of Saint Teresa, and foundress of the Carmels of Pontoise, Tours and Antwerp, translated from the French by anonymous, H. S. Collins Printing Co., Saint Louis.

Guise Castelnuovo, A 2015, ‘Femmes en réseau et centralisation romaine : le gouvernement des carmélites de France au XXe siècle’, Les Carnets du LARHRA,  Gouverner l’Eglise au XXe siècle, pp.109-131, ffhalshs-01404512

Léthel, F-M 2011, La Lumière du Christ Dans le Coeur de l’Église: Jean-Paul II et la théologie des saints, Éditions Parole et Silence, Les Plans-sur-Bex.

 

Quote of the day: 8 September

From the Yellow Notebook of Mother Agnès of Jesus
September 8

A little robin came and landed on her bed.

Léonie sent her the little music box we have preserved, and the tunes were so sweet, even though they were popular music, that she listened to them with pleasure.

Finally, someone brought her a bouquet of wildflowers for the an­niversary of her Profession. Seeing herself so loaded with gifts, she wept with gratitude and said:

“It’s all God’s tenderness towards me: exteriorly, I’m loaded with gifts; interiorly, I’m always in my trial (of faith) . . . but also in peace.”

 

European Robin 8291616@N08 Flickr 6406283467_c6bfe20050_o
Robin Redbreast lives in Lancaster, England | carol / Flickr

Lisieux, 6 June 1944

Memories of June 1944

 

As I could do nothing about it, I did not get upset. If our whole monastery disappeared, its spirit would remain.

Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face, OCD
Céline Martin

 

14227565487_39a6bc2857_o
Lisieux after the June 1944 bombardments: Rue de Livarot (now Rue du Carmel) | PhotosNormandie / Flickr

 

I give it to You, do as You will with it … My God, I even sacrifice my nuns to You if You wish it … I must cry when I see our little Carmel; I love it so much.

Mother Agnès of Jesus, OCD
Pauline Martin

 


Immense gratitude to Martin family expert Maureen O’Riordan for her tireless efforts to research the events of June, July, and August 1944 as they affected the sisters of St. Thérèse and the Carmel of Lisieux. You can see the articles she has written concerning the battle for control of Lisieux here. We particularly recommend her blog post, The Carmelites of Lisieux in the Summer of 1944: 80 Days and 80 Nights in the Basilica of St. Therese. Written for the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Lisieux on 23 August 1944, it chronicles the events in great detail.

Martin family historian Father Stéphane-Joseph Piat, OFM notes in his book A Family of Saints: The Martins of Lisieux Saints Thérèse, Louis, and Zélie:

The dozens of bombardments that, between June 6 and August 22, 1944, rained down a hurricane of iron and fire over the Normandy town have demolished 2100 houses out of 2800, beaten to the ground two parish churches out of three, razed likewise the majority of the religious houses, and caused to perish, together with sixty religious, more than a tenth of the population. Historic Lisieux was nearly annihilated. Spiritual Lisieux remains standing.

May the powerhouse that is Spiritual Lisieux always remain a beacon of hope for peace: that God’s merciful love and the message of St. Thérèse’s infinite trust in his love may prevail in our hearts, in our homes, and in our world.

 

A Family of Saints: The Martins of Lisieux — Saints Thérèse, Louis, and Zélie
Piat, Stéphane-Joseph. Translated by a Benedictine of Stanbrook Abbey.
© 2016 by Ignatius Press, San Francisco

 

Marie du jour: 8 May

 

Why I Love You, O Mary!

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!
PN 54, Stanza 5

The Last Supper Preston-on-Stour
The Last Supper, detail from a window in Preston-on-Stour | Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P. / Flickr

On 8 May 1884, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux made her First Holy Communion; on that same day, her sister Pauline professed her Carmelite vows in the hands of the saintly foundress of the Carmel of Lisieux, Mother Geneviève of St Teresa.

Of that day Saint Thérèse wrote, “Ah! how sweet was that first kiss of Jesus! It was a kiss of love; I felt that I was loved, and I said: “I love You, and I give myself to You forever!” There were no demands made, no struggles, no sacrifices; for a long time now Jesus and poor little Thérèse looked at and understood each other. That day, it was no longer simply a look, it was a fusion; they were no longer two, Thérèse had vanished as a drop of water is lost in the immensity of the ocean. Jesus alone remained; He was the Master, the King.” (Ms A, 35r)

Later, Pauline (her religious name was Mother Agnès of Jesus) recalled: “At the end of the afternoon,” she says, “I saw my little Thérèse in the parlor, with her veil as white as my own. She gazed at me with so profound and gentle a look. What a moment for us both! I went out quite comforted, a little like the apostles when they descended from Mount Tabor: a heavenly atmosphere surrounded me. Oh, my God, if the sight of an earthly angel could so fortify me, what will it be to see in eternity the very fountain-head of goodness, from whence proceeds all the beauty of the saints!” (Circular letter, Carmelite death notice for Mother Agnès of Jesus)

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Mother Agnes of Jesus (Pauline Martin), photo circa 1900 | Photo: Carmel of Lisieux / Wikimedia Commons
Learn more about
Mother Agnès of Jesus here

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