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)

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

Marie du jour: 5 May

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

Rogier_van_der_Weyden_-_The_Altar_of_Our_Lady_(Miraflores_Altar)_-_Google_Art_Project_(right_panel_without_frame)
The Marian Altar (Miraflores Altarpiece)
Right panel, the risen Christ appears to Our Lady
Rogier van der Weyden (Dutch, 1399/1400-1464)
Oil on oak panel, 1435
Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

 

Read more poetry by Saint Thérèse here

Quote of the day: 3 May

Pacelli in Lisieux posing in the cloister
Apostolic Nuncio Eugenio Pacelli makes an official visitation to the Carmel of Lisieux, 12 July 1937 | Photo: Regina.Pacelli / Facebook

PIUS XII
Apostolic Letter
Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus
Virgin, Carmelite of Lisieux
Secondary Patron of All of France

As the very noble French nation already, for several centuries, has had for principal patroness the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and for secondary patroness, Saint Joan of Arc, since her canonization, the bishops, by mutual agreement considered it opportune, especially in these times of distress, to arrange for the faithful of France to have another special intercession with God, that of the holy Carmelite of Lisieux who, so that the Catholic faith may always and firmly be preserved among her compatriots, has testified to her country a great love by commending it to God as much as possible…

Given at Rome, near St. Peter, under the ring of the Fisherman, the third day of May in the year 1944, the sixth of Our Pontificate.

Read the original text of the Apostolic Letter in Latin here

Read a French translation of the Apostolic Letter here

Learn more about Cardinal Pacelli’s 1937 visit to the Carmel here

 

Quote of the day: 28 April

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

Read the full text of Letter CF 45 here

Illustrated Songs and Hymns for the little ones
Image taken from page 35 of ‘Illustrated Songs and Hymns for the little ones. Compiled by T. B. S. [i.e. Thomas Bywater Smithies.]’
British Library HMNTS 11652.g.32.
London, [1874.]
Learn more about this image and this book here

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

Quote of the day: 26 April

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).

nature field flowers grass
Photo by Stokpic on Pexels.com

Quote of the day: 20 April

Zelie Guerin Martin Blogfeatimage
St. Zélie Guérin Martin before her death

April 20, 1873

Since Wednesday, there’s a noticeable improvement. Marie is no longer delirious. However, she still has a fever. She’s still eating nothing but broth. She’s very weak and sleeps a lot. We hope that soon her convalescence will start. I’m waiting for it very impatiently.

The wet nurse brought our little Thérèse today, who’s in good health and very strong.

I thought I wouldn’t have time to write you. I’m taking advantage of a moment of rest. I hope to hear from you soon, and I’ll write to you again as soon as Marie is a little better.

Saint Zélie Martin
Letter CF94 to her sister-in-law Céline Fournet Guérin

Normandy old rose
Antique rose growing in Normandy | leniners / Flickr

At the birth of St. Thérèse, her mother St. Zélie was unable to nurse the baby due to lifelong breast health problems. A wet nurse in the nearby farming village of Semallé had assisted Zélie in the past with feeding her babies. However, in January 1873 the wet nurse, Rose Taillé, had a newborn of her own and hesitated to make the trip from the farm to the town of Alençon. At the crack of dawn after Thérèse’s late-night birth, Zélie traveled to the farm and pleaded with Rose to come with her into town to feed Thérèse. Her persistence paid off: Rose Taillé, with her own baby in her arms, traveled to the Martin home with St. Zélie. After much drama — Rose solemnly pronounced that it was “too late” — Thérèse began to take nourishment. She spent roughly one year on the farm with Rose and her family in Semallé.

Learn more about her difficult birth and infancy from Discalced Carmelite Father James Geoghegan here. See photos from and learn about a 2013 pilgrimage to Alençon here. View a video of the farmhouse with an English explanation here. Discover more about St. Therese from expert and speaker Maureen O’Riordan here.

Explore the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux here.

St. Thérèse, son entrée au Carmel le 9 avril 1888

 

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.

Extraits du Manuscript A, folio 69 recto et verso
Archives du Carmel de Lisieux

 

Quote of the day: 9 April

Monday, 9 April 1888

Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord

Thérèse enters the Carmel of Lisieux

From Marie Martin (Marie of the Sacred Heart) to her father, Saint Louis Martin 
9th April 1888

Incomparable Father,

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.

 

Entrée aqua-entree-1
St. Thérèse crosses the threshold of the cloister, a later watercolor | Photo: Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux | Visit the Archives site to see the annotated sketch for this watercolor and all of the artworks associated with the life of St. Thérèse, her “Life in Pictures

 

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

St. Therese of Lisieux and the feast of the Annunciation | “Saint Therese of Lisieux: A Gateway” Blog

Annunciation_SOLARIO Andrea 1506_Louvre
The Annunciation, Andrea Solario (1506), Musée du Louvre, Paris

St. Therese especially loved the mystery of the Annunciation and celebrated it every year. At the first inquiry into Therese’s sanctity in 1910, her sister Celine testified:

She had a particular devotion for the mystery of the Incarnation, which she would observe devotedly every 25th March. She loved to contemplate…

Read more via March 25, 2019: St. Therese of Lisieux and the feast of the Annunciation – “Saint Therese of Lisieux: A Gateway” Blog – Saint Therese of Lisieux

Quote of the day: 25 March

Why I Love You, O Mary!

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

 

Pourquoi je t'aime O Marie
Date: May, 1897 | Written for: St. Thérèse herself, at the encouragement of Marie of the Sacred Heart. “I’ve always dreamed of writing a song to the Blessed Virgin to express everything that I think about her,” Thérèse confided to Céline. (Testimonies for the Diocesan Process of Beatification and Canonization, PO 667) | Photo: Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux

See the complete text of the poem in English here and photos of St. Therese’s rough drafts, complete with corrections, here

Quote of the day: 19 March

On March 19th, Saint Thérèse confides to her older sister, Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart:

“I just asked St. Joseph to obtain for me from God the grace of spending my Heaven doing good on earth.”

Her sister replied to her, “You don’t need to ask that of St. Joseph”

But she insisted, “Oh, but yes! I need him to support my request!”

Just days before, St. Thérèse made the novena of grace, an infallible novena to St. Francis Xavier. Thérèse made the novena, as she said to Marie of the Sacred Heart, to obtain the grace of “spending her heaven doing good on earth!”

As Sr. Marie of the Sacred Heart recalled, “she had just asked this of St. Francis Xavier, too, through the novena of grace.”

And, the young Carmelite doesn’t imagine that one day, along with St. Francis Xavier, she will be the co-patroness of the missions…

Learn more about March 1897 and the last year in the life of Saint Thérèse here.

 

 

THERESE - Marie Therese sacristines
In this detail of Photo 39 taken by Céline with her sisters and cousin in the sacristy courtyard at the Carmel of Lisieux, we see Marie and Thérèse showing the making of altar bread and the work of the sacristan. See the complete photo here. Photo dated November 1896, before the 14th. [Source: Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux]
THERESE - I hope that with perseverance IGsize
“You see I’m having trouble, but we get nowhere without some troubles, so I hope that with perseverance I’ll get there too.” (Excerpt from Cahier Scolaire No. 5)

Quote of the day: 13 March

“When I have a problem, I entrust it to her. I don’t ask her to solve it, only that she should hold it in her hands and help me. I almost always receive a rose as a sign.”

Pope Francis
Una rosa bianca da Santa Teresa
Avvenire, 24 March 2013

Pope Francis Red Roses
On the 13th March 2013, Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church. He is a great devoté of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and states that she often, almost always, sends him a rose as a sign that she is handling a problem when he asks for her help.

Quote of the day: 7 March

J.M.J.T.

June 1987

You have told me, my dear Mother, of your desire that I finish singing with you the Mercies of the Lord. I began this sweet song with your dear daughter, Agnes of Jesus, who was the mother entrusted by God with guiding me in the days of my childhood. It was with her that I had to sing of the graces granted to the Blessed Virgin’s little flower when she was in the springtime of her life. And it is with you that I am to sing of the happiness of this little flower now that the timid glimmerings of the dawn have given way to the burning heat of noon…

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
Story of a Soul, Manuscript C, Folio 1 recto

IMPRIMATUR_StoryOfASoul_trace-imprimatur-HA-par-Godefroid-Madeleine
Father Godefroid Madeleine went to meet Bishop Hugonin March 7th, 1898 shortly before his death in early May, to obtain an oral agreement for the permit to print the first edition of The Story of a Soul (imprimatur). Courtesy of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux, this is the written record of the meeting, via Father Madeleine. These are the several words in violet ink in the right side of the piece of paper, authenticated in 1909 by Mother Marie-Ange in pencil in the left section (which, however, was not entered until 1902…) To see the full image and description of the meeting, click here

Cèline’s first letter to Thérèse

From Céline to Thérèse – 3 January 1884

To my dear little Thérèse. Remembering 3 January 1884. Pray hard for me on the day of your first Communion. Your little sister Céline

Child of Mary


De Céline à Thérèse – 3 janvier 1884

A ma chère petite Thérèse. Souvenir du 3 janvier 1884. Prie bien pour moi le jour de ta première Communion. Ta petite soeur Céline

Enf. de Marie

See this letter and many more on the website of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux

Le Cantique de Céline
Le Cantique de Céline is the 18th poem (PN18) in the collected works of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Written 28 April 1895 at Céline’s request, St. Thérèse composed the poem for her sister’s birthday set to a melody that their father, St. Louis Martin, loved dearly.

Quote of the day: 25 February

On Wednesday, the 25th of February 1959, at 9:25 a.m. Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face died at the age of 89 years and 10 months, and 63 years of religious profession.

With her Sisters continually and prayerfully keeping watch by her bedside, she had a peaceful night, happy with the deliverance drawing nigh. At dawn, she was a bit restless, but without any suffering.

“It really is today,” said the Mother Prioress.

“Today!” she repeated, as if she was savoring her joy.

“Yes, you fight, it’s a hard fight! But you will have the victory because Jesus is with you.”

In a tone of triumph, a blurry look in her eyes, but extremely lucid, Sister Genevieve continued: “Jesus!”

That was her last word. She expressed the tenderness of her entire life.

Today! — Jesus!

Céline Martin
Sr. Geneviève of the Holy Face, OCD

Read the complete account of her final day on our post, Adieu Céline

Adieu Céline

The 24th of February is the anniversary of the profession of Céline Martin, Sr. Geneviève of the Holy Face, in 1896 and the vigil of her death in 1959. We have translated for our readers an extract from Céline’s biography on the website of the Carmel of Lisieux’s archives.

Céline Martin
Sr. Geneviève of the Holy Face, OCD

The Chaplain brought her Holy Communion. Since he had sent his best wishes for the occasion to her in a letter, she thanked him with a smile. She did not stop admiring two beautiful wreaths of flowers providentially offered to the monastery’s portresses on the day before.

In the morning, a choking crisis ensued, accompanied by a disturbing decline in blood pressure. In the doctor’s judgment, the danger was imminent. Despite her weakness and collapse, the dying nun completely retained her lucidity.

Later that afternoon, she asked the Sister who was treating her to come to over so that she could tell her: “I truly believe that this time, it’s the real thing. Oh ! What happiness!” As they were about to give her an injection, she said softly, “Why don’t you let the lamp go out slowly, since I’m not suffering and everything is peaceful?”

With her Sisters continually and prayerfully keeping watch by her bedside, she had a peaceful night, happy with the deliverance drawing nigh. At dawn, she was a bit restless, but without any suffering.

“It really is today,” said the Mother Prioress.

“Today!” she repeated, as if she was savoring her joy.

“Yes, you fight, it’s a hard fight! But you will have the victory because Jesus is with you.”

In a tone of triumph, a blurry look in her eyes, but extremely lucid, Sister Genevieve continued: “Jesus!”

That was her last word. She expressed the tenderness of her entire life.

Today! — Jesus!

There were light beads of perspiration on her forehead. Her face, however, remained peaceful, almost radiant. Around 9:00 a.m., the community recited the Act of Offering to Merciful Love. Communicating through signs, the patient showed that she was united to them in the prayer. As the doctor arrived, all the nuns withdrew.

It was then that, stopping suddenly, Sister Geneviève straightened up on her pillows, her eyes wide open and filled with light, staring up above in an attitude of sweet joy. The doctor, impressed, knelt down, then faded into the background, realizing that it was the end. The Community returned immediately and was able to contemplate this spectacle which lasted from eight to ten minutes.

There was in the dying nun a sort of majesty, a sovereign tranquility, where one could read in her face the certainty of the tender welcome that her Father would give her. The support remained firm, the head remained upright, even in death. Only the breath that went out imperceptibly, and a slight contraction of the throat, marked her passing.

It was Wednesday, the 25th of February 1959, at 9:25 a.m. Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face was eighty-nine years and ten months old.

Excerpted and translated from the French. To read the complete biography, click here


Discover more from Flaviane Montenegro on Instagram at @flavimontenegro

Quote of the day: 14 February

The patron saint of the missions is from your region. From Lisieux, Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face has radiated her missionary ardor in the world. Her spiritual teaching, of a luminous simplicity, continues to touch the faithful of all conditions and all cultures. It is right that we should ask her to help the Catholics of France to follow her way of holiness and to develop their solidarity with their brothers in Europe, Africa, and other parts of the world to share the gifts received from Christ, our salvation.

Saint John Paul II
Ad Limina address to bishops from western France
14 February 1992

Notre Dame de Quebec
Notre Dame de Québec | Photo: Charlyne

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