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From Fr. Pichon to Céline – June 20, 1894. Fragments.

From Fr. Pichon to Céline – June 20, 1894. Fragments. 

20th June 1894

(...)  So our beloved Patriarch is about to be taken from you. To weep would be overly selfish. How can we not rejoice for his happiness? He is reaching his reward. Jesus will put an end to his hard crucifixion. With such a radiant future, and wholly celestial perspectives, and after such a perfectly Christian life, it would only be cruel to retain the saintly Patriarch in this poor exile. Together with his family in heaven, we congratulate him for this blessed deliverance. Do you know what the Church calls the death of its faithful? It calls it a birth; it is their nativity into Heaven.

(...) It is you, dear child, who will feel the sacrifice most keenly. Your beautiful mission near your Saintly infirm father held many delights for you and you are going to be deprived of them, and now you will be left with a treasure of dear and unforgettable memories of which your sisters can be jealous.

(...)

[5r°] And now be angry with me, I consent to it. But my heart will find you very cruel and I will say to myself: If only my Céline knew!

Our future! Jesus is preparing it! He has been thinking about it since Calvary, since Bethlehem, oh, for all eternity. Why be restless and worry? Jesus will settle the matter. Whether it is the Carmel or Bethany, Jesus’ choice will be our preference. Have faith in his heart and his predilection.

Contemplative life is the most perfect life, you say. Who told you that? The Holy Doctors teach me the opposite, St. Thomas in particular. They proclaim that a mixed life (half contemplative, half active) is the most excellent. Is it not this life that the divine Model led in [5v°] all perfection?

My dear Bethany is growing and developing. Three postulants entered in May. More than twenty were refused. My daughters are eight in number. Since 27th April they have occupied a new residence which is spacious, very salubrious, with a garden all around it, and their works are going to gain new momentum. Over the last two years there have been over 60 abandoned young women and youths who, having past the age, have been given the benefit of first Communion, catechised, dressed from head to toe for the great day, and watched over to help them persevere.

They are currently preparing another twenty or so communicants. Without Bethany, almost all of them (49 out of 50) would stay like real pagans. We come across people who don’t know how to [6r°] make the sign of the cross. The majority of our protégés are fiddlers, newspaper sellers, bootblacks, and do the most raggedy and disinherited of jobs.

The volumes in my Library, of which there are already almost 900, circulate actively and do good to a great many souls. Have I already said that it is absolutely free. I hate it when good deeds are tarnished with questions of money.

Alas, St. Anthony hasn’t yet obtained your 20 F. Let us pray (to find good servants). Trust God.

Thank you for the postal order in favour of my Library.

Rejoice: Bethany shall neither be a boarding school, nor a hospital, but a completely different type of religious life, the most apostolic type that I can envisage for a woman.

Continue telling me about your likes and aversions in all simplicity. [6v°] I seek only the will of Our Lord and his pleasure, to the exclusion of all else.

Let Our Lord play Loser Takes All with you (at the Carmel, Sister Geneviève would choose the expression as a motto and put it under her coat of arms), drop his blood onto your lips, transforming it into milk, and have you follow a humanly inextricable path. May your heart renounce all anxious striving and all worry of the future. Long live filial surrender.

To tell you the truth, I don’t know whether Jesus will tip the balance towards the Carmel or towards Bethany. But I trust the Divine Heart’s goodness and wisdom.

Did I not tell you that my daughters will follow the rule of St. Ignatius to the letter and that I am by no means set on giving them a religious uniform. They will be a bit like francs-tireurs in an army. One of the characteristics of my Bethany is that from six o’clock in the evening to eight o’clock in the morning, it will be perfectly closed; it’s the contemplative life. From eight o’clock in the morning to six o’clock in the evening, it’s the battle field.

[6v°tv] I’m waiting for the photographs you promised: they will be very precious to me.

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