From Pauline to Louise Magdelaine - April 4, 1877

From Pauline to Louise Magdelaine. 4th April 1877.

Wednesday 4th April 1877.

Dear little Louise

I don’t want to break my promise although it seems a bit strange writing to someone I saw not two days ago (Pauline arrived on holiday on 2nd April and would not return to Le Mans until the 17th). However I admit I’d be most caught out if I had to sacrifice it. It is therefore with great pleasure that I come to talk to you for a bit. Dear little Louise I hope you will be glad, otherwise I will console myself by thinking that at least one of us was entertained and enjoyed it.

I will begin by saying that today is Wednesday, you see I’ve begun my letter really early, but I’m taking advantage of a good moment that might not occur again for the rest of the whole Holiday. Thérèse and Céline are in the garden [l v°], enjoying themselves blowing soap bubbles, Mama is occupied remonstrating Léonie; Marie went out this instant to go and work downstairs with Mother, Papa is at the Pavilion; finally I’m in complete solitude and I can hear nothing but my pen running on my paper. I’m going to be able, then to think of my dear Visitation at my leisure and to speak to my little Louise. Politeness dictates that I begin by making the customary compliments, I address you: “Hello, little Louise How are you? Is your toothache better? And Sister Louise de Gonzague (Sister Louise de G. Vétillart, headmistress of the boarding school) is she well? How peaceful things must be for her now. Is Sister Aloysia still suffering? If you see her, tell her I haven’t yet had time to forget her. Give a thousand good wishes to all my teachers.

[2 r°] Could I see you for a moment? Take a seat.

Do come closer than that, anyone would think you were afraid of me, though my face hasn’t changed I don’t think. Now that we’re sitting comfortably, let’s not waste any more time. How are you spending your days? I hope you’re seeing Sister Marie de Sales (Sister Marie-François de Sales) often. I want you to tell her that in a few years she will have a new novice, guess whom? Like Mrs. De Sévigné I’m going to give you 10, 30, and even one hundred guesses…. Marie? No…. Léonie? No…. Me, you, then who?... Any more… Well, this new postulant is, is, is… Miss… Thérèse Martin. There are the motives that will guide her. Yesterday evening, she made her confession to me, and it was enough to make me die laughing. “I will be a nun in a cloister because Céline wants to go there, [2v°] and, then, also, Pauline, I must teach people to read, you see? But I will not conduct class for them because this would bore me too much, Céline will do it. I will be Mother. I’ll walk all day in the cloister, and then I’ll go with Céline; we’ll play in the sand and with our dolls…” I quickly knocked down her “castles in the air”: “You think, then, dear Thérèse, that you’ll talk all day long; do you know you will have to keep silent?” “True… Ah! what a pity! I will say nothing….” “What will you do then?” “That’s no problem; I’ll pray to good Jesus, but how can I pray to Him without saying anything? I don’t know, and who will show me since I’ll be mother? Tell me!” I had a frightful desire to laugh. However I remained serious. She was gazing at me thoughtfully. Her little face had such a candid expression; all she was saying was [3 r°] coming from the bottom of her heart, so much so that it was impossible not to take any interest. Finally, after reflecting for a few moments, she fixed her big blue eyes on me, and smiling mischievously, she gesticulated with her little arms like a grown person, saying: “After all, mon petit Paulin, it’s not worth tormenting myself already, I’m too little, don’t you see, and when I’m big like you and Marie, I will be told what to do before entering the cloister….” “That’s it, dear baby,” I answered, covering her with kisses. “Now it’s late, let’s go to bed; I’ll undress you…. Spend a few more good nights before calling yourself Sister Marie Aolysia (this is the name she has chosen), you still have time to think it over.”

At that, both of us went upstairs, I put her to bed and, no longer remembering what she had told me, she fell asleep peacefully, thinking no more about it…. How I’d like this little angel not to grow up. A little soul who has (3v°) never offended God is so beautiful. So I very much love having my Thérèse close to me; it seems to me that with her no misfortune can befall me.

It’s thundering really loudly at the moment, it’s a bit frightening on my own, the wind is blowing violently. God, who has no reason to be pleased with me, could well have me die, but I don’t know why I’m not afraid of dying. I hope Our Lord will take pity on me, for after all, when I offend him, it’s not deliberate. I’m therefore happy to leave if that’s what he wants, but I’d wish to be told a quarter of an hour beforehand so that I could prepare myself so as not to stay for too long in the terrible place. Although if I found my Aunt there, I think that even the greatest suffering would seem sweet to me, but as she is in Paradise, and I wouldn’t find anybody I know I would prefer to force myself to do penance on earth or rather [4 r°] joyfully accept the little sufferings that God sends me. But I am so silly. These are fine words, in my mind and in my poor head I form a whole host of plans for becoming a saint, but wait a minute, clouds are covering Heaven which earlier was calm and serene, a shower falls and everything is flattened. That, Louise is the photograph of my soul, now compare it with yours and protect yourself if you can from feeling pride. I believe you are saying the novena with Sister Louise de Gonzague. What should I say about my practicing humility? I am doing the four practices to the Holy Trinity, but it is impossible for me to do the others, I haven’t the strength to go and make myself say rubbish. In another respect how do you expect me to humble myself when all day long from morning till night I’m being kissed, pampered, spoilt... The only words I hear are: “Ah, how wonderful it is to have Pauline here, how happy we are now! My little Pauline, come and talk to me for a while,” Mama says, “it will do me good. Oh, how happy I would be to always have you near me.” – And Marie “It’s my turn now, Pauline is coming with me into the garden.” And Thérèse, Célie… who hang around my neck to the extent that it gives me a headache. In the midst of all this, how do you expect me to find opportunities to practice humility, I simply can’t, and tell Sister Louise de Gonzague so. I hope the Bl. Virgin won’t hold it against me, but that doesn’t at all prevent me from feeling terribly upset about being so bad and for having such a holy aunt.

Farewell my dear little Louise, don‘t copy me, pray a little to [4v° tv] Our Lord for me, so that I might become good

Your friend

Pauline child of Mary

[3r°tv] I hope I am keeping my promises, what a journal this is... If it bores you don’t reply to me, I wrote to you to entertain and amuse you! I would be very happy if you replied but don’t put yourself to the least bit of trouble and whatever you do don’t give yourself a headache over me. This is my address: Miss P. Martin, 36 rue St Blaise, Alen­çon Orne.

[3 v° tv] Don’t forget dear little Louise to give Sister Louise de Gonzague my love, tell her that I’m sorry I didn’t come back like everybody else but that the whole household is against me and it’s impossible to fight it as I had hoped to. Mama and Marie are particularly implacable.

[4r°tv] Tell Sister Marie Aloysia that I’m MADLY upset about not being able to talk to her and for having arrived home silly. Give her my love with all your heart and summon all your tenderness to give much affection to her on my behalf. I’ve passed all your messages on to Marie who often thinks about her dear Teacher and doesn’t forget her when praying to God. She has tasked me to say the most amiable things I can find to her, and to Sister Louise de Gonzague and what’s more I can’t find any nice words to convey the feelings of others. My heart is quite full enough and even overflowing with my family. [1r° tv ] Mama absolutely wants to keep me for another week, I will come back a week on Monday, it’s really annoying but there’s no way of persuading her otherwise, she found I looked pale. My migraines are continual now. My headache doesn’t leave me, as it were, anymore. If God took me to his Paradise I would be only too happy, but I am not ready to go. I’d count myself lucky if St. Peter would open the door to me. I’ll only ask him one thing and that is to not turn the key in the lock so that I might glimpse God and my dear Aunt and those I love, they won’t see me, but what does it matter? They hardly take any notice of me.

[1v° ‑tv] Throughout my Holidays, I will have the consolation of carrying my dear Aunt’s Christ with me, I don’t leave it for a second and I think it is the greatest joy Mama has ever given me...

It’s exactly as if I was with Aunt, she follows me everywhere, and Our Lord. She and I are happy to spend this fortnight together, we often meet to talk about heavenly things, but it’s so wonderful I don’t understand any of it, well I’ve no need to understand after all, provided that I love the good Lord with all my heart, and that I serve him, isn’t that all I need to do?

[2r° tv] I task you, dear little Louise, to tell Our Mother that I often think of her. Mama and Marie were touched by her affectionate regards and by all the kindness she has shown to me. May God repay our good Mother for all this!

[2 v° tv] Thérèse is sending you a little letter, she’s thrilled with it and thinks herself quite learned.

Marie sends you a thousand kisses.

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