From sr Marie of the Sacred Heart to sr Francoise-Therese (Leonie) – February 21, 1916

From sr Marie of the Sacred Heart to sr Francoise-Therese (Leonie) – February 21, 1916

+ Jesus                                                                                                         21st February 1916

Darling little sister,

So you thought I would wait until Easter before writing to you: Not a chance! I would never have the heart to let you go so long without news, because I know it would upset you. I only said I wouldn’t give you news of Francis unless there was any change. But there isn’t any really. His condition is still the same. He is paralysed on his right side and he can’t do anything for himself. It takes three to lift him. Jeanne was able to get hold of a military nurse, who comes several times a day I think. He can take a few steps from his bed to his armchair while being supported and that’s all.

We wonder whether he realises what condition he is in because he rarely speaks and we have been saying amongst ourselves that his mind must be a little paralysed too, but Jeanne tells us nothing. She thinks that, on the contrary, he has all his wits about him. We don’t think he does. Jeanne doesn’t leave the house and no longer comes to the visiting room, which means we have very little information.

That is what life is! Happiness doesn’t last long because life is a time of trials. The day will come when we have no more suffering or partings to fear. In the meantime we must show God that we love him in our trials and tribulations: that is what he expects from us.

Darling little sister, I see that you were pleased with the photographs. You can keep them all. Like you, we think that the little acorns in the form of an alcove around the top of the altar seem rococo. But they look very nice in reality apparently. The light oak with its subtle gilding, the matching soft dark-red, embroidered fringe, and the wall-hanging of the same colour opposite the fireplace, look really good. It’s true that we don’t like the fringe of pearls that dear Mrs. Grant hung on the fireplace very much, but we let her do more or less whatever she pleases you know, since we can’t always be behind her. We agree with you about the tapestry. Jeanne never wanted to let us put up the beautiful and tasteful tapestry we chose. Ah, what a lot of fuss they made over Alençon! We forgive them of course, but their conduct was less than satisfactory on this occasion.

Poor darling little sister, believe me, don’t regret not having the consolation of dying in our dear little Mother’s arms like little Marie. I am not like you; I find it would be devastating to die in the arms of someone we loved so much, knowing we are causing them such pain. What agony it must be to watch the increasing suffering of someone we love! I assure you that our little Mother suffered much more at the death of Mother Thérèse of the Eucharist than any of her own Sisters, because being more distanced from her, they couldn’t be upset by all the painful particulars that we had to confront on a daily basis.

Whatever the case, our time of exile is short, darling little sister. Soon, we shall all be reunited forever. I will be 65 years old tomorrow. I don’t have very many years left on earth. Ask Jesus that I may love him more and more. That is my only ambition. Sr. Geneviève is going on retreat this evening and I might go at the end of the week. All three of us shall write to you before Lent. Are we spoiling you enough?

Farewell little sister. I love you so much.                   Your eldest sister

                                                                         Sr. Marie of the Heart

                                                                           u. c. n.

We don’t know what has become of the girl who took her 1st Communion with you. We haven’t written to her sister again, but I don’t think she has been as fortunate as you…

I’m enclosing a copy of a letter that you’ll find interesting. You can keep it, but its contents mustn’t leave the Community. An elderly Italian or English lady gave a picture of our little Thérèse to an Italian fisherman. You remember the projection of the miraculous catch? Only we showed the lady as a young woman whereas she is actually 80 years old, which greatly amused us.

I was intending to cut this piece of paper into two. That’s why I’m finishing it in such a peculiar way. You must be wondering what the matter with me is… It is that I’m tempted to fill in the rest of the blank paper.

I can’t find your last letter anywhere, little sister. I don’t know whether I’ve replied to all your questions. I’ll probably find it again once this one is sent.

Remember me to your dear Mothers.