From sr Marie of the Eucharist to Isidore Guérin - July 17, 1896.


From sr Marie of the Eucharist to Isidore Guérin - July 17, 1896.

+ Jesus J.M.J.T. 17th July 96

Dear Father,

I see that I still have the time to write to you, and I’m taking advantage of it because I know how much you enjoy reading your little daughter’s handwriting. It may be very ugly, scribbled and illegible, but you will forgive me; you know that at the Carmel we are not equipped like princes, or kings, and that we only have our knees for a table (particularly at the beginning of their religious lives, Carmelites didn’t have tables but a writing-case. They wrote seated on a little bench, with the writing-case on their knees). The pen is sometimes bad, the ink muddy, but it is used until it’s dead. This is what your little daughter always does [lv°] and I think you will congratulate her, because she must learn to love poverty, as she is soon to make it a great vow.

I am very glad the doctors in Paris found there was nothing serious with your condition. There is only one Doctor who can heal you and that’s my divine Fiancé. He is infinitely better and abler than my brother-in-law. He can send illnesses to help us earn Heaven, but He can also heal them, and since human medicine knows little about this, it is further proof that this setback in your health comes [2r°] from no one but Him and can be healed by no one but Him, so I will pray hard to Him. He’ll know how to prove that he loves his little fiancée’s father.

I’m going to be obliged to squeeze my lines closer together because I have a little story to tell you which I think will really amuse you. I’ve kept it for you, so I can tell you it. It’s a story about Carmelites.

You know and can remember, dear darling Father, that on 14th July and other public holidays, small balloons used to be let loose before the big balloons to amuse the crowd, among others little men, puppets and others of different colours, about the size of a 9 or 10 year-old child. You can remember these little balloon men, can’t you?... It’s absolutely vital for my story… One of these little balloon men came and ran aground one 14th July in the inner courtyard of the Carmel. Mother Sub-Prioress (Sister Marie of the Angels, first launderer, at least during Thérèse’s noviciat) and other Sisters who were working in one of the rooms saw this little man descend into the inner court yard. Fear seized them, they turned pale and didn’t dare move…

They had never seen the like before… Finally [2v°]they decided to go outside with a broom wanting to slay the little man. But the more they hit the latter, the more he tried to fly away and, like a balloon, didn’t stay put and kept bowing to Mother Sub-Prioress who, seized with fear, shouted: “It’s the devil!... It’s the devil!... we must kill it!... we must kill it!...” Well the more they chased him, the more the little man followed Mother Sub-Prioress, bowing to her. He even mounted to the first floor terrace. This panicked everyone further, then he came down… and, still convinced it was the devil, another Sister went to fetch the holy water and sprinkler!!!... While Mother Sub-Prioress was chasing the little man, Mother Heart of Jesus (Miss Pichery) sprayed him and made the signs of the cross. All the while this little game was going on, and it went on a long time, the sprinkler produced the desired effect. At last, by dint of chasing the unfortunate balloon, they eventually burst it. Then Mother Sub-Prioress saw that her famous devil was simply a balloon. Everyone laughed hard, apparently, and for a very long time, its carcass was hung in a tree like a trophy and to scare away birds (Mother Agnès would recall this episode in the circular of Sister Marie of the Angels in 1924:

“One day she faced a very unusual battle of which Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus was a witness and which caused her to laugh until she cried. It was July 14th. One quiet afternoon, what a surprise it was in the reclusive Carmel to see a big human-shaped balloon looking like a frightful dwarf come down in the centre of the inner courtyard. It was dressed in a flesh-coloured costume that was so tight it appeared to be naked. A little deflated, it slid along the cloister archways. Sister Marie of the Angels was passing by and noticed it, thinking it was something from a spell…Driven by holy anger, she armed herself with a stick and struck it hard. But the hideous figure seemed to mock her and answered with deep bows and a calm smile that she deemed satanic. She cried, “Throw holy water on it!”

Shortly afterwards, someone rang at the Turn, asking whether the balloon that had escaped from the town square had come down in the Carmel. The doorkeeper coped with this as best she could, without lying or mentioning the theatrics that had just taken place!”)

I know, dear Father, that this [lr°tv] little story will greatly amuse you, I can see you all in fits of giggles from here; Francis is choking from it… I can tell you that this year I saw the balloon pass by the Carmel and I was as happy as a baby watching it. I was very pleased, even, to have seen this balloon. When in the Carmel one [lv°tv] enjoys everything, especially your little daughter whom it takes nothing to amuse and is always as happy as a lark, proving that she is very far from being unhappy.

I began writing to the parish priest of Navarre a week ago now and my letter still isn’t finished, I don’t know when it will be. I haven’t the time. We can only work for ourselves and write during the silences or on Sundays, and sometimes when I am really tired I’m lazy and sleep. So yesterday I didn’t even hear the clapper and I slept straight through from midday until 2 o’clock. Imagine my surprise when I woke up and saw it was so late!!!... I sleep like a dormouse. I now spend my hours of adoration before the Bl. Sacrament giving great nods of the head to God (the Bl. Sacrament was exposed in the choir throughout the octave of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Note that the Sisters sat on their heels, and that the choir was in semidarkness. This July was very hot, hence the general lethargy…). He doesn’t take offense, I offer them to Him as acts of humility. He knows I can’t help sleeping. Poor Jesus very often receives these kinds of adorations at the Carmel. It’s a question of who can nod the most. I will leave you now, and [2r°tv] I think it is high time to do so, by sending my dear little mother and you lots of love…

Your little daughter

Marie of the Eucharist


Big kiss to Léonie

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