And now a word from Celine, aka Sister Genevieve.
Why a word from Celine? Because she wants to share with us the joy she felt on this very day in 1910! For once I had a few extra moments online, and decided to explore the archives of the Carmel of Lisieux. This letter caught my fancy, and next thing I knew, I noticed the date it was written - Today! So here is, from Celine, reason to rejoice. As she concludes: "My heart is full of emotion on this fine feast day, and at seeing that God is going to consecrate Thérèse’s “Little Way” through the intermediary of Holy Church. I’m pleased about this because from now on all souls will be able to discover the true and short way to reach God!"
Ah, how much more so now that Marcel is spreading Therese's Little Way too!
To Jesus, we say: Draw me, we will run!
And . . . thank You!
From Sr Genevieve (Celine) to Sr Francoise-Therese (Leonie) - March 27, 1910
+ Jesus 27th March 1910
O little Léonie, what lovely things happened during Lent! Firstly, you must have received “Shower of Roses”. Have you read the very last grace described? It’s amazing, don’t you think? What about Marie-Ange’s obituary circular? Only since this dearly beloved Sister (sister to all 4 of us) went to heaven has the Cause to which she devoted her life and her sufferings made so much progress.
You will no doubt be told about the sealed envelope that Mgr de Teil received from the Sacred Congregation of Rites to give to the Bishop of Bayeux. The letter requests the submitting of the writings of the Servant of God, Sr Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. Apparently, this procedure is very important and most unusual, because ordinarily, the Process of Writings isn’t held until after the Diocesan trial, which will begin soon, and because a request needs to be made to Rome before the Process of Writings can begin. So you can see how important this move by Rome is. We must thank God for this unique grace, because it’s wonderful that the initiative has come from the very top.
Thérèse is performing so many wonderful miracles that we receive news of them from all over. People call her “the illustrious miracle-worker”. Recently, a lovely article about her by François Veuillot appeared in “L’Univers”.
Mgr de Teil has finished the Articles for the trial and we’ll receive them soon. The Postulator told him to hold the trial presto. The witness interrogations will therefore begin soon. Mgr de Teil has told us that from now on, unless talking between us 4, we must call Thérèse “The Servant of God”, because that’s the name the Church has given her.
Now, little Léonie, I’m going to tell you a little about the letters in your possession that Thérèse wrote. His Lordship is shortly going to issue a letter that must be read from the pulpit on 3 consecutive Sundays, in which he will request the submitting of the Servant of God’s writings. We’ll be obliged to send either the originals or the exact copies to the bishopric. Mgr de Teil has told us not to give away our originals, but to make copies of them and to take the trouble of eliminating anything we don’t want to share, such as family secrets, private talk, etc. We are hurrying to rectify the hand-written letters before his Lordship calls for them. I’ve destroyed all the letters she wrote to Papa. As for yours, if there are terms in them such as “Baby” or other such expressions, cross them out and replace them with other words. Don’t have any scruples; we have every right to do this. Besides, before she died, Thérèse prophetically told me that she was entrusting the matter to us, and that everything we did, she would do through us.
Ask your Mothers for advice, but be quick because this work is very urgent. Reread everything she wrote to you. You mustn’t copy the spelling mistakes. You should even copy them out in notebooks, the thickness of which should correspond to the length of the text you’re copying. There’s no point in sending blank paper to the Sacred Congregation of Rites.
Now, little Léonie, I’m going to tell you that Jeanne has decided to get rid of everything she had at her house, including our red wardrobe. She has sent me a huge quantity of our belongings, such as old clothes, so tell me whether Thérèse ever wore your old shirts marked L.M. There are also 5 cotton shirts marked L.M. I think these were her postulant shirts; I can remember making them. Are they really hers? Let me know. Did she wear unmarked trousers and flounced skirts? She must have had some postulant clothes and given them back to me but I can’t remember.
Little Léonie, even if you’ve just written to us, send me a note as soon as you can and answer me, because we won’t know what to do with these clothes until you’ve replied. If you yourself have any clothes or other things at the Visitation that you know she used, gather them up, and recuperate anything that’s been put to another use, because we mustn’t let a single relic perish. We can’t have too many of them. We’ll send you some authenticating seals and you can class them as relics.
I hope your excellent Mothers will excuse me for talking to you as though you were mistress of the house. It’s easier for me to express myself this way and I know well that without them, you are unable to do anything. Give them a kiss from me, for I love them dearly, as I love you, darling little sister. My heart is full of emotion on this fine feast day, and at seeing that God is going to consecrate Thérèse’s “Little Way” through the intermediary of Holy Church. I’m pleased about this because from now on all souls will be able to discover the true and short way to reach God!
Your little sister
Geneviève of St Teresa
+ + +
I can't resist commenting that I hope any archivist reading this doesn't have a heart attack at the cavalier way Celine talks about destroying letters, editing them, etc. As for me, I'm delighted! When we find that certain letters by a Saint are lost to us seemingly forever, we can console ourselves that this is one more reason to get to Heaven - plenty of time to read all lost letters there!
But what I loved was how real this letter makes Celine, and how real it makes Therese. THE WHOLE POINT of Therese (and Marcel, and us) is that the Saints with a capital "S" were once just struggling mortals like we are! And to help them become canonized Saints, their relatives and friends had to get rid of some of the evidence.
Ha! No, just kidding! What really happens is that the Church is awesomely thorough and careful, but the family and friends in giving their loved ones to the Church are not thereby forced to reveal every sweet secret they shared (such as nicknames like Baby that, apparently, back in the day, were found a little embarrassing)!
But lest anyone is sad for the losses, let's note the gains. I LOVE how Celine says to Leonie, "We mustn’t let a single relic perish. We can’t have too many of them." She knew! Celine was the one who cut up into tiny pieces every bed linen, nightgown, handkerchief, and piece of random fabric, etc., that Therese had used. Millions of little pieces, and all were gone - sent out into the world as gifts that would connect those who hadn't known Therese when she walked the earth, so that they could know her now that she was fulfilling her promise to do good from Heaven - and more, to come down and do good among us still!
Keep your eyes open! Those relics are still floating about, treasured in families, but sometimes forgotten in old books. You never know when you'll find one! I once found a little holy card that had a third class relic attached to a miniature painting of Therese that looked like it was done by Celine. Where is it now? Well, since God is kind enough not to give me great sufferings, it went to someone who was, at the time, undergoing great sufferings! But then later, some Carmelite sisters sent me a beautiful tiny sachet (teeny tiny) with a couple of seed like things in it that were - I don't remember what they were! Somehow connected with Therese and I suspected a relic from the very old days (not that long ago! Just 109 years or so!)......this went with my older son to Russia where it was "lost" - as if Therese, patroness of Russia, could ever be lost in that country she so loves! No doubt she's doing more good there than ever before!
If you don't have a relic of Therese and even if you don't find one your whole life long (on this earth - in Heaven you can have HER!), don't worry, you have something better.....Marcel's Conversations! As Jesus told St. Gertrude the Great and Therese wrote at the beginning of one of her poems: His best relics are the words He left us . . . and what more wonderful words (after the Gospel words) are there than those He spoke to Marcel? I sure don't know of any!
So once again, we ask Him:
Draw me, we will run!
And let's not forget to thank Him too -
Thank you, Jesus, for Marcel, for Celine, for Leonie, for Therese, for relics, and especially for Your loving words!
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