Did you know that Marcel was the last of St. Therese's siblings to die? It's true - though he only survived her 4 sisters by a few months. The last of them to die was Celine, to whom we owe the gorgeous image of the Holy Face above (painted by her in prayer, following a copy of the Holy Face from the Shroud of Turin, which had just recently been photographed for the first time not long after Therese's death, and a copy of the negative image given to Celine).
Celine died on February 25, 1959, just two months shy of her 90th birthday. Marcel died July 10, 1959, just five months later (when he was 31). I don't know that Marcel knew that Celine was still alive until that late date, but he does speak in Conversations of Pauline (their second eldest sister) remaining on earth even at the time of his profession in 1946. He says to our Blessed Mother at (734), in regard to the graces he'll request on his profession day (which was only two days away):
"Incidentally, Mother, I will also ask for a grace for Pauline, the sister of my sister Therese. The other day I heard bearded Jesus say that Pauline is still alive. Yes, I will ask a special grace of little Jesus' choosing for her. I learned also that one of our Fathers had met her, that he had chatted with her, that she is now eighty-four years old, which makes her more than five times my age. She told this Father that she had a great desire to go to heaven quickly to join her little sister, but that her wish had not yet been granted.
"Mother, between your Pauline and your little Marcel, let us see which of the two will go to heaven first. Your Marcel is still young and very quick at running; he will certainly arrive close to you before your Pauline who is already elderly and without doubt walks very slowly. Yes, allow me to go up first, and then I will tell my sister Therese and little Jesus to bring your Pauline to paradise very quickly. Yes, Mother, that would be good. So, tell little Jesus to take me to heaven with you before Pauline, so that she can read what my sister Therese has taught me and see if it is correct. Mary, my Mother, I will certainly go to heaven before your Pauline. Tell little Jesus to take me to heaven first, and then I will help him to bring your Pauline. It is probable that, having suffered a great deal, she is now tired and can only walk with difficulty. Perhaps, also, little Jesus and my sister Therese are not capable of carrying her by themselves and they will have to wait until I am there to help them. Mother, tell little Jesus again to take me to heaven . . . .
"Oh! Pauline, Pauline, my sister, be patient a little while longer. When I rest on the heart of our divine Spouse, I will unite myself to little Jesus and to your little sister Therese of the Child Jesus, in order to lead you to our eternal Spouse."
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Well, how do you like that?
Not only did Pauline zip ahead of him into little Jesus' arms (she died July 28, 1952), but so did Celine!
Ah, but then they, with their sisters Marie (who had gone to Jesus on January 19, 1940, a month before she'd have turned 80) and Leonie (who had been a Visitation Sister for 41 years and was born into eternal life on June 16, 1941, aged 78), did not forget little Marcel!
In all fairness to our little brother, in his conversation with Mary, he did interject (after the business of his offer to help feeble, aged Pauline into heaven) "Ah! I forgot, the soul cannot get old, Mother." But he continues, "Whatever, it is absolutely necessary that little Jesus sees that your Marcel is in heaven first; then we will make your Pauline come up . . ."
Alas, His ways are not our ways,, and were not Marcel's in this matter of who gets to live in bliss forever first. As I mentioned, Marcel was the last of Therese's siblings to leave earth for Paradise, but how it delights me that Celine did not leave him in exile long. I almost hear Jesus explaining to Marcel, the minute they met Face to face: "But little brother, your sisters had been importuning me for so very, very long . . . it would have been unkind for me to make them wait longer so that you could enter first. Think of John and Peter at my Resurrection. It is only right and just that the younger, though he speeds to the site first, waits outside for the elder to enter."
I'm thinking of all this today because while to other people it is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, for us here at Miss Marcel's Musings it's also the anniversary of Celine's entrance into Carmel. Finally! She gave Therese quite a scare, considering, as she did, joining their spiritual director Fr. Pichon as a missionary in Canada. Poor Canada! I'm sorry you didn't win Celine for your soil, but the whole Church needed her in Lisieux where she could soak in Therese's teaching for three more years after her entrance into Carmel (until Therese flew the coop for heavenly shores). And then we needed her even more to spend her remaining 62 years toiling beside Mother Agnes (Pauline) on our little sister's behalf and sharing everything Therese with the rest of us!
Ah but in the light of this dark night - not even the light of eternity, but simply the light of the passing centuries - how time flies! It's already 124 years since, on this day in 1894, Celine entered Carmel at last.
Congratulations, Celine! Happy entrance day! Will you give Marcel a kiss for us? And your sisters, too, but with an especially big smacker to that littlest one who has charmed us so completely! Ah, but most especially, oh sweet echo of Therese's soul, caress our Mother Mary's cheek for us, and then tickle little Jesus in our names!
We don't dare pray that He take us sooner rather than later (or later rather than sooner). We've learned our lesson. If Marcel couldn't convince Him to hasten the hour of their union, how much less likely is it that we shall rush or delay Him?
Whatever, as Marcel would say. We're here for You, little Jesus, until such time as You whisk us There with You.
And meanwhile, we repeat our little prayer (which in our littleness is sometimes all we can manage, along with our little - and big! - frequent sighs and occasional glances of love . . .)
Draw me, sweet Jesus! And we shall all run together to You!
or in the phonetic accents of our sweet Martin sisters:
Ahn-train mwa! Noo koo-roe(n) ah tah sweet!
There now; we've made all heaven laugh. Isn't that a good day's work?
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P.S. I wrote this post in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament at my Friday holy hour. There at church, I witnessed a miracle (and don't even try, because you'll never guess)!
As I entered church and walked forward up the aisle, the carpet - all the way up to Jesus on the altar - was sparkling, as well it should. There was glitter everywhere! Not like on a craft table when the 5-year-olds are done, but like the angels had gotten into the place - subtle, but sparkling, sparkling, all the way to Him!
I just want to say for the record: I didn't do it! Oh, but I highly approve! And I pray that Our sweet Jesus and His angels, including the Martin sisters and our dear Marcel, send just such sparkling delight into your day too!
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