Wednesday, October 03, 2007



Yes, Our Lord has done all this for me. I might take each word of that striking passage and show how it has been completely realised in me, but the graces of which I have already told you are sufficient proof. So I will only speak now of the food with which my Divine Master abundantly provided me. For a long time I had nourished my spiritual life with the "fine flour" contained in the "Imitation of Christ". It was the only book which did me good, for I had not yet found the treasures hidden in the Holy Gospels. I always had it with me, to the amusement of my people at home. My aunt used often to open it, and make me repeat by heart the first chapter she chanced to light upon. Seeing my great thirst for knowledge, God was pleased, when I was fourteen, to add to the "fine flour," "honey" and "oil" in abundance. This "honey" and "oil" I found in the conferences of Father Arminjon on "The End of this World and the Mysteries of the World to Come". While reading this book my soul was flooded with a happiness quite supernatural. I experienced a foretaste of what God has prepared for those who love Him; and, seeing that eternal rewards are so much in excess of the petty sacrifices of this life, I yearned to love Our Lord, to love Him passionately, and to give Him countless proofs of affection while this was still in my power. Céline had become the most intimate sharer of my thoughts, especially since Christmas. Our Lord, Who wished to make us advance in virtue together, drew us to one another by ties stronger than blood. He made us sisters in spirit as well as in the flesh. The words of our Holy Father, St. John of the Cross, were realised in us:

Treading within Thy Footsteps
Young maidens lightly run upon the way.
From the spark's contact,
And the spicèd wine,
They give forth aspirations of a balm divine.

It was lightly indeed that we followed in the footsteps of Our Saviour. The burning sparks which He cast into our souls, the strong wine which He gave us to drink, made us lose sight of all earthly things, and we breathed forth sighs of love. Very sweet is the memory of our intercourse. Every evening we went up to our attic window together and gazed at the starry depths of the sky, and I think very precious graces were bestowed on us then. As the "Imitation" says: "God communicates Himself sometimes amid great light, at other times sweetly in signs and figures." Cf. Imit., (III ch 93:4). In this way He deigned to manifest Himself to our hearts; but how slight and transparent was the veil! Doubt was no longer possible; already Faith and Hope had given place to Love, which made us find Him whom we sought, even on this earth. When He found us alone "He gave us His kiss, and now no one may despise us" Cf. Cant. 8:1.These divine impressions could not but bear fruit. The practice of virtue gradually became sweet and natural to me. At first my looks betrayed the effort, but, little by little, self-sacrifice seemed to come more easily and without hesitation. Our Lord has said: "To everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall abound" Luke 19:26. Each grace faithfully received brought many others. He gave Himself to me in Holy Communion oftener than I should have dared to hope. I had made it my practice to go to Communion as often as my confessor allowed me, but never to ask for leave to go more frequently. Now, however, I should act differently, for I am convinced that a soul ought to disclose to her director the longing she has to receive her God. He does not come down from Heaven each day in order to remain in a golden ciborium, but to find another Heaven - the Heaven of our souls in which He takes such delight.

Our Lord, Who knew my desire, inspired my confessor to allow me to go to Communion several times a week, and this
permission, coming as it did straight from Him, filled me with joy. In those days I did not dare to speak of my inner feelings; the road which I trod was so direct, so clear, that I did not feel the need of any guide but Jesus. I compared directors to mirrors who faithfully reflect Our Saviour to the souls under their care, and I thought that in my case He did not use an intermediary but acted directly. When a gardener gives special attention to a fruit which he wishes to ripen early, he does so, not with a view to leaving it on the tree, but in order to place it on a well-spread table. Our Lord lavished His favours on His Little Flower in the same way. He wishes His Mercies to shine forth in me--He Who, while on earth, cried out in a transport of joy: "I bless Thee, O Father, because Thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them to little ones" Cf. Luke 10:21. And because I was small and frail, He bent down to me and instructed me sweetly in the secrets of His love. As St. John of the Cross says in his "Canticle of the Soul":

On that happy night
In secret I went forth, beheld by none,
And seeing naught;
Having no light nor guide
Excepting that which burned within my heart,

Which lit my way
More safely than the glare of noon-day sun
To where, expectant,
He waited for me Who doth know me well,
Where none appeared but He.

This place was Carmel, but before I could "sit down under His Shadow Whom I desired" Cant. 2:3. I had to pass through many trials. And yet the Divine Call was becoming so insistent that, had it been necessary for me to go through fire, I would have thrown myself into it to follow my Divine Master.

fragments form "The Story of a Soul (L'Histoire d'une Âme): The Autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux With Additional Writings and Sayings of St. Thérèse. Free download available from