"I will send from Heaven a shower of Roses."
Two letters from St. Thérèse written as she approached the time of her entrance into Heaven.
Taken from General Correspondence Volume Two Translated by John Clarke, O.C.D. Copyright (c) 1988 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, ICS Publications, 2131 Lincoln Road, N.E. Washington, D.C. 20002 U.S.A.
From Thérèse to Fr. Adolphe Roulland
Carmel of Lisieux, 14 July 1897
You tell me in your last letter (which pleased me very much): "I am a baby who is learning to talk."1 Well, I for the last five or six weeks, am a baby too, for I am living only on milk; but soon I shall sit down at the heavenly banquet, I shall quench my thirst at the waters of eternal life! When you receive this letter, no doubt I shall have left this earth. The Lord in His infinite mercy will have opened His kingdom to me, and I shall be able to draw from His treasures in order to grant them liberally to the souls who are dear to me. Believe, Brother, that your little sister will hold to her promises, and, her soul, freed from the weight of the mortal envelope, will joyfully fly toward the distant regions that you are evangelizing. Ah! Brother, I feel it, I shall be more useful to you in heaven than on earth, and it is with joy that I come to announce to you my coming entrance into that blessed city, sure that you will share my joy and will thank the Lord for giving me the means of helping you more effectively in your apostolic works.
I really count on not remaining inactive in heaven. My desire is to work still for the Church and for souls. I am asking God for this and I am certain He will answer me. Are not the angels continually occupied with us without their ever ceasing to see the divine Face and to lose themselves in the Ocean of Love without shores? Why would Jesus not allow me to imitate them?
Brother, you see that if I am leaving the field of battle already, it is not with the selfish desire of taking my rest. The thought of eternal beatitude hardly thrills my heart. For a long time, suffering has become my heaven here below, and I really have trouble in conceiving how I shall be able to acclimatize myself in a country where joy reigns without any admixture of sadness. Jesus will have to transform my soul and give it the capacity to rejoice, otherwise I shall not be able to put up with eternal delights.
What attracts me to the homeland of heaven is the Lord's call, the hope of loving Him finally as I have so much desired to love Him, and the thought that I shall be able to make Him loved by a multitude of souls who will bless Him eternally.
Brother, you will not have time to send me your messages for heaven, But I am guessing at them, and then you will only have to tell me them in a whisper, and I shall hear you, and I shall carry your messages faithfully to the Lord, to our Immaculate Mother, to the Angels, and to the Saints whom you love. I will ask the palm of martyrdom for you, and I shall be near you, holding your hand so that you may gather up this glorious palm without effort, and then with joy we shall fly together into the heavenly homeland, surrounded by all the souls who will be your conquest!
Au revoir, Brother; pray very much for your sister, pray for our Mother, whose sensitive and maternal heart has much difficulty in consenting to my departure. I count on you to console her.
I am your little sister for eternity,
Thérèse of the Child Jesus and
of the Holy Face
rel. carm. inc.
1. Fr. Adolphe Roulland was a newly ordained missionary in China. As a seminarian, he asked the superior of the Carmel of Lisieux, Mother Marie de Gonzague, that one of her nuns be associated with him in his mission, supporting his evangelizing work with prayer and penance. It was St. Thérèse who was assigned to this task, and thus she carried on correspondence with Fr. Rouland toward the end of her life. This is the last letter she wrote to him.
From Thérèse to M. and Mme. Guérin 1
Carmel of Lisieux, 16 July 1897
Dear Uncle and dear Aunt,
I am very happy to prove to you that your little Thérèse has not yet left the exile, for I know this will please you. However, it seems to me, dear Relatives, your joy will be greater still when, instead of reading a few lines written with a trembling hand, you will feel my soul near your own. Ah! I am certain God will allow me to pour out His favors lavishly upon you, my little sister Jeanne2 and her dear Francis.3I shall choose for them the most beautiful cherub of heaven, and I shall beg good Jesus to give him to Jeanne so that he may become "a great pontiff and a great saint." If I am not answered, it will really have to be because my dear little sister no longer has the desire to be a mother here below, but she will be able to rejoice at the thought that in heaven: "The Lord will give her the joy of seeing herself the mother of many children," as the Holy Spirit promised when singing by the mouth of the Prophet-King the words I have just written. These children would be the souls that her well-accepted sacrifice would bring to birth in the life of grace. But I really hope to obtain my cherub, that is to say a little soul who is her replica, for alas! not one cherub would be willing to be exiled even to receive the gentle caresses of a mother! . . .
I notice in my letter that never shall I have the space to say all I would like. I would like, dear Relatives, to speak to you in detail of my Holy Communion this morning which you made so touching or rather so triumphant by your bundle of flowers. I am allowing dear little Marie of the Eucharist4 to tell you all the details, and I want only to tell you that she sang, before Communion, a little couplet that I had composed for this morning. When Jesus was in my heart, she sang this couplet from Vivre d'Amour: "To die by love is a very sweet martyrdom." I cannot express to you how high and beautiful her voice was; she had promised me not to cry in order to please me, and my hopes were surpassed. Good Jesus must have heard and understood perfectly what I expect from Him, and it was exactly what I wanted!
My sisters, I know, have spoken to you about my cheerfulness. It is true that I am like a finch except when I have a fever; fortunately, it usually comes to visit me only at night during the hour when finches sleep, their heads hidden beneath their wings. I would not be so cheerful as I am if God were not showing me that the only joy on earth is to accomplish His will. One day, I believe I am at the door of heaven because of the puzzled look of M. de C.,5 and the next day he goes off very happy, saying: "Here you are on the road to recovery." What I think (the little milk baby) is that I shall not be cured, but that I could drag on for a long time still. A Dieu, dear Relatives, I shall speak to you only in heaven about my affection, as long as I shall drag on, my pencil will not be able to express it.
Your little daughter,
Thérèse of the Child Jesus
1. St. Thérèse's uncle and aunt on the side of her mother, who helped bring her up after Zélie's death.
2. The eldest daughter of the Guérins, cousin of St. Thérèse. Jeanne was childless, thus St. Thérèse's reference to a "cherub" -- a child for Jeanne.
3. Jeanne's husband.
4. Marie, cousin of St. Thérèse and the other daughter of the Guérins, who was a novice in the Carmel of Lisieux.
5. Dr. de Cornière, the doctor to the nuns of the Carmel of Lisieux.