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.
November 1, 1896
. . . I thank you for treating me as a real sister. With the grace of Jesus I hope to make myself worthy of this title so dear to me . . .
Allow me to confide a secret to you that was just revealed to me by the sheet of paper on which are written the memorable dates of your life.
On September 8, 1890, your missionary vocation was saved by Mary, Queen of Apostles and Martyrs; on that same day, a little Carmelite because the spouse of the King of Heaven. Bidding an everlasting adieu to the world, she had one goal, to save souls, especially of apostles. From Jesus, her divine Spouse, she asked particularly for an apostolic soul; unable to be a priest, she wanted that in her place a priest may receive the graces of the Lord, that he have the same aspirations, the same desires as herself . . .
Brother, you know the unworthy Carmelite who offered this prayer. Do you not think, as I do, that our union confirmed on the day of your priestly ordination began on September 8th? I believed I would meet only in heaven the apostle, the brother, whom I had asked from Jesus; but this beloved Savior, raising a little the mysterious veil that hides the secrets of eternity, has seen fit to give me in this exile the consolation of knowing the brother of my soul, of waiting with him for the salvation of poor infidels.
Oh! how great is my gratitude when I consider the kind attention of Jesus! . . . What is He reserving for us in heaven if here below His love dispenses surprises so delightful?
More than ever, I understand that the smallest events of our life are conducted by God; He is the one who makes us desire and grants our desires . . . I did not know then that Our Lord Himself had chosen me, He who uses the weakest instruments to to work marvels! . . . I did not know that for six years I had a brother who was preparing himself to become a missionary; now that this brother is really His apostle, Jesus reveals it to me in order no doubt to increase in my soul the desire of loving Him and making him loved . . .
The night of Christmas 1886 was, it is true, decisive for my vocation, but to name it more clearly I must call it: the night of my conversion. On that blessed night, about which it is written that it sheds light even on the delights of God Himself, Jesus, who saw fit to make Himself a child out of love for me, saw fit to have me come forth from the swaddling clothes and imperfections of childhood. He transformed me in such a way that I no longer recognized myself. Without this change I would have had to remain for years in the world.
You promise me, Brother, to continue each morning to say at the altar, "My God, enkindle my sister with Your love." I am deeply grateful to you for this, and I have no difficulty in assuring you that your conditions are and always will be accepted. All I ask Jesus for myself, I ask also for you; when I offer my weak love to the Beloved, I allow myself to offer yours at the same time. Like Joshua, you are fighting on the plain, and I am your little Moses, and incessantly my heart is lifted to heaven to obtain the victory. Oh, Brother, how you would have to be pitied if Jesus Himself were not to hold up the arms of your Moses! . . . But with the help of the prayer you are making each day for me to the divine Prisoner of love, I hope you will never have to be pitied and that, after this life during which we shall have sown together in tears, we shall be joyful, carrying back our sheaves in our hands . . .