Quote of the day: 8 October

Whoever has not begun the practice of prayer, I beg for the love of the Lord not to go without so great a good. There is nothing here to fear but only something to desire…

For mental prayer, in my opinion, is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.

Saint Teresa of Avila

The Book of Her Life, Chapter 8, No. 5

 

prayer market fruit colombia Cindy Muñoz Flickr 8518107982
A vendor pauses to pray in the market in Cali, Colombia | Cindy Muñoz / Flickr

 

Teresa of Avila, St. 1985, The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K; Rodriguez, O, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Quote of the day: 9 September

The Greatness of Our Vocation (excerpt)
St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

 

It seems to me that the soul that is aware of its greatness enters into the “holy freedom of the children of God” of which the Apostle speaks (Rom 8:21), that is, it transcends all things, including self.

The freest soul, I think, is the one most forgetful of self.

If anyone were to ask me the secret of happiness, I would say it is to no longer think of ourselves; well, love of God must be so strong that it extinguishes all our self-love.

 

Augustine writing De Civitate Dei British Museum AN00045163_001_l (2)
St Augustine writing; the city of God and the city of Satan; Abel and Cain; cutting from “Augustinus de Ciutate dei cum commento”, printed by Johannes von Amorbach, Basle. 1489-90 Woodcut
© The Trustees of the British Museum / Creative Commons License

 

St. Augustine says we have two cities within us, the city of God and the city of SELF (cf. De Civitate 14:28). To the extent that the first increases, the second will be destroyed.

A soul that lives by faith in God’s presence that has this “single eye” that Christ speaks of in the Gospel (Matt 6:22), that is, a purity of “intention” that seeks only God (Rusbrock l’Admirable 34); this soul, it seems to me, would also live in humility: it would recognize his gifts to it—for “humility is truth” (Interior Castle VI:10)—but it would attribute nothing to itself, referring all to God as the Blessed Virgin did.

 

white doves waikato new zealand peter_from_wellington flickr 16289388796_b778a4e0eb_o
Two white doves pause for a moment in the serene stillness of the Japanese Garden of Contemplation in Hamilton Gardens, New Zealand | Peter Kurdulija / Flickr

 

Catez, E 2014, I Have Found God: General Introduction, Major Spiritual Writings, translated from the French by Kane, A, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

 

Interior_Castle_1205 LIBRIVOX cover art

Listen to the LibriVox recording of The Interior Castle read by Ann Boulais below

12 July: Saint Louis Martin and Zelie Guerin

July 12
SAINT LOUIS MARTIN AND ZELIE GUERIN

Optional Memorial

Louis Martin was born in Bordeaux, on August 22, 1823. While he was master-watchmaker in Alençon, he met Marie Azelie (Zelie) Guerin, a lace maker, born in Gandelain (St-Denis-sur-Sarthon), on December 23, 1831. They were married on July 13, 1858,and had nine children, including the future Saint Therese of the Infant Jesus. Model spouses, devoted parents, workers, attentive to the poor, always nourishing a missionary spirit, they found their strength and hope in regular attendance at Holy Mass and in a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin. After a long illness Zelie died in Alençon on August 28, 1877. Louis, in retirement, went to Lisieux near his in-laws to ensure a better future for his five children (the other four having died in infancy). This patriarch of the family, after offering all his children to God, knew suffering and illness. He died near Evreux on July 29, 1894.

From the Common of Holy Men, with the psalms of the day.

Office of Readings

The Second Reading
(Zelie et Louis Martin, Correspondance Familiale [1863 – 1885].  Paris, 2004, L1, 72, 130, 81, 110, 147, 179, 204)

From the Letters of St. Zelie Martin

We must be willing to accept generously the will of the good God

My dear friend, I am really worried about you.  Every day my husband makes sad prophecies. He knows Paris and told me that you will be exposed to temptations that, because you are not pious enough, you will not be able to overcome.  He told me that he experienced them himself, and that he needed a lot of courage to come out victoriously from all the battles. If you only knew what trials he had to go through … I beg you, my dear Isidore (Zelie’s brother), to do as I did; pray, and you will not be carried away by the current.  If you succumb once you will be lost. On the road to perdition as on the road to salvation the first step is all important; afterwards you will be carried away by the current.

When I closed the eyes of my dear little children and buried them, I really felt the pain.  It is a pain to which I have always been resigned. I do not regret the pains and the anxieties I have had to endure on their account.  Many people have said to me: “It would have been better if you had never had them.” I cannot tolerate these words.  The pains and anxieties of this life cannot be compared to the eternal happiness of my children.  After all, they have not been lost forever, life is short and full of suffering, we shall find them in heaven.

Little Therese is always well and looks very healthy.  She is very intelligent and we have very amusing conversations.  She already knows how to pray to God. Every Sunday, she goes for some part of Vespers and if, by mistake, the family forgets to bring her there she cries uncontrollably.

My sister has spoken to me a great deal about your business… I told her not to break her neck because of this, that there is only one thing to do, pray to God, because neither she, nor I, can help you in any other way.  However, He, who is never embarrassed, will rescue us from all this when He sees that we have suffered enough, and then, you will recognize that your success is not due either to your ability or to your intelligence, but to God alone, as it happens with my lace making; this conviction is very beneficial, I have experienced it myself.  You know that we are all inclined to be proud and I notice often that those who have made their fortune are, for the most part, unbearably self-important. I am not saying that I would have been like this, nor you either, but we would have been somewhat tainted by pride; it is a fact that constant prosperity leads one away from God. He never led his chosen ones along this path, they had to pass first through the crucible of suffering in order to be purified.  You are going to say that I am preaching, but no matter I don’t wish to. I think of these things very often and I share them with you; now, call that a sermon if you like!

My dear children, I must go to Vespers to pray for the intention of our dear deceased relatives.  The day will come when you will do this for me, but I must make sure that I do not have so great a need of your prayers.  I would like to become a saint but this will not be easy; there is a lot of wood to burn but it is as hard as stone. It would have been better if I had begun earlier, when it was less difficult, but anyhow “it is better late than never.”

Today is then Wednesday, the feast of the Immaculate Conception which is a great feast for me!  On this day, the Blessed Virgin truly gave me many very special graces… This year, I will go again to find the Blessed Virgin early in the morning… my only prayer will be that those that she has given me will all be saints and that I shall not be too far behind, but they must be much better than me.

Doctor Notta is very sorry that they did not operate at the beginning, as by now it is too late.  However, he seems to be saying that I can go on for a very long time like this. But more than that we put ourselves in God’s hands, who knows better than us what we need, “it is He who wounds but also heals.”  I will go to Lourdes on the first pilgrimage, and I hope that the Blessed Virgin will heal me, if that is what is needed. Let’s remain calm while we wait.

Before leaving, I will assist at the first Mass here, arriving in Le Mans at nine o’clock, still in time to attend the High Mass, after that I will come for you… At the beginning, your father was not happy that I took all three of you, but he wishes it now, and says that we cannot make enough sacrifices to obtain so great a miracle.  Even if I do not obtain it, I will never regret taking you there. We must be willing to accept generously the will of God, whatever it is, because it will always be what is best for us.

Responsory

R/.  Be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
* So that you may be able to discover what is God’s will,
what is good, pleasing and perfect.
V/.  You must be renewed in mind and spirit, and put on the new man.
* So that you may be able to discover what is God’s will,
what is good, pleasing and perfect.

Prayer

O God,
who gave to Saint Louis and Marie Zelie
the grace to lead a life of holiness
as Christian spouses and parents,
grant that, through their intercession and example,
we may be able to love and serve you faithfully,
living worthily our own vocation.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

 


Discover more from the letters of Saints Louis Martin and Zélie Guérin on the website of the archives of the Carmel of Lisieux

 

Official-Vatican-Portrait
Saint Louis Martin and Zelie Guerin, banner for their canonization (courtesy Discalced Carmelites)

29 May: Blessed Elia of St. Clement

May 29
BLESSED ELIA OF SAINT CLEMENT
Virgin

Optional Memorial

Blessed Elia of St. Clement was born in Bari, 17th January 1901, to deeply Christian parents. At her baptism, she was given the name Theodora, gift of God. In the brief course of her life on earth, she lived up to her name. On 8th April 1920 (then Feast of St. Albert, author of the Carmelite Rule), she entered the Carmel of St. Joseph in Bari. She received the habit on 24th November of the same year, the feast of St John of the Cross. On 8th December 1924, she wrote in her own blood her act of total and definitive offering to the Lord with the vow to embrace the “most perfect”. She died on Christmas day 1927. On 19th December 2005, Pope Benedict XVI signed the Decree of Beatification. She was proclaimed Blessed in Bari Cathedral on 18th March 2006.

From the Common of Virgins

Office of Readings

Second Reading

From the Writings of Blessed Elia of Saint Clement
(Ed. O.C.D. 2001: pp. 282, 295, 322)

The desire to lose herself in God and her apostolic zeal

O sweet hiddenness, I love to pass my days in your shadow and to consume thus my existence, for love of my sweet Lord. At times, thinking of those eternal rewards, so great compared to the slight sacrifices of this life, my soul remains in wonder, and seized by an ardent longing, it throws itself on God, exclaiming: “Oh my good Jesus, I want to reach my goal, the gates of salvation, no matter what the cost. Do not deny me anything; give me suffering. May this be the most intimate martyrdom of my poor heart, hidden from every human glance: a rugged cross is what I ask of you. I want to pass my days here below hanging from this cross.”

When we suffer with Jesus, the suffering is delightful; I long to suffer with all my heart, beyond this I no longer want anything.

My Delight, who could ever separate me from You? Who could be capable of breaking these strong chains that keep my heart attached to yours? Perhaps the abandonment of creatures? It is precisely this that unites the soul to its Creator. Perhaps tribulations, suffering, crosses? It is in these thorns that the canticle of the soul that loves you is freest and lightest. Perhaps death? But this will be nothing other than the beginning of true happiness for the soul. Nothing, nothing can separate this soul from You, not even for a brief moment. It was created for You and is lost if it does not abandon itself to You.

My life is love: this sweet nectar surrounds me, this merciful love penetrates me, purifies me, renews me, and I feel it consuming me. The cry of my heart is: “Love of my God, my soul searches for You alone. My soul, suffer and be quiet; love and hope; offer yourself but hide your suffering behind a smile, and always move on. I want to spend my life in deep silence, in the depths of my heart, in order to listen to the gentle voice of my sweet Jesus.

“Souls, I will search for a way to cast you into the sea of Merciful Love: souls of sinners, but above all souls of priests and religious. To this end, my existence is slowly disappearing, consumed like the oil of a lamp that watches near the Tabernacle.”

I sense the vastness of my soul, its infinite greatness that the immensity of this world cannot contain: it was created to lose itself in You, my God, because you alone are great, infinite and thus You alone can make it completely happy.

RESPONSORY

R/. An unmarried woman, like a young girl, can devote herself to the Lord’s affairs.
* Her aim is to be dedicated to him in body as in spirit (alleluia).
V/. God is the strength of her heart, he is hers forever:
* Her aim is to be dedicated to him in body as in spirit (alleluia).

Morning Prayer

Canticle of Zechariah

Ant. O Lord, how gentle is your love! Lost in your embrace I shall be blessed forever (alleluia).

Prayer

O Lord,
who were pleased to accept the self-offering
of Blessed Elia of Saint Clement, virgin;
grant through her intercession,
that, sustained by the Eucharist
we may be able faithfully to do your will.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you,
and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

Evening Prayer

Canticle of Mary

Ant. Your love, O Lord, is like a fire consuming me in the ardent furnace of your Heart (alleluia).

 

Elia-di-San-Clemente
Blessed Elia of San Clemente (Teodora Fracasso, 1901-1927)

Quote of the Day: 21 March

God made the light of his Son, Jesus Christ, to shine admirably in her

Light of Christ for the whole Chilean Church, Sister Teresa of the Andes, Teresa of Jesus, is the Discalced Carmelite nun and the firstfruit of holiness of the Teresian Carmel of Latin America, who today is incorporated into the number of the Saints of the universal Church.

As we heard in the first reading from the book of Samuel, the figure of Teresa stands out not because of “his appearance or his great stature”. “The Lord sees not as man sees,” the scripture tells us; “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart”. For this reason, in her young life of just over 19 years, in her 11 months as a Carmelite, God made the light of his Son, Jesus Christ, to shine admirably in her, so that she serves as a beacon and guide with the radiance of the divine to a world that seems to have become blinded.

The life of Blessed Teresa cries quietly from the cloister:

“Sólo Dios basta — God alone is enough!

To a secularized society that lives with its back turned on God, this Chilean Carmelite, who with lively joy is presented as a model of the perennial youth of the Gospel, offers the limpid testimony of an existence that proclaims to the men and women of today that loving, adoring, and serving God are the greatness and joy, the freedom and the full realization of the human creature. The life of Blessed Teresa cries quietly from the cloister: “Sólo Dios basta — God alone is enough!”

And she especially cries out to young people, hungry for truth and in search of a light that gives meaning to their lives. To young people who are hounded by continuous messages and stimuli of an eroticized culture, and a society that confuses genuine love, which is giving, with the hedonistic use of the other person, this young virgin of the Andes today proclaims the beauty and bliss that emanate from pure hearts.

A Carmelite never forgets

In her tender love for Christ, Teresa finds the essence of the Christian message: to love, to suffer, to pray, and to serve. In her family, she learned to love God above all things. And in feeling herself to be the exclusive possession of her Creator, her love for her neighbor becomes even more intense and definitive. This is stated in one of her letters: “When I love, it is forever. A Carmelite never forgets. From her small cell, she accompanies the souls that she loved in the world.”

Her enkindled love leads Teresa to desire to suffer with Jesus and like Jesus: “To suffer and love, like the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” she tells us. She wants to be an immaculate host offered in continuous and silent sacrifice for sinners. “We are co-redeemers of the world,” she will say later, “and the redemption of souls is not accomplished without a cross.”

The Carmelite is the priest’s sister

The young Chilean saint was eminently a contemplative soul. For long hours at the tabernacle and before the cross that had a prominent place in her cell, she prays and worships, pleads and atones for the redemption of the world, animating the apostolate of missionaries with the power of the Spirit and, especially, that of priests. “The Carmelite,” she will tell us, “is the priest’s sister.”

However, being contemplative like Mary of Bethany does not exempt Teresa from serving like Martha. In a world where one shamelessly struggles to excel, to possess, and to dominate, she teaches us that happiness is in being the last and the servant of all, following the example of Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve and to give his life for the redemption of many.

We are co-redeemers of the world

Now, from eternity, Saint Teresa of the Andes continues interceding as an advocate for an endless number of brothers and sisters. She who found her heaven on earth espoused to Jesus, now contemplates him without veils or shadows, and from her immediate closeness, she intercedes for those who seek the light of Christ.

Saint John Paul II

Excerpts from his homily for the Mass of Canonization of Teresa of Jesus of the Andes and Claudine Thévenet
21 March 1993

TERESA ANDES - Santuario Auco Church IGsize
Perdóname | Santuario Santa Teresa de los Andes | Claudio Quezada Ibáñez / Flickr

See more photos from Claudio Quezada’s Flickr album from the Santuario here

Quote of the day: 7 February

The Child Jesus wants us to seek Him alone, in simplicity of spirit; and the Divine Simplicity banishes from our souls all folly and depravity. No amusement: neither in ourselves nor in creatures. Nothing but Jesus who is sought and served simply and in truth.

Venerable Margaret of the Blessed Sacrament
Conversations with Mother Elizabeth of the Trinity

 

Venerable Margaret of the Blessed Sacrament (Margaret Perigot, 7 February 1619 – 26 May 1648) was a professed Discalced Carmelite nun of the Carmel of Beaune, France. Orphaned in her early adolescence, her uncle, a priest, entrusted the devout child to the Discalced Carmelite nuns of Beaune. She had a particular devotion to the Infant Jesus, and soon discovered that He entrusted her with a special mission: to make him known as the Little King of Grace. Venerable Margaret died at age 20, but devotion to the Infant Jesus of Beaune and Venerable Margaret continues to this day.

 

Quote of the day: 13 January

The power of men is extended only to what concerns my body, but God alone has jurisdiction over my soul.

Blessed Sister St. Francis Xavier
(Elisabeth-Julie V
erolot)
To Quell the Terror, Chapter 10

Quote of the day: 4 January

O Jesus, my divine spouse! May I never lose the sec­ond robe of my Baptism! Take me before I can commit the slightest voluntary fault. May I never seek nor find anything but yourself alone.

St Therese of the Child Jesus
Prayer 2 — profession note

God Knows

God Knows
Minnie Louise Haskins

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness
and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light
and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God,
trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills
and the breaking of day in the lone East.

So heart be still:
What need our little life
Our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife
Of things both high and low,
God hideth His intention.

16157336677_874eb47660_o

God knows. His will
Is best. The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God. Our fears
Are premature; In Him,
All time hath full provision.

Then rest: until
God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When, as the sweeter features
Of Life’s stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise
God’s thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill.

Photo credits: 
Contemplation - Dartmoor, Devon | Jan Faborsky | Flickr
. | Senjiu | Flickr

Advent 2: Lever

A scholar has said: “Give me a lever and a fulcrum and I will lift the world.” What Archimedes was not able to obtain, for his request was not directed by God and was only made from a material viewpoint, the saints have obtained in all its fullness. The Almighty has given them as fulcrum: HIMSELF ALONE; as lever: PRAYER which burns with a fire of love. And it is in this way that they have lifted the world; it is in this way that the saints still militant lift it, and that, until the end of time, the saints to come will lift it.

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus

 

110721685_caa67c0f6f_o
“This spatula is a first class lever. The fulcrum is the point where the arm meets the flat part of the spatula. The resistance is on the flat part, and effort is applied at the point where my hand is. This lever is a first class lever which means it multiplies force and speed, but in this case, the spatula would just multiply force. Because the spatula just multiplies force, the mechanical advantage is greater than one.” | nerlich4

 

Un sabio decía: «Dadme una palanca, un punto de apoyo, y levantaré el mundo». Lo que Arquímedes no pudo lograr, porque su petición no se dirigía a Dios y porque la hacía desde un punto de vista material, los santos lo lograron en toda su plenitud. El Todopoderoso les dio un punto de apoyo: EL MISMO, EL SOLO; Y una palanca: LA ORACIÓN, que abrasa con fuego de amor. Y así levantaron el mundo. Y así lo siguen levantando los santos que aún militan en la tierra. Y así lo seguirán levantando hasta el fin del mundo los santos que vendrán.

Santa Teresa del Niño Jesús

The Story of a Soul: Manuscript C, folio numbers 36 recto and verso
Translated by Fr. John Clarke, O.C.D.
Archives du Carmel de Lisieux
Copyright © by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.

St. Edith Stein Novena – Day 6

SCRIPTURE READING
Mark 8:31-38

31 Then Jesus began to teach his disciples: “The Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law. He will be put to death, but three days later he will rise to life.” 32 He made this very clear to them. So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But Jesus turned around, looked at his disciples, and rebuked Peter. “Get away from me, Satan,” he said. “Your thoughts don’t come from God but from human nature!”

34 Then Jesus called the crowd and his disciples to him. “If any of you want to come with me,” he told them, “you must forget yourself, carry your cross, and follow me. 35 For if you want to save your own life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for me and for the gospel, you will save it. 36 Do you gain anything if you win the whole world but lose your life? Of course not! 37 There is nothing you can give to regain your life. 38 If you are ashamed of me and of my teaching in this godless and wicked day, then the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

MEDITATION
The Science of the Cross 1.I.(6)

Content of the Message of the Cross

We have considered by what ways John penetrated the message of the cross. The following sections wish to show how this message was incorporated into the doctrine and life of the saint. To do so, it is necessary to set the content of the message before our eyes—for the time being, in a brief outline. We set it down here exactly as we find it expressed by the master of the science of the cross: “‘How narrow is the gate and constricting the way that leads to life! And few there are who find it’ (Mt 7:14). We should particularly note the exaggeration and hyperbole conveyed by the word how in this passage. This is like saying: Indeed the gate is very narrow, narrower than you think. . . . This path on the high mount of perfection is narrow and steep, it can only be trodden by wanderers who carry no burden that could drag them downwards. . . .  Since in this, God alone is the goal that one should seek and gain, then only God ought to be sought and gained. . . . Our Lord, for our instruction and guidance along this road, imparted to us that wonderful teaching—I think it is possible to affirm that the more necessary the doctrine the less it is practiced by spiritual persons—. . . . ‘If anyone wishes to be my disciple let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life, will lose it but whoever loses it for my sake, will save it’ [Mk 8:34-35]. Oh, who can make this counsel of our Savior on self-denial understandable, practicable, and attractive! . . . Annihilation of all sweetness in God . . . dryness, distaste, and trial. . . . the pure spiritual cross and the nakedness of Christ’s poverty of spirit. . . . A genuine spirit seeks rather the distasteful in God than the delectable, leans more toward suffering than toward consolation, more toward going without everything for God than toward possession, and toward dryness and affliction than toward sweet consolation, for it knows that in this consists the following of Christ and self-denial, while the other is nothing further than seeking oneself in God . . . Seeking God in God [sic] means. . . for love of Christ, to choose all that is distasteful whether in God or in the world.”

PRAYER

Lord, God of our fathers,
you brought Saint Teresa Benedicta
to the fullness of the science of the cross
at the hour of her martyrdom.
Fill us with that same knowledge;
and, through her intercession,
allow us always to seek after you, the supreme truth,
and to remain faithful until death
to the covenant of love ratified in the blood of your Son
for the salvation of all men and women.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

EDITH - Annihilation of all sweetness in God

 

The Science of the Cross 
The Collected Works of Edith Stein, Vol. 6 
ICS Publications, Washington DC 
© Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.

Lady of the mystic mountain,
where the Lord has set His throne,
up its steep way to the Spirit,
none can walk save love alone.
Grant us grace to climb Mount Carmel
and to learn that love is loss.
Guide us still our ways outdistance
all earth’s treasures save the cross.

NDMC_Virgen del Carmen_enthroned with Christ

Novena to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin – Day 9

July 12
SAINT LOUIS MARTIN AND ZELIE GUERIN

Optional Memorial

Louis Martin was born in Bordeaux, on August 22, 1823. While he was master-watchmaker in Alençon, he met Marie Azelie (Zelie) Guerin, a lace maker, born in Gandelain (St-Denis-sur-Sarthon), on December 23, 1831. They were married on July 13, 1858,and had nine children, including the future Saint Therese of the Infant Jesus. Model spouses, devoted parents, workers, attentive to the poor, always nourishing a missionary spirit, they found their strength and hope in regular attendance at Holy Mass and in a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin. After a long illness Zelie died in Alençon on August 28, 1877. Louis, in retirement, went to Lisieux near his in-laws to ensure a better future for his five children (the other four having died in infancy). This patriarch of the family, after offering all his children to God, knew suffering and illness. He died near Evreux on July 29, 1894.

From the Common of Holy Men, with the psalms of the day.

Office of Readings

The Second Reading
(Zelie et Louis Martin, Correspondance Familiale [1863 – 1885].  Paris, 2004, L1, 72, 130, 81, 110, 147, 179, 204)

From the Letters of St. Zelie Martin

We must be willing to accept generously the will of the good God

My dear friend, I am really worried about you.  Every day my husband makes sad prophecies. He knows Paris and told me that you will be exposed to temptations that, because you are not pious enough, you will not be able to overcome.  He told me that he experienced them himself, and that he needed a lot of courage to come out victoriously from all the battles. If you only knew what trials he had to go through … I beg you, my dear Isidore (Zelie’s brother), to do as I did; pray, and you will not be carried away by the current.  If you succumb once you will be lost. On the road to perdition as on the road to salvation the first step is all important; afterwards you will be carried away by the current.

When I closed the eyes of my dear little children and buried them, I really felt the pain.  It is a pain to which I have always been resigned. I do not regret the pains and the anxieties I have had to endure on their account.  Many people have said to me: “It would have been better if you had never had them.” I cannot tolerate these words.  The pains and anxieties of this life cannot be compared to the eternal happiness of my children.  After all, they have not been lost forever, life is short and full of suffering, we shall find them in heaven.

Little Therese is always well and looks very healthy.  She is very intelligent and we have very amusing conversations.  She already knows how to pray to God. Every Sunday, she goes for some part of Vespers and if, by mistake, the family forgets to bring her there she cries uncontrollably.

My sister has spoken to me a great deal about your business… I told her not to break her neck because of this, that there is only one thing to do, pray to God, because neither she, nor I, can help you in any other way.  However, He, who is never embarrassed, will rescue us from all this when He sees that we have suffered enough, and then, you will recognize that your success is not due either to your ability or to your intelligence, but to God alone, as it happens with my lace making; this conviction is very beneficial, I have experienced it myself.  You know that we are all inclined to be proud and I notice often that those who have made their fortune are, for the most part, unbearably self-important. I am not saying that I would have been like this, nor you either, but we would have been somewhat tainted by pride; it is a fact that constant prosperity leads one away from God. He never led his chosen ones along this path, they had to pass first through the crucible of suffering in order to be purified.  You are going to say that I am preaching, but no matter I don’t wish to. I think of these things very often and I share them with you; now, call that a sermon if you like!

My dear children, I must go to Vespers to pray for the intention of our dear deceased relatives.  The day will come when you will do this for me, but I must make sure that I do not have so great a need of your prayers.  I would like to become a saint but this will not be easy; there is a lot of wood to burn but it is as hard as stone. It would have been better if I had begun earlier, when it was less difficult, but anyhow “it is better late than never.”

Today is then Wednesday, the feast of the Immaculate Conception which is a great feast for me!  On this day, the Blessed Virgin truly gave me many very special graces… This year, I will go again to find the Blessed Virgin early in the morning… my only prayer will be that those that she has given me will all be saints and that I shall not be too far behind, but they must be much better than me.

Doctor Notta is very sorry that they did not operate at the beginning, as by now it is too late.  However, he seems to be saying that I can go on for a very long time like this. But more than that we put ourselves in God’s hands, who knows better than us what we need, “it is He who wounds but also heals.”  I will go to Lourdes on the first pilgrimage, and I hope that the Blessed Virgin will heal me, if that is what is needed. Let’s remain calm while we wait.

Before leaving, I will assist at the first Mass here, arriving in Le Mans at nine o’clock, still in time to attend the High Mass, after that I will come for you… At the beginning, your father was not happy that I took all three of you, but he wishes it now, and says that we cannot make enough sacrifices to obtain so great a miracle.  Even if I do not obtain it, I will never regret taking you there. We must be willing to accept generously the will of God, whatever it is, because it will always be what is best for us.

Responsory

R/.  Be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
* So that you may be able to discover what is God’s will,
what is good, pleasing and perfect.
V/.  You must be renewed in mind and spirit, and put on the new man.
* So that you may be able to discover what is God’s will,
what is good, pleasing and perfect.

Prayer

O God,
who gave to Saint Louis and Marie Zelie
the grace to lead a life of holiness
as Christian spouses and parents,
grant that, through their intercession and example,
we may be able to love and serve you faithfully,
living worthily our own vocation.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Discover more from the letters of Saints Louis Martin and Zélie Guérin on the website of the archives of the Carmel of Lisieux

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