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)

Quote of the day: 28 April

The best thing to do is to put everything in the hands of God and await the outcome in peace and abandonment to His will.

I’m happy to see, my dear sister, that your little girl is your pride and joy. I, too, was so happy with my first child. To my eyes, there had never been a child like her. I hoped that it would go as easily for all the others. I was mistaken. What I’ll learn for another time is not to dream of lasting happiness, something quite impossible here below!

So, you can’t imagine how frightened I am of the future, about this little person that I’m expecting. It seems to me that the fate of the last two children will be his fate, and it’s a never-ending nightmare for me. I believe the dread is worse than the misfortune. When misfortunes come, I resign myself well enough, but the fear, for me, is torture. This morning, during Mass, I had such dark thoughts about this that I was very deeply moved. The best thing to do is to put everything in the hands of God and await the outcome in peace and abandonment to His will. That’s what I’m going to try very hard to do.

Saint Zélie Guérin Martin
Letter CF 45, excerpt to Madame Guérin (Céline Fournet Guérin)
28 February 1869

Read the full text of Letter CF 45 here

Illustrated Songs and Hymns for the little ones
Image taken from page 35 of ‘Illustrated Songs and Hymns for the little ones. Compiled by T. B. S. [i.e. Thomas Bywater Smithies.]’
British Library HMNTS 11652.g.32.
London, [1874.]
Learn more about this image and this book here

Marie Céline Martin was born on 28 April 1869, the seventh child of Saints Louis and Zélie Guérin Martin. Her two older brothers, Joseph Louis (20 September 1866 – 14 February 1867) and Joseph Jean-Baptiste (19 December 1867 – 24 August 1868) had both died in infancy. One can understand Saint Zélie’s emotions and admire her practice of heroic faith despite her fear.


Read more correspondence from the family and friends of Saint Thérèse here

Quote of the day: 20 April

Zelie Guerin Martin Blogfeatimage
St. Zélie Guérin Martin before her death

April 20, 1873

Since Wednesday, there’s a noticeable improvement. Marie is no longer delirious. However, she still has a fever. She’s still eating nothing but broth. She’s very weak and sleeps a lot. We hope that soon her convalescence will start. I’m waiting for it very impatiently.

The wet nurse brought our little Thérèse today, who’s in good health and very strong.

I thought I wouldn’t have time to write you. I’m taking advantage of a moment of rest. I hope to hear from you soon, and I’ll write to you again as soon as Marie is a little better.

Saint Zélie Martin
Letter CF94 to her sister-in-law Céline Fournet Guérin

Normandy old rose
Antique rose growing in Normandy | leniners / Flickr

At the birth of St. Thérèse, her mother St. Zélie was unable to nurse the baby due to lifelong breast health problems. A wet nurse in the nearby farming village of Semallé had assisted Zélie in the past with feeding her babies. However, in January 1873 the wet nurse, Rose Taillé, had a newborn of her own and hesitated to make the trip from the farm to the town of Alençon. At the crack of dawn after Thérèse’s late-night birth, Zélie traveled to the farm and pleaded with Rose to come with her into town to feed Thérèse. Her persistence paid off: Rose Taillé, with her own baby in her arms, traveled to the Martin home with St. Zélie. After much drama — Rose solemnly pronounced that it was “too late” — Thérèse began to take nourishment. She spent roughly one year on the farm with Rose and her family in Semallé.

Learn more about her difficult birth and infancy from Discalced Carmelite Father James Geoghegan here. See photos from and learn about a 2013 pilgrimage to Alençon here. View a video of the farmhouse with an English explanation here. Discover more about St. Therese from expert and speaker Maureen O’Riordan here.

Explore the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux here.

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

Official-Vatican-Portrait

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