St. John of the Cross Novena — Day 4

The soul that walks in love neither tires others nor grows tired

Sayings of Light and Love, 97

 

SCRIPTURE

If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. If I have the gift of prophecy, understanding all the mysteries there are, and knowing everything, and if I have faith in all its fullness, to move mountains, but without love, then I am nothing at all. If I give away all that I possess, piece by piece, and if I even let them take my body to burn it, but am without love, it will do me no good whatever.

Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offense, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.

Love does not come to an end.

1 Corinthians 13:1-8

 

MEDITATION

“Love makes _____.”

How would you complete this sentence?

Our answers may give us clues as to how we understand love: God’s love, our love for God, and how love, in all its forms—filial, erotic, and caritative—is at work in our lives. In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul is talking about charity, or what some refer to as agape love (αγαπη).

And like a professor standing at a blackboard or whiteboard, Paul defines his term, including both what love is and what it is not. We can feel fairly certain that he is sketching some of the basic parameters of love… as St. John of the Cross might define it in his saying, an untiring love.

Now, nowhere in this passage of his first letter to the Corinthians is St. Paul scolding the Church for possessing a lack of love or a warped concept of love. The context of this chapter is an instruction on worship in the Corinthian church, and how any worship—no matter how glorious it may be—that lacks the spiritual gift of charity, i.e. love, is so much dust in the wind. Hence that famous verse that we so often hear at weddings: “Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away” (1 Cor 13:8)

It was in reading these chapters that St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus found her inspiration one day. “I opened the Epistles of St. Paul to find some kind of answer. Chapters 12 and 13 of the First Epistle to the Corinthians fell under my eyes… the Apostle explains how all the most PERFECT gifts are nothing without LOVE. That Charity is the EXCELLENT WAY that leads most surely to God” (Ms B, 3r-3v). Therefore, St. Paul urges the Corinthians, “make love your aim” (1 Cor 14:1).

St. John Paul II noted this inspired reading of First Corinthians in his 1997 Apostolic Letter Divini Amoris Scientia:

She discovered hidden treasures, appropriating words and episodes, sometimes with supernatural boldness, as when, in reading the texts of St Paul (cf. 1 Cor 12-13), she realized her vocation to love (cf. Ms B, 3r-3v). Enlightened by the revealed Word, Thérèse wrote brilliant pages on the unity between love of God and love of neighbor (cf. Ms C, 11v-19r).

St. Thérèse did not develop her mad love for God in a vacuum. Love was her aim from her youth, as she testified time and time again in her autobiographical manuscripts and letters. St. John Paul II explained the nature of her formation when he declared Thérèse to be a Doctor of the Universal Church:

Her doctrine, as was said, conforms to the Church’s teaching. From childhood, she was taught by her family to participate in prayer and liturgical worship. In preparation for her first Confession, first Communion and the sacrament of Confirmation, she gave evidence of an extraordinary love for the truths of the faith, and she learned the Catechism almost word for word (cf. Ms A, 37r-37v).

So what was this untiring love that St. Thérèse learned in her family? What did it look like? Who were her models?

When a Doctor of the Universal Church is born to a pair of Saints, one doesn’t have to look very far because ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.’ In fact, one particular letter from her mother, Saint Zélie Guérin Martin to her father, Saint Louis Martin, provides us with an example of the untiring love that was taught by example in the Martin family home. Written during the summer of 1873 after the birth of Thérèse, Zélie takes Pauline and Marie with her to visit her brother and the Guérin family in Lisieux. Can you read untiring, selfless love in these lines?

Lisieux, August 31, 1873

My dear Louis,

We arrived yesterday afternoon at four-thirty. My brother was waiting for us at the station and was delighted to see us. He and his wife are doing everything they can to entertain us. This evening, Sunday, there’s a beautiful reception in their home in our honor. Tomorrow, Monday, we’re going to Trouville. Tuesday there will be a big dinner at the home of Madame Maudelonde and, perhaps, a drive to the country house of Madame Fournet. The children are thrilled and if the weather were good, they’d be ecstatic.

As for me, I’m finding it hard to relax! None of that interests me! I’m absolutely like the fish you pull out of the water. They’re no longer in their element and they have to perish! This would have the same effect on me if I had to stay a lot longer. I feel uncomfortable, I’m out of sorts. This is affecting me physically, and it’s almost making me sick. However, I’m reasoning with myself and trying to gain the upper hand. I’m with you in spirit all day, and I say to myself, “Now he must be doing such and such a thing.”

I’m longing to be near you, my dear Louis. I love you with all my heart, and I feel my affection so much more when you’re not here with me. It would be impossible for me to live apart from you.

This morning I attended three Masses. I went to the one at six o’clock, made my thanksgiving and said my prayers during the seven o’clock Mass, and returned for the high Mass.

My brother is not unhappy with his business. It’s going well enough.

Tell Léonie and Céline that I kiss them tenderly and will bring them a souvenir from Lisieux.

I’ll try to write you tomorrow, if possible, but I don’t know what time we’ll return from Trouville. I’m hurrying because they’re waiting for me to go visiting. We return Wednesday evening at seven-thirty. How long that seems to me!

I kiss you with all my love. The little girls want me to tell you that they’re very happy to have come to Lisieux and they send you big hugs.

Zélie

(Family Correspondence CF 108)

 

NOVENA PRAYER

O St. John of the Cross
You were endowed by our Lord with the spirit of self-denial
and a love of the cross.
Obtain for us the grace to follow your example
that we may come to the eternal vision of the glory of God.

O Saint of Christ’s redeeming cross
the road of life is dark and long.
Teach us always to be resigned to God’s holy will
in all the circumstances of our lives
and grant us the special favor
which we now ask of you:

mention your request.

Above all, obtain for us the grace of final perseverance,
a holy and happy death and everlasting life with you
and all the saints in heaven.
Amen.

 

ancien eglise de Leucate Diocese de Carcasonne-Narbonne Joconde # 11W02069
Saint John of the Cross
17th c. French painting
Saints Pierre et Paul des Etangs (Leucate), Diocese of Carcasonne-Narbonne
Photo credit: Ministère de la Culture (France), Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine, diffusion RMN-GP

 

 

All Scripture references in this novena are found on the Bible Gateway website, with the exception of texts drawn from the 1968 Reader’s Edition of the Jerusalem Bible.

The novena prayer was composed from approved sources by Professor Michael Ogunu, a member of the Discalced Carmelite Secular Order in Nigeria.

The autobiographical manuscripts and family correspondence are found on the website of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux. The English version of the website appears here and the complete French version of the website is found here.

Quote of the day: 18 October

Ordinary Process

Beatification of Thérèse of the Child Jesus
Witness 3 — Marie of the Sacred Heart

 

Our parents were reputed to be extremely devout. Our mother fasted during Lent, without using the mitigations permitted. Every day my father and mother attended Mass at 5:30 am, because they said it was the poor people’s Mass. They took Communion frequently, more than once a week, which was quite exceptional for the time. In Lisieux, my father took Communion four or five times a week. My mother loathed society life and wanted nothing luxurious in the house. Reading the life of Madame Acarie (Bl. Marie of the Incarnation) one day, our mother said, “How fortunate she was to have given her three daughters to God!” Our mother had an extremely energetic and lively character, but was not harsh, with a very sensitive and very generous heart. Above all she showed great abnegation which meant she was self-forgetful and worked very arduously in order to have the means to give us a thorough Christian education. Also, in hardship, for example when my brothers and sisters died, she showed astonishing strength of character. Yet you can see from her letters that her heart was broken; but her faith helped her overcome everything. Our father’s dominant characteristic was great righteousness. He made it his duty to affirm his faith, even in front of unbelievers. When the priest brought the Holy Viaticum to our dying mother, he decided to accompany the Blessed Sacrament all the way to the church himself, holding a candle. He was very charitable and wholly devoted to his neighbor, never allowing ill to be spoken of anyone. His overall character gave an impression of goodness. He was also noted for his very pure life, which was reflected in his whole person. He was extremely careful to distance us from anything he considered to be a temptation.

 

Official-Vatican-Portrait
The official portrait for the canonization banner of Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, 18 October 2015 | Photo credit: Discalced Carmelites

 

 

Apostolic Process

Canonization of Thérèse of the Child Jesus
Witness 7 — Marie of the Sacred Heart

 

Our parents were models of every virtue; they attended Holy Mass every day, rising at 5 o’clock in the morning to do so. They would fast throughout Lent without slackening. They observed Sunday rest very faithfully. They would not have taken the liberty to arrange a trip on a Sunday, even a needful one. My father lost many sales opportunities because, unlike the other jewelers in town, he refused to open his shop on Sundays, even though his confessor left him free to do so.

My father had a generous character and placed human dignity above all else. He would never pass by a church without bowing, in whoever’s company he was. He would faithfully attend Night Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament every month, and when he moved to Lisieux, he obtained permission to establish the practice in the town. My father and mother had a deep faith, and to hear them talk together about heaven, though we were very young, we came to consider the things of the world as pure vanities.

My mother watched over the spiritual life of her children very carefully, and the smallest of faults would never go unchecked. She very much hoped to see signs of future sainthood in us. Referring to Thérèse, she said, “As for Thérèse, I do not yet know what she will be; she is so small! However, she has an intelligence that I haven’t seen in any of my children, and she always wears an angelic smile”.

My father and mother had a great devotion to the Bl. Virgin. That’s why they gave the name Mary to all their children, both boys and girls. Before he married, my father placed a statue of the Bl. Virgin on a path in his garden, and later it would become very dear to the whole family. It was this very statue that was in Thérèse’s childhood bedroom and which came to life and smiled at her when she was very sick. Praying at the foot of the same statue, my mother was granted very great favours. My parents were very helpful to the poor. When a servant happened to fall ill with rheumatoid arthritis, my mother treated her herself, day and night, for several weeks, not wishing to send her back to her parents because they were poor.

 


On 18 October 2015 Pope Francis canonized Marie Azélie Guérin and Louis Martin, the first spouses to be canonized as a married couple.  You can learn more about the astounding miracle that led to their canonization in the video below. You can view photos of the canonization Mass here. Blessed be God forever!

 

Quote of the day: 17 October

October 17, 1871

… I’m grief-stricken, my heart is as broken as when I lost my own children. I see you all in tears, next to your little loved one, who died under such distressing conditions [Paul Guérin was delivered stillborn on October 16, 1871]. And yet God has still granted you a great grace since he had time to be baptized. So, my dear friend, you have to have courage, and I don’t think you lack it. You have enough strength and faith to endure the afflictions of life.

I received your letter just as I was sitting down at the table with company because we had people over. I assure you, what I ate didn’t hurt me. I could eat nothing. My heart was so shattered, I couldn’t breathe. If I could only cry when I’m like this, but no, this relief is denied me. When I’m in great pain, I can’t cry.

I was supposed to be the godmother, and I was rejoicing so much over that! Well! It’s destined that all my celebrations turn out this way….

I don’t know why, but I had a vague premonition of some misfortune. Saturday night, on receiving the dress that I’d had made for the occasion, I said to myself, “I’m rejoicing too much, something terrible could very well happen.”

I wasn’t wrong. If the child had died after several days, I would feel less pain, but given the way things took place, I imagine that it was the doctor’s fault.

As you see, my dear friend, I’m giving you peculiar consolations, but I don’t know what I’m doing anymore. I can’t console you because I myself need to be consoled. When I saw our guests, during lunch, enjoying themselves as if nothing upsetting had happened, I felt a lot of bitterness. Don’t think, however, that Louis was one of them, because he was very sensitive to your pain and speaks of it constantly.

We’re going over in our minds all the suffering and all the troubles your poor wife has had to endure the last six months, and we’re bemoaning the sad ending. Yes, this is very hard. However, my dear friend, let’s not complain, God is the Master. For our own good, He may allow us to suffer a great deal, but never without His help and His grace.

Yesterday I received, at the same time, a letter from our aunt, Madame Frédéric Guérin, announcing the death of her husband (the brother of their father, Isidore, Sr.), who was struck down by a stroke last Tuesday. She invited us to the service that will take place on Thursday. She didn’t give me any detail. I don’t know if he had time to see a priest. This saddened me, but not nearly as much as the news you gave me.

If you can write once before I come to see you, you would make me happy. Tell me, above all, if the child was alive when he was baptized. The doctor should really have baptized him before his birth. When they see a child in danger, it’s always there that they should begin.

While waiting for a letter from you, I hug you with all my heart.

Saint Zélie Martin

Letter CF 71 to her brother Isidore Guérin

 

 

white lily flower
Photo by Trina Snow on Pexels.com

Léonie Martin—Sr. François-Thérèse, V.H.M.—was the seventh witness at the diocesan inquiry for the cause of beatification of her sister, Thérèse. In her response to the 21st question concerning the theological virtue of faith, she mentioned this incident… 


Her spirit of faith allowed her to see all things from a spiritual point of view. The letters she wrote to me spoke only of God and she only ever considered events from the point of view of faith. When our father died, she wrote (20th August 1894):

I am thinking more than ever about you ever since our dear Father went up to heaven… Papa’s death does not give me the impression of a death but of a real life. I am finding him once more after an absence of 6 years, I feel him around me, looking at me and protecting me. Dear little Sister, are we not more united now that we gaze on the heavens to find there a Father and a Mother who offered us to Jesus? … Soon their desires shall be accomplished, and all the children God gave them are going to be united to Him forever.

Saint Louis Martin died 29 July 1894

Read more from Léonie, Witness 7 at the Diocese of Lisieux Interrogatory

 

sea of clouds sunrise wallpaper
Photo by Rahul on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

Quote of the day: 12 July

We arrived yesterday afternoon at four-thirty. My brother was waiting for us at the station and was delighted to see us. He and his wife are doing everything they can to entertain us. This evening, Sunday, there’s a beautiful reception in their home in our honor….

As for me, I’m finding it hard to relax! None of that interests me! I’m absolutely like the fish you pull out of the water. They’re no longer in their element and they have to perish! This would have the same effect on me if I had to stay a lot longer. I feel uncomfortable, I’m out of sorts. This is affecting me physically, and it’s almost making me sick. However, I’m reasoning with myself and trying to gain the upper hand. I’m with you in spirit all day, and I say to myself, “Now he must be doing such and such a thing.”

I’m longing to be near you, my dear Louis. I love you with all my heart, and I feel my affection so much more when you’re not here with me. It would be impossible for me to live apart from you.

Saint Zélie Guérin Martin
Letter CF 108 to Saint Louis Martin (excerpt)
Lisieux, 31 August 1873

 

Louis-Zelie-Therese reliquary (2)
The relics of the Martin family saints: Louis, Thérèse, and Azélie | Tony Basilio / Flickr

 

Explore more of the correspondence of Louis Martin and Zélie Guerin here.

Quote of the day: 6 June

Lisieux 7th June 94.

Dear little Jeanne

I have come to bring you news of our sick, and it is quite satisfactory. Uncle is having great difficulty recovering from his last attack. His breathing is very heavy at times like someone out of breath, then there are two minutes when he has no air to breath at all. He has been looking very exhausted and despondent since his last attack, so his condition is still very precarious….

Your little sister

Marie

Marie Guérin
Sister Marie of the Eucharist (1870-1905)

 


On 5 June 1894, St. Louis Martin suffered the first of two serious heart attacks that ultimately led to his death on 29 July 1894 at 70 years of age. Read the account of his heart attack here and the rest of Marie’s letter here.

 

Sunset Tears
Sunset Tears | Nathalie / Flickr

 

 

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.

Quote of the day: 6 March

March 6, 1870

I received your last letter, and I promise I’ll put into practice all the good advice you gave me.

I’m even more inclined to constantly blame myself for my little Hélène’s death, but I never for a moment thought it would end like that. I’d seen Pauline and Léonie so gravely ill when they were little and then recover very well, that I was no longer afraid of childhood illnesses. But now it will be completely the opposite, and I’m afraid my fear will go too far as soon as I see the slightest thing.

You tell me to change doctors, but which one should I use? I tried Doctor P for Léonie, seeing that Monsieur D didn’t prescribe anything. He gave me a new prescription every day, and the more the child took his medicines, the worse she got. He had to give up on her. I tried the first doctor again who told me to stop all the medicines because the child was too young and there was nothing to be done, apart from not giving her food that’s too rich. I believe he was right. I also had such contradictory experiences with my second little boy. In the end, I have nothing to blame Doctor D for in my little girl’s illness. My dear friend, I’ll be crying for my little Hélène for the rest of my life!

Troyes_hospital-pharmacy-museum
Apothicairerie de l’Hôtel-Dieu-le-Comte (Troyes), présenté au musée de l’apothicairerie | G. Garitan / Wikimedia Commons

Now Léonie has had a problem with her eyes for almost two years. If you know a remedy for this, please let me know. God willing, it will be more effective than those I’ve tried so far! This poor child concerns me because she has an undisciplined character and a limited ability to understand.

As for me, I’m not strong. For two weeks straight, I’ve had a fever. Thursday night I was so sick that I thought I was finished. I thought I had the same illness as my little Hélène.

Louis went to Le Mans on Tuesday to see the children. I’d promised them so long ago that he would come. He didn’t want to travel because of the death of our little darling, but I persuaded him. They would have been too sad. They’ve cried a lot for their little sister.

 

Celine_martin_toddler
Céline Martin | Archives, Carmel de Lisieux

In April I’m going to bring Céline home from the wet nurse. Having her here will comfort us a little because in the summer I won’t have the courage to go anywhere but the cemetery. Besides, I can’t imagine seeing myself on the street without a child by my side. Give me your advice about Céline. She’ll be one year old on April 28. I don’t think it will hurt her to wean her, all the more because the wet nurse makes her eat everything, and she’s doing very well.

I hug all three of you with all my heart.

Saint Zélie Guérin Martin
Letter to her brother Isidore – March 6, 1870 (CF 53)

Quote of the day: 19 February

These last two days our dear invalid has grown considerably weaker, and this morning she wasn’t able to get up to take Holy Communion. Our beloved Sister is in a state of weakness, oppression, and anxiety which leads us to think that the end cannot be far off.

She was most touched by your parcel, but she eats so little now that she only tasted it. She has asked us to convey her gratitude for this kind gesture which moved her deeply.

Letter from Sister Marie-Louise de Gonzague Vétillart, V.H.M. to Saint Zélie Martin
(excerpt)
19 February 1877


I’m enclosing a letter I just received a moment ago which doesn’t leave us any more hope, as you can see. Last week I sent some roasted goose to my sister since she’d wanted to eat some cooked in our house. I also sent her a pound of gumdrops and a dozen cakes, but Pauline wrote Marie that she gave almost all of them to her.

Finally, I think her death is imminent, and it makes me very sad. But on the other hand, I want my poor sister to be freed as soon as possible.

Letter from Saint Zélie Martin to her sister-in-law Céline Fournet Guérin
(excerpt)
20 February 1877

Garden of the Visitandines Rouen, edhal on flickr
Garden of the former Visitation monastery, Rouen | Edhral / Flickr 

To make the celebration complete

“She will be baptized this Saturday, all we need is you to make the celebration complete. Marie will be her godmother along with a young boy, about her age, as godfather.”

St. Zelie Martin
Letter to Madame Guérin, 3 January 1873

 

 

The Basilica of Notre-Dame of the Assumption at Alençon, France is famous as the location of the marriage of Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux; their nuptials were celebrated in the church on Tuesday, 13 July 1858 at midnight.
 
St. Thérèse was baptized in this same church on Saturday, 4 January 1873, two days after her birth. The 1925 window in the baptistry, designed by executed by the native Alençon stained glass artist Louis Barillet, represents the baptismal rite. On 17 July 1944, the Church of Notre-Dame of the Assumption suffered enormously in the Allied bombardment of the city. Miraculously, the Barillet window in the baptistry chapel survived undamaged.
Above the baptismal font hangs St. Thérèse’s baptismal gown, which had been handed down from her sister Léonie. The godfather of whom Saint Zélie writes was Paul-Albert Boul, age 9,  the son of a friend of Saint Louis Martin. Barillet indicated the presence of the godparents Marie Martin and Paul-Albert Boul by the baptismal candle, which they both hold.
 
On the Second Sunday of Advent, 6 December 2009, this church of the Diocese of Séez celebrated the decree of Pope Benedict XVI, issued 6 June 2009, which elevated the historic Church of Notre-Dame of the Assumption to the rank of a minor basilica.
The Basilica of Notre-Dame of the Assumption is one of the most famous pilgrimage locations in France and in the Diocese of Séez. To make your own pilgrimage to Alençon, France visit the English language website of the Shrine of Alençon. When you visit the basilica, the baptistry chapel is the first chapel on the left as you enter the church.
 
To view the baptistry window in expanded detail and to see more stained glass windows in the Basilica of Notre-Dame of the Assumption, visit the Flickr basilica photo album of Patrick Berthou
alenÇon - portail assomption de la ste vierge
Notre-Dame of the Assumption over the portal of the basilica in Alençon

Quote of the day: 2 January

My little girl was born last night, Thursday [January 2], at eleven-thirty. She’s very strong and in very good health. They tell me she weighs eight pounds. Let’s say six, which is still not bad. She seems very sweet… I barely suffered a half hour. What I felt before was practically nothing. She’ll be baptized tomorrow, Saturday.

Saint Zélie Guérin Martin
Letter from Mme Martin to Mme Guérin, January 3, 1873

THERESE - Happy Birthday pink rose cake
All original graphics on the Elijah’s Breeze blog are created with the Snappa app.
Visit snappa.com to create online graphics in a snap!

Novena to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin – Day 8

although our family is very humble,
we have the honour of being among
our adorable Creator’s chosen ones

READING

I want to tell you, my dear children, that I’m pressed to thank and have you thank God, because I feel that although our family is very humble, we have the honour of being among our adorable Creator’s chosen ones.

From Mr. Martin to his Carmelite daughters – June after 15, 1888

RESPONSORY

R/.  You must be renewed in mind and spirit, and put on the new man.
V/.  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

 

Novena to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin – Day 7

I could feel she was much stronger than my other children

READING

January 3, 1873

My little girl [Thérèse] was born last night, Thursday, at eleven-thirty. She’s very strong and in very good health. They tell me she weighs eight pounds. Let’s say six, which is still not bad. She seems very sweet.

I’m very happy. However, at first, I was surprised. I was so sure I was having a boy. I’d been imagining this for two months because I could feel she was much stronger than my other children.

I barely suffered a half hour. What I felt before was practically nothing. She’ll be baptized tomorrow, Saturday. The only thing missing to make the celebration complete is all of you. Marie is going to be the godmother, and a little boy close to her age will be the godfather (Paul-Albert Boul, 9 years old; son of a friend of Louis).

I received your letter, as well as the box containing the New Year’s gifts. I don’t know if I should scold you. I want to very much, and yet I also want to thank you, but everything is too beautiful and too expensive. Céline wore her beautiful fur and muff for the first time on the first day of the year.

I wish all of you a happy New Year. Please remember me to Monsieur and Madame Fournet and Monsieur and Madame Maudelonde.

I look forward to sending you a longer letter. I can’t write a long one today.

Marie and Pauline have been on vacation since Tuesday evening. They’ll stay with me until Monday or Tuesday.

From Mme Martin to Mme Guérin CF 84 – January 3, 1873

RESPONSORY
R/. 
Be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
V/.  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

Novena to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin – Day 6

through my tears,
my heart abounds with joy

READING

April 10, 1888

… Thérèse, my little Queen, entered Carmel yesterday! God alone could demand such a sacrifice, but He’s helping me so powerfully that through my tears, my heart abounds with joy.

One who loves you,

Louis Martin.

From Louis Martin to the Nogrix family – April 10, 1888

RESPONSORY
R/. 
You must be renewed in mind and spirit, and put on the new man.
V/.  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

Novena to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin – Day 5

True happiness is not of this world.
We waste our time looking for it here.

READING

April 14, 1868

Your last letter made me very happy. I was so eager to hear from you, and I still am because I’d like to know how little Jeanne is doing, as well as all of you.

I see you’ve already had many concerns about your dear little girl. But, my dear sister, you mustn’t worry unnecessarily; children always have a few problems. I’m so used to it with mine that I just accept it.

However, I’ve had plenty of reasons to be anxious over the youngest one, who was very sick three weeks ago. The wet nurse arrived, sobbing, to tell me that there was no hope, that he was sick exactly like his little brother. The fear of seeing him die in her home frightened her so much that she wanted to return him to me. The doctor went there right away and saw he had bronchitis. We took care of him as best we could, and now he’s completely cured.

We went to see him today. He smiled at his father and me as if he knew us. I feel so deprived not having him with us, and I’m longing for the moment when he returns, although I already fear the extra problems his return will bring us because we’re so overworked here. If I had three times less work, I’d still have so much that I’d rarely have a free moment. But it’s such sweet work to take care of little children! If I only had that to do, it seems to me I’d be the happiest of women. But it’s quite necessary that their father and I work to earn money for their dowries. Otherwise, when they’re grown, they won’t be very happy with us!

In my last letter, I forgot to thank you for the beautiful box of candy you sent home to us with my father. He gave us a charming account of little Jeanne’s baptism. He was truly impressed.

Everyone here is in good health, but my poor Léonie took a bad fall and has two very large and deep cuts on her forehead. This is the third time she has cut her forehead, and the marks from the first two times are very noticeable. I’m sorry about that. But on the other hand she has the best nature you could imagine. She and Pauline are charming; little Hélène is very cute as well. Marie has a very special and determined nature. She is the prettiest, but I’d like her to be more obedient. When you write to me, don’t mention what I say to you about this child, other than being so gifted. My husband wouldn’t be happy; she’s his favorite!

I hope to receive news from you soon. Will you tell me if the pharmacy is doing well, if my brother still worries and if he’s sad? I’d like you all to be happy, but true happiness is not of this world. We waste our time looking for it here.

From Mme Martin to Mme Guérin CF 31 – April 14, 1868

 

RESPONSORY
R/.  Be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
V/.  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

Novena to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin – Day 4

my heart is right beside you

READING

Paris, 2nd August 1885.

Dearest daughters,

You are very kind to have let me take this little break and I shall be very grateful to you for it all my life. Besides, even if distance separates us a little, my heart is right beside you. Therefore don’t worry or be upset, my children.

If, however, your sorrow is too great, tell me so honestly, Marie, and send your letter poste restante to Munich (in Bavaria) and I’ll leave dear Father Marie (travelling companion – curate of the church of St. Jacques) high and dry.

I am sending you a dozen gold shells; you will give two to Céline and two to my little Queen; kiss them firmly on their two cheeks. As for you, poppet, take comfort and once again, I can assure you that you won’t regret letting me leave; I also send you and Léonie lots and lots of love.

Don’t forget to give the eight gold shells to my “fine Pearl” in the Carmel.

Wholly yours in the Lord.

P.-S. Many best wishes to your uncle, and your aunt and your cousins. I must hurry, for I have to be at the station at nine o’clock, and I haven’t much time.

A thousand kisses to all my family.

(Your father who loves you.)

From Louis Martin to his daughters – August 2, 1885

 

RESPONSORY
R/.  You must be renewed in mind and spirit, and put on the new man.
V/.  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

Novena to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin – Day 3

I press you all to my heart out of love,
and entrust you to your holy mother

READING
Alençon
, 25th November 1877.

Dear girls,

Today, Sunday, is the day when I am the least busy, I am hurrying to address a few words to you.

I’m looking forward to joining you and I’m hurrying the workers to finish the Alençon lace that several of them are still assembling. I therefore hope that on Thursday we will have the pleasure of being reunited and not parting company immediately.

Dear Marie, tell “petit Paulin” that her gold shells (which she used for her miniature models) won’t arrive before next Tuesday, I asked for three of them instead of two. As for your pins, I think they will be easier to find in Lisieux. The moss you mentioned can’t be found in this season, but we will try to have some later on.

Children, pay attention to all your uncle and kind aunt’s instructions; you are aware of the great sacrifices I had to make to secure you their help and good advice, therefore don’t miss a single opportunity to take advantage of it.

You, Marie, my eldest, my first, you know how much I love you; well, continue to devote yourself more and more to your sisters, take care that when seeing you, they may have before their eyes a good model to imitate.

Tell Léonie that if she continues being an absolutely good girl, I will certainly give her something that she will like on New Year’s Day.

A Dieu, my dear children, I press you all to my heart out of love, and entrust you to your holy mother.

From Louis Martin to his five daughters Marie/ Pauline/ Léonie/ Céline/ Thérèse in Lisieux

RESPONSORY
R/. 
Be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
V/.  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.

Novena to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin – Day 2

What a holy man my husband is.
I wish the same for all women…

READING
Alençon
,  January 1, 1863

My dear brother,

I wish you a happy New Year and desire with all my heart that you do well in your studies. I’m sure you’ll succeed if you want to, this depends only on you. God protects all who trust in Him. Not a single person has ever been abandoned by Him.

When I think of what God, in whom I’ve put all my trust and in whose hands I’ve put the care of my whole life, has done for me and my husband, I don’t doubt that His Divine Providence watches over His children with special care.

My dear friend, I’m very concerned about you [since December 10 or 15, 1862, Isidore was enrolled in the School of Pharmacy in Paris]. Every day my husband makes sad predictions. He knows Paris, and he tells me that you’ll be up against temptations that you’ll find hard to resist because you’re not religious enough. He told me what temptations he had and the courage he needed to overcome his struggles. If you only knew what ordeals he went through…. I beg you, my dear Isidore, do as he did; pray, and you will not let yourself be carried away by the torrent. If you give in once, you’re lost. On the path of evil as well as that of goodness, the first step is the hardest, and, after that first step, you’ll be swept away by the current.

If you want to give me a New Year’s gift and would agree to this one request I’m asking of you, I’d be happier than if you sent me all of Paris. Here it is: you live very close to Notre-Dame des Victoires. Well! Go there just once a day and say a Hail Mary to the Blessed Mother. You’ll see that she’ll protect you in a very special way, and that she’ll help you succeed in this world and give you eternal happiness. What I’m saying to you is not exaggerated piety and unfounded on my part. I have reason to have trust in the Blessed Mother, I’ve received favors from her that only I know.

You well know that life is not long. You and I will soon be at the end, and we’ll be very grateful that we lived in a manner that doesn’t make our last hour too bitter.

Now, if you have an unkind heart, you’ll laugh at me, but if you’re kindhearted, you’ll say I’m right.

When you write to me, don’t mention what I said regarding Louis’ thoughts about your situation because he wouldn’t like it. I’m always so happy with him, he makes my life very pleasant. What a holy man my husband is. I wish the same for all women; that’s my wish for them for the New Year…

From Madame Martin to her brother Isidore Guérin

RESPONSORY
R/.  You must be renewed in mind and spirit, and put on the new man.
V/.  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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