It is the feast of St. Alphonsus, our dear Marcel's "holy father," founder of the Redemptorist Order, Doctor of the Church, and all around total sweetheart!
When I first became excited about the Faith, a sweet Rose introduced me to St. Alphonsus Ligouri's books. I wonder if any of you readers remember good Fr. Ronald Tangen (God bless him!) and his mass reproduced editions of St. Alphonsus' works? Fr. Tangen sold them cheaply (especially if you bought them in bulk) and used the proceeds, as well as copies of the books, for the education of seminarians in the Philippines, if I'm remembering rightly.
Wouldn't you know I was a huge fan of those books, and more than once took advantage of the amazing pricing to buy boxes of copies of The Incarnation, Birth, and Infancy of Jesus Christ, The Passion and the Death of Jesus Christ, and The Glories of Mary. I'd distribute them to unsuspecting family members (well actually, they suspected me soon enough!), and put them in the backs of parishes before there were such marvelous things as Lighthouse Media stands. Ah, holy books! Reading about St. Alphonsus in 33 Doctors of the Church recently, I discovered that St. Alphonsus not only wrote these tremendous books (and many more) but he also - very much like me - cared deeply about how his books were produced. He didn't like clunky books, or ugly books. He wanted easily carried, beautiful books so that readers would be able to enjoy them in every way.
Oh good St. Alphonsus!
When I came home from college on vacations, I would often visit my Gido (Arabic for "grandfather") who lived with Yvonne and Charlie. They had married later so had no children, but how much love was in that house! Yvonne would ply me with Turkish coffee and almond cookies; Charlie and I would talk St. Alphonsus. I can still hear his marvelous voice with a bit of a Texas drawl: "Suzie . . . St. Alphonsus de Ligouuuuuuuuri!" We both loved St. Alphonsus and his books, and it was such a joy to discover this common source of grace and light. Charlie was also some degree of cousin, while Yvonne had spent time as a little girl playing around my father's family home, her family and his being close friends. How tremendous that these two married and moved near to my parents' home in Northern California, and were able to have my dear Gido live with them.
Charlie became a third order Carmelite in later years, and when he left this life for the next, you can bet he was welcomed by many of our favorite Saints! A year ago I had the great grace of visiting Yvonne again, and a thrill went through me when, after I asked, "Now what was the date on which Charlie died?" Yvonne told me "April 7th." Charlie's birthday-into-heaven is the same as my birthday-on-earth! Well, that made me feel more special than ever and so happy for these friendships that so easily transcend time and space. I asked Yvonne about Charlie's St. Alphonsus books, and she gave me one (to keep!) that was much older than the ones I had shared with him - a lovely hard cover copy of The Great Means of Salvation and Perfection (which to my surprise and delight turns out to be prayer!). I opened it early this morning, hoping to find a quote for you on this great feast. I flipped to a page marked with a familiar looking Madonna of the Streets holy card. The inscription on the back reminded me that I'd given it to Charlie for Christmas in 1985! And there on the open page it marked was a sentence Charlie had underlined in pen (at least I think it was Charlie, though I am so smitten with this sentence that I wonder if I underlined it after Yvonne gave me the book and I peeked into it). Regardless of who did the underlining, the Holy Spirit was behind it and clearly this was the sentence that Charlie, St. Alphonsus, and that darling Marcel wanted to give us today. I wonder if you'll love it as much as I do? (I don't wonder very much - I know you will!) Here it is:
"One single holy maxim, well ruminated, is sufficient to make a saint.”
Isn't that spectacular?
It got me ruminating right on the spot, though this is not perhaps the holy maxim we want to use, all on its own, to make us Saints! I think it would be much more fun, now that we have the mold, to fill it with something sweet and see if the angels will stir it up into a kind of heavenly confection that not only tastes good (you know, "Taste and see that the Lord is good"), but also make us as holy as Charlie, St. Alphonsus, and Marcel!
So here is my idea.
I'd like to open up the floor for suggestions, contributions, and favorite maxims from Marcel (or those who so love to converse with him from Heaven). You can send me your favorite (via the Contact Me button in the sidebar if you haven't yet been in touch but would like to join the fun), and I'll put up a post soon - maybe about a week hence - with the holy maxims you've sent to me!
I know I'm going to need a week to choose a single one. Oh, but that's sounds too hard (the single one part), so feel free to send more than one if you just can't possibly choose. I can't wait to see what your favorites are, and I'm also looking forward to thinking over mine, especially keeping in mind the lovely (so lovely!) thought of our holy father, St. Alphonsus, that this single holy maxim could, all on its own, make me a Saint! Wow! Of course he did say something about our ruminating well, but I figure we've got two outs. (Not outs as in a baseball game; that would be bad. More like two escape routes).
First, we are so little. As Therese explains, God's justice is just as safe and trustworthy as His mercy, because He knows how little and weak we are and takes that into account. Similarly, He knows how bad we are at ruminating (unless we're really good at it - and then this "ruminating well" won't be a problem!), so we can trust that He'll surely help us become Saints by sheer proximity to a holy maxim, rather than insisting we impress Him with deep thinking about it.
And then too, there's the holiness of the maxim to be considered. I figure if we choose a really super awesome holy maxim (which will be quite easy with so many of them coming from Jesus, Mary our Mother, and Therese to Marcel), that will be another reason why sheer proximity to it (to Wisdom!) could be enough to launch us into sanctity.
If you want to, when you send your fave saying, you can tell something about why you love it or how it's been working miracles in your life, and let me know if I can share that here too. I won't be naming names, except to call you all "Miss Marcel"s and "Mister Marcel"s . . . but wouldn't it be delightful to read about the miracles that Marcel and his holy maxims are working in our lives?
Ah, God is so good! I want to post this before another second of our feast ticks away, so you can rejoice in dear St. Alphonsus' loving solicitude (just like Jesus'!) - what a sweetheart indeed, to give us such freedom and peace in the news that just one single holy thought could be all we need, ever! Not that he'd begrudge us many, many holy thoughts. My goodness, he collected such enormous numbers of holy thoughts, it boggles the mind! If you've never read any of his works, here is a miraculous link that will take you to How to Converse Continually and Familiarly with God. Just click on that title, or HERE and you'll see how smart Jesus was to call Marcel to be a son of St. Alphonsus. This great Doctor of the Church was the perfect gentle spiritual guide for our gentle spiritual brother. Although I must say that if I had to choose between any of St. Alphonsus' books - any among all the books written by all the Doctors of the Church, in fact - and Marcel's Conversations, there would be no competition!
Oh! That makes me realize something wonderful! If I ever get asked that "What book(s) would you take with you to a desert island?" question, I now have the answer! Alleluia, that was a troublesome worry in the old days B.C. (Before Conversations), and now Jesus has taken that worry away forever. Thank You, Jesus! Thank You for Marcel, thank you for St. Alphonsus, thank you for St. Therese and St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Francis de Sales and St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross and the other Doctors too!
I have it on good authority that it's okay to start that list of Doctors with Marcel's name. The last and littlest shall be first, and in one of Marcel's books (I think in Other Writings), there's a line about St. Alphonsus calling Marcel his "little doctor!"
But I could go on like this all day, which would be pleasant, but I've got to let you go. It's a glorious feast and the Saints are nearer to us than ever, and I need to finish writing so you can finish reading and go have a chocolate lava cake in honor of our holy father! How about we conclude with one of our favorite holy maxims (just to get the ball rolling); one which I'm sure would be enough, all by itself, not only to make us great saints, but all those we love too! Happy feast day, and I hope to hear from you soon! Meanwhile:
Draw me, we will run!
I've written books and articles and even a novel. Now it's time to try a blog! For more about me personally, go to the home page and you'll get the whole scoop! If you want to send me an email, feel free to click "Contact Me" below.