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"Thus says the Lord:
Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth;
The things of the past shall not be remembered or come to mind.
Instead, there shall always be rejoicing and happiness in what I create;
For I create Jerusalem to be a joy and its people to be a delight;
I will rejoice in Jerusalem and exult in my people.
No longer shall the sound of weeping be heard there, or the sound of crying;
No longer shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not round out his full lifetime;
He dies a mere youth who reaches but a hundred years,
and he who fails of a hundred shall be thought accursed.
They shall live in the houses they build,
and eat the fruit of the vineyards they plant."
This first reading for Mass today, from Isaiah 65, sums up what is happening right now.
Am I getting all apocalyptic on you? Not a bit!
I'm just thrilled to read that God approves of our new crazy adventure with Little Way Books, coronavirus, Plenary Indulgences, FREE BOOKS, falling in love with Him again and again, and, shall I simply add: rejoicing in what He creates! Because WOW, He's been creating a lot lately, and it is so beautiful and good!
Our Father in Heaven says He creates us to be a joy and a delight; He wants to rejoice and exult in us!
He doesn't want weeping any more, or crying, or any sadness or pain.
Well, we can't necessarily wipe out all sadness and pain - this is a valley of tears as they say - but we can provoke each other to laughter, to joy, to delight, and to exultation!
Yes, even in the midst of toilet paper panic, ubiquitous (or worse, disappearing) hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial soap, and the unknowns that surround us even as we attempt to keep praying and trusting, even in the midst of all this we can provoke laughter, and inspire delight. Yes, even when our praying and trusting takes on a new form as we are in the unprecedented (for us in the U.S.A.) situation of being deprived of personal attendence (in 3-D) at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and the simultaneous deprivation of Jesus in Holy Communion. And yet still, with Jesus and Mary and Therese, I insist God creates us to be a joy and a delight, and it is He Himself who will rejoice and exult in us, and He wants us to rejoice and exult along with Him. This is, according to the Little Way of Therese and Marcel Van, not to mention St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, a perfect description of Love, in fact!
Sigh.....(of love)......So what are we to do?
Sometime about the day before yesterday, I think it was, an idea hit me like a ton of bricks. Lucky for me (and for you too, as you'll soon see), it was just LIKE a ton of bricks, but not even very much like them, so I didn't get knocked unconscious or anything, I just shared my idea with a couple of terrific ladies, and then I asked my husband's permission. (Tell first, ask second. Miracles are an addictive way of life!)
My good and darling husband. He's been understandably distracted lately, what with pandemics and cross country travel, poodle arrangements, online college (!?!?!) about to start up, and living apart from me (quarantine can hit in the unlikeliest places; though praise God we are all just being safe, not infected) . . . So it took him a day to say yes to my latest nutsy idea, and that meant it took two days to pull it off . . . but here is the fact, Jack, and you are going to LOVE IT AS MUCH AS I DO!!!! Rejoicing and exultation all around! No more tears, just LAUGHTER and DELIGHT!!! . . but please indulge me in a little backstory before I tell you the particulars on this shower of Heavenly roses with free home delivery . . .
* * *
Four years ago on February 25, 2016 (so technically 4 years and 26 days ago now, if I'm counting right) I went to a talk and book giveaway by the kind and clever Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC. He was kind because he gave away his book 33 Days to Merciful Love, and he was clever for the same reason, but also because he wrote it in the first place (which actually covers kind again, too).
I have loved St. Therese of Lisieux, that is, the Little Flower, or St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, O.C.D. (all those are one person, by the way!) for a very long time. When I heard Father's talk, I'd say I had already loved Therese for more than 30 years. Really loved. Read about. Prayed to. Read more about. Prayed to more. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, as the King of Siam would say.
And so I was quite astounded when Fr. Gaitley's book, which he gave us, was not only excellent (that wasn't too surprising) but also changed my life. I mean come on! How much more can you learn or love a Saint when your friendship has been going on for 31 years?
Like in a marriage, the answer to both those questions is . . . infinitely more?
So I fell in love with Therese all over again, and I began the quest to pray her Act of Oblation (which I remembered writing out and praying with great joy and intensity on its 100th anniversary in 1997!) and mean every word - and the next thing I knew, she whispered a secret to me, and it was so outrageous that I thought I must have mis-heard.
So I listened some more, and then went to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. There was a Discalced Carmelite priest visiting where I was praying, and he happened to be an expert on St. Therese, having as he did a degree in French and being the translator as he was of her poetry for the Institute of Carmelite Studies. So it made sense to ask him if I was losing it. Especially since I'd imagined Jesus saying, "Go for it. Focus on this crazy idea. Run with it! Run to me with it! Let's go!"
I got to have lunch with the Carmelite friar (along with a lot of other people), but then everyone cleared out and I found myself, just as I had hoped, with a chance to ask this holy priest my question.
"Father, if you have a minute . . . I have been captivated lately by this thought, this discovery, this secret in St. Therese that is just COMPLETELY OVER THE TOP!!!! And I think Jesus is telling me He wants me to pursue this idea, and I'm wondering if you, on behalf of the Church, could tell me if I've gone bonkers and made this up entirely, or if this is perhaps truly in St. Therese's teaching and message for us."
Being a compassionate priest, Fr. D.K. said, "Shoot!" (or something to that effect.)
So I told him what she had told me, what Jesus seemed to be enjoying my knowing . . .
And he, this wise and knowledgeable priest, said to me:
"Suzie, you understand St. Therese very well. Go deeper."
As I write this, tears spring to my eyes. Sure, I'm sleep deprived, but wow, he did. He said that right then, and so I did. I went deeper, and I discovered my mission. Besides being a Catholic wife and mother and cheerleader for Marcel Van - though that last role came the day I finished writing what I was soon to write - my new mission from Jesus was to share this secret, this Something New I had discovered in St. Therese, with the whole world. But first, to live it.
So I told Jesus, repeatedly from then until now, that I wanted to live this crazy idea I'd discovered, but I also wanted to share it with others. He confirmed that He was inviting me to live it (not that I know I do, and the one thing I do know is that if I do, I do it badly!), and Therese stood behind me and PUSHED! I mean that girl was in such a big rush for me to write a book about this idea, this Something New of which my husband fully approved, as Father had, saying (as Father did again later) - Yes! This is Something New in St. Therese! and Yes, you must write about it!!! Certainly Therese knew what a short attention span I had, and she wanted me to write FAST, so I did.
I wrote, Therese pushed, and I shocked Father by handing him a draft to review merely 2 months after he'd told me to go for it. He read the book as soon as he had time, and he approved. It was, he said, true and important. And it made him smile on every page. I liked that smiling almost best, though I like true and important a lot too!
He said, finally, to hurry and get a BIG PUBLISHER because this was REALLY IMPORTANT.
So I tried to get a publisher, and tried and tried and tried.
And each publisher would say, typically, YES! WOW! THIS WILL CHANGE THE WORLD!
But then I wouldn't hear back for a long time, and finally the publisher would say, Um, No, we can't publish this.
Collectively, the publishers I tried had lots of different reasons, but finally, no one was willing to commit like Father and my husband and myself - because the idea seemed to them just as crazy as it actually is!
And so, we decided to start a publishing venture and publish it ourselves. Talk about the little way!
And then, we had the chance to publish, simultaneously, a really fun book of Stations of the Cross with Our Sister St. Therese. And then, this morning in Costco, I got permission from the dear publisher of my previous books. Permission to make available along with these two Little Way books, my romantic comedy of vastly hilarious proportions!
Which leads me to the source of delight which Our Good Lord is opening up for you, dear reader, like a Living Stream of life giving water, in order that we might all become sources of delight for Him!
Remember how I said that I'd been praying He would let me share this idea, but first that He'd let me live it? Well every time a publisher said Yes and then No, I would praise His Holy Name, sure that He would let me keep trying to live this dream, touching one person at each publishing house at a time, inspiring them to try to live this grace too, and all the while I was sure that when He was ready to share His secret, He would.
Have I mentioned there's a little pandemic going on? And no easy access to Mass? And thus no Holy Communion?
We know how we feel about that - it's awful! A cause for tears and sorrow! We are separated from our Beloved!
But how does HE feel? He who delights in us? He who made us for perfect union with Him, a union we're pathetic at even when He comes to us in Holy Communion - oh, but how sad to think of how badly and poorly we will love Him without His precious Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity uniting us to Him as often as possible! What happens when "as often as possible" may be once a month? Or longer? What a time for knowing the longing of the Saints for Our Lord, when so many of them lived - as Therese herself did - in eras when there wasn't easy and frequent Holy Communion!
But enough of sadness and tears. Really, enough, because that isn't the Little Way. Our fearless leader, our sister St. Therese refused to be sad, and we're following not just any little way, but hers! When her dear novice, Marie of the Trinity, asked Therese - sick in the infirmary - really sick and in pain and nearing death - "Oh, isn't life sad?" - Therese responded: "Life isn't sad. It's very, very happy. OH! - Unless by 'life' you mean this exile! But this isn't life! Real Life is happy, very happy!"
St. Thomas Aquinas teaches us that the Eucharist is a foretaste of Heaven.
Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life. It is He who is Life, and we need to continue to unite ourselves with Him now, especially when we are seemingly deprived of Him in the Blessed Sacrament and enduring times that would fill the bravest heart with a smidgen of fear - not to mention the likes of us!
Therese does not leave us alone, any more than Jesus does, who said He would not leave us orphans. And though spiritual communions are wonderful, His Real Presence after Holy Communion is what we long for, and what He longs for!
So . . . St. Therese and Jesus have conspired at exactly this moment in history to reveal a secret known first by our Blessed Mother, and later by such Saints as St. Margaret Mary, St. Anthony Mary Claret, St. Faustina, and St. Padre Pio. It is a secret, a Something New, which has been hidden a long time, though it has been hiding in plain sight in Therese's Act of Oblation to the Merciful Love of the Good God ever since she wrote out her beautiful prayer 125 years ago this June.
What perfect timing! For the 125th anniversary of the most decisive moment of her life, Therese is sharing with us, now, at a decisive moment in our own lives (when we are deprived of Jesus in a way unlike any we have experienced before), the solution, the answer, the union we had thought was beyond our reach.
Jesus is never beyond our reach, and doesn't want to be beyond our reach even now, when He is seemingly locked away in the tabernacle in locked up churches. At best it seems we can only adore Him but not dare approach Him any nearer than that blasted 6 feet of safety, even though He, for One, is not at risk of disease!
Never mind. We can thank Him even for this, because He now has a reason to reveal Something New, the Eucharistic grace and miracle that He would like us all to request.
Enough stalling. You can download the book Something New with St. Therese for free.
And lest I take any credit, let me admit that the ton of bricks that hit me was not some brilliant idea of my own, but a comment from two friends who had read this book in manuscript. They both said, separately, "What a propitious time for your book! It's just what everyone needs!"
This book that is just what you need is at last available right here on our website.
If you have a kindle, the free ebook will soon be available on amazon.com (right now it costs 99 cents there, but is free here, and we're working on getting it free there too).
If you have a nook e-reader, you can get Something New right this moment as an ebook for free at barnesandnoble.com, but also from us, here and now too.
If you are reading this blog on a computer or phone or tablet, you can download the pdf version of Something New onto your device and begin reading as soon as we say our closing signature prayer!
But wait! There's more!
We're also prepared to send you (or rather, you can download this too) a lovely little ebook of Stations of the Cross with Our Sister St. Therese. It even has the very latest from the Vatican (from last week, St. Joseph's Day) on how you can gain plenary indulgences in this coronavirus time without fulfilling any of the "usual conditions" (since so many of us can't receive Holy Communion, which is one of the usual conditions). But I'm keeping you from your books. You'll find out how wonderful they are when you start reading them as soon as I stop writing.
But wait! THERE'S EVEN MORE!
You'd think, like I had thought, that I couldn't be more excited than I am about releasing our 2 new books for the whole world to enjoy simply, happily, and at no cost whatsoever. But this morning (and darned if it wasn't the same friend who reminded me of this 3rd book, which she hoped to read to cheer her, but couldn't find because her teen daughter keeps absconding with it and re-reading it!) - this morning I realized I could ask for permission to share The Paradise Project, the best Catholic novel ever! Okay, sure I wrote it, and yeah, it's not quite an epic classic like The Betrothed, but man, it is FUNNY! I'm looking forward to re-reading it myself! This is the book that of all my books has caused me the most annoyance - because those who read it continually pester me to write a sequel! They loved it so much they didn't want it to end, and so bid me to begin again!
Am I singing my own praises? Hardly! I have no more idea how I wrote that book than you have of how you birthed and raised such lovely children! It's all a great mystery! But a mystery of love, just like the man behind me in Costco agreed: that this is a pandemic of love! (Hint: buy a bunch of roses at Costco, then help Therese bring joy to earth by giving several away before you reach the checkout. You'll still pay for them, but you'll get in return A LOT OF HAPPY PEOPLE surrounding you in Costco!!)
Okay, I gotta get dinner, and more importantly let you get your books! Please contact me if you don't know how to download them - I'll be glad to help you find your way to the Heart of God, rejoicing Him as He rejoices you.
Darling Jesus, You have chosen Your moment to invite many others to share St. Therese's wonderful secret. Now will You please do me one more favor?
Draw me, we will RUN!!!!!
p.s. All 3 ebooks will be available at both amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com, and on your ereaders, soon for free. Meanwhile, you can download from the links embedded in the typewriter area above, or on our Welcome page or our Books page here at suzieandres.com. The pdfs can be printed out or read directly on your phone or computer or tablet . . . and the print copies of the book will be available soon too, from the usual online providers (though not for free, since they cost us something new to make!). And please share these books and this shower of roses to your heart's content with everyone you think might enjoy them - and even those you aren't sure about, like the 2 couples ahead of me in line at Costco, who turned out to be thrilled!
St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, pray for us and keep us close to Little Jesus, your Divine son!
Prayer to St Joseph in Every Difficulty
With childlike confidence I present myself before you, O holy Joseph, faithful foster father of Jesus! I beg your compassionate intercession and support in this, my present necessity. . .
I firmly believe that you are most powerful near the throne of God, who chose you for the foster father of His well-beloved son, Jesus Christ. O blessed Saint, who saved that treasure of heaven, with His virginal mother, from the fury of His enemies, who with untiring industry supplied His earthly wants and with paternal care accompanied and protected Him in all the journeys of His childhood, take me also, for the love of Jesus, as your child. Assist me in my present difficulty with your prayers before God. The infinite goodness of Our Savior, who loved and honored you as His father upon earth, cannot refuse you any request now in heaven.
How many pious souls have sought help from you in their needs and have experienced, to their joy, how good, how ready you are to assist. How quickly you turn to those who call upon you with confidence! How powerful you are in bringing help and restoring joy to anxious and dejected hearts! Therefore, do I fly to you, O most worthy father of Jesus, most chaste spouse of Mary! Good St. Joseph, I pray you by the burning love you had for Jesus and Mary upon earth, console me in my distress and present my petition, through Jesus and Mary, before the throne of God! One word from you will move Him to assist my afflicted soul. Then most joyfully shall I praise Him and you, and most earnest shall be my thanksgiving!
Prayer to St. Raphael
O Raphael, lead us toward those we are waiting for, those who are waiting for us: Raphael, Angel of happy meeting, lead us by the hand toward those we are looking for. May all our movements be guided by your Light and transfigured with your joy.
Angel, guide of Tobias, lay the request we now address to you at the feet of Him on whose unveiled Face you are privileged to gaze. Lonely and tired, crushed by the separations and sorrows of life, we feel the need of calling you and of pleading for the protection of your wings, so that we may not be as strangers in the province of joy, all ignorant of the concerns of our country. Remember the weak, you who are strong, you whose home lies beyond the region of thunder, in a land that is always peaceful, always serene and bright with the resplendent glory of God.
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Did we surprise you?
Happy St. Joseph Day!
Here is our spiritual father who is full of surprises!
One minute he's making apparently good decisions, the next he is taking a well-deserved nap, and finally, just when you thought you knew what was next again, VOILA! Good St. Joseph is ceasing to be afraid, taking Mary into his home as the angel bid him, naming our Savior - JESUS - and facilitating the calming of our every fear through the enactment (the original happening) of the rest of the Joyful Mysteries!
And before you know it, he's got us saying not just a confident prayer in his fatherly help, but a prayer to the great Archangel Raphael, who we need to guide us into each new uncertain day with the kind of angelic lead that God sent to this ultimate patriarch, St. Joseph, Spouse of Mary.
Happy St. Joseph Day!
Could we ever justly appreciate the just St. Joseph?
Happily, no! But what a joy to try!
Dear reader, I wonder where you are as I write.
This is a time of unprecedented (for us) grace, because on this very feast of the father of the Holy Family, we are being called to go home and stay there.
Where is your home?
I have 3 sons. Well 4, really. Or rather . . . once one becomes a mother, especially of sons, they do tend to multiply exponentially! If you are reading this now, do not be afraid to let those you love multiply exponentially!
For myself, though, the number increases like wildfire. You know, like the kind of wildfire that raged through my neck of the woods - or desert - in sunny southern California only a little more than 2 years ago almost exactly.
Take the day before yesterday, for instance. I was minding my own business trying to purchase a few groceries to hoard - haha, just kidding! I was buying only $256 of absolute necessities, except maybe those 4 banana cream pies, but honestly, they were mini ones, two to a box, BOGO (that's buy one, get one free, which really should be BOGOF, but BOGOF doesn't roll off the tongue quite as smoothly) - and believe me, I've become an expert at the grocery store lately, and there is NOT a run on banana cream pies, difficult as this may be to believe!
But let's get back into the checkout line in our little docudrama so you can see what I did.
I'm tempted to post here the photo I took (really, I did), but it was taken as a direct head shot of the three of us, and the day before yesterday that wasn't my best angle....So let it suffice for me to tell you in words (rather than in a picture is worth a thousand - ) about the two new sons I met.
Although I am, URL (that is, Under Relatively Legal adopted name, or URLan), MISS MARCEL, I think it is fair today to reveal that I am also URL/IRL as they say (or IRRLL, as we might say: In Remarkably Real Looking Life, though not exactly REAL LIFE which is Eternal Life), often called Suzie ANDRES.
I cap all those last letters of my surname, my married name, my treasured spousal name (St. Joseph's was "of the Blessed Virgin Mary" which I think may have been his favorite title too) because getting back to those banana cream pies, when I was in the checkout line at Publix the other day, I was kibbitzing with the checker and the bagger, as we love to so colloquially call them, when suddenly I noticed the checker's name tag. There in large capital letters on a pin on his chest (don't worry, it was stuck through his black Publix apron) I read ANDRES! Well, no exclamation point, but there was my name on his name tag!
I told him of our near relation, and though I forebore to hug him, which forebearance is my social distancing measure (for those of us who are unrepentant huggers, 6 feet = no hug, just barely), I couldn't help laughing and explaining that he should be my son: Andres Andres!
I turned to laughingly explain this to the bagger, who had perhaps missed my first explanation in his haste to hide my banana cream pies for me and save me the embarrassment of failing to hoard anything like masks or gloves (don't worry, I might have, but the store was out), when what to my wondering eyes did appear? No, silly, not reindeer but another nametag, this time on the baggers apron, and I KID YOU NOT - it said ANDRE!!!!! (again, sans the exclamation points, but otherwise clear as day: ANDRE).
I did, then, semi-legally adopt them on the spot (by taking a selfie, and I'm afraid we may not have been 6 feet apart, but then again, we were FAMILY!), and so I do confess that my sons are multiplying more rapidly than bottles of corona at a quinceanera!
Which brings me, however, to sons 1, 2, and 3 . . . (and I will need to check on 4 later today, but it is early yet as I write).
It is, as I mentioned at the outset, just under our prayers or in that general area of today's celebratory post, a time of unprecedented (for us) grace, because on this very feast of the father of the Holy Family, we are being called to go home and stay there.
I then asked, "Where is your home?" You can tell as you are reading this by checking on where you are standing, because most of us are standing, or sitting, or lounging hopefully in a comfortable chair with a good book or this blog post at present, at home.
My home looked like California, but the moment it occurred to me (along the rest of the nation) that we might be called to STAY PUT at home, I found myself magically transported by hollow metal tube high in the sky to my Real home, as it turns out, namely my in-laws house in south Florida.
Son #2 is winging his way here as we speak - though his home is as yet undetermined, being as he now suddenly is, a "rising freshmen," that is, the school year as we know it having abruptly changed beyond recognition even for homeschoolers, he's just as much ready for college (where he'll go in the fall) as he'll ever be!
Son #1 had to stay in Denver, so we are calling that his home for now.
But Son #3? He is on his surprised but obedient way home to Nigeria for the first time in 7 years, leaving today, under the protection and guidance of his father St. Joseph and the dear traveling companion St. Raphael who assists his own guardian angel in getting him across the world safely and smoothly.
My goodness won't his #2 mom give him the biggest hug anyone has seen in at least 2 weeks, what with all this social distancing, but once you are home in your mama's arms, who can stop you from being embraced by her loving arms, come what may?????
His mom #1, Our Blessed Mother the Immaculate Spouse of good St. Joseph, has never left his side these last 7 years (or the previous ones since his birth), just as she refuses to leave ours.
For myself, mom #3 or "American Mom" as we call me, I cannot help but rejoice with Moms #1 and #2 as our boy goes to his birth home and is encircled by his family. What a brilliant move on God's part to send him on the feast of his dear father and guardian (and His father and guardian, come to think of it), good St. Joseph.
Hooray for St. Joseph!
Hooray for little Jesus, God Himself, his son!
Hooray for unexpected changes in plans, hooray for homes, hooray for Moms, especially Mother Mary, and reunions, especially with sons, and hooray for this unprecedented time of grace.
Just when we thought St. Joseph was sleeping, he's wide awake and ready for action.
And remember how I promised to send you St. Joseph sleeping holy cards?
Well that is a project put on the back burner, you might say (since we're now in a virus, not a fire, I think that image is acceptable! Though my, how these crises do come and go! This too shall pass.......)
The cards got made all right, but darn if I haven't been packing, flying, seeking shelter, entering a retreat house, and finally settling in at my Florida home with my in-laws, God bless them, and I haven't found a moment to pick up those cards from Staples and pop them into the mail to those who requested them. I'm so sorry! Let's just make of it another sacrifice for the common good, and know that St. Joseph will do better than send you a card through me, he will bestow upon you his unique and irreplaceable fatherly hand and blessing! And who couldn't use that about right now? So if you haven't done so yet, request of him (and me too, if you like!) a gift of love from Heaven. The Saints, and especially one so universally in charge of us as good St. Joseph, guardian of the Heavenly Father's greatest treasure, never forget us and never let a single sigh go unanswered or rewarded. And I bet you've had your share of sighs lately like the rest of us!
Whether you've made it home yet or not then - and for all of us still firmly in this life of exile, I can tell you we haven't really made it HOME no matter what square inch of earth we currently inhabit! - I wish you the happiest and most blessed of St. Joseph Days ever!
And in his honor, let's quote the consoling words of his beloved and Immaculate Spouse, Our Lady of Guadalupe:
Hear and let it penetrate your heart, my dear little one:
Let nothing discourage you, nothing depress you.
Let nothing alter your heart or your countenance.
Am I not here who am your Mother?
Are you not under my shadow and protection?
Am I not your fountain of life?
Are you not in the folds of my mantle?
In the crossing of my arms?
Is there anything else that you need?
Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain.
Jesus bid us (you can find it in black and white in St. John's gospel, Chapter 14 and following):
Let not your hearts be troubled . . . Let not your hearts be troubled or afraid,
and this same Beloved Disciple St. John was the one to tell us, God is Love, and Perfect Love casts out all fear.
My prayer for you today and ongoing, as it has been for a long time, but all the more so on the day we rejoice in the guardianship, the love, the fatherly care and spousal wonder of St. Joseph, is that you BE NOT AFRAID, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom.
If you can't find milk or eggs or Lysol at your local store, just grab a banana cream pie or whatever is handy and will put a smile on your sweet face, and be assured that the Kingdom is yours, if not various products we may or may not really need.
What comes next? Well, we may have to wait until May, but I'd say the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker comes next! And well before that we will be celebrating the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our adorable Jesus, so be not afraid, simply snuggle close to His merciful Heart (as He told St. Faustina to tell us), and let Him love you more than ever before. He is so good, so meek, so humble and gentle, just like His earthly father, St. Joseph, chaste spouse of His Only Mother, dear Mary, Immaculate spouse of Joseph.
Thank You, Jesus, for every single thing Your beautiful hands bestow upon us.
Please cover the world in Your love and cast out all fear.
Remind us, through each other's smiles and laughter, as well as through the gift of Your Saints and angels, of Your all-powerful protection, so beautifully imitated by and shared with our dear St. Joseph. May we rest in the peace of the Holy Family, a peace so joyful and true that it shone out from them to all they met, even amidst the greatest trials and unsettling times through which they lived together and traveled, first to Bethlehem, then to Egypt, and finally to Nazareth.
Draw me, Jesus, we shall run!!!
Dear St. Joseph,
As we rest with you in the Lord, confident in His absolute power, goodness, gentleness, and love, look upon us kindly as you so often looked upon Little Jesus, our Brother, and Mary, your Immaculate Spouse and our Mother. Please take our needs and requests . . . into your dreaming heart and present them to your Son, Who was so quick to obey your every word. Help us then, good St. Joseph, to hear the voice of God, to arise peacefully, and to act with joy and love. Amen.
Isn't this exciting! We're starting our novena to St. Joseph today, and you remember what that means, don't you? It's a time-and-and-eternity-honored tradition here at Miss Marcel's Musings that our novenas are both little and HUGE!
This novena, like all those up to now, is little because we are little, just like our sweet and funny little brother Marcel-Jesus (the name he loved to call himself after his religious profession, knowing they had become one in some mysterious way). But this novena is also HUGE - Ginormous, really!! - because our policy is that ALL those who hear of it and/or see news of it anywhere or/and say the prayer once, more than once, or even participate from start to finish (wow! that is gold medal novena-ing, and we little souls can appreciate the heroism of those who manage it with God's compassionate grace!) - ALL of these people are included, and all their intentions, and the intentions of those they love! And did I mention it doesn't matter when they hear, see, or join the novena? Early? Half-way through? At the eleventh hour? All are welcome and included, and this encompasses those intentions we may remember or come across or have commended to us on Day 9 just as surely as on Day 1. It's the way of Love, ever diffusive of itself (just like goodness) and ready to invite everyone to the party (which thankfully is mostly a spiritual party, so introverts can each get their own mansion!)!
A rose from Carmel emailed me last night to let me know the St. Joseph novena starts today (or yesterday for those who like to finish on the Vigil, but I'm a finish-on-the-feast kind of gal, so we start today)....and this morning, thankfully, my angel was all about my remembering - and you will never guess the mischief he's got me into!
Somehow, after deciding to try out the devotion to Sleeping St. Joseph (since St. Joseph heard God's inspirations in dreams so often, and I know so many, myself included, who could use a dose of angelic inspiration these days), I found a statue of him at the San Buenaventura Mission (thank you, St. Junipero Serra! Thank you, St. Anthony! Thank you, St. Bonaventure! And thank you, lovely ladies who work there and had one in the back, having sold the one in the front yesterday!)!!
Then I took a photo of him (which you can see above), and also happened to think of calling my awesome Catholic print manager at Staple's near us.....Can we make a St. Joseph holy card? Yes, we can! And very economically if we put it on a business card and order ONE THOUSAND!!!! WOWIE ZOWIE, this is FUN!
So please do whichever of the following things your own angel inspires you to do:
1. Consider yourself part of our novena! Your intentions and those of your loved ones are IN!
2. Spread the news of this glorious novena to this glorious and so fabulous Saint!
3. Send me your name and address via the "CONTACT ME" button, and I can send you a few St. Joseph holy cards via the postal mail.
4. If you want a shot in the arm for devotion to St. Joseph, do yourself a favor and get (if you don't already have it, or read and pray with if you do) Fr. Donald Calloway's awesome new book on Consecration to St. Joseph. One thing I love about this book: even if you are kind of a dope, like me, and forgetful, like me and Marcel, and so you're challenged in doing the 33 day full consecration, you will love the book for the prayers, artwork, and especially (oh, how I love this!) the quotations from all the Saints about the greatness and goodness, kindness and love of that so silent, but always willing to help us, St. Joseph, dad to Jesus our brother and beloved pure spouse of Mary Immaculate, our own Mama! Yes, you got it - these relationships make him our dad too! And what an image of the Heavenly Father he is, what an outpouring of gentle compassion and mercy you will find when you turn to him. AND I must add, because I forgot to correct a dear friend who said "But St. Joseph does take his time," that in my experience, he is (as a favorite prayer says) very prompt and quick in answering our prayers. You see, as our simple novena prayer says above, Jesus was prompt in obeying St. Joseph - and I think St. Joseph is a sleep-talker, so don't worry if it looks like he's napping! He's going to take care of us, and pronto!
I'm thinking of this (for myself and my intentions) as a bit of a "discernment" novena. My husband and I, our two sons, and a handful of really dear friends scattered across the country - all of us have decisions we might make. Golly, I bet you do too, even if it's something as small (or big!) as "Shall I try again with my Lenten resolutions? Should I choose another instead of giving up entirely?" (But don't let me project! That's part of my discernment now for sure!!) Don't you think good and sleeping St. Joseph - who heard, at least thrice, angels in dreams whom God sent to enlighten him regarding what to do - will be the perfect intercessor for us? He's so peaceful too - and I'm sure he'll share that peace with us, who so often need it badly!
Welcome to our St. Joseph novena of 2020 (or whenever you happen to read this on the timeless internet), and may our dear father, guardian and protector of the whole Church and us, bring us happily to his feast day, and peacefully to good decisions! And now, to his Divine Son, we pray:
Draw us, we will run!!!
We've been having the most beautiful triduum lately - March 7 was the old feast of St. Thomas Aquinas (a beloved Doctor of the Church known for writing many great books), and a solemnity where I live, on account of the anniversary of the dedication of the chapel at Thomas Aquinas College; then March 8, though hidden behind the 2nd Sunday of Lent, was the feast of St. John of God, patron of book sellers and book printers; and today (as I write), March 9, though on the universal calendar it is the feast of the lovely St. Francesca of Rome, it is also - and celebrated with great joy in my family which boasts 2 sons named for him - the feast of St. Dominic Savio, student and spiritual son of the great educator and book writer-printer-publisher, St. John Bosco!
Wouldn't you say that it's a great time to launch a new publishing label?
So we are!!!
I'm pleased to announce, on behalf of St. Therese (the Little Flower) and her little spiritual brother Marcel Van (the other Little Flower), that these past weeks have been a flurry of activity and the culmination is upon us - Little Way Books is now up and running, and the crew busy upping and running it is pleased as punch!
We'll have lots more to tell you in upcoming days and upcoming blog posts, but for now, there must be something you haven't given up for Lent, so fill your bowl with millet seed, popcorn, or jelly beans (yeah, you probably gave those up, didn't you? So how about raisins? or apple slices?), and raise a glass - of water? with ice? - to join in our rejoicing at the wonderful, little, tiny, and super duper fun adventure that is Little Way Books!
Although I haven't seen it yet, UPS delivered a package to my home about 45 minutes ago, and my husband reports that yes, there is a box from UPS which he received. Can you guess what it contains?
Nothing less than 2 preview copies of our first print offering (i.e. real, honest to goodness, hold in your hands and read by the light of the moon, or any other light available book!) from Little Way Books!!! It's a book I wrote 3 and 1/2 years ago, and have been working on perfecting ever since. We finally decided, with a little help from our friends, that perfection is great when it comes to abandonment, love, and cheesecake (or millet seed, if it's Lent), but for books, one might decide to stop just short of perfection and provide, instead, the published product before the next millenium arrives!
And so, more coming soon on Something New with St. Therese: Her Eucharistic Miracle, and as a delightful bonus offering, we're publishing the ideal Lenten devotional: Stations of the Cross with Our Sister St. Therese, about which we'll wax eloquent any day now as well.
I'll let you go now so you can hurry and read all those spiritual books on your bedside table, because before you know it, you'll have 2 more to enjoy! Meanwhile, don't forget to join us in a prayer of thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father for the joyful enterprise that is now, happily, Little Way Books!
We haven't shown up on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com yet because we're doing some last minute fine-tuning, but I promise you'll be the first to know when you can order our books directly from them. In the meantime, feel free to contact us at email@example.com, or through the contact button on this page. And in gratitude and love, we conclude with our all-encompassing prayer of confidence:
Draw me, darling Jesus; we will run!!!
Did I surprise you? Did you think our title should be "Miracles, Miracles, and More Miracles?" Well, it surely could have been, but since a lot of those miracles have to do with books, I figured I'd go with Miracles, Miracles, and More Books, just to indicate what we're rejoicing over today at Miss Marcel's Musings.
Yesterday, the last day of our Holy Face novena, was also a number of other "things" - namely, the 61st anniversary of Celine's entry into Heaven; the Feast of the Holy Face; Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, depending on your cultural custom, and . . . the 4th anniversary of the day Fr. Michael Gaitley, M.I.C. visited Thomas Aquinas College (in 2016) to talk to the students about his new (then) book, 33 Days to Merciful Love. He is such a merciful guy himself that he gave out copies, and so I read his wonderful pages on St. Therese - every one of them - that very night.
I know, 33 days is supposed to be more than a month, but hey, you hand me a book on St. Therese that's really good, and how could I risk losing focus over a month plus when I could instead gobble the book up at a sitting (or lying down)?!
So four years ago yesterday (February 25), I read at length about St. Therese and her Act of Oblation to Merciful Love. And it changed me. A lot. It even gave me an attention span, at least in one regard, because I kept thinking about her Act of Oblation, not just for 33 days, but for the next 4 years! That's a lot of thinking, even for a bear of very little brain, and so we had to celebrate last night by publishing a book - or at least almost.
Don't worry, the "almost" is merely temporary, because we have to proof the book one last time to make sure it's as lovely as Therese would have it. And I'm excited nearly beyond belief! Good thing I have a mild cold, or who knows what might happen. As it is, my fuzzy head is keeping me from clear delusions of grandeur, but even then I'm sure Great Things are about to happen. You'll be glad to know that even if this book doesn't change the world, it has a high probability of changing your life if you read it!
Those folks up top of our blog post today can vouch for this life-changing potential in the soon-to-be-released Something New With St. Therese: Her Eucharistic Miracle. I know they think it's worth reading, because they were the ones who got it published!
First are Therese and two of her novices: her sister Celine and the Parisian imp, Marie of the Trinity. Those two made the consecration to the Holy Face with Therese's encouragement and help, hence the home-made holy card. But they also were two she inducted into her Offering to Merciful Love and the Eucharistic miracle attached to it, so you can bet they've been hanging around for the last 4 years making sure I got every word right. Or nearly every word anyhow!
Next comes Charlene Richard, our new BFF here at MMM, and with good reason - she's a wonder worker beyond any I've met - at least as far as working my personally desired miracles goes! (And don't worry, I desire miracles in your life too, very much so, and I'm telling Charlene to hop to it please, now that she's taken care of the book.)
Just a tad more than a week ago, having newly made her acquaintance, I asked Charlene, "Hey, if you're so great, why don't you get this book published - you know, the one no one else has been able to get published for 3 and 1/2 years? And since God is the real Power behind your operation, and everything is easy for Him, how about let's go from 0 to 60 in a week and get it published for Celine's feast?" By golly, if Charlene didn't take me up on my challenge and do just that!!
And finally there's an 11th hour saint who showed up last night in our time of need - that would be Carlo Acutis, and he sure is named well because he's such a cutie! (Sorry, Carlo, I couldn't resist!) He has a great personality and a great story to go along with it. Like Charlene, he didn't live too long - for Charlene it was 12 years, and for Carlo just 15. They were both normal kids, devout sure, but normal too. And then he, like she, got cancer and whoosh, died of it real quick-like. But the amazing part is that when he did die, well it was only 15 years ago! And yet he's going to be beatified this year! The announcement was made just last week, and the response has been one of universal joy!
Here at Miss Marcel's Musings we are thrilled, delighted, and simply over the moon! So when I needed help at the last minute last night (to get the book set for publication at the publisher, but suddenly one of our team's computers froze up - aaaauuuugh!), I thought of Carlo, called upon him while a friend called upon Our Lady of Prompt Succour, and between them, Mother and son got us rolling in no time. Whew! Good work, Carlo! Thanks, Mother Mary!
Since Carlo was very computer savvy in his not-so-long-ago-day, his help made sense. Also it turns out that he and the Blessed Mother are really close - she was in on his beatification miracle, and I'll have to tell you that story soon: it's awesome! But also, since Carlo loved the Eucharist and made displays of Eucharistic miracles (displays you could show in a church hall, but also online!), it stands to reason he'd be all about getting this book to you - a book about a new Eucharistic miracle that has gone under the radar until now!
Somehow in the insanity of the moment just before those two courteous kids came to my rescue, but with me already hoping they would, I promised I'd write a book about Charlene and Carlo if they fixed the problem - and they did - so now I'm really happy I remembered that promise all the way till today so far - you see how my attention span is improving! But before I can write that book I have to finish this post and get the other book - the almost-book - published. I'll be sure and let you know the second it's available, and meanwhile, please join me in thanking St. Therese, Celine, Marie, Charlene, and Carlo!
I suppose, too, that besides acknowledging some of my team, I ought to acknowledge somewhere in this post that it is, as of today, Lent . . . I'd say the funniest thing that happened yesterday came after some dear friends included us around their table for a Fat Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras dinner, the subject came up about fasting today. Really? Today? (Well it was tomorrow last night). In the excitement of the book publishing, I'd forgotten about Ash Wednesday and Lent, yes, even though I knew it was Mardi Gras! Oops! And then I had the best idea! I stated it aloud and it sounded even better outside than in my head - especially when our friend's lovely daughter read my heart and finished my sentence for me. I bet you're a kindred spirit too and will love my idea. See what you think. For the whole world now (maybe we'll go viral - or will they quarantine us?) here it is:
Miss Marcel's Brilliant Idea (which unfortunately was not implemented and it may be too late now) -
LET'S NOT HAVE LENT, LET'S JUST HAVE ICE CREAM!!!!
But as I mentioned, unfortunately this was not implemented in time, and here we are, as usual this time of year, in Lent. Which means I must warn you:
1. Do not (I repeat DO NOT) give up Everything you love. Very Bad Idea!
2. Do think of this as a time to snuggle up to Jesus' merciful Heart - which is exactly the phrase He used to Faustina to tell her what He hoped all of us would do! Snuggle! I don't know Polish, but this is the good translation we have now, so why question it?
3. When all else fails - your resolutions, your hope, your conviction that time will continue passing and we will arrive at Easter someday - do something really wonderful that you haven't sworn off. Like what? Well how about:
a. read Marcel's Conversations
b. get Something New with St. Therese (which should be available long before Lent is over)
c. get to know one of the Saints visiting us today - a powerful new friend is always heartening!
d. suggest a pilgrimage to Lisieux to someone you love who least suspects this will happen!
That final wonderful thing is what my husband did last Lent, and he'll have quite a time topping that this year! But don't worry, because I'm not worrying, and moreover (b) will be a lot cheaper and suffice as a soothing and cheering action, because a friend told me yesterday, when she saw a picture of the front cover of Something New, that even looking at the cover would do great good in the world and bring consolation to little souls!
Then there's (a) reading Convos, a sure-fire way to cheer the lowest heart (just hearing Marcel complain that Jesus mentions suffering at the drop of a hat makes me smile - I'm not the only one who prefers ice cream to degout!). And as to (c), getting to know new Saints - well, you can't lose there . . . how does that old ditty go? "Make new friends, and keep the old; one is silver and the other gold!"
So remember: gray skies are gonna clear up, brush off the clouds and cheer up, take off that weary mask of tragedy, it's not your style . . . and as long as you don't give up Every Good Thing for Lent (and heavens to Betsy, how could you possibly? so many, many good things surrounding us!), we should all make it out of this alive. And if not, hey, there are sure worse things than going to Heaven sooner rather than later!
I doubt we'll get so lucky, though, so while we think of it, let's pray our simple prayer together to save the world, and then go publish (or simply read) some good books!
Draw me, Jesus, we will run!!
O Jesus, whose adorable Face ravishes my heart,
I implore You to fix deep within me Your divine image
and to set me on fire with Your Love,
that I, and all those I love, may be found worthy to come to the contemplation of Your glorious Face in Heaven. Amen.
Draw me, we will run!
* * *
This novena, along with the help of some heavenly friends, is already working miracles! I was going to begin (directly after the novena prayer above) with "Now that we've got that out of the way . . . " when I realized I ought to admit that this morning when I didn't know how to pray (a not unusual occurrence), I said this prayer many times over, alternating it with gazes at Celine's portrait, and I really enjoyed myself!
I know I said yesterday not to worry if you felt nothing while praying or gazing, and I even quoted our Sainted sister's words, that we should love to feel nothing. But let's be honest: like Marcel, I'd rather have no suffering ever, and that includes the "degout" or disgust that our little brother so often complained of, not to mention plain old ennui (which google defines for me as "a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement"). If I had my druthers, I'd keep it simple. Bring on the joy!
As if my wish is His command, Jesus - who so solicitously anticipates all our prayers and desires - sent two visitors, interlopers as it were, to fill this day and this post with joy even before I was articulating the request. This is the opposite of ennui! This is listfullness! Satisfaction arising from too much occupation and excitement! (Overstimulation of a spiritual sort?) This is pure joy. Because guess whose feast is today? Wait, don't guess yet. I'm going to give you a hint, by way of another portrait of the Holy Face, only this time of Little Jesus to please our little Marcel. Here it is:
Yes, you got it! Today is the Feast of Blessed Fra Angelico! Ah, thank You, dear Jesus, for the gift of beauty and all the joy it brings us! Thank You for our dear artist-Dominican-friar-Saint, who received Your first real kiss on this day, February 18, in 1455, and waited until 1982 for our beloved Holy Father St. John Paul II to proclaim him officially Blessed. Well, I bet he wasn't waiting too impatiently, seeing as he was face to Face with Beauty, namely You, dear Jesus!
We might think of Blessed Fra Angelico as opposite of St. Therese in that it took more than 500 years for his sanctity to be officially proclaimed (whereas with little Therese it was quite a bit less than 50 years! even less than 30 years!) - but Marcel wants to point out that all of us with eyes to see had been enjoying Fra Angelico's artistic gifts to us long before he was beatified, allowing this un-Sainted Saint to move us closer to Jesus by the gorgeous pictures he left us. So too with Therese, her Story of a Soul - the first editions of which contained some of her poetry, letters, prayers, and "shower of roses" as well - the creative work she undertook out of obedience and for the love of Jesus moved many souls closer to Jesus even before there was talk of her beatification (though granted that talk started pretty quickly after her exit stage left).
But I said "Interopers" - plural - so I'd better rush on to our second guest today, a young Cajun girl who belongs here because not only has she been showering roses on my loved ones today, but guess who her favorite Saint was?
No, silly, not Fra Angelico . . . nor Marcel either, because he only died a month and a day before our new BFF! This little girl's favorite saint was Saint Therese! Her own name (our second welcome interloper) is Charlene Richard, though a couple of her nicknames were "Charlie Brown" and "Sue-Sue." (You bet I like them both!) And my goodness, she is so much fun!
Charlene was born January 13, 1947 in Richard, Louisiana (which is handy because her last name and her birth town are the same!), and died on August 11, 1959 - which was the same year that Celine and then Marcel went to heaven! But before I tell you any more, let me show you a picture of her.
Isn't she cute? And better yet, doesn't she look impish, like she's got something up her sleeve? Welcome to Marcel's club, Charlene! We're so glad to have you among our host of little ones and powerful intercessors!
Briefly, Charlene's story is this: She was born second in a family that later could boast 10 children. They lived in rural Louisiana and were devout Catholics, but no more devout that we are. (Haha, I hear you laughing and saying you bet they were a lot more devout than we are! Well, maybe a little, but "normal" is the word often applied to Charlene's family and Charlene herself.)
Charlene loved animals (especially dogs and cats, which were plentiful in her home and surroundings), babies (she wouldn't charge for babysitting and one person said of her, "She always had a baby on her hip!") and sports! She played softball and basketball and was even president of the basketball team! She loved to stick up for underdogs (once pouncing on a bully in the school bus, then getting in trouble and responding to the bus driver, "What about him?", meaning the bully!), and she was an excellent mimic! She also loved the Rosary, which makes her more like Marcel than like Therese I think - but the point is that like both of them and us, she really loved Our Lady a lot!
When she was about 12, Charlene read a book about St. Therese and asked her "Mom-Mom" (grandma), "Can I be a Saint like her?" Her grandma said yes, if you pray like her, and as you will see, Charlene must have done so! Because I think she did become a Saint somewhat like Therese, and here's what happened:
In that summer when she was 12, Charlene got sick and they found out she had lymphatic leukemia. This is something like what my father-in-law Paul has, that is, a blood cancer that makes itself known in the lymph nodes. Or at least it sure sounds like that's about it! But while my father-in-law is gratefully enjoying some respites and breaks between bouts of suffering, Charlene only had about 12 more days of her 12 years left! She was in the hospital for this time and died quickly after the diagnosis.
Meanwhile, during this almost two week period of suffering in the hospital, when the chaplain told her a Beautiful Lady would come to bring her to Heaven, Charlene responded, "I know, and I'll tell the Blessed Mother you say hello!" (or something along these lines!) And each day she would ask this good priest when he visited her, "Who are my sufferings for today?" So Father would give her the names of some who needed conversion, and others who needed healings, and Charlene prayed and suffered for them. Later, Father and the Sister who ran the hospital confirmed that all those Charlene prayed for had been healed or converted, as she requested!
After Charlene died, her story spread, and her grave became a place of pilgrimage. Therese taught her quickly in Heaven how to scatter roses upon earth, and by the time of her 30th anniversary Mass in 1989 (a memorial held at her grave), 4,000 people came!
There are Prayer Cloths of Charlene, and Friends of Charlene, and a marvelous, wondrous, adorable book about her that I'm reading on my kindle - it's called "Saint" Charlene Richard: Her Continuous Consecration to God, and the story of this book's existence and its dear author, Carolyn Anne Thibodeaux Keith, is as marvelous as the story of Charlene and inspiring me to no end today!
Carolyn's book on Charlene is available in paperback as well as in digital form, and you can check it out (read a sample!) HERE. I don't like to recommend books except for Marcel's Conversations (oh, and okay, Story of a Soul which my goodness you can get for $9.19 in paperback!!), and I definitely know better than to recommend a book I haven't finished reading yet - but hey, I'm throwing caution to the wind because that's what Charlene did when she took on me and my million and two intentions - two of which she obtained miracles for instantly, so we're down to a million! This will be a cinch!
So here's the deal. Last weekend a good woman let me know that there are several (four, I think it is) new saint causes just starting in the U.S. For ease of information sharing, I will give you the link I received and where I first read about Charlene - though the hilarious part is that by her picture I thought she was a woman (maybe older) not a child! But when I started reading about her - wow! pow! wham! - it was just like those old Batman TV shows with Adam West - I was knocked out!!!
So HERE is that article.
One thing led to another, and as I was praying to Therese and asking Charlene to put in a good word too, one of my specific requests was instantly answered (a big one!) and then, whoosh, another!
I don't want to keep you from asking for all your needs to be miraculously answered, so I'm going to end here, but let me say: Thank you, dear Charlie Brown (I mean Charlene!)!! and Thank you dear Therese! And of course thank you Marcel, because we wouldn't have a blog without you, nor half as much fun neither!
And to little Jesus, source of all miracles, we roll up all our prayers into one big-little request and say simply with our trio of little ones on Mary's lap:
Draw me, we will run!
P.S. I got a kick out of one priest devotee of Charlene who (according to an account I read) ended up calling her "my little money girl" because she came through so generously in getting him the money he needed to restore the churches where he was pastor. Sure enough, having myself put my million and two intentions in her capable hands, I just heard that one more of these intentions (this one having to do with money) was taken care of today! So at my house we're down to only 999,999 intentions needing miracles - what a little wonder worker!
I mentioned last week that we would be doing a novena in honor of the Holy Face, especially perfect this year because the Feast of the Holy Face (Mardi Gras, the day before Ash Wednesday) falls on February 25th next week, which is also Celine's "Feast," the day she finally left this land of exile for her true Home in Heaven.
Celine was taught her love of the Holy Face by her family, especially Therese, and after Therese died, she learned to love the Holy Face even more when she saw the newly photographed face from the Shroud of Turin. She wrote of this first meeting:
"I cannot describe the impression I felt while contemplating the features of my Jesus . . . I was mute with emotion, it seemed to me that I saw Him in person. Yes, it was indeed Him, I recognized Him, God who thus portrays Himself in Holy Scripture: "Merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in goodness and faithfulness, who preserves His grace up to a thousand generations, who forgives iniquity, revolt and sin" (Exodus 34:7). He who, on the evening of His Passion left us for inheritance "His Peace" after giving us the means to keep it, telling us "Learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls."
"It was indeed my Jesus, as my heart had foreseen Him. This image was not inferior to the ideal that I had made of the mortal features of my God . . . And, seeking the vestiges of His Love for us I followed the wounds with the bloody imprint . . .Then, unable to contain the feelings of my heart, I covered this adorable Face with my kisses and sprinkled it with my tears. And I resolved to paint a Holy Face according to this ideal that I had glimpsed. I went to Our Mother, who, while finding the Holy impression wonderful, did not share my enthusiasm. I told her that I understood her sensation, but that, according to this sketch, I would make a clearly defined, true portrait of Our Lord. She allowed me this."
We can see the result of Celine's enthusiasm and the fulfillment of her promise in the portrait at the top of this post. I'm so grateful we have not only the photos of the Shroud, but also Celine's remarkable portrait which makes Love even more visible. Let's ask her to intercede for all our intentions, even as we offer our prayers as so many kisses with which we can cover this adorable Face over the next 9 days.
Therese had written in a letter, "Jesus is on fire with love for us . . . Look at His adorable Face! Look at His eyes lifeless and lowered! Look at His wounds . . . Look at Jesus in His Face . . . There you will see how He loves us." She loved Him so much that she wrote more than one prayer to the Holy Face, but I would like to offer just the tail end of one of those prayers for our novena, in honor of our very little way. If you don't feel all the sentiments of this prayer, don't worry - that's part of the little way too! Therese advised her sister Marie, "Let us love to feel nothing!" That's because we entrust all to the power of Jesus and His Love, while we try to remember that our poverty, our failings, even our lack of feelings (or the excess of them!), are never obstacles to Jesus but simply magnets for His mercy!
I had originally intended to post the beginning of our novena yesterday, and I also thought I might post every day for 9 days. As you can see, the first of those intentions went by the wayside, and I'm betting the second will too, so what I can say is that barring the internet imploding, this post will be here for the duration of our novena (and likely long after as well!) so that you can come return each day and repeat our Holy Face prayer.
As always with our MMM novenas, you are included just by virtue of hearing about it! And look, you're even reading the post! And I'm guessing you're going to read through the prayer that comes after this paragraph! You are thus amazing and hence triply included! And then if, by dint of life getting in the way, you forget to say some days (or the rest of them), know that we'll be keeping your intentions safely with ours and allowing Celine to offer them to Therese (and Marcel) to offer them to our adorable Jesus, along with scads of kisses. Which leads to only one conclusion: No more worrying, any more, ever! And now for our prayer:
O Jesus, whose adorable Face ravishes my heart,
I implore You to fix deep within me Your divine image
and to set me on fire with Your Love,
that I, and all those I love, may be found worthy to come to the contemplation of Your glorious Face in Heaven. Amen.
Draw me, we will run!
It may have been the pictures. I love the pictures almost more than anything else on Miss Marcel's Musings, and after our previous post (the one below this one, in bizarre blog protocol), I just wasn't satisfied with the images I had chosen. Bernadette looked too stern, the grotto was too distant, and Our Lady looked to me, though lovely as always, not real enough after the photos that preceded her.
But then again it may have been my experience this morning in my bedroom, looking about and seeing Our Lady of Fatima watching over me, thanks to a statue it took me forever to find because (according to another Miss Marcel and she is right on the money), "You have to look at the face," and it took me a while to find a slightly smiling Our Lady of Fatima. And then Our Lady of Guadalupe was also casting a benevolent glance my way from her little statue (gift from a dear daughter of hers), but also Our Lady of Good Counsel from her picture on the wall. Yes, I do have a lot of images of our Heavenly Mother surrounding me, and I can't imagine having any fewer!
But with all these kind gazes converging on my own little self, it suddenly hit me, "I can't choose! How can I give up any of my dear Mother's images or appearances?" I realized that I wouldn't want Our Lady to stop appearing under different visages, in different places, at different times and to different people - because then we might think she'd stopped caring about us! And from her side, I see why she will likely never stop reaching out to the littlest among us through her apparitions and locutions - because how could a mother stop attending to her children, especially when they are (metaphorically and collectively) constantly tending to step out into the road without looking both ways?
As if to confirm this adorable truth of our loving Mother Mary's determination to always be there for us, in the middle of writing I was interrupted by a call from a friend in Rome. Delightful interruption! Next thing I knew, my friend was telling me of her visit with a religious sister in a green habit, a Missionary of Divine Revelation. Interesting in itself, but also mind-boggling because this order sprung from a vision of Our Lady in Rome, an appearance she made in 1947 to an anti-clerical Protestant who was on a mission to kill Pope Pius XII! (I merely copy the facts of the story, but desire to interject that this confused Bruno was absolutely and entirely different from every Protestant I've ever met!)
Our Lady, quite experienced in the field of apparitions, appeared first to Bruno's 3 children, who sank to their knees and murmured "Beautiful Lady! Beautiful Lady!" over and over. The occasion was an outing with their father Bruno, who at the time of the apparition had been reading his Bible (near the place of St. Paul's martyrdom, for they were visiting Rome) while the children played. but now he couldn't hear them. He found the children kneeling and praying with their simple admiring phrase, and it incensed him! He tried to stop their strange behavior, and when they didn't respond to him, Bruno tried to physically move them out of their kneeling posture, but found them like marble and impossible to move! At which point he - God fearing if deluded - cried out, "God save us!" And that was enough for Our Lady to appear to him too!
And here is where I just bow before her delicacy, for she appeared holding the Bible! What better way to show Bruno what was what! You can read the whole story if you google Missionaries of Divine Revelation, but I had to tell you part of it because Our Lady wants us to know she'll never give up on us!
I have such a sweet memory of my own mom coming into my bedroom to say goodnight to me before she and my dad went out somewhere. She was so beautiful, and the most wonderful floral scent wafted from her (L'air du Temps, her signature scent in those long ago days). Our Lady is just like that! She may have places to go, bringing Jesus to everyone on the planet, but she's always up for stopping in and giving us a kiss, while her odor of sanctity - her sheer loveliness - brings joy in her wake.
Wonderfully, today, February 13 (two days after Our Lady of Lourdes) is the anniversary of the reunion of our Our Lady and Lucia, the Fatima seer who lived nearly forever! On this day 15 years ago (in 2005, for those who don't like word problems), Lucia finally zipped off to Heaven to meet again her dear cousins Jacinta and Francisco. At last! It seems I must be counting wrong, though I'm using my fingers for the decades and counting it over and over, but I'd say it was almost 90 years since the three of them had together seen Our Lady! Now reunited, they must have had quite a party at her feet, or more likely in her arms, after long hugs with Our Lord!
It was Lucia's Memoirs that catapulted me into a new relationship with Our Lady in February of 2013, eight years after her entry into Heaven and no doubt the first chance she got to show me some of the wonders Our Lady had shown her on the 13th of various months from May to October of 1917. That shows the beauty of 13, and the reason Lucia must love this date of her future feast! I only know that when she introduced me to Jacinta and then Francisco seven years ago, it was a painless hop, skip, and jump from falling in love with them to falling in love with Our Lady of Fatima.
Still, I can't help but often shy away from this particular Our Lady these days, because it's hard to shake earlier misconceptions that she's scary - she does ask a lot, and I think the problem is that we don't see first, as the shepherd children did, that light coming from her hands which reveals the infinite love God has for us . . . When I remember that light and reflect on how those little ones learned of God's tender and eternal love for them, and when I hear the beautiful Lady's voice as an echo of that love, my heart is drawn to hers, rather than turning in on itself, afraid.
And then, too, we all have our associations with various Our Ladies, and my connection with Our Lady of Lourdes runs deep, even as my need for the most affirming of Our Ladies (or so she seems to me, Our Lady of Guadalupe) seems to increase daily . . . Not to mention my ever increasing need for Good Counsel!
So on second thought, I refuse to give up a single one of Our Lady's glorious and humble appearances!
And yet at the same time, it occurs to me that even among a collection of many beloveds, it's natural to have a favorite (even while we keep the others near, just not center stage), and my heart responds with the news that my latest favorite is not so hard to identify after all. She's one I haven't mentioned yet in these two Our Lady posts, but this morning, having appreciated all the many Marys who love me, it suddenly (she suddenly) dawned on me and my heart sang.
Are you ready? I said in the last post that I couldn't promise to be logical, though I would always tell you the truth. Well this second (or third?) thought is both logical and truthful, because the winner of the "Favorite Our Lady of Miss Marcel" is . . .
Our Lady of Marcel!!!
Granted she's not yet included in any Litany of titles of Our Lady that I know of (though we could make one up and that would be fun!), nonetheless, Our Lady of Marcel is certainly an authentic and reliable Our Lady along with the others because she did speak frequently with Marcel. And oh, how how unutterably gentle and compassionate she was to him and is to us! I did obliquely mention her the other day when I reported Jesus' reassurance to Marcel and us that he (and we) shouldn't worry because Mary was "happy with both of us." Only in Marcel's Conversations could we find such a charming admission from Our Lord!
To tell the many reasons Our Lady of Marcel is my favorite would take many posts, so I'll limit myself for now. Certainly the image at the top of this post says more than a thousand words could, with Marcel-Jesus sleeping so peacefully on our dear Mother . . . and if I try to express what I see in that photo, I'd say I think I love Our Lady of Marcel best because, as Marcel puts it in (253) of Conversations, "It is very easy to love you, Mary. You are happy with a simplicity of heart without demanding anything out of the ordinary."
How soothing, how comforting to little souls! I'm reminded of Therese's explanation of her way of spiritual childhood, in which she says that children when they get a little bigger are asked to work, and so she never wanted to grow up - even a little! - because she had no interest in working to gain her bread - she wanted to depend entirely on God for everything, like an infant depending on his parents, or like Our Lord recommends in the words of the Our Father where we simply ask Him for what we need.
Marcel goes on in that passage to speak of us, for he speaks of those he will teach to love Mary once he's in Heaven and knows all languages. And he paints another picture, as beautiful as the one above, when he explains, "It is in loving you that they [that is, us] will hear clearly Jesus' voice. Indeed, if they love you, you will carry them on your knees with little Jesus, you will shelter them with Him under your cloak so that they will hear everything He will say."
May you hear clearly Jesus' voice, both when you read Conversations (or our words from that book here) and when you love Mary. May she carry you on her knees with little Jesus and shelter you with Him under her cloak! Then you will hear everything He will say, and again, if you can't make out the words, try opening up Marcel's book and you will hear His voice and recognize it, like the sheep recognizes the voice of the Shepherd.
O Good Shepherd! Draw me, we will run!!!
Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, because on this day, February 11, in 1858, our beautiful Mother Mary appeared to 14 year old St. Bernadette Soubirous for the first time. Our Lady came back to see Bernadette (and Bernadette came to the grotto to see Our Lady) 17 more times, their final meeting here being on the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel! How's that for ecumenism?
This feast is very dear to my heart because in high school I got to be Bernadette in a play my senior year. Then a few months later, I visited the campus of Thomas Aquinas College for the first time, and the first Mass I attended there was on Februrary 11, Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes! Some years later when St. Thomas and his college and Our Lady had changed me forever, my husband (yes, now I had a husband) interviewed for a teaching job at Christendom College - on Februrary 11th! And then some years after that, I found in the Christendom College library a book (Celine's Memoir of My Sister St. Therese) that led me to another book (Beyond East and West, by John C. H. Wu) that led me to another book (Forever Love by Fr. Nicholas Maestrini, P.I.M.E.) that led me to a wonderful Italian missionary priest (the same Fr NM, P.I.M.E.) who had "met" St. Therese when he served in his youth as an altar boy for Pope Pius XI at St. Therese's beatification and canonization Masses in 1923 and 1925! (That was many years before I met Fr. Maestrini, no longer an entirely young boy when we became friends! Though he was forever impish, like Marcel!)
In short, I love this day, and I love Our Lady of Lourdes and dear St. Bernadette, a little one if ever there was one! And so another little one, Marcel by name, and I were chatting this morning (not much like an apparition nor even like a locution, but much more like me thinking of something and Marcel NOT appearing to say I got it wrong). And here is what I thought of and Marcel tacitly approved, and I'm SO very excited to share it with you, because I think it's A Big New Discovery! And it's about Our Lady and Our Ladies, so how fitting for the day!
In fact it would be very strange if Marcel had any objections to my idea, because it comes straight from Jesus, Truth Himself. I just had to tweak it a little to make it apply to Mary, but see what you think - I think it works perfectly in this new context!
Jesus is speaking to Marcel on April 23, 1946 (Easter Tuesday that year), and He says in Conversations:
"Why do I have to choose many apostles for the expansion of the reign of my Love? Because it is necessary that there should be some for every category of person. You, for example, you must use a certain manner of speaking, while another will have to use a different one, which responds to the feelings of his audience" (512)
Actually, upon re-reading this passage, I see I don't have to tweak it at all. Our Lady's reign of Love is no different than her Son Jesus' reign of Love - she is only and always about spreading His Love and bringing His Kingdom of Love to all souls (and all souls to it), and so, I'm sure that my idea is just as sensible and brilliant as I thought!
But what is my idea?
Well, I mentioned recently that I have friends who find Padre Pio a little scary, and I resolved (again) never to give up helping them see how un-scary he is, how very gentle and generous, how assuredly loving and mild, despite those true stories of his yelling at PEOPLE WHO LIED TO HIM in the confessional. Really, as long as you don't intend to lie to Padre Pio in the confessional (too late to do so anyhow!) or snip off a piece of his habit for a relic when he's walking by (too late as well, though had I been there when he was walking by, I'd have been tempted to snip for sure!), as I say, as long as you won't do these things (and you can't now, so you're quite safe) you're in like Flynn with him! And that brings to him everyone you love too!
But somehow I'm getting away from the point . . . which is that like Padre Pio, sometimes certain Our Ladies can seem a bit scary. But unlike with Padre Pio, I realized this morning that I'm perfectly fine with allowing Our Lady of Fatima, for instance, to fend for herself, with the help of Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia (who are the ones who got me to fall in love with her, and come to think of it they started on February 11, 2013!).
Why this sudden disappearance of my previous compulsion to convince timid souls that Our Lady of Fatima was just as full of love and gentleness as the other Our Ladies? And yes, despite my goofiness, I do realize they are more or less the same one, single, uniquely wonderful, loving and lovable Mother of God, but isn't it fun that she is so very multifarious?!
Well, though . . . what did Jesus just tell us?
"Why do I have to choose many apostles for the expansion of the reign of my Love? Because it is necessary that there should be some for every category of person."
I think that means that Our Lady comes to us in many guises (and sometimes seeming disguises) so that she might "use a certain manner of speaking" here, to suit the needs of her children, while over there, she "will have to use a different one, which responds to the feelings of her audience."
Wowie zowie! Isn't this awesome? Our Lord is so infinitely solicitous, so tenderly concerned with each of our souls and our feelings - that He is determined, as is His so beautiful Mother, to come to us each in a way we can best recognize and receive Him!
And that makes sense because with the proliferation of Our Ladies, there is the perfect representation of our dear Mother to meet the needs of each of her children.
I have long found this to be true of St. Therese as well, not that it takes away from who she really is, but like St. Paul she was concerned to be all things for all men, and so there were times when, with her novices for instance, she would speak to one in an entirely different way than she spoke to another. Celine made sure to explain in the beginning of her Memoir of My Sister St. Therese that as Fr. Pichon (the Martin family's spiritual director) used to say (and I think he followed St. John of the Cross in this), "There as many differences between souls as between faces." So, Celine warned, because she wanted to share absolutely all Therese's counsels to the novices - but these counsels were different depending on the recipient's temperament and disposition - the reader should (in a familiar modern saying) "Take what you like and leave the rest." Some counsels will suit and help one reader, while other counsels could be detrimental.
So, too, I think we ought to follow our natural attractions and not worry when one particular Our Lady speaks to our heart - and another doesn't!
Marcel, for instance, loved Our Lady of Perpetual Help, an Our Lady particularly confided to the Redemptorist Order to which he belonged. Therese loved the Virgin of the Smile - the representation of Our Lady in a family statue which Our Lady had used to smile upon her and cure her of her childhood illness. My Fr. Maestrini loved the image of Our Lady of Confidence (whose bookmark fortuitously marks the page from which I quoted Our Lord's words about His needing different apostles, and which I've extended to different Our Ladies).
I think if I had to choose - and I am having flashbacks of a previous post somewhere in these musings in which I tried to choose before! - today I would have to hurl myself into the arms of not 1 but 3 Our Ladies! That works because Our Lady is holding so many of her children right now (you, Marcel, Therese, just for a start) that with three of her at my disposal, I just might avoid crushing one of you as I hurl!
Can you guess which Our Ladies speak most sweetly to my heart?
Tied for second (and third, technically) are Our Lady of Good Counsel and Our Lady of Lourdes. I depend on Our Lady of Good Counsel daily to keep me out of trouble, and Our Lady of Lourdes has been with me so long now and is so simple and sweet. Though Our Lady of Mount Carmel is always near, too, come to think of it, and I also have a soft spot for Our Lady of Grace - she's Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal who took St. Catherine Laboure's head in her lap and stroked her hair, as I picture the scene. And I can't help but love Our Lady of Fatima, for I have seen behind her requests and into her Immaculate Heart so full of love, and I so appreciate the light that came from her hands before she asked the children to do anything - the light that filled them with the knowledge of how much God loves us all!
Ah, but numero uno? That's easy, like chips and salsa, cake and ice cream, or hot chocolate and marshmallows with a squirt of whipped cream on top! I can never get enough of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose roses and face, and especially her advice, echo so exactly the Our Lady with whom Marcel is constantly speaking in Conversations (and whose words he shares with us). As Jesus tells Marcel somewhere, "Everyone tells you not to worry!" That would include Our Lady of Guadalupe, and I love her for that!
But it is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, and I have something special to share about her, whether we take her in particular, or as another face of our very favorite Our Lady.
One of Our Lady's children who felt the deep meaning of Lourdes was St. Teresa of Jesus of the Andes. She lived in Chile and died, wonderfully, exactly 100 years ago this coming April 12th! She was like Therese and Marcel and Elizabeth of the Trinity, burning out young due the ardor of her love (and Jesus' love). Teresa was only in the Carmel (for yes, she was another young Carmelite nun when she died) for 9 months, dying when she was nineteen. But here is what she wrote when she was seventeen, and I get choked up when I read it - I have to agree with every word, and it sums up the true Immaculate Heart and attraction of all Our Ladies exactly!
From St. Teresa of the Andes' Spiritual Diary:
Lourdes, Mary, Mother Full of Sweetness; February 12, 1917
The day before and yesterday we went to Lourdes [the Grotto of the Virgin of Lourdes in Santiago]. Lourdes! This word alone causes the deepest chords to vibrate in the Christian, the Catholic.
Lourdes! Who doesn’t feel moved when pronouncing that word! It means Heaven in this exile.
The word bears under its mantle of mystery whatever great things the Catholic heart is capable of feeling. Her name causes past memories to be taken away and deeply touches the intimate feelings of our soul. It contains joy, superhuman peace, whence the pilgrim, fatigued by the sorrowful journey of life, can find rest; can without fear put down his baggage, which is our human miseries, and open his mouth to receive the water of consolation and comfort. It is where the tears of the poor are mixed with the tears of the rich, where they meet only a Mother who is gazing on them and smiling on them. And in that celestial gaze and smile there gush forth sobs from all breasts so that their hearts are filled with happiness and they cannot pull themselves away. It makes them hope and love the eternal and the divine.
Yes, Mother, you are the celestial Madonna who guides us. You allow heavenly rays to fall from your maternal hands. I didn’t believe such happiness could exist on earth; yesterday my heart, while thirsting for it, found it. My soul was ecstatic at your virginal feet, listening to you. You were speaking and your maternal language was so tender. It was from heaven, almost divine.
In seeing you so pure, so tender, and so compassionate, who would not be encouraged to unburden his intimate sufferings to you? Who would not ask you to be his star on this stormy sea? Who is there who would not cry in your arms without instantly receiving your immaculate kisses of love and comfort? If he be a sinner, your caresses will soften him. If one of your devoted ones, your presence would enkindle the living flame of divine love. If he be poor, you with your powerful hand will aid him and show him his true homeland. If rich, you will sustain him with your breath against the dangers of his very agitated life. If one is in affliction, you with your tearful gaze will show him the cross and on it your Divine Son. Who will not find balm for his pains by considering the torments of Jesus and Mary? The sick man finds in your maternal heart the water of salvation that allows your enchanting smile to blossom forth, and makes him smile with love and happiness.
Yes, Mary, you are Mother of the entire universe. Your heart is filled with sweetness. At your feet let the priest prostrate himself with the same confidence as the virgin in order to find in your arms the fullness of your love. The rich as well as the poor can find in your heart their heaven. The afflicted as well as the happy can find on your mouth a celestial smile. The sick as well as the healthy can find caresses from your sweet hands. And, finally, sinners like myself find in you a protecting Mother who can crush beneath her immaculate feet the head of the dragon. And in your eyes I see mercy, pardon, and a shining lamp to keep me from falling into the muddy waters of sin.
Yes, my Mother. At Lourdes I found heaven. God was on the altar surrounded by angels and you, from the concave of the rock, offered Him the cries of the multitude kneeling before your altar. You asked Him to hear the supplications of the people banished in this valley of tears, while at the same time, together with their hymns, they were offering you their hearts full of love and gratitude.
* * *
I forgot to mention that I had the privilege of going to Lourdes in France when I was a girl. What struck me most was the little "house" of Bernadette and her family at the time of the apparitions. I put "house" in quotes because it was actually an abandoned prison, so damp and rank that it was considered too awful for prisoners! But the Soubirous family needed a place to live, and so they lived there. On the wall (in French, but my angel helped me translate it at the time) were stenciled the words of St. Paul to the Corinthians:
But God has chosen the foolish things of the world that He might shame the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world that He might shame the strong.
Being foolish and weak myself, like my brother Marcel, I'm charmed to think that God chooses the likes of me, of Marcel, of Bernadette, and no doubt of you too, as apostles who have the delight of receiving and sharing His message of love.
And since they really all are one single lovely Our Lady, why not allow the words of one of them to suffice as our meditation for today? From Our Lady's heart to ours, then:
Hear and let it penetrate your heart, my dear little one:
Let nothing discourage you, nothing depress you.
Let nothing alter your heart or your countenance.
Am I not here who am your Mother?
Are you not under my shadow and protection?
Am I not your fountain of life?
Are you not in the folds of my mantle?
In the crossing of my arms?
Is there anything else that you need?
Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain.
Or as Jesus assured Marcel, and thus sends to us the message:
"Do not worry! Mary is very happy with us both!" (Conversations, 386)
I started this post mentioning my husband (remember, it was on this day that he had an important interview), and so I realize it would be fun to conclude with a link to him. He had the pleasure of giving a talk on logic recently. (Isn't that funny? I have the pleasure of reading and writing Marcel, and while Tony loves Marcel too, his mission - Tony's, not Marcel's! - is to read and write logic.) So if you feel a penchant for reading or listening to logic, you can click HERE (right after we say our prayer) and I promise you'll read only what is true! And yes, I promise to only write what is true here, too, at Miss Marcel's Musings, but I can't promise to always be logical! Remember, Jesus needs all of us to convey His message in ways our audiences can receive!
He is so good, and His kindness is at its most merciful when He gives us all our Our Ladies. May Our Lady of Lourdes especially bring healing and joy to us all today, and to all those we love, as well as the whole Church from Papa Francis at the top down to the newest baptized baby!
Draw me, Mama, and we will run!
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