"We can never have too much confidence in the good God. He is so mighty and so merciful. We obtain from Him as much as we hope for." --Little Therese following St. John of the Cross
"After my death, I will let fall a shower of roses." --St. Therese of Lisieux
Have you been holding out on little St. Therese?
Is there a desire of your heart you have forgotten, neglected, or been shy of presenting to her? Maybe something you've almost given up on, or not even almost?
Well today is your day!
Dig deep, and speak to her openly (even if in secret) because today is our sister's feast, and she wants to show you how much God loves you!
We're finishing our novena, but that's just the beginning. Therese has roses from heaven to let fall around your ears and into your lap, roses beyond counting! So without further ado. let's summon up all our intercessions and ask for hers:
O Little Therese of the Child Jesus
Please pick for me an abundance of roses from the heavenly garden
and send them to me as a message of love.
O Little Flower of Jesus,
please ask God to grant the favors
I now place with confidence in your hands . . . those I have been sharing with you and those I have been forgetful of, those commended to my prayers and those hidden deep in my heart and known only to God.
St. Therese, help us to always believe as you did,
in God’s great love for us,
so that we may imitate your “Little Way” each day.
* * *
If you haven't experienced it before, I pray that today and in the upcoming days you feel the sweet attentions of our sister Therese pouring out God's love and roses on you. And if you have experienced this exquisite mercy in the past, I pray that you are bowled over by it again far beyond your hopes and expectations!
One of the the most beautiful roses that Therese always has available for the asking is her little doctrine, the Little Way of Spiritual Childhood. I've been marveling lately at how perfectly she expresses this Way in a letter she wrote to her sister Marie of the Sacred Heart. Our gift to you today is from this letter, and I pray it speaks to your heart and imbues you with His peace beyond understanding.
Marie had asked Therese to explain her little doctrine, and Therese had responded with what became the center section of her memoir Story of a Soul. Marie loved her sister's words, but feared they excluded her from loving God as Therese did because Therese's aspirations and desires to love Him were so great, whereas Marie constantly felt her own littleness and weakness. So she wrote to Therese again (they lived in the same monastery but passing notes is always so much more intimate than whispering in the hallway! Besides, Marie wanted to make sure Therese knew her request was important), this time asking quite specifically if it was at all possible for her to follow Therese's way of loving God.
What a great question! Can we, little Therese, follow you on the path you bushwhack for us? Our machetes are dull, our arms are weak, but you forge ahead. Does it make sense for us to keep putting one foot in front of the other, even while we feel we are losing ground and almost losing sight of you?
Here is Therese's answer:
LT 197 From Thérèse to Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart
Jesus September 17, 1896
Dear Sister, I am not embarrassed in answering you… How can you ask me if it is possible for you to love God as I love Him?...
If you had understood the story of my little bird, you would not have asked me this question. My desires of martyrdom are nothing; they are not what give me the unlimited confidence that I feel in my heart. They are, to tell the truth, the spiritual riches that render one unjust, when one rests in them with complacence and when one believes they are something great. ... These desires are a consolation that Jesus grants at times to weak souls like mine (and these souls are numerous), but when He does not give this consolation, it is a grace of privilege. Recall those words of Father: "The martyrs suffered with joy, and the King of Martyrs suffered with sadness." Yes, Jesus said: "Father, let this chalice pass away from me." Dear Sister, how can you say after this that my desires are the sign of my love?... Ah! I really feel that it is not this at all that pleases God in my little soul; what pleases Him is that He sees me loving my littleness and my poverty, the blind hope that I have in His mercy.... That is my only treasure, dear Godmother, why would this treasure not be yours?...
Are you not ready to suffer all that God will desire? I really know that you are ready; therefore, if you want to feel joy, to have an attraction for suffering, it is your consolation that you are seeking, since when we love a thing the pain disappears. I assure you, if we were to go to martyrdom together in the dispositions we are in now, you would have great merit, and I would have none at all, unless Jesus was pleased to change my dispositions.
Oh, dear Sister, I beg you, understand your little girl, understand that to love Jesus, to be His victim of love, the weaker one is, without desires or virtues, the more suited one is for the workings of this consuming and transforming Love. ... The desire alone to be a victim suffices, but we must consent to remain always poor and without strength, and this is the difficulty, for: "The truly poor in spirit, where do we find him? You must look for him from afar," said the psalmist. ... He does not say that you must look for him among great souls, but "from afar," that is to say in lowliness, in nothingness.... Ah! let us remain then very far from all that sparkles, let us love our littleness, let us love to feel nothing, then we shall be poor in spirit, and Jesus will come to look for us, and however far we may be, He will transform us in flames of love....
Oh! how I would like to be able to make you understand what I feel!... It is confidence and nothing but confidence that must lead us to Love.... Does not fear lead to Justice (1)?... Since we see the way, let us run together. Yes, I feel it, Jesus wills to give us the same graces, He wills to give us His heaven gratuitously.
Oh, dear little Sister, if you do not understand me, it is because you are too great a soul.. .or rather it is because I am explaining myself poorly, for I am sure that God would not give you the desire to be POSSESSED by Him, by His Merciful Love if He were not reserving this favor for you.. .or rather He has already given it to you, since you have given yourself to Him, since you desire to be consumed by Him, and since God never gives desires that He cannot realize. ...
Nine o'clock is ringing, and I am obliged to leave you.' Ah, how I would like to tell you things, but Jesus is going to make you feel all that I cannot write....
I love you with all the tenderness of my GRATEFUL little childlike heart.
Thérèse of the Child Jesus rel. carm. ind.
(1) To strict justice such as it is portrayed for sinners, but no this Justice that Jesus will have toward those who love Him.
* * *
That's a lot to digest! But here are the morsels and drops that feed and water my hungry dry soul again and again:
"Ah! I really feel that it is not this at all that pleases God in my little soul; what pleases Him is that He sees me loving my littleness and my poverty, the blind hope that I have in His mercy.... That is my only treasure . . . why would this treasure not be yours?"
"Oh, dear Sister, I beg you, understand your little girl, understand that to love Jesus, to be His victim of love, the weaker one is, without desires or virtues, the more suited one is for the workings of this consuming and transforming Love. ... "
"Ah! let us remain then very far from all that sparkles, let us love our littleness, let us love to feel nothing, then we shall be poor in spirit, and Jesus will come to look for us, and however far we may be, He will transform us in flames of love...."
"It is confidence and nothing but confidence that must lead us to Love.... Since we see the way, let us run together. Yes, I feel it, Jesus wills to give us the same graces, He wills to give us His heaven gratuitously. "
These last two paragraphs especially provide endless surprises. St. Therese is assuring us that God wants to love us the way He has loved her! He wants to give Himself to us completely, freely, beyond our imaginings. And He wants us to trust Him - Jesus, we trust in You! - to accomplish this even in the midst of, even thanks to, our utter poverty. He is rich, we are poor - it is a match made in Heaven! He will supply for all we lack! He will even give us His love with which to love Him! And finally we will be able to love Him enough!
"Let us love to feel nothing, then we shall be poor in spirit, and Jesus will come to look for us, and however far we may be, He will transform us in flames of love..."
I can't help but pray that today you feel a little something! Namely the truth of Therese's words and the love of God she desires so much to share with you. But if you feel nothing, don't despair! This is precisely a fitting condition for ones as little, as blind and deaf, as we are. And far from sending God away, this poverty will attract the Fatherly Love that dominates His Merciful Heart!
May the ever ancient and ever new doctrine of the Little Way of Spiritual Childhood be yours! May Therese shower you and those you love (and the whole world!) with roses on her feast and in the days and years to come. And may your littleness never keep you from the lap of God, but draw you closer and closer into His loving arms!
Draw me, we will run!
P.S. If all goes as planned, I will be a guest on Johnette Benkovic Williams' live Women of Grace show today on EWTN (via skype). If you've missed the 1pm ET airing, it will be rebroadcast at 11 p.m. ET. Then tomorrow, feast of the guardian angels, I'll be (pre-taped) talking to the Catholic Click and Clack, the amazing Tom and Dan (or is it Dan and Tom?) on their 13th Apostle show which airs in Boston on Catholic radio. You can listen "live" at 11:30 a.m. ET when it broadcasts Saturday (and the next episode the following Saturday) HERE at WQPH Catholic Radio, or later find it there as an archived show. May the angels guide us to meadows full of roses!
"Pray, hope, and don't worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer." - St. Padre Pio
"Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert . . .
to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare my praise." (Isaiah 43: 18-21)
Last year and the year before, here at Miss Marcel's Musings we rejoiced in triple novenas that brought us to the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14), then to St. Padre Pio (September 23), and finally to St. Therese on her feast of October 1st.
If any readers here have been inspired to pray the triple novena this year - Hooray!
For ourselves, we got into the saddle about the time the novena to Padre Pio needed to start. I do find it so marvelous that by saying a novena to the dear Padre to end on the 23rd, we are then just in time to begin Therese's novena (with hardly a breath in between) and invoke her intercession, remind her of her promises, and glory in her roses for the nine days of a real traditional novena (even if in our littleness we usually manage to forget a day here or there).
And so, in our typical better late than never fashion, this year Marcel and I are at last bringing you a special prayer to Padre Pio that you can say from now until the 23rd (or as long as you like!) because even when we are not up to the glory of former days, God is ready to do new things for us and always delighted when we turn to Him through His (and our) friends, the Saints.
Plus as the days roll along, the news of much suffering reaches our ears, and we are grateful to be able to pray for all those we love, all those whose crosses are heavy, and more recently, too, all those who have lost someone they love. There are no words capable of doing what we so desire to do - to console the afflicted in such a way that we take away their pain and suffering - but then again, there are words that can help immensely and perhaps even as much and more than we hope: namely, the words of our prayers. God's love is infinite - so very infinite! His mercy is everlasting and ever new, and He longs to pour it out upon us. He does so even before we ask, but when we ask, we delight His Heart as well as Him delighting ours.
And so, in the spirit of the previous novenas here, know that ALL your intentions are included. Marcel and I have been praying for Padre Pio's intercession since last week, and we invite you to join us for the duration. We found a most beautiful prayer and as we continue to say it, we are moved by its absolute fittingness to the situations we and those we love find ourselves in these days.
Since we like to do even little things a little big here, I'm going to start our novena prayers with our petition to Our Blessed Mother for everything and everyone - as our hearts grow bigger, this prayer seems to include the whole world - and then I'll give you our prayer to St. Padre Pio who, along with little Therese, cherishes the opportunity to make Jesus' love known to us by being very near.
You can say these prayers 9 times at once, or 3 times a day, or once a day, or once altogether! In fact, when typing out the prayer to Padre Pio, my angel and I found a way to divide it into 9 petitions, so just reading-praying it over once means you've covered the numerical requirements of a perfect novena! For simple souls, there must be no complicated ways, and for forgetful souls, sometimes all-at-once is our best hope of reaching the finish line!
One of my prayers today is that you know that you are loved and are part of something much bigger than yourself: that is, the Mystical Body of Christ whose Heart is ALL Love! I pray too for your confidence, because as our sister Therese taught us, it is confidence, and nothing but confidence that must lead us to that Love, but I know confidence can seem hard to find. My best suggestion is that if your confidence feels low, join us in co-opting Pio's and Therese's! Our brother and sister in Heaven have no need for their enormous confidence now that they SEE God face to Face, so I ask them to bequeath that confidence to us! And now, not worrying about the former things except to praise God for them, let us RUN together, and see what Our Father has ahead for us in this spate of new things, this torrent of His infinite Love which makes the desert of our hearts into very watered and flourishing places . . .
Ready? Asking our guardian angels to help us pray, let's go:
An Old French Prayer for Friends
Blessed Mother of those whose names you can read in my heart, watch over them with every care. Make their way easy and their labors fruitful. Dry their tears if they weep; sanctify their joys; raise their courage if they weaken; restore their hope if they lose heart, their health if they be ill, truth if they err, and repentance if they fall. Amen.
Prayer to Padre Pio for Help in Difficult Situations and Hard Times
Padre Pio, the Lord has given you the gift to carry out extraordinary works, I ask you in prayer to obtain, by your intercession, His powerful help to overcome this difficult moment.
Padre Pio, the Lord's faithful servant, the Church honors you as one who shares in the Divine Mercy; help me, come to my rescue, free me from this moment of overwhelming difficulty.
O Padre Pio, you have always been consolation in human suffering; you've given relief and peace, joy and favors, hear my voice, my prayer; I'm truly in need of your help to come through this difficult situation that is putting a strain on my life.
Dear Padre Pio, help me in this time of trouble, as my efforts seem vain . . .
I plead with you, guide me and strengthen me; let me not be abandoned in my desperation.
Padre Pio, I turn to you in prayer to seek refuge and protection, be a father to me and those I love.
Fill the emptiness in our lives, fill us with joy and hope.
Show us yet again your love, oh dear Padre Pio, and bring us before our omnipotent God so we may have all the help we need (make your particular petitions now with great faith and confidence - and remember, you can use Therese's and Pio's own confidence to supplement yours).
Renew each day my faith, body, spirit, and will - O Padre Pio, a Saint among men, intercede on our behalf and obtain for us peace, joy, and Jesus abiding in our hearts to banish all anxiety and fill us with Himself. Amen.
Draw me, we will run!
I had the joy of seeing the gifts of Mary visible to a larger audience today on Catholic Exchange, HERE. That made my day, but unfortunately I didn't realize until the day was almost over that my previous post below was missing Mary's special birthday gifts - her words - which had somehow wandered off into some unknown empty place on the internet!
Thanks be to God for kind readers, one of whom thoughtfully wrote and asked where those words might be. Without finding out their longitude and latitude, I was nonetheless able to find them (with the help of St. Anthony and the angels) and put them back where they belong - namely under the picture of presents in the post below! If you haven't had a chance to read them yet, they await your visit. We'd hate to leave Our Lady's gifts to you unopened!
And now, the only reason I can think why the angels let the words escape in the first place is that Our Lady, Queen of the Angels, sent her messengers to sweep them under the rug for a few hours so that when the loss was made known they could be retrieved, but with an additional few roses, that is words, from her to us. And there's a very dear reason for more gifts! Have you ever known families that celebrate a birthday week? I'm always one for at least a birthday triduum if not an octave, and I've discovered that Our Lady is too! So let's celebrate again the gift of being her dear children, the gift of our brother Marcel's Conversations, and most of all the gift of Our Lady (and her words of Good Counsel) to us . . .
In addition to the Five Gifts of Our Lady's Good Counsel in the post below, then, here are three more, in honor of the Blessed Trinity and in order to make a total of eight, just like the lovely Eighth Day of September. And when you count the ultimate gift (again, in the post below, now that it's been restored to its rightful place), you'll reach nine, in honor of the choirs of angels! And so without further ado:
The Sixth Gift of Our Lady of Good Counsel:
"My child, just listen to me a little. Your soul is really a living room; and in this room, what dust and untidiness . . . It is I who must sweep it and make everything tidy; it is I who must make sure to open and close the door so that you may breathe easily and be comfortable. In short, it is impossible for me to favour you more than I do." (590)
"There is only one job I find tiresome. I have even asked little Jesus and your sister Therese to help me in this, but it seems that we have not yet fully succeeded. Do you know what it is a question of? Bearded Jesus, himself, has not been able to bring it to a close; I mean that he has not succeeded in ridding you of anxieties. This spider's web is very difficult to remove, but I have the firm hope that one day you will be relieved of it. I know that this spider's web, in which consist your troubles, makes breathing very difficult for you. However, remain at peace. I am going to do the chores for you and so you will be very happy." (592)
"Listen, I am going to tell you a new method of sacrificing yourself. Each time that you are troubled, even if only for the span of a breath, say this: 'Little Jesus, I offer You this worry as a sacrifice.' Then remain at peace. Thanks to this sacrifice, you will be consumed in the fire of Love, which will act freely in you. Thanks to this sacrifice, how many sinful souls will be able to avoid an occasion of sin that would expose them to falling into despair? . . . Always remember this method, all right? Little Jesus loves this kind of sacrifice a lot; He even prefers it to the joy of being able to pull you from the hands of the devil, since it is the devil who gives birth in you to these anxieties with the intention of misleading you. Consequently, if you offered your anxieties to little Jesus, naturally the devil will be ashamed to see that the net that he holds out to you to drag you along has fallen into little Jesus' hands. Then, little Jesus will make use of it to draw you to His heart, and then He will make use of it to draw many other souls . . . What a blessing for you! What a benefit for little Jesus! Oh, my child, it is impossible to express the extent of this great benefit. And yet, to obtain this result, you only have to say: 'Little Jesus, I offer You this sacrifice." (596)
Although we love to add, as always, our tiny prayer with St. Therese as well:
Draw me; we will run!
Happy triduum, happy octave, happy birthday of Our Blessed Mother!
I do realize it's most typical to get birthday gifts for the birthday girl, or if one is the lucky birthday guy or gal, to receive gifts on the special natal day. But luckily for us, Our Lady already has every good thing in abundance, and as the quintessential mom, she's happy to share her gifts with us on her birthday as well as on ours. So although this post is in honor of Our Blessed Mother's birthday, open wide your heart because this is the occasion on which she wants to spoil you!
If you look at the picture that tops this post, you'll see the most obvious gift she has for you, and yet wonder of wonders, as many times as she gives Our Lord to us, He is always doing something new.
The second gift Our Lady has is her Good Counsel. A friend recently asked me if there was a picture of Mary that I particularly loved. She hadn't yet found one that was just right, and I replied that this image of Our Lady of Good Counsel (also known as Mother of Good Counsel) is the one for me. I never get tired of gazing at Mary's beautiful face, though I must admit little Jesus gives her a good run for the money - I love gazing at Him in this image too!
But since this Mary is Our Lady, Mother of Good Counsel, she has more than her serene and pacifying beauty to share, more than her Divine Son to share. She has, too, the best of motherly advice and wisdom no matter what situation we find ourselves in or what difficulties we are facing.
Our Lady's most famous good counsel comes in the gospel of John when she tells us, "Do whatever He tells you." But beyond that, I find her most wonderful counsels to me in the pages of Marcel Van's Conversations.
Because I've not been the personal recipient of heavenly locutions (thanks be to God, I always say, since in that case I'd have to get a serious spiritual director and really find out what's going on before I fall into the deep end and drag others with me!) - I've been befriended by our little brother Marcel, who did receive such heavenly locutions from Jesus, Mary, and even St. Therese. His spiritual director and novice master Fr. Antonio Boucher ("bearded Jesus" in the Conversations) confirmed Jesus' request that Marcel write His words (and Marcel's responses) down, and thanks to Fr. Boucher's tireless work translating Marcel's writings from Vietnamese to French, and the later dedicated efforts of our friend Jack Keogan translating from French to English, we now have easy access to the most delightful conversations a lover of Jesus and Mary and Therese could desire. Hooray!
For Our Lady's birthday, then, I'm happy to have this chance to share some of her words with you, words originally spoken in the 1940's to Marcel, but as fresh and true today as when she spoke them. Think of these as the sparkly ribbons and wrapping paper that you can open to find the birthday gifts Our Blessed Mother has for you on the feast of her nativity. She wants to share every good thing with you, and these passages will get you off to a good start.
First Gift (after Jesus and Mary) of Our Lady's Good Counsel:
"My dear child, if you wish to please little Jesus, accept cheerfully things which inconvenience you slightly; by that you will be able to stop the stones that sinners, today, throw at Jesus . . . Little Jesus is your true friend; if you love Him, try to protect Him by your sighs of love. . ." (383)
"My child, continue to tell me quite simply your little problems; by that you please me, and I, I can only love you more. My child, I love you a lot . . ." (383)
"My child, candour is a natural characteristic of children. The naive child is simple and sincere; he shows himself as he is; he does not know how to distinguish between good and evil since, being still too young, he does not have the use of reason. . . My child, if your soul possesses this candour, it will be closer to me. In the same way that the young child remains always with its mother, you will remain always close to me. I wish that there may be more souls like yours, so as to be able to freely imprint the lips of little Jesus on the forehead of each of them; so as to be able to unite their hearts to that of little Jesus and, at the same time, be at peace with Him." (384)
"My dear little one. You have been looking at me. It is not surprising therefore that I hasten to ask you this question. It is something really astounding. My child, by a simple glance you have drawn to yourself my compassionate gaze. So, what do you want and what is it that little Jesus has just said to you? Are you very troubled? That is very unfortunate, my child. I am very sorry for you. Today, the recreation day, when you should be relaxing, all you do is worry yourself. It is very painful. But, my child, why trouble yourself in this way? I was once in the same situation as you; my soul also needed to believe, to hope and to love like you. Although aware of the wonders that God was working in me, I had, nevertheless, to believe, since I had no conception of the graces that the divine Father was granting to me. If, at that time, I had not had the need to call on the virtue of faith, I would no longer have been a humble creature like you, my children. If, therefore, I still had need to believe, with much greater reason have you, my child . . . (426)
"My dear child, remain in peace, all right? Little Jesus has not scolded you; neither have I. Our sole intention, both of us, is to get rid of your troubles. Do not worry, I love you dearly. See, I have more pity for you than for little Jesus. In that case, it is He who should be sad; but you, what reason have you to be sad? Come, my child, I am kissing you, I am giving you twice as many as I am giving little Jesus, nevertheless, little Jesus is very happy with that." (426)
"Do whatever He tells you . . . " (John 2:5)
And what does Jesus tell us through our dear little brother Marcel? Ah, the icing on the birthday cake is right here in the words of Our Lord to Marcel and us:
"How many times have I told you not to get so perturbed, and you still have this defect. Come, little brother, since you do not wish to cause me any pain in anything, what is there to trouble you? I tell you that I am happy with all that you do; why do you not believe what I say? All your actions, all your sighs, all the feelings of your heart, you have offered them to me already. All that is my property and no longer yours, so why trouble yourself? . . . Little brother, remain tranquil. I am giving you a kiss and another to our Mother. Regarding Jesus with the ginger beard, has he not said these very true words to you: 'Since you have Mary for your real Mother, you should never disconcert yourself.'" (385)
* * *
Incidentally, those parenthetical numbers are the original page numbers of Marcel's sheets of paper, and they serve to indicate where in Conversations one can find the above words. These numbers go up to 773, so you can imagine that Our Lady has a lot more Good Counsel in the pages of my favorite book! If you need more presents, Our Blessed Mother and I suggest you get yourself a copy of Conversations for her birthday - or if you already have enough copies, just flip one open to find more of this her heavenly wisdom, tenderness, and consolation. Our sweet Mary never tires of our reading the words of love written by her dear Marcel at her and Jesus' bidding.
Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Good Counsel, may this birthday of yours on September 8, 2021 be your happiest yet because we, your little ones, hearken to your counsels and snuggle nearer than ever with Jesus in your Immaculate Heart!
Draw me . . . we will run!
I'm writing this post for a friend to whom I hope to introduce Marcel Van today. But really, since I'm writing for Jesus, I suppose I ought to say I'm writing this post for the whole world to whom I hope to introduce Marcel Van today. At the very least I'm writing to more friends than I can count, friends of Jesus, friends of mine, friends of Marcel and Therese and future friends of Marcel and Therese. Are you here? Then I'm writing this for YOU!
I had the most marvelous conversation yesterday. A lovely woman I know asked me about prayer. This is crazy because recently I was asked about prayer on a radio interview, and if you click HERE you can hear what I said then, but in case you missed it (or keep missing it because you'd rather keep reading instead of clicking, which is my hope for you and so I'll put that link in again at the end, where you can click after you finish reading!), or even if you didn't and don't miss it but hear it all through, I'd like to talk more about prayer now because there were just a few things I didn't manage to say. That was only Part One, with another interview to follow (which I'll post when it is available to hear), but even before we knew there would be another episode, I had a joke I liked (it was one of those "just joking" but actually kind of serious comments) when I told the wonderful interviewer kind enough to ask me about prayer, "Do you have 3 hours?" As I say, I was kind of kidding, but kind of serious!
Kidding because what needs to be said about prayer to get us started can be said in only 3 seconds or at most 3 minutes. But kind of serious because wow, we could talk about prayer all day and never finish! Not because prayer is scary (I don't want to talk about scary things for even 3 seconds) but because prayer is so very easy and fun, if only you have St. Therese to explain it to you.
Great news! We DO have St. Therese to explain it to us! And this is where Marcel Van comes in.
Are you new here? Are you old here? Are you 29 and counting or have you just learned how to read (haha, at any age, but I'm thinking maybe you are 6 and have gotten onto the internet for the first time and HEY, not a great idea but since you are here, it's all good!).
Well, whether you've been here before or you are just meeting Marcel now - or a combo, where you are new to Miss Marcel's Musings but old to Marcel Van - whatever may be your story, let me tell you a smidge about Marcel.
If you only have time to find out one thing about him, let me tell you this:
He was St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face's little spiritual brother.
And if you have time for a little more, here it is:
Van was born in Vietnam in 1928 and became Marcel sometime after he entered the Redemptorists (the religious order founded by St. Alphonsus de Ligouri on November 9, 1732 in Italy and brought to Vietnam in the 1920's by French Canadian Redemptorist missionaries) when he was 16 years old in October 1944. This was two years after he read St. Therese's book Story of a Soul and asked her to be his spiritual sister. To which she said yes. I mean really. She said, "Yes!" and began conversations with him, just like that! Shall I say "Don't try this at home?" Well, don't worry, it's nothing you need to try or avoid. Just get enough sleep, eat well (you know, a balanced diet, starting each day with one of those delicious and nutritious vitamin fortified cereals like Lucky Charms), and don't take any wooden nickels. And pray. Which we'll learn how to do next, straight from Marcel Van's teacher and ours: St. Therese, the Little Flower, his spiritual sister and ours too.
Because the deal is that when St. Therese started speaking to Marcel (or Van as he was known at the time), she taught him how to pray! First thing! Right away! And later when Van (or Marcel as he was known in the Redemptorists) had a novice master and spiritual director, the very Jesus-like Fr. Antonio Boucher, C.S.s.R., he wrote down (Marcel did), under obedience to Father Boucher, what Therese taught him! He wrote those words in his Autobiography, and at the same time - well not at the same moments but during the same period of his novitiate - Marcel wrote also his Conversations with Jesus, Mary, and St. Therese!
Incidentally (or for some of us essentially), these two books, along with the two other volumes of Marcel's writings, have been translated into English by the kind hearted and bilingual Jack Keogan, another good friend of Marcel's. And thanks to more very good friends of Marcel, namely and literally Les Amis de Van, these books in English are available on amazon.com for only $25 each with free (quick!) shipping to you, whether or not you have amazon prime! WOW! Best. Day. Ever indeed!
But right now, right here, not later, not online somewhere else or even as a rose in your mailbox, we can have those words of St. Therese to Marcel and thanks to him, thanks to Fr. Boucher, thanks to Les Amis and thanks to Jack K, we can have them to ponder in our own English language for as long as we need to ponder them. For me, that's until Jesus whisks me to Heaven and explains things Face to face. Or I just understand them by looking at God, hard as that is to imagine!
But for now - I need words! I need Therese's words to Marcel and then Jesus and Mary's words to Marcel (and Marcel's hilarious words to them), words which oh so happily are meant for us too.
So let's begin! This is the day (when I'm writing, perhaps when you're reading, but hopefully these words will be here until the end of time, so no hurry!) when Jesus died of love for us. And why? Because He couldn't stand for us not to know of His love and so, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, He conspired to do this crazy crucifixion thing (or rather, let it be done to Him) so we would never, ever, ever be alone in our stinky suffering in this exile on earth. Cool beans!
Thank You, Jesus! But how can we understand? How can we begin and continue to make anything at all of this crazy act of love You freely suffered for us? And why oh WHY did You do it instead of just coming down and saying, "Hey guys, how about no more suffering? I'm God and none of Us like suffering, and certainly none of you like it, so let's cease and desist and just have a happy eternity!"?????
Well, for me the answer that I can really wrap my mind and heart around comes from the books Marcel wrote for us. So let's go there. Let's go to that first meeting between Therese and Marcel, jumping to (587) in Marcel's Autobiography.
(By the way, these parenthetical numbers used time to time by those of us who quote our little brother are the numbers, equally parenthesized in his books, that were his original page numbers. Marcel would write his Autobiography and his Conversations on sheets of paper he numbered and gave to Fr. Boucher, his "bearded Jesus." Fr. Boucher later spent the final 20 years of his life back in Quebec translating these pages very carefully, much to the mockery of his confreres. Sad? Well no, the happiest thing that ever happened to us, though one would like the Little Way to have a few less scoffers peering in from the surrounding uphill climbs. Ah, well, no matter. We love you Fr. Boucher! We love you Jack Keogan! We love You Jesus! Thank you guys for preserving the parenthetical numbers so we can have our chapter and verse handy!)
Okay, so down to business . . . I'm going to skip the very initial meeting of Therese and Marcel - or rather the first few minutes of it - so I can get to the heart of the part where she is teaching him and us about prayer.
St. Teresa of Jesus of Avila, the Doctor of Prayer, explains that prayer is nothing other than spending time frequently in conversation with the One whom we know loves us! Isn't that terrific?
And so Therese the Little Flower, being Teresa's true daughter, though her littlest daughter, and also a Doctor of the Church (namely the Doctor of the Science of Love) is going to expand on her holy Mother-in-Carmel's definition, and tell us how that conversation might go.
When you think about it, there are lots of types of conversations. Some are the greatest gifts (well, after Holy Communion) that we have in this life. Others are real downers!
Our conversations with God, our prayer and our prayers, these are meant to be joyful experiences, so let's find out how that works!
Therese teaches (and you can find this in Marcel Van's Autobiography at (598)) this:
Van, my dear little brother, you see God is our Father. But because man, poor sinner, dominated by fear, dared no longer to give to God the name of Father, God Himself lowered Himself in becoming man, to remind His human brothers of the existence of a source of grace that the love of God had made to gush forth, and which would continue to flow unendingly. So from His own mouth, He has taught us to give Him the name of Father.
Yes, God is our Father, our true Father, a very real Father . . . To be God's children is for us an incomparable happiness. We are right to be proud of it and never to give way to an excessive fear.
God is our beloved Father! O dear little brother! I wish to remind you unceasingly of this so-sweet name. I am asking you to make sure from now onwards always to keep the memory of this name of Love, and never to adopt a worried air or a fearful attitude in the presence of this Love which is infinitely paternal! Yes, remember always that God is Father, that He has filled you with graces, that He has never refused to answer your smallest wishes, and that very often He has granted more than you wished for. Truly, everything proclaims the goodness and the power of God, and He only uses this power to show the kindness of His Heart toward His creatures.
Never fear God. He is the all-loving Father. He knows only how to love, and He wishes to be loved in return. He thirsts for our poor little hearts which come from His creative hands, and where He has placed a spark of love which comes from the very hearth of His Love. His only wish is to gather these sparks of love and unite them to His infinite love, so that our love lives on for ever in His. Finally, it is still the force of the attraction of Love which will draw us into the eternal fatherland of Love.
Offer all of your little heart to God. Be sincere with Him in all circumstances and in all your points of view. When you feel joy, offer Him this joy which swells your heart and, by so doing, you will transmit your joy to Him. Can there be a greater happiness than a couple loving one another and exchanging all they possess? To act in this way with God is to say thank you to Him, which pleases Him more than thousands of touching canticles. If, on the other hand, you are invaded by sadness, say to Him again with an honest heart: 'O my God, I am really unhappy!' And ask Him to help you to accept this sadness with patience. Really believe this: nothing gives as much pleasure to the good God as to see on this earth a heart which loves Him, who is sincere with Him with each step, with each smile, as well with tears as with little momentary pleasures.
Now, little brother, is there perhaps still one more thing that you are afraid of? Have the patience to listen to me so as to practice it and then you will get the habit. So, when you speak to the good God, do so quite naturally as if you were talking to those around you. You can speak to Him of anything you wish: of your game of marbles, of climbing the mountain, the teasing of your friends, and if you become angry with anyone, tell it also to the good God in all honesty. God takes pleasure in listening to you. In fact He thirsts to hear these little stories which people are too sparing with Him. They can spend hours telling these amusing stories to their friends but when it's a question of the good God who longs to hear such stories to the point of being able to shed tears, there is no one to tell Him about them. From now on, little brother, don't be miserly with your stories to the good God. All right?
[And here, Marcel writes, "Therese laughed." And then he asks her a really good question, maybe the question on your mind:]
"But, holy sister, God already knows absolutely all of these things. Is it still necessary to tell them to Him?"
It is true, little brother, that God knows everything completely. All is present to Him from all eternity. From all eternity, also, God knows, absolutely, all of that so nobody has any need to speak of it to Him. However, to "give" and to "receive" love He must lower Himself to the level of a man like you, and He does it as if He's completely forgotten that He is God who knows everything, in the hope of hearing an intimate word springing from your heart. God acts in this way because He loves you. He wishes by that to fill you with precious graces, to let you know of all the good desires and all the delights that one tastes in His love. . . .
* * *
There is more, much more, that our sister Therese and our brother Marcel, and most of all our Savior, Spouse, Beloved, Best Friend, and Brother Jesus have to tell us and teach us, but I'm going to stop now so I can post this and you can read it and be free!
Free to love Jesus more than ever, and free to let Him hear an intimate word springing from your heart.
I wonder what you will tell Him . . . maybe you wonder too! But most of all, be yourself with Him. After all, He made you and He made you because He loves you. He knows you and He doesn't make mistakes. We sure do, but not Him, not our perfect and perfectly loving God, our perfect and perfectly loving Father. So no worries!
Which reminds me. Another lover of Marcel wrote to me early, early this morning (don't worry, she didn't get up early, she just hadn't gone to sleep yet!) to remind me of some of our favorite words from that other magnificent Marcel book, our very, very favorite, Conversations, around (438). It turns out that just before Palm Sunday in 1946 (so we had this anniversary about a week ago, liturgically speaking), Jesus said to Marcel these most favorite of all favorite words - advice from Truth Himself which can serve as a mantra for you, as it does for us, just in case you haven't settled on a really good mantra yet.
Here it is, from Jesus:
"Do not worry any more, ever."
There is so much left to say, but I'm not supposed to worry about it, so I'll trust that this is what I'm supposed to give you now, as I write, as you read, as Jesus loves us.
Here at Miss Marcel's Musings we have a little prayer we say to end our posts. It's a verse from the Song of Songs that Therese taught us as a prayer in her Story of a Soul (in the last pages there), and we love it! We play with it as we pray it, sometimes varying the words, but here it is today, as a call to Jesus to make us saints, and to make everyone else saints with us too!
Draw me, we will run!!!
And then, as I promised, here's that radio link again. My interviewers (or interlocutors - doesn't that make it sound like we're having a Platonic dialog? It was a ton of fun, I must say!) are Dan Duddy and Tom Caffrey, the Click and Clack of Catholic radio with a Saturday morning show that I hope will soon be in an hour format. They're the best!
Well, actually, Marcel is the best. Well Jesus-Marcel, as the two of them explain in Conversations, but in order to finish up before all time does, HERE IS THE LINK, and happy listening!
Oh Jesus, You thirst for us, and Man, do we thirst for You!
So please, dear Love, dear Heart, dearest darling Jesus:
Draw me, we will run!!!
I'm such a maroon, to quote Bugs Bunny. An ignorananamus too!
I forgot to include (but now thanks to several guardian angels, mine and those of some dear friends including Padre Pio, I am remembering!) two important links. Well only if you feel like linking!
First, today is a huge day for Sister Clare Crockett, because Good Friday was the day she kissed Jesus at the Veneration of the Cross in the Good Friday liturgy. Don't many of us do that? Well yes, but Clare was entirely ignorant of Christ (a real maroon too, come to think of it!) until that kiss! If you don't know her yet, you will love her. If you know her already - well you already love her, so celebrate Jesus' kiss today!
If the Holy Spirit inspires you, read about her HERE, and if you are further inspired, there is a movie online about her that I'm sure your angel will help you find. Nothing like a great movie on Good Friday, just go light on the popcorn unless it's one of your official meals!
And second, an angel of a more earthly sort recently shared this stunning article with me. It's about a remarkable new book in which the author, a dad of an autistic son, explains how he found or was given A THERAPY THAT UNLOCKS THE DOOR to the autistic child! Or perhaps I should say "unlocks the door of the heart of the autistic child"? Anyhow, it is a Spirit inspired therapy which could free countless children from their autistic prisons, and I know Marcel is super excited to have you read about it and share this with the whole world. Marcel is the apostle of children, and we ask him now to spread the word about this great remedy for autistic children. You can read about this miracle HERE. And God bless the children, including ourselves!
It is a week of great joy for Catholics, and thus for the whole world, since we are all about sharing the beauty of the saints God has shared with us.
St. Patrick will soon be with us on March 17, and his exuberance for Christ has won over not just Ireland (or Arlen, if you want to pronounce it like a local) but really the whole world.
St. Joseph never leaves our sides, but we'll celebrate him in an extra special way on March 19, and how we will ask him to bless the whole world whether they know him yet or not!
But there is another saint we rejoice in this week, and he's laughing (as usual) - this time because he finds it funny that he's made it into the week of Giants, although he'd be the first to tell you he's far from a giant himself. More like Little Sprout at the side of the Green Giant in those old commercials for vegetables!
Nonetheless, though not himself a Giant, our brother Marcel Van is happy to ride into heaven on the coattails of a sort of giant - the great little St. Therese of Lisieux, the little flower of Jesus, who became his sister and mentor, as well as his companion and best friend despite the 30 years that divided her exit from this earthly life and his entrance into it.
There. At last we've come to the point.
Servant of God Marcel Van's birthday (not into heaven, but into earth) is today!
And let's see..............if he had stuck around to a ripe old age, he'd be 93!
That was the very age at which I met Fr. Nicholas Maestrini, P.I.M.E., Italian missionary extrordinaire. Well no, I wasn't 93, but he was! And he was as spry and active a 93 year old missionary as I'm sure Marcel would be if he hadn't flown the coop and darted to heaven in 1959 at the age of 31.
And so, having the pleasure of Marcel's company as an angel to guide us from heaven, rather than a friend we might meet in the normal earthly way (standing, socially distanced with masks on, let's say, waiting in line at Costco or the local grocery, perhaps), what is Marcel's message for us today?
Happily, another of his best friends and one who is, in fact, quite versed in providing Marcel's words to the English speaking world since he (the friend I'm about to introduce) translated Marcel's opera omnia from French into English (the French having been translated from the Vietnamese by Marcel's "bearded Jesus," Fr. Antonio Boucher, C.S.s.R.), none other than Jack Keogan (pronounced Cogan, it turns out!) has a message for us in these lovely spring days that comes straight from Marcel.
Jack K. recently wrote the most delightful reflection from himself and Van (Marcel's name before he entered the Redemptorists and so a kind of nickname quite common among his dear ones), and having shared it with me he instantly ran the risk of my sharing it with you! I don't think he'd mind at all! Quite the contrary!
Since Jack resides in England and I (Miss Marcel) am in California, the time change causes a slight lag in our communications. Fortunately, I'm confident with Theresian confidence that in our common mission of Marcel-for-world-domination, as well as in the wake of Laetare Sunday, Jack will rejoice in my publishing his message here. Ah, but if this blog post suddenly poofs out of existence, it may turn out that I spoke too soon. Or to put it another way, Jack being British, he may object to Marcel for world domination, but I bet he agrees that we should continue our project of introducing everyone to Marcel Van and Marcel to everyone, and so at least in that spirit, let me without further ado offer Jack's wonderful words, which in their turn will introduce Marcel's charming message.
Here, then, is Jack:
As part of my lock down reading I decided to revisit Van's autobiography. As you know, little Van's early years were not always filled with sunshine and roses! It was not long before he was introduced, without his awareness, to his vocation "to change suffering into joy." Many a reader has, on reading the early years of Van, had to put the book down to compose themselves before taking up again the story, so unbelievable was the cruelty that Van was the victim of and, sad to say, the perpetrators were, very often, those entrusted with his spiritual growth and bodily welfare.
At Christmas 1941, Van, aged 13, learned that the Father Director of the junior seminary at Lang Son wished to admit some new candidates. It was here that, in the care of the Dominican fathers, Van encountered the paternal love and sympathetic attention that his tender soul craved. Whilst there, he was enrolled in the Cadets of Our Lady, a spiritual movement modelled on the boy scout movement and run, in the seminary, by Father Dreyer Dufer.
Let Van take up the story:
"On joining the troop I had, first of all, to do my training as a cub scout but at Pentecost of that year I was admitted to make my promise and joined the troop of scouts, second class. I received the name of *Squirrel* of the "Stag" patrol.
"This happy life had transformed me within a short time into a new man. In my opinion this change was due partly to the spirit of charity which animated our teachers, but it was due, mainly, to divine grace itself which was active in me. I noticed that I had always found it easy to live in intimacy with God, and I had the fairly clear feeling that God was everywhere for me like a palpable reality. In the past my soul had become ill with the anxiety which imprisoned my life in a narrow, parched setting, and although it had been set free by God on Christmas might 1940, it still remained, more or less, sickly, as if it had not yet recovered entirely the serenity of early infancy. But at the seminary God caused all the after-effects of the sickness my soul was still suffering to disappear. He used this "joyful life" to give back to me my former smile.
"He had opened my soul fully to the wonders of nature; he had tightened the bonds of my love for him during these nights of intimacy and silence under the light of the moon, at the side of a spring, or, again, in the peace that one tastes in the shade of a pine at the side of a mountain.
"At this point the memory of the days when we went camping comes back to me. Ah! to go camping! This fills me with happiness and brings back to my memory all the joys of those unforgettable days. To go camping was, for me, the sweetest of retreats. There, alone with God, with Jesus my leader, the only view the trees, the mountains and all the marvels of nature were for me a stimulus to unite myself more intimately to Him. The more beautiful the flower, the more gentle the breeze, the more green the tree, the more roaring the waterfall, the more verdant the meadow; the more, also, was my heart uplifted as if by so many steps right up to the highest heavens, and there I loved God and He wrapped me in His tenderness. What intimacy there was between us during those moments of calm and close union! There, I went over in my mind my past life and I did not see an instant, not the smallest movement, not the least action, which did not have its origin in divine grace." [Autobiography (534)]
And Jack concludes, in a word common the world over (or so I imagine) as expressive of the inexpressible:
* * *
Wherever you are, dear reader, I hope the sun is shining. I hope you can see flowers, or a single flower, from where you sit (or stand, or recline, or kneel). But if you see only this page, no worries! We're pleased to offer you, in honor of his birthday, some of the flowers Marcel would have seen:
And just in case the beauty of these flowers, in their on screen form, is not quite enough to transport you into the arms of Love, let us add a favorite quote of our own from our little brother Marcel's Autobiography. This comes at (599) and I can never hear these words often enough. It is with joy that I speak them to you, along with the original speaker - St. Therese, the little French flower of Jesus, the Carmelite spouse of the One who is always happy to use her to spread His love and His peace to the four corners of the earth. So wherever you are, we pray her words reach the depths of your heart:
"God is our beloved Father! O dear little brother! I wish to remind you unceasingly of this so-sweet name. I am asking you to make sure from now onwards always to keep the memory of this name of Love, and never to adopt a worried air or a fearful attitude in the presence of this Love which is infinitely paternal!"
Now there's a Lenten program! An Easter and Pentecost program, and a program for life!
On this, our dear Marcel's birthday, may you bask in the love of our beloved Father, and may our sweet spouse Jesus free you from all anxiety so that you, like Marcel and Therese in heaven, may never more adopt a worried air or fearful attitude in the presence of this Love which is infinitely paternal.
If you have trouble living as heavenly a life as we at Miss Marcel's Musings suggest, don't forget (or if you have never heard it before, or if you are Marcel-ish and forget constantly, then let us remind you again and again, without a trace of annoyance but only gladness that we have this little mission) of the words of our Blessed Mother to Marcel and us:
If you don't succeed in Not Worrying Any More Ever (or in other words, if you find yourself worrying), just say this perfect prayer:
Little Jesus, I offer You this worry as a sacrifice.
And then, allow yourself to relax and be at peace.
Or if you are me, feel free to say it again at the next moment when the latest worry (or the old one) pops up again, but no scrupples and no obsession about this - simply "Little Jesus, I offer You this worry as a sacrifice!" and then rejoice that we have foiled the liar, and launched ourselves right back into Jesus' arms, and with a gift, even!
It is our custom here to end with the prayer St. Therese taught us in Story of a Soul at the end of her Manuscript C (often simply at the end of the book). It's our way of joining her in asking Jesus to bring the whole world to HImself. Hooray for Jesus! Hooray for little Therese. And on this March 15, 2021 (or whenever you find yourself reading this post) - HOORAY FOR MARCEL!
Draw me, little Jesus; we shall run!
We here at Miss Marcel's Musings hope you have had a lovely feast of St. Therese! We are urging her to shower her roses upon you, and if you haven't received them yet, don't give up hope! There is, in Catholic tradition, not only the feast itself, but like a mirror of the novena that precedes a big feast, there is on the other side an octave in which to celebrate. This allows us to pray that, over the next week or so, our sister's roses and the heavenly graces they represent become so abundant in your life that you practically begin to take them for granted!
If you are seeing this on your guardian angel's day, let us be among the first to offer praise and thanks to God for your heavenly helper. What a gift that. along with all the saints who watch over us, we each have our own angel to guide us from birth in this life to our birth into Eternal Life! What a loving Heavenly Father we have, One who thinks of everything for our safety and comfort!
But wait! Did I say I hope you will take Therese's roses for granted? Heaven forbid! What I really meant was simply that seeing yourself so favored by our sister's answers to your prayers, you will become accustomed to being surrounded by her roses (visible and invisible, earthly and heavenly) and thus approach her and the sweet Infant Jesus with more confidence than ever!
Along these lines, I can't think of anything more wonderful to share in honor of Therese's feast than some of her sayings that most inspire confidence. And keep in mind that while her feast is celebrated in the new calendar on October 1st, we who can't get enough of her can celebrate again on October 3rd, according to the "old calendar" that accompanies the extraordinary form of the liturgy. God is so very good! He knows how badly we need our sister's help, and so He has doubled her feast for us in these trying times!
For your delectation, then, a feast of good words from our sister Saint Therese:
1. Jesus does not demand great actions, but simply surrender and gratitude.
2. He alone disposes the events of our life of exile . . . It is the hand of Jesus that guides everything.
3. I assure you that the good Lord is much kinder than you can imagine. He is satisfied with a glance, with a sigh of love.
4. In spite of all obstacles, God accomplishes what He wills. . . . The work I had been unable to do in ten years was done by Jesus in one instant . . .
5. We can never have too much confidence in the good God who is so mighty and so merciful. We obtain from Him as much as we hope for.
6. God knows our weakness. He remembers that we are but dust. As a father is tender toward his children, so is the Lord compassionate towards us.
7. God is too good, too generous to give His favors meagerly.
8. Your arms, my Jesus, are the elevator which will take me up to Heaven. There is no need for me to grow up; on the contrary, I must stay little, and become more and more so.
9. Jesus will come for us, however far away we may be from Him, and will set us afire with His love.
10. I will spend my heaven in doing good upon earth. Do not the angels take care of us while still enjoying the Beatific Vision?
* * *
I love these wise words, but then, too, our sister can be so funny and so very clever! Her cousin in the convent, Sister Marie (Guerin) of the Eucharist, asked the dying Therese to obtain great graces for her once Therese was in heaven. Therese responded:
"Oh! when I am in heaven, I will do very many things, great things . . . It is impossible that it is not God who has given me this desire; I am sure He will answer me! And also, when I am up there, I will follow you closely!"
To which Marie replied that this would frighten her! But her cousin (our sister) had the perfect answer:
"Does your guardian angel frighten you? He follows you nevertheless, all the time. Well, I will follow you in the same way, and even closer! I won't let anything pass you."
You see, then, that once again God has timed everything perfectly: Therese day, guardian angel day, and Therese day again! Let's celebrate a triduum at the beginning of our octave!
Happy continued feasting, and may our sister follow you like an angel, inspiring you at every step, helping you in all your trials, and making your real angel's job much easier!
As to the many intentions we have been praying for in this novena, let's remember the very easy way Therese has taught us to pray. She knew that if she tried to enumerate every need of those she loved and whom God had entrusted to her, "the days would never be long enough," and she feared she would forget something important. But she is forever reminding us that Jesus is tenderly solicitous to all our needs, and this is a prime example. She explains:
"For simple souls there must be no complicated ways; as I am of their number, one morning during my thanksgiving, Jesus gave me a simple means of accomplishing my mission.
"He made me understand these words of the Canticle of Canticles: 'DRAW ME, WE SHALL RUN after You in the odor of Your ointments.' O Jesus, it is not even necessary to say: 'When drawing me, draw the souls whom I love!' This simple statement: 'Draw me' suffices; I understand, Lord, that when a soul allows herself to be captivated by the odor of your ointments, she cannot run alone, all the souls whom she loves follow in her train; this is done without constraint, without effort, it is a natural consequence of her attraction for You. Just as a torrent, throwing itself with impetuosity into the ocean, drags after it everything it encounters in its passage, in the same way, O Jesus, the soul who plunges into the shoreless ocean of Your Love, draws with her all the treasures she possesses."
And so, with simplicity, gratitude, and joy, we pray with Therese to our adorable Jesus:
Draw me, we will run!!!
P.S. Marcel asked if he might add a few words . . . these are words said to him by his new sister St. Therese on a Thursday in October 1941 when she first spoke to him, and he wanted to be sure you got to hear them too. This is how he and we can rejoice her heart, and especially Little Jesus' Heart, in these glorious days when we especially remember her. In his Autobiography (600), he recounts that she told him:
"Never fear God. He is the all-loving Father. He knows only how to love, and He wishes to be loved in return. He thirsts for our poor little hearts which come from His creative hands, and where He has placed a spark of love which comes from the very hearth of His Love. His only wish is to gather these sparks of love and unite them to His infinite love, so that our love lives on forever in His. Finally, it is still the force of the attraction of Love which will draw us into the eternal fatherland of Love. Offer all of your little heart to God. Be sincere with Him in all circumstances and in all your points of view. When you feel joy, offer Him that joy which swells your heart and, by so doing, you will transmit your joy to Him. Can there be a greater happiness than a couple loving one another and exchanging all they possess? To act in this way with God is to say thank You to Him, which pleases Him more than thousands of touching canticles. If, on the other hand, you are invaded by sadness, say to Him again with an honest heart: 'O my God, I am really unhappy!' And ask Him to help you accept this sadness with patience. Really believe this: nothing gives more pleasure to the good God than to see on this earth a heart which loves Him, who is sincere with Him with each step, with each smile, as well with tears as with little momentary pleasures."
Blessed Mother of those whose names you can read in my heart,
watch over them with every care.
Make their way easy and their labors fruitful.
Dry their tears if they weep; sanctify their joys;
raise their courage if they weaken;
restore their hope if they lose heart, their health if they be ill, truth if they err, and repentance if they fall. Amen.
St. Padre Pio, pray for us!
* * *
Thanks to Padre Pio's guardian angel and the angel of good Michael Lichens, editor of Catholic Exchange, I have a miraculous article on CE today about our dear wonderful spiritual father. The article is miraculous not because of my superpowers, but because of the angels and Michael (God bless him!), who somehow managed to incorporate it into the site though I got it to them at the twelfth hour, very late last night. And it turned out so beautifully!
You can read The Real Face of St. Padre Pio by clicking on its bold title. And since I got to write my own words (and share some of Diane Allen's words) on Padre Pio over there, I want to share something a bit different with you now over here, namely some of our beloved father's own consoling words. I'm such a fan of quoting from Marcel Van's Conversations with Jesus, Mary, and St. Therese, that it seems only fair on the great Padre's big day to quote from dear Pio himself too. Plus I have the most amazing feast of spiritually nourishing sayings from St. Pio that it would be quite selfish of me to keep them all to myself.
If you find some of these aren't just what you need at this moment, you can save them for later. Take what you like and leave the rest, as they say. Only in this case, the rest will wait for you, and perhaps on another day will serve to feed your hungry heart again.
Before we start quoting, though, we'd better start our St. Therese novena - this is the second half of our Double Novena, and I wouldn't want you to miss your chance to request some of our sister's roses in plenty of time for her upcoming feast.
O Little Therese of the Child Jesus
Please pick for me a rose
from the heavenly garden
and send it to me
as a message of love.
O Little Flower of Jesus,
ask God to grant the favors
I now place with confidence
in your hands . . .
St. Therese, help us to always believe
as you did, in God's great love for us,
so that we may imitate your "Little Way" each day.
* * *
Without any further ado, then, here are some of my favorite words from St. Padre Pio:
“Don’t worry about anything.”
“Oh, how beautiful is Jesus’ face, how sweet His eyes, and what a good thing it is to stay close to Him . . . try to see a certain lovable majesty in His presence, a certain pleasant authority in His manner of speaking, a certain pleasant dignity in His walking . . . a certain sweet serenity of face. Imagine the extremely composed and sweet expression with which He drew the crowds, making them leave cities and castles, leading them to the mountains, the forests, to solitude, and to the deserted beaches of the sea, totally forgetting food, drink, and their domestic duties . . .”
“What are you afraid of with regard to your soul? Don’t you know that Jesus is with you and is doing everything within you? Calm yourself and do not heed those vain and useless fears. . . Cast all your cares upon Him, for He is more concerned about you than a mother is for her little child.”
“Give free reign to your tears, by all means, because this is the work of the Lord . . . Your infirmities, temptations . . . aridity, and desolation all come from His infallible love . . . He wants you to be similar to His beloved Son in the anxiety of the desert, of the Garden, and on the cross. And when the evil one wants to persuade you that you are a victim of his assaults, or of divine abandonment, don’t believe him, because he is suggesting something that is not true; he wants to trick you. It is not true that you . . . disgust the Lord, and therefore, it is not true that the Lord has not forgiven you your faults or your deviations in the past. Divine grace is with you, and you are very dear to the Lord.”
“Do not fear . . . He who has helped you up to now will continue His work of salvation. You will be saved; the enemy will fume with rage. Be sure that the hand which has sustained you up to now – making you enumerate countless victories – that same hand will continue to sustain you until the point when your soul will have itself invited by the heavenly Bridegroom: ‘Come, my bride. Take the crown I have prepared for you from eternity.’ Have boundless trust in the Lord because your reward is not far away. The prophet’s words will not delay in being verified: ‘Then your light shall rise in the darkness.’ Therefore, be consoled in the Lord because your soul has chosen God as its portion. Jesus is with you. He has helped you up to now. He cannot and does not want to abandon you; He will perfect His work.”
“It is about time you rid yourself, once and for all, of so many foolish and unfounded fears which pass through your mind, weigh upon your heart, and keep it bound with harsh chains. Do you entertain doubts about the future? But have I not assured you that the Lord is always with you? Is not the future the same as the present in the sight of the Lord? What then do you doubt? . . . Yes, you are afraid of acting badly and offending God. But rest assured, and be quite at peace, for the ever-present grace of Jesus will take good care to save you from being unfaithful. Calm your immoderate fear, for I assure you in Jesus’ name that as long as you live, you will always do His will. Grace will not be lacking.”
“The most afflicted souls are those who are closest to the divine Heart. And you can be sure that Jesus has chosen your soul as that which is most dear to His adorable Heart. You must hide yourself in this Heart; you must pour out your most ardent desires there, and in this Heart you must still live those remaining days which Providence grants you; you must die in this Heart when the Lord wishes. Without fully understanding it, you are hidden in this Heart….In this Heart, you are, you live, and you move. Don’t ever fall back on yourself when the storm is raging. Place all your trust in the Heart of our most-sweet Jesus . . . Renew your faith continually and never give it up, for faith never abandons anyone, much less a soul that is yearning to love God.”
"Receive the Bread of angels with great faith and with a great flame of love in your heart. Await this most tender Lover of your soul in order to be consoled in this life with the ‘kiss’ of His mouth. Happy are you if you succeed in receiving from the Lord the consolation of this ‘kiss’ in the present life! Then indeed will you feel your will inseparably bound at all times to Jesus’ will. In spirit, cling tightly all the time to the divine will, then be at peace and serve the Lord with a joyful heart, for divine love will never grow less in your soul . . . Continue to have boundless trust in the divine Mercy. I assure you that God loves you very much. Say to Him, ‘Yes, oh divine Lover, Lord of my life, Your love is sweeter than wine.’”
“How consoling it is to know you are always under the protection of a heavenly spirit who never abandons you, not even when you are actually offending God. How delightful is this great truth to the one who believes! Who is to be feared, then, by the devout soul who is trying to love Jesus, when accompanied by such an illustrious warrior? . . . This good angel is praying for you and offers to God all your good works and your holy and worthy desires. When it seems to you that you are alone and abandoned, don’t complain that you are without a friend to whom you can open your heart and confide your woes. For goodness sake, don’t forget this invisible companion who is always there to listen to you, always ready to console you. Oh delightful intimacy, oh blessed companionship!”
“Why are you so afraid of your adversary? Don’t you know that Jesus is invariably with you, and that the enemy of souls has no power over those who have resolved to belong entirely to God? The more you are afraid, the safer you are, and the more lukewarm you feel, the more secure you are.”
“Take your mind off disturbing and tormenting thoughts. Open your heart with boundless confidence to the only One who is able to console and save you. Have no fear for the future, for God is with you, and He is supremely faithful and will not allow you to be overwhelmed by your enemies. This divine Lover will never allow a soul that is consecrated to Him in a most particular way to remain a victim of its enemies. No, no. The enemy will never obtain this victory. May the grace and mercy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always.”
“To succeed better in prayer, remember that graces and enjoyment of prayer are not waters of this earth, but of heaven, and therefore all your efforts are not enough to let them fall . . . Be diligent in praying, but at the same time humble and tranquil. Keep your heart open towards heaven and await the heavenly roar from there . . . Through this, you will move closer to God, and you will place yourself in His presence for two reasons. The first is to render God the honor and consideration you owe Him, and this can be done without Him speaking to you or you speaking to Him. This obligation is paid by your recognizing Him as your God and you as His creature, spiritually prostrate in His presence, without His speaking to you . . . Wait for God to speak to you. One day He will pronounce words of peace and consolation to you, and then you will know that your suffering served a good purpose and your patience was useful.”
“May Jesus be blessed forever, that in the midst of a corrupt nation He desired to draw you to His love . . . May you exult and triumph, because there are other people, too, who know of His goodness and infinite perfection . . . Spend your life giving thanks to the divine Father who, in an excess of love for you, sent His only begotten Son and our most sweet Lover! Protected, covered, and defended by this dear Lord, stand before Him and pray with the humility of the creature and the confidence and freedom of a child. And given that He loves to delight in you, let nothing in the world distract you from delighting in Him as you contemplate His grandeur and infinite titles . . . Pray to Him that He be generous with His divine help so that you too can say in truth with our heavenly Mother, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.’”
“Oh, how burdensome this mortal life is to the children of God! But the next life, which the mercy of the Lord will be pleased to grant you, will be more than you can desire. You certainly must not doubt your possessing it one day, even though you are sinful; and if you not so sinful, it is simply because God is merciful toward those who place all their hope in Him . . . When you find yourself exposed to some trial—either physical or moral, in body or in spirit—the best remedy is to think of Him who is your life. I beg you not to examine whether your past, present, or future actions were, are, or will be too small, or if they were done well or badly. Merely abstain from sin and from those actions which you clearly see to be sinful, and do all with an upright conscience and with the will to please God. Walk with simplicity in the ways of the Lord and do not torment yourself.”
“Do not listen to what your imagination and the enemy suggest to you. They would like you to believe that you are continually offending God and that you always, or nearly always, resist the divine call. The ever present grace of the heavenly Father keeps you quite far from falling into such infidelities. Be quite sure of this. Those negative thoughts come from nowhere else than your own imagination and the evil one. Be careful not to attach any importance to them; their only purpose is to cool your feelings of affection toward your heavenly Spouse, and to make Christian perfection appear irksome by representing it as difficult and impossible for you to attain. Worse still, your imagination and the enemy aim more directly at drying up and causing to wither every sentiment of devotion in your heart. May the peace of Jesus Christ be in your heart.”
“Take heart because the Lord is with you. He suffers with you, groans with you, and is pleased with you . . . Haven’t you loved our Lord up until now? Don’t you still love Him? Don’t you yearn to love Him forever? Therefore, have no fear. Even if you were to have committed all the sins of this world, Jesus tells you, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’"
“Don’t lose heart; in your weakness, unite yourself more to Jesus . . . Prostrate your heart before Him and humbly say, ‘Lord, have mercy because I am weak.’ Then get up peacefully, calm yourself, and with holy indifference, carry on with your tasks.”
“All the seasons of the year can be found in your soul. Sometimes you feel the winter of sterility, distraction, listlessness, and boredom; sometimes the dews of the month of May with the perfume of holy little flowers. Sometimes you experience the colors of the desire to please God. Nothing remains but the autumn, which does not bear much fruit, but it often happens that, when the grain is threshed and the grapes crushed, you find that the harvest is greater than it had promised!"
“You would like it to be eternally spring and summer, but these rotations are necessary, both internally and externally. Only in heaven will everything be spring as regards beauty; autumn as regards enjoyment; and summer as regards love. There will be no winter, but here winter is necessary in order to practice self denial and beautiful little virtues.”
“I rejoice with you in the Lord at the goodness this God is showing you. Fear nothing. God has total possession of your soul and is working within you in a marvelous manner. You need do nothing except expand your soul before so much goodness, and invite Him to work always powerfully within you. Let God shake you when and as He wishes . . . and all will work out for His greater glory and your perfection."
“You imagine that your powerlessness damages you, and it seems to you that this powerlessness prevents you from withdrawing into yourself and from moving closer to God. This is a very great mistake because you suppose wrongly. God has placed you in that state for His glory and for your greater benefit. He wants your miseries to be the throne of His mercy, and your powerlessness the seat of His Omnipotence.”
“Preserve a spirit of holy joyfulness. Nourish your soul with a spirit of cordial confidence in God. Increase your courage, and hope a great deal in accordance with the degree to which you find yourself surrounded by imperfections and miseries. Be very humble, as this is the virtue of virtues, but see that it is a generous and tranquil humility. Always be faithful in serving God well, but observe loving freedom in His service, without your heart feeling even the slightest drop of bitterness."
“Yes, preserve a spirit of holy joyfulness, which, being modestly spread throughout your actions and words, brings consolation to people, the children of God, so that they might glorify God for it, in accordance with the rule given to us by our divine Master . . . Never permit your soul to become sad because Jesus is the Spirit of sweetness and is completely lovable.”
“Fly in spirit before the tabernacle when you cannot go there with the body, and there express your desires. Pray to and embrace the Beloved of souls, better than if you had been able to receive Him in the Sacrament.”
“Always be more humble and make yourself more humble, day by day, in your eyes. Dear God, how great this humility is! It is the true grandeur of the children of God! I exhort you to pray continually for this . . . Live in this way: sweet and lovable toward all; humble, courageous, pure, and sincere in everything. What better desire could I have for you? Be like a little spiritual bee who takes nothing into his hive except honey and wax. May your home be entirely full of sweetness, peace, agreement, humility, and piety, and may your conversation be entirely heavenly. Our Lord loves you, and He loves you tenderly. And if He doesn’t allow you to feel the sweetness of His love, it is in order to render you more humble in your own eyes. However, don’t let this stop you from having recourse to His holy benevolence with every confidence.”
“Remember that you are a child of a merciful Father who is indulgent toward you. . . So make righteousness and peace kiss by always practicing mercy rather than justice, in imitation of your heavenly Father . . . In order to arrive at a heroic degree of love, which enables you to ask Jesus to favor you with a ‘kiss’ of His divine mouth, God’s powerful assistance is required. Ask for and desire this powerful help by seeking God continually with the Spouse in the Song of Solomon.”
“Help yourself mainly during this period [of spiritual dryness] by reading holy books. I earnestly desire to see you reading such books at all times, for this reading provides excellent food for the soul and conduces to great progress along the path of perfection, by no means inferior to what we obtain through prayer and holy meditation. In prayer and meditation it is we ourselves who speak to the Lord, while in holy reading [the Scriptures or holy fathers of the Church] it is God who speaks to us. Try to treasure these holy readings as much as you can, and you will very soon be aware of a spiritual renewal within you. Before beginning to read . . . raise your mind to the Lord and implore Him to guide your mind Himself, to speak to your heart and move your will."
“But this is not sufficient. It is also advisable before you start to read, and from time to time in the course of your reading, to declare before the Lord that you are not reading for the purpose of study or to satisfy your curiosity, but solely to give Him pleasure and enjoyment.”
"Pray, hope, and don't worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer."
“I have made a pact with the Lord: when my soul has been purified in the flames of purgatory and deemed worthy to be admitted to the presence of God, I will take my place at the gate to paradise, but I shall not enter until I have seen the last of my spiritual children enter.”
“I love my spiritual children as much as my own soul, and even more . . . Once I take a soul on, I also take on his entire family as my spiritual children . . . to my spiritual children, my prayers for you will never be lacking.”
“If one of my spiritual children ever goes astray, I shall leave my flock and seek him out.”
* * *
Happy, happy feast day!
If you would like to be one of Padre Pio's spiritual children, here is a simple prayer for that too, because after all, on a great feast, we ought to delight our Heavenly Father's heart by asking for multitudes of great graces! What could make our generous Papa more happy?
Dear Padre Pio, I recall your promise to the Lord, “I will stand at the gates of heaven until I see all my spiritual children have entered.” Encouraged by your gracious promise, I ask you to accept me as your spiritual child.
Draw me, sweet Jesus, we will run!
P.S. I haven't mentioned this for a while, but if you're interested in knowing when we have new posts here at MMM, you can pop in your email address and click the "Subscribe" button on this page, and your inbox will have an email when something new is afoot. I don't know who subscribes or unsubscribes, so feel free to hop on and off the list as desired without fear of detection! And God bless the monkeys at mailchimp whose job it is to keep track of these things: They're quite discreet little monks and don't use your email for anything else . . . but before we forget what we're about, let's close with a rousing THANK YOU, JESUS, for this crazy internet that gives Your saints and angels one more way to befriend us!
A sweet rose of Jesus whispered to me the other day that this ought to be the time of our annual novena, or double novena, or triple novena, wasn't that right?
Without going to the trouble of researching, I consulted my angel and Voila! Suddenly I remembered that we had, about this time one year ago, had a blast with our triple novena of love. We started in time to finish the first novena on today's feast, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. We began the second novena on tomorrow's special day in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows in order to finish on St. Padre Pio's feast. And then we did like the swimmers do when they flip over and head back from the other side of the pool all in one graceful movement, and we immediately began our St. Therese novena which ended on her feast, October 1st. Wow! Good for us! I am truly impressed!
The good news is that another year older has made us another year more Marcel. Did you know that means more forgetful? I'm not making this up, I'm getting it straight from Jesus Himself in Marcel's Conversations with Him (387) when Our Lord says:
"What did your sister Therese teach you? You have forgotten everything already; it's hopeless! And it is also so much the better since what you have forgotten, I am always there to remind you of and thus you can continually learn the lesson anew. What happiness can be compared to yours?"
Sure enough, I'd have forgotten everything too, if that little flower hadn't reminded me . . . and as it is, I'm only galvanizing the troops in time for a double novena this time around. Still, with Jesus I say, "And it is also so much the better!" Who knows, perhaps a triple novena would have intimidated you, but a double novena, that's manageable, right?
Plus if I had been really together (and thus not very much like Marcel), I might have come up with a quadruple novena this year - so we're going with double as half the trouble . . . and certainly twice the fun as a single novena because we get to rope Padre Pio as well as St. Therese into our inner circle of advocates above. And wow, do I feel like I could use the good Padre this year!
Although I don't like to contradict Jesus, I think He might be teasing when He says, "What happiness can be compared to yours?" I've actually been rather sad lately, because in His guise as Divine Thief, Jesus came and stole away my dear sister-in-law Alicia to Heaven. Wasn't that a questionable trick for Him to play just now, when Alicia leaves behind her husband (my brother) and their 7 children until such time as He swoops them up into Eternal Life too?
And yet all the more reason to start our double novena today on this mysterious feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. I can never get a grip on suffering, never cheer it on, never look for it with anything but dread, never accept it with anything but sorrow, even though Marcel's mission was to turn suffering into joy. (Thankfully he had his hesitations about suffering too, to say the least, so we don't need to worry that he's completely unlike the likes of us!)
St. Therese teaches a lot about this - our attitude to suffering - and makes me feel loads better when she explains to her sisters that if we felt happy while we suffered, then it wouldn't be suffering. Quite a relief to know that if Jesus has some Divine and miraculous way to bring us joy with the cross, it is highly unlikely to be a felt joy. Maybe more like a deep peace in accepting His and the Father's will, even while we hate the weight of the cross and our particular suffering as it threatens to drag us down . . .
I only know that I'm glad our first novena leads us to Padre Pio's feast day. First off, he did promise that he wouldn't enter Heaven until all his spiritual children entered before him, and secondly, to my everlasting consolation, he also promised that if we become his spiritual children, that automatically enrolls those dear to us as well. I don't know if my sister-in-law ever fell in love with our good Padre herself (though I remember well when she fell in love with Jesus and Our Lady), but I do know she's enlisted as one of his spiritual children because she's my dear sis, and I'm his obstinate daughter. Try as he might to shake me, I'm stuck to Pio till the end, and if I keep him out of Heaven longer than he otherwise would've been (waiting for me to make it through the pearly gates), well he just should've thought of that before he started making rash promises!
You see, my plan is to keep gathering to my heart any stragglers I run across in my little way toward Paradise. Some might not even be straggling, but just lonely - I think of my 7 beloved nieces and nephews now without their earthly mom - and my plan is to pull them in close and keep them safe in Padre Pio's extended care for the duration. That way we can all enter Heaven together and then rejoice together eternally with all those we love and Those Who love us infinitely!
Technically our double novena starts tomorrow, but I think I'll get us rolling today so we have an extra prayer under our belts and can sidestep any anxiety if we forget a day (or two?) somewhere in the middle. Plus, we're here now, so why not turn to Mary a.s.a.p. with a prayer that captures everything we can desire.
Because St. Padre Pio called Mary his "little mama," I'm sure he'd approve of our using the days leading to his feast as opportunities to turn to her ourselves and, as small children who depend on Mom for all our needs, pour out our hearts in confidence as we snuggle close on her lap.
Here's a favorite prayer you may not know yet (or may remember from previous novenas here). The great part is that you and those you love are included in our novena whether you start today and say it all, or immediately forget (Marcel style) - because like our dear spiritual father, St. Pio, we've got your back!
Oh, and finally, because another little Miss Marcel happened to be reading the EXACT same wonderful passage I've been reading lately - though we were each struck by a different line and then reveled in each other's discoveries - and also because it's good to have some food for the journey as we begin the next 9 days of our novena and then almost 9 more, here (before our promised Marian novena prayer) is another passage from Conversations, this time from St. Therese at (127). I'm finding her sisterly counsel quite valuable, and I hope you'll take her wisdom for yourself too:
"My dear little brother, when you feel trouble in your heart, remind yourself to have recourse to the love of Jesus and do not neglect to speak to me also so that I can help you with my advice. Do not forget either that your worries are only about unfounded things. I am kissing you dear little brother, be happy always in the love of Jesus. Little brother remain peaceful. Formerly I also was inclined to worry, like you, but I regained my peace by obeying my director . . ."
I recently read the words of a wise Carmelite friar who I'm sure has been spiritual director to many. He reminded us that we are surrounded by spiritual directors if we need them: we have the writings of the Saints! And, I would add, the writings of Marcel which include constant reassuring guidance from Jesus, Mary, and St. Therese. And then there are the simple but brilliant words of St. Padre Pio, a father who has guided thousands as if each were his only child:
"Pray, hope, and don't worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer."
An Old French Prayer for Friends
(for our new double novena)
Blessed Mother of those whose names you can read in my heart, watch over them with every care. Make their way easy and their labors fruitful. Dry their tears if they weep; sanctify their joys; raise their courage if they weaken; restore their hope if they lose heart, their health if they be ill, truth if they err, and repentance if they fall. Amen.
St. Padre Pio, pray for us!
St. Therese, pray for us!
Little Marcel, pray for us!
Adorable Jesus, draw me, we will run!
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