Technically this isn't another party, but a continuation of the same . . .
I've been hearing from readers that yesterday's post in honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was a big hit - the combination of poetry and a passage from Marcel's Conversations really touched hearts, so I hate to pre-empt that post with this one . . . but I can't help it - Marcel won't let this new day pass without my introducing you to some more of our friends, and so we're keeping up the celebration with another feast today. P-p-p-p-please, then (as Elmer Fudd would say), do scroll down to enjoy Our Lady's festivities from yesterday, and then let's prolong the party as the Octave unfolds.
You can see what I couldn't overlook by taking a gander at the photos that top my words here. Sorry to be so bossy - scroll down, no, scroll up! - but we're happy here at Miss Marcel's Musings, ecstatic really, at the joys and glories spilling over from God's goodness.
In the top photo we have a terrific view of the Martyrs of Compiegne, 16 Carmelites guillotined on this day in 1794. The cameraman (those guys are everywhere!) caught a lovely cross-section of heaven and earth: above, welcomed by Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and little Jesus, are those sisters already in glory; below, those about to join them. The Mother Superior, Teresa of St. Augustine (I told you we weren't finished with the Carmelite Teresas - not by a long shot!) is the one standing furthest to the right; she was executed last, after seeing her little flock safely beheaded before her.
Do you know what was amazing about these nuns? About a dozen things, at least, but we'll start with the following shorter list:
1. They publicly renewed their vows immediately before their martyrdom, singing after their renewal the Veni Creator Spiritus, as was usual to the occasion (the occasion of their renewal, not the occasion of their martyrdom: that was unusual!).
2. They then sang the Salve Regina together as they singly mounted the scaffold, one voice after another cut short while the others continued singing.
3. Prior to their arrest in June, 1794, they'd offered themselves to God as a sacrifice to end the reign of terror. Sure enough, just days after their execution, the blood bath ended.
As if all that weren't enough, they've been celebrated "in story and song" many times since, and not just by any troubadours, but by several luminaries of the 20th century: the great German convert Gertrude von le Fort (in Song at the Scaffold), Georges Bernanos of Diary of a Country Priest fame, and Francois Poulenc, who wrote an opera about them: Dialogues of the Carmelites. More recent is a book called To Quell the Terror by William Bush, but hands down most thrilling is Dr. Warren Carroll's ode to their joy, The Guillotine and the Cross.
I don't want to say his book is the finest account of their history - it well might be, but I hate to compare poetry, prose, opera, and historical narrative and make a judgment on which one ranks highest. What I find most thrilling about Dr. Carroll's account is that it prepared him and Heaven for his own entry there!
For what do you think? If you scroll up again (yes, I know, your little fingers are getting tired, but if you want to see an even more fabulous photo than the one capturing the martyrs, look at the one just below it - and you won't have to scroll quite so far), you will see three of the greatest men of the late 20th century.
The giant in the middle is Dr. Ronald McArthur, founding president of Thomas Aquinas College (and dear friend). The giant to the left (but on the shorter side) is Fr. Michael Scanlan, T.O.R., the friar who wanted to be a missionary, but was destined instead to revive and renew (rebuild, like his holy father St. Francis) Franciscan University of Steubenville. But finally, the giant on the right is the one we're looking for. He's the convert, Catholic historian, and founding president of Christendom College, Dr. Warren Carroll, who wrote (in one of his many fabulous books) about the Martyrs of Compiegne, and then by the eternal designs of our all-loving God, died on this day, their feast, in 2011.
You can see, then, why we had to set Our Lady and her loving glance aside for a moment then. Except luckily for us, she is never far away, and her glance is about to draw us back under her mantle (if, heaven forbid, we've wandered from it in our musings here). Remember that song the martyrs sang on the way to their death? Modern scholars have been wondering, so says Wikipedia, whether it was the Salve Regina or the Laudate Dominium, that is, Psalm 116 which Carmelites sing at the foundation of a new monastery. Let's leave the scholars to debate; I'm going with the Salve because that's the song Carmelites sing at the end of a Marian event, and it also happens to be the song we'd sing at Christendom College (when we were privileged to be part of Dr. Carroll's "family" there for 14 years) at the end of big celebrations. I'm sure they sing it still! And do you know what we ask for in that song? Let's pray it in English to see, and since we're praying anyhow, let's ask for the glory of Christendom and the end of all reigns of terror threatening her well-being and peace:
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve: to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus, O merciful, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! Amen.
There it is again - Our Lady's glance! Yes, dear Mother Mary, look upon us who still stumble along in this Valley of Tears. Thank you for Therese and Marcel to lead the way, for martyrs and great men to inspire us, and for all those who continue to lead the institutions these great men left behind - bless us all with your gaze which encompasses Heaven and earth. Be a Mother to us and keep us close, snuggling on your lap next to little Jesus whom we long to see and kiss.
And what about Therese and Marcel? Surely they are rejoicing in this day too, for it was in some measure due to the long span of history which passed between the Compiegne Martyrs' death and their beatification that there was such a short blink of history between Therese's martyrdom of Love and her canonization. "Come again?" I hear you ask. Let's try that again, in longhand.
In 1896, a certain Monseigneur de Teil gave a talk in the parlour of the Lisieux Carmel and Thérèse was among the assembled nuns who heard him. Father de Teil was then postulator for the cause of the Carmelite martyrs of Compiegne, who had offered themselves for France and were guillotined 102 years before this little visit. These nuns had not yet been beatified, even, so when Father finished his talk, he said to Therese and her religious sisters, “Listen! If any of you ever plan on being canonized, please, have mercy on your poor postulator and work a lot of miracles!” Several years later Father de Teil found himself the vice-postulator of Thérèse’s cause and said, “She is a very obedient child!” because she did provide for him, as he’d ordered her when she was alive, plenty of miracles!
Marcel is the second Therese, so I'm sure he's working plenty of miracles too. Ask him for some! Call on our little brother and you will see how quickly he flies to your aid. If, however, he seems slow today, I'm sure it's only because he's busy soaking up the joy of the reunion between the 16 martyrs of Compiegne and their biographer and friend, Warren Carroll, on this their feast. "Trust exists! The Incarnation happened," Marcel is singing with the heavenly court.
I suggest we all have a big fat slice of chocolate cake in honor of our sisters and brothers in Heaven. Our Lady is with us, enfolding us in her mantle and her gaze. Let's try not to get crumbs on her lap!
Oh, almost forgot - one more prayer and then it's party time:
Draw me, we will run!
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