I'll be the first to admit I'm codependent (i.e. I want to help everyone and fix everything - whether I'm asked or not, whether it's my job or not, whether the person or thing wants fixing, and whether or not the fixing will be to my detriment - I mean not that I'd consciously make a holy sacrifice for it, but that I'd forget to take care of myself in important ways, like eating or sleeping, and/or that I'd happily at first, though regretfully after the fact, abandon my actual duties and obligations to Save the World).
But I don't think it's me and my codependence behind the title of this post. As much as I gladly imitate the ostrich with its head in the sand (although I'd prefer my head in a really soft pillow), it has come to my attention - or rather ours, here at Miss Marcel's Musings - that I am now not alone in wanting to fix things.
I take my head out of my pillow for just a moment, answer the door or the phone, visit a friend, go to Sunday Mass (or Monday Mass), and WHAM! (Not the 80's group, but more like the old Batman and Robin T.V. show). Everything is not turning up roses outside my pillow, and then yes, I suppose it is my codependence kicking in: When I see that everyone else is now concerned to save the world, I can't help but throw in my two cents, wanting, now, not just to save the world, but wanting too to save everyone else from too much worry. (And we all know - or can read previous posts here to find out - how much worry is too much worry. Any, according to God!)
Which brings us to HOW TO FIX EVERYTHING.
Luckily, I have the answer. And I'm not kidding!
You won't be surprised to hear that the answer comes from Jesus, Divine Physician, Good Shepherd, and actual Savior of the World.
You might be surprised to hear that the answer from Jesus does not come to us through Marcel.
Gosh, even as I write that, I'm surprised. And I want to qualify it, which I'll do by saying that I'm not saying the answer I'm going to give you is the only answer. In fact I can think of one more equally good Way To Fix Everything right off the top of my head. No, I don't mean the answer to that perennial question: How to keep one's roots blonde too; I just mean that another Way To Fix Everything comes to mind immediately, so the one I'm going to offer clearly isn't the Only Way to Fix Everything, but just A Great and Easy Way To Fix Everything., thus leaving room for more such Ways to come to us from Jesus through Marcel.
But since we know from Therese that for simple souls there must be no complicated ways, for now I'm going to go with the first and easiest Way To Fix Everything that Jesus has revealed to me in these last few days.
Though He didn't reveal this to me through Marcel, Jesus did use another little secretary of His love to open the gate to this Way To Fix Everything, and that other little apostle is St. Faustina. (And if it seems repetitive for me to keep saying "The Way To Fix Everytyhing," well I only want to make sure that I don't forget what I'm supposed to be writing about. Because this is BIG!)
St. Thomas Aquinas asks toward the beginning of the Summa Theologiae "Whether God is Simple" and (to cut to the chase, life being short and our need to fix everything becoming more urgent by the moment), he answers Yes.
Without worrying about what that even means, then (please don't tell my husband I'm using my education in this way! nah, just kidding, he already knows . . .), we can conclude, with little Therese, that for Jesus' simple soul there ought not to be complicated ways either. And, not surprisingly, there are not!
When He wants us to learn from Him, Jesus asks us to imitate His gentleness and humility of heart. And when He wants us to help Him Save the World (also known as Fixing Everything), He gives an equally simple Way. Here it is, as He told it to St. Faustina on January 28, 1938 (and if you have her Diary, you can read along at 1541).
"My daughter, encourage souls to say the chaplet which I have given to you. It pleases Me to grant everything they ask of Me by saying the chaplet."
Jesus is speaking of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and you can say it on your rosary. You start with one Our Father and one Hail Mary, followed by the Apostle's Creed (you'll have to be creative to make these fit perfectly on the first beads of the Rosary, but I'll leave that to your imagination so you feel like you're really part of the solution). Then on the first decade, you start with:
Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins, and those of the whole world.
Then you've got the 10 beads of the decade. On each one you repeat:
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us, and on the whole world.
When you finish the first decade and start the next, you repeat the "Eternal Father" prayer, then for the decade itself you say on each bead, "For the sake of His sorrowful Passion," et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
At the end of the five decades, you say the Trisagion.
You thought you knew the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and now I'm throwing you a curve ball, huh? Well no, you most likely do already know even the Trisagion, but you didn't know it was called by this very cool name. I know that I didn't know it was called this until about 2 years ago (almost exactly 2 years ago) when I was messing about one day with books (ah, books!) and started looking into St. Anthony Mary Claret's Autobiography and found that he was told by God to say the Trisagion in order to help save the world.
Naturally, my first thought was: What in heaven's name is the Trisagion? And my second thought (really they were so closely thought as almost to be one) was: And why aren't we saying it everyday like God told St. Anthony Mary Claret we must???
Good news. Even if you and I have been sometimes remiss in saying the Trisagion daily, I can assure you that large numbers of people have taken God's recommendation to heart. You might wonder where you've been and how you've missed this trend. Is everyone else reading The Autobiography of St. Anthony Mary Claret, while you've been reading Clan of the Cave Bear? (That's a little joke. No need for you to even get it; just substitute whatever you've been reading lately for that second title.)
Well no, to my knowledge (and I try to keep my finger on the pulse of what the reading public is reading), not many have been reading St. AMC's Autobiography, though as you are beginning to suspect, it's a page turner (that's not a joke but quite true) and quite wonderful, as the Autobiography of a Saint usually is.
But no, the reason people have been saying the Trisagion prayer daily all over the world is because for simple souls there must be no complicated ways. Jesus, then, as a simple soul, does not simply keep multiplying prayers for us (which would not be simple even if we say He might "simply" keep doing that). Nope, He apparently keeps recommending the Trisagion.
Here's something I found online (and that's another story, but I do enjoy googling my holy questions). I didn't come up with the entry from the Autobiography of St. Anthony Mary Claret that I wanted to share with you, but instead I found (straight off, like the angels had sent it) a pamphlet called The Angelic Trisagion which starts with this passage:
"The exquisitely beautiful Trisagion Prayers, intoned by the nine choirs of Holy Angels – Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Powers, Virtues, Principalities, Archangels and Angels – give “endless praise” to the Holy Trinity in Heaven. This devotion to the Blessed Trinity is the official prayer of the Order of the Blessed Trinity, otherwise known as the Trinitarians. The devotion has been recited by them and their affiliates for centuries in praise of the Trinity. Throughout man's history these prayers were transmitted by the Persons of the Holy Trinity to various saintly people such as Isaias, John the Apostle and Evangelist and St. Anthony Mary Claret.
"When these prayers were given to St. Anthony Claret who lived from 1807 to 1870, he was informed by the Holy Ghost, Third Person of the Holy Trinity, that many chastisements due to mankind . . . would be considerably mitigated for those persons who would pray the Trisagion Prayers . . .
"In a letter to Mother Maria Antonia de San Pedro, Saint Anthony Claret writes, 'God, Our Lord, has made known to me in a very clear way the necessity that we have to pray and to promote the devotion of the Trisagion, and of the Most Holy Rosary and devotion of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, frequently visiting Him and receiving Him in Most Holy Communion.' In particular, the Trisagion is as Saint Anthony Claret says, 'an impenetrable shield against all the evils that God has sent on earth as a chastisement for our sins.'"
To my delight, the author then brings in the very passage I wanted to share with you from St. AMC's Autobiography, the passage I read 2 years ago and which first clued me in to the Trisagion. (Leave it to google and the angels, should be my motto, oh me of little faith!)
St. Anthony says:
"Our Lord enlightened me in regard to the three evils menacing Spain [which is where he lived and was a Bishop], which are . . . "
Well, let's just stop right there and fill in the blanks.
First, you can replace "Spain" with the country in which you live. Then, you can fill in whatever you think are the three evils menacing your country - or even the three evils menacing you personally. I know it would be good gossip to hear what Jesus told AMC were the three evils menacing Spain in his day, but that's not really to the point, now, is it?
What I've been noticing (though I try hard not to) is that there seem to be evils menacing the Church and the world in our own day, evils which are making all holy people profoundly uncomfortable, to say the least. So let's just go ahead and fill in the blanks by ourselves, making it more up-to-date and applicable to our moment in history, and see what Jesus suggests we do about it . . . Continuing with His advice to St. Anthony Mary Claret then:
"In order to counteract these evils, Our Savior made me understand that three devotions had to be intensified, namely, the Trisagion of the Holy Trinity, devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and devotion to the Holy Rosary. The Trisagion is to be said daily. The Blessed Sacrament should be honored by hearing Mass, receiving Communion frequently, visiting the Blessed Sacrament, and making spiritual communions. The three parts of the Rosary should be said every day, or at least one part, while meditating on the mysteries for each decade, and applying the prayers to the needs of the times.” -Autobiography of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Chapter 18 of Part III
Now before you run off and complicate your life to no end, figuring out just where you're going to stuff in those three parts of the Rosary (not to mention the 4th part St. JPII gave us), and when you're going to abandon your post (as a wife and mother, a kid with schoolwork to do, a day laborer or teacher or neurosurgeon or whatever it is you find your work to be) in order to run in and out of Church 12 times a day to adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament . . . let's just pause and use our noggins.
It would be marvelous if it turns out that you've been sitting somewhere (at home, in a car or bus, on the sidewalk or curb, at the beach, on a pillar) just wishing Jesus would instruct you on what to do with all your free time. You don't really want to spend your days reading Wikipedia entries on "Sanford and Son" and finding out whatever happened to your favorite celebrities of yore, but dang if you can find anything productive to keep you busy . . . .If that's your story, feel free (without scruples but with joy and relief that finally someone's suggested something worthy of your time, attention, and above all your heart) to say the whole Rosary, go to daily Mass and Communion, visit the Blessed Sacrament frequently, and say the Trisagion prayers (don't worry, I haven't forgotten that we haven't yet specified what these are. We're getting there, I promise).
I'm guessing, though (and it's an educated guess because I know A LOT of people, and I'm a fond observer of human nature and have a good listening ear) that everyone including you is, let's say, a little busy already.
And that being the situation in which we find ourselves (as well as menaced by evil), wouldn't it be nice if - for simplicity and efficiency's sake - there were just one thing we could do to remedy these evils, fix everything, and help Jesus save the world?
Let's repeat those words Our Lord said to St. Faustina, because I think the answer is right here:
"My daughter, encourage souls to say the chaplet which I have given to you. It pleases Me to grant everything they ask of Me by saying the chaplet."
That's straightforward and simple enough, and here's what I LOVE about the chaplet.
It takes just a few minutes to say, and for those of us who are fairly unfocused and slow to meditate, the great thing about the chaplet is that one just says the same few valuable and effective words over and over, and if in repetition (50 times repeating "For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world") one manages to actually think about these adorable words just once, well I at least feel quite excited to have managed some prayer in my prayers.
I find even more than with the Rosary (though I pray Saints John Paul II and Padre Pio help us love that prayer most of all), there is no room for scrupples here, just littleness and the knowledge that Jesus wouldn't say He'll grant everything we ask of Him by saying the chaplet unless He meant it.
So, having told you just how to say the Divine Mercy Chaplet up until that ending bit, it's time to connect the dots. (No, this isn't another activity. I'm hoping to magically tie together the words of Our Lord to St. Faustina and St. Anthony Mary Claret.)
The Trisagion that Jesus asked St. Anthony Mary Claret to say daily to counteract the evils of the age (and thus, in my loose translation, to save the world and FIX EVERYTHING) is the very prayer He instructed us, through Faustina, to say at the end of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and it goes like this:
Holy God! Holy Mighty One! Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us.
With the happy addition, in the Chaplet version, of a tiny extra prayer to make sure His grace and Mercy cover absolutely everyone (and everything). The tiny extra prayer goes like this:
"and on the whole world."
The final prayer of the Chaplet is, then:
Holy God! Holy Mighty One! Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us, and on the whole world.
Now. I have a confession to make. I'm tempted to worry that I use a few too many words in these blogs. If only I used fewer words, I think, then I could get to the point faster, and more people (who are in a hurry) could profit from the important headlines that top our posts - you know, by actually reading the punchline that goes with it in the post proper. So, for instance, if I were to top today's post with "How to Fix Everything" and someone were to scroll down hoping to find out how, exactly, to fix everything, they could find out without having to commit to reading lots and lots and lots of words before they get to the ones they're looking for.
You, dear reader, are here with me. If you weren't, you wouldn't be reading these words right now (down here, as opposed to the opening words, which you read quite some time ago). Thank you for your perseverance! And I know, because you may be one of the happy readers who have clicked on that "contact me" button to let me know, that you don't mind all the words I've given you between those at the top and these here toward the bottom. ("Toward" in a general, non-committed sense, believe me!)
You might even be thanking God for these many words and saying to yourself, "Gee, I hope she doesn't try to stifle herself. Someone might get hurt, and I'd miss all those words." That's what I'm hoping you're saying, and that's what we'll go with because while I might not hurt myself if I used fewer words (though hating pain and suffering as I do, I'm not sure I want to risk finding out), still, using fewer words certainly would take away lots of the fun I'm having with you every time I write a post.
So....tossing that temptation over my left shoulder where all good temptations should be disposed of, let's now move on to The Punchline.
(This is a rhetorical question. It's one thing for me to take forever to get all the words down and you to take forever to read them, but if we wait for you to guess what, we could be here even longer than forever! Because I think you'll never guess!!!)
Okay, I'm going to give you one guess.
I'm going to close my eyes for a moment to let you think and then you say what you guess. I'll wait while you close your eyes and think and guess..............................................
Okay. Back again?
I hate to say it (actually I'm enjoying this tremendously!), but you guessed wrong! So now I'm going to give you a clue.
Have you ever said (or heard of) a 54 day Rosary Novena?
No, silly, I'm not suggesting we say one.
That might not be your idea of easy, and I did say that we'd take the easy little way to Fix Everything. I did say, too, that this easy Way to Fix Everything wasn't the only way, and Sister Lucia (you know, of Fatima) herself said that with the Rosary we can obtain everything, so that's definitely one more excellent approach.
But for us, for now, we're little ones, and we're taking the little way.
(This being, after all, Miss Marcel's Musings, not St. Simon Stylites' Suggestions, which comes to mind as an alternative since we were recently talking about people sitting on pillars, but no, that's not our preferred posture here.)
So. Think of the Divine Mercy Chaplet as shorter than the Rosary and requiring less meditation. Then think 54 day Novena (technically that's 6 novenas: 3 in petition, 3 in thanksgiving, and whoosh you've got 54 days. Believe me, you don't have to do the math unless you want to; this is a blog which requires no special SAT score to read).
Divine Mercy Chaplet.
54 Day Novena.
You guessed it!
A 54 day Divine Mercy Chaplet Novena!
And don't even tell me that Joe Shmoe over at the Holy Rollers blog thought of it first. Because, I ask you, did he realize or suggest or bring to your undivided attention (there. I got you there. When was the last time your attention was undivided? So I doubt it. But let me finish) that (drum roll please) -
If we start a 54 day Divine Mercy Novena today, on August 30th, we will finish on the Feast of Pope St. JOHN PAUL the Great!?!?!?!?!???????
All those question marks were really unnecessary, except that the statement above, entirely true as far as my counting skills and mathematical computations have calculated (which means you'd better check and Contact Me if I got this wrong), was the end of a question from the previous paragraph.
But otherwise, only exclamation marks fit the end of that sentence!
So what do you think? Are you ready to save the world with me and Jesus? Ready to Fix Absolutely Everything?!?!?
I say let's do it. Let's start the first annual 54 days (to the Divine Mercy Champion's feast) Divine Mercy Novena. We may want to come up with a shorter and catchier name, but for now, are you in?
Here's the best part.
Or rather the best 3 parts, in honor of the Trinity (whom the angels honor by saying the Trisagion in Heaven as Isaiah and John in Revelation assure us):
1. While you're saying the chaplet, you can feel free to think of and throw in (as intentions) every single thing that's wrong in your world (according to your limited intelligence, and I'm not judging here, just saying sometimes it's easier to call it a petition than to thank God for it, so throw it all in) and throw in too what's wrong in the outside world . . . not as an exercise in scrupulosity or a precursor to mental breakdown, but rather as a way of saying implicitly, "Jesus, I trust in YOU," knowing He's going to fix it all because He said He would. Ah, how comforting that is!
2. Let's ask our guardian angels to pray this novena with us.
Please? (That's to the angels, not to you :).
That way if we forget, our angel can say the chaplet for us.
Talk about the little way of novenas. I hardly count a novena as successful if I remember all the days. We have to let God do the saving without our deserving it, so missing days helps, though I try not to do it on purpose. Believe me, it will happen without our trying!
But as I said, this way our angels can fill in the gaps.
3. Finally, the very best part.
Do you know what is the most successful way I've found to get to sleep (or get the chaplet said)? Try saying it when you desperately need a nap around 3 pm (and for once you have permission to try this at home, but NOT while operating heavy machinery; better to be in a reclining position, though not while driving) or at night when going to bed (start when in bed for best results) or when you wake at 3 a.m. If you don't get to sleep (or back to sleep), you'll get your chaplet said, so it's a win-win, but likely you'll drowse off into dreamland and your angel can finish the chaplet (per #2). He absolutely loves saying that Trisagion at the end, and I'm confident he'll say the prayers leading up to it too.
That's it, then, and I'm excited to have finished writing so I can post this and do my little part to save the world (i.e. Fix Everything) by spreading the good news of just how easy it is.
Incidentally (or essentially, depending on how the shoe fits), you don't need to keep up with the news that comes from secular or even Catholic outlets. Just say your chaplet knowing that Jesus will use your loving prayer (whether said attentively, foggy-brained, fuzzily, or with the help of the angels) to save the world and Fix Everything. He's omniscient and He'll know what needs fixing, who (and what) needs saving, and so on and so forth. Your job is to have fun with the chaplet, that's all you need to do, with nothing left to worry about ever!
Ah, but before we end this post, I had a request. Kind of like a song request, except that I don't know the tune, just the words, and I don't even know how to say the words correctly, which is why I need your help. (If "you" are the one who wrote in with the request, pretend you aren't reading this. I am not turning the tables and requesting you to find the answer, cutie.)
I'm going to write out our signature prayer (in French and English) but the thing is that some of us have no idea how to pronounce the French. I did put our French prayer into Google translate (or rather into the Google box and with the additional word "translate") and I did get a translation and audio file for how to say it . . . but I didn't get around to reproducing those sounds as phonetic spellings (like telling you that you'd pronounce Smarcel as S-mark-ul - which is another story for another day) . . . So any one of you kind-hearted souls who worry that saying the chaplet for 54 days is too easy, please don't hesitate to assist a fellow Marcel lover (Miss Marcel East, to name names) who wants to know how to pray in French and not be laughed at by our sister Therese and our brother Marrcel. (Good luck with that, MME! But it's worth a try!)
Meanwhile, in our worst imitation of a native French speaker (unless you are a native French speaker reading this, and then you can pray it beautifully and correctly), let's say together our other (and even simpler) Fix Everything prayer:
Entraine-moi! nous courrons a ta suite!
and with likely more convincing accents:
Draw me (sweep me off my feet, Jesus!)! We shall run!
Finally, for a dose of courage, scroll back up to the top of this post and take a good look at those two brave men. They are your brothers, your fathers, the ones who have your back. And they're both saying the same thing to you right now and forever - Be not afraid! I love that, and didn't want you to miss it. No worries, now! You can tell just by looking at their faces that everything is going to be fine, just fine. So no more fears! And if you just can't help it, remember Our Lady's good counsel: "Little Jesus, I offer You this worry as a sacrifice." But enough of my words; scroll up and let those guys fill you with their undaunted and all knowing courage!
P.S. If you are reading this sometime in the future, I have one suggestion and one question.
Suggestion: you can join in this 54 day Divine Mercy novena at any time! Or start your own now and go 54 days into the even further future.
Question: is everyone wearing one piece polyester pantsuits?
Just when I think Marcel won't have anything new to offer me, I go ahead and open Conversations just in case, and wouldn't you know he bowls me over with another winning page.
Or to be more precise, Jesus bowls us both over (Marcel and me), or Mary does, or Therese. And it's not that I really doubt the power of this book to inspire me, again and again, but gee, what a mystery that it is so consistently and predictably heart warming, not to mention life changing!
Take today, for instance. Since I'm not so good at living in the present moment, today is a good day to take as a test case. I can show you what I mean and live in the moment at the same time!
I opened to (596) to find Our Blessed Mother speaking to us through Marcel, and oh how I love her suggestion here. This is an idea whose time has come, and if it had a patent, we'd make millions. But the good news is we don't need a patent to make millions with it - millions of roses! And oh how much better are roses than dollars (or pounds, or yen, or lire or francs, or I suppose I should be saying Euro, though how very boring that sounds compared to shekels or pesos . . . ) And sure, in some of those cases a million wouldn't get you all you wanted. Make it a hundred million then! Roses, as I say, not other forms of currency, but if you need me to write a post on "why roses are better than filthy lucre," I will shake my head at you. Silly! Can't you see even in the very names which is to be preferred, which is more valuable, which is the treasure and which the dross?
Ah, roses. The signature flower of our little sister Therese, though she claims she is a little white flower. Have you ever stooped down to see something on the ground and noticed there's a flower, maybe two or three, a teeny tiny forgotten or unseen (until you saw it) creation as perfect as the brightest star? I love the little white and purple daisies I've discovered this way when I least expected them. I also love the large white and purple daisies that are fairly common in our area (yet rare pleasures, nonetheless), but the tiny ones have something very special about them . . .
Those are gifts from God to us, but the roses I'm making millions of (and you can too!) by taking Our Lady's advice, these are roses we can offer back to Him, roses of our own creation, and more exquisite - and at the same time more common - than anything you could imagine or find in a florist's shop.
Let me quote the passage that has so inspired all this creativity. I feel like I've discovered a way to make manufactured gems or some other such strange and sparkly 21st century miracle. In fact, I'm only using an ordinary household item to make my roses, kind of like the modern version of spinning flax into gold thread. (Knowing very little beyond a muddled up concatenation of vague bits from fairy tales floating in the far reaches of my blonde soul, I'm not sure if anyone ever did spin flax into gold, but it sounds good, doesn't it?)
Here is what Our Blessed Mother, always so compassionate and merciful, advises this morning. She doesn't mention the roses, but the truth is I knew there were roses coming today, so I chose the photo above this post and waited. Then as I said at the outset, and as is my custom when I know not how to pray (daily), I opened Conversations and immediately found everything I needed, which happened today to be roses: Roses we can give Jesus in thanks for all of the roses He gives to us.
Our Lady doesn't mention the roses, she mentions sacrifices, but before you cringe (I cringe at the mention of sacrifices, so in the interest of empathy I'm assuming you do too), listen closely and hear what the sacrifices are. They're nothing more nor less than those common household items I mentioned earlier, and you'll be glad to declutter them by offering them as roses to Jesus. But let's hear Mary's explanation. She says it simply and sweetly:
"My child, did you just mention sacrifice? . . . 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 in 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 offer 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.'"
+ + +
And now we know where the thorns on roses come from. The devil, of course! You see, there is the net he holds out to us to drag us along, and he's filled the net with thorns. But wait! as soon as we offer our anxieties (the thorns) to Jesus as a sacrifice, He turns them into roses (which the angels instantly de-thorn) and draws the whole kit and caboodle - net, roses, and us! - into His arms and close to His Heart. The devil is foiled and we are safe once again. Not that we were ever truly in danger, but it was feeling prickly inside our souls, and now we are quieted and everything is turning up roses, just like it should in a Bollywood movie or Real Life (which my husband maintains is so much like a Bollywood movie, what with the beauty and the bright colors and everyone breaking into song and dance as needed).
If you were skeptical about the roses being countless, try to count them now! When I have tried to apply Our Blessed Mother's good counsel here, I have been shocked by how my ongoing mental radio seems stuck on the worry station. No sooner have I dispatched one worry by offering it to little Jesus as a sacrifice, than another takes its place. It's as if the whole radio is supplying nothing but worry stations! Switch the channel from worrying-over-the-kids radio and you get worrying-over-tomorrow, commercial free! Try twisting the knob and next you get worrying-over-what-you-will-wear and then worrying-over-what-you-will-eat, as if Jesus' sermon on the mount merely provided good suggestions for anxiety radio playlists!
Well leave it to Our Lady to help us find the way out. She brought Jesus to us in the first place, and she'll bring us to Him as well, all wrapped in nets and riddled with thorns as we may be. Yes, it's a "come as you are" (and B.Y.O.R. - bring your own roses) party. Thankfully the thorns morph into roses as soon as we remember to say the sweet prayer Mary just taught us: "Little Jesus, I offer you this worry as a sacrifice."
Uh-oh. Did I say "as soon as we remember"?
Shockingly, Our Lady said it first, as if she had forgotten how feeble our little white or purple daisy memories are.
"Always remember this method, all right?"
Those were her exact words.
Well to be honest, I've been waiting for a challenge like this.
Some run marathons.
Others get up the moment the alarm clock sounds.
As for me, I've been thinking for years it would be marvelous to remember something. Maybe this is it. You know, like St. Alphonsus said. Don't worry if you don't know what St. Alphonsus said. I forget myself, but I can look it up . . .
A slight technical difficulty has arisen.
In looking up what Marcel's dear holy father said (I know it was along the lines of: "One holy maxim frequently pondered is enough to make a Saint), not only could I not find it in my 45 second window (beyond that my attention will fade to the extent that I'll start answering emails or reading old posts, and this one will languish instead of flourish), but to make matters worse, I discovered that I'd already written (somewhere in the hinterlands of Miss Marcel's Musings) on this very passage that's so captivated me today.
Well, we don't have time to waste in pondering the eternal mystery of my forgetfulness. We barely have enough time to celebrate.
Why that Jesus reminded us, just as He promised!
Because I do remember, fortunately for my piece of mind (which is very small, and my peace of mind, which is thankfully bigger) that Jesus told Marcel (and therefore us) not to worry about forgetting because it is just the excuse He needs to come remind us. "All the better!" were His exact words, I think. (Well, translated from Vietnamese into French into English. But don't they have that ring of Divine truth?)
Oddly but wonderfully enough, Jesus likes reminding us!
That's reason enough to celebrate, even if the place weren't about to be flooded with roses. Our forgetting gives Him the perfect opportunity to come save us again, and that is, after all, what He's so perfect at doing (among an infinite variety of other things). It's His very mission, you might say.
Following our policy of full disclosure, however, I must add that Jesus isn't the only one who will celebrate with us when we remember to say this prayer, and He isn't the only one who will enjoy the roses filling the room with their fragrance and beauty. As our Mother explained, so many souls are saved through these little sacrifices of our worries offered to Jesus. These souls will be celebrating too! And besides knowing we've delighted Jesus with the spectacular show of our thorns miraculously turning into roses mid-air, and besides delighting with Him in the souls we're helping Him save (and delighting with them in Him), there is the further and exceedingly delightful relief of abandoning our worries, letting them go, and feeling that we're exactly where we are supposed to be, and Jesus will take care of everything.
Lest you think we're putting Jesus out (despite my attempt to reassure you that He loves us and far from minding our littleness, as St. Therese teaches so authoritatively He loves us in our littleness), here is something to further encourage you in our new practice.
(I'll whisper this so you're not embarrassed if you forgot already. Our new practice is saying, "Jesus, I offer you this worry as a sacrifice.")
I don't know if you caught this, but Our Lady said the funniest thing when explaining what we are to do. She remarked that Jesus is happier this way (with our offering Him our worries as sacrifices) than He would be simply defeating the devil without our being part of the equation.
He loves to have us near Him, He loves to have us working alongside Him. He knows that we labor in faith, and that our faith is sometimes blind, and we often can't see that He is near. But this makes the victory all the greater when we repeat this trick and give the devil the slip by making gold roses out of the stuff of our worries. (Cobwebs, I believe they are made of, according to Our Lady in other conversations with Marcel.)
Part of me is wondering if you're getting tired of my repeating my favorite passages to you. They're always new to me, and I'm glad to help Jesus remind you, or tell you for the first time if you've just arrived, fashionably late, to our party - I'm like the hostess who can't wait to introduce you to our guest of honor, our brother Marcel, just back from 'Nam and worthy of a hero's welcome.
Since Marcel wouldn't be anything more than another unknown soldier to us if it weren't for his best friends, instructors, and confidantes - Jesus, Mary, and St. Therese - and his translators, Fr. Antonio Boucher and Mr. Jack Keogan, you'll meet them all too in these virtual halls of my interior castle. I'm so lucky to live here, it's the least I can do to welcome you with my whole heart. And if you notice me repeating myself, I'm not entirely batty, I'm merely pointing out, each time we pass them, the highlights of the tour.
But then, what am I thinking? I've forgotten already! I'm not supposed to worry about repeating myself (or anything else), but now that I've found I've written myself into a corner, I'm going to click my heels three times and say, "Little Jesus, I offer you this worry as a sacrifice."
There. Feeling better and smiling bigger already!
We've only our signature prayer to say before I let you loose to go make roses yourself. First, though, I've got to tell you the most wonderful surprise Marcel and Therese sprung on me yesterday.
It started the day before yesterday, actually, when Marcel gave me a really beautiful small French Bible. I had to pay the Friends of the Library $2 for it, but you know Marcel's specialty is giving, not paying, so I did it when he wasn't looking. Kind of like slyly leaving something extra for the tip like we used to do when my husband's adorable little grandma took us out to lunch, but she was using decades old standards of what might be a fitting compensation. Wow. Do you think Marcel's ever been compared to a little grandma before? He must be laughing!
Well, Therese had already given me a Concise French Dictionary at a similar library book sale a few months ago. And lest she think she's a better giver than Marcel because her gift was totally free (on their "discarded but please take" table), let's remind her that a Concise French Dictionary, however helpful (and this one is ironically and amusingly very large and largely helpful) cannot compare to the Word of God in any language . . .
So. That brings us to yesterday when I opened my French Bible to the Cantique des Cantiques (you gotta love French; they make it as easy as they can for the rest of us to guess their meaning) to read our signature prayer in French! (For those just joining us, our prayer is taken from the last pages of Therese's Story of a Soul, but she took it from the Song of Songs, or rather, Le Cantique des Cantiques.)
It goes like this (in French! isn't this exciting?):
Entraine-moi! nous courrons a ta suite!
(There is supposed to be an accent mark over the "a" before "ta suite.")
In English, we've been praying:
Draw me; we will run!
So if we compare the two, you can get an idea of which word is which. At least you can't be much worse at this than I am, but the main surprise is coming in the very first word, so you won't have to learn a lot of French to fall in love with Jesus all over again . . .
You see, I found out that my very fat Concise French Dictionary is really for translators. The authors (yes, dictionaries have authors, which is astounding and a natural wonder in itself) say in their introduction that their purpose is to provide the closest possible English-word-translation for each French word. You can see, then, why Therese chose this particular dictionary for me, out of all the French dictionaries ever printed. Thanks, sis!
Naturally, then, the first word we need to look up is the first word, "Entraine," and since the first phrase is "Entraine-moi" and we all know from Miss Piggy that "moi" is "me," well I just ran with it and guessed that "entraine" was going to be "Draw," and "Entraine-moi" would be "Draw me!" I love that the Holy Spirit wanted two exclamation points in the French version. And you'll soon see why.
In my Concise Oxford French Dictionary, the good Abel and Marguerite Chevalley have provided this entry in the "E" section:
entrainer: 1. to draw or drag along; 2. to carry away, to sweep away, to sweep (a person) off his feet . . .
Oh my sweet Jesus! You sly dog! You hound of heaven! You aren't asking us to pray that You might politely draw us. If necessary you're willing to drag us to Yourself, but as Our Lady says that's what the devil is planning to do with his net, I don't think that's quite the right translation. Most likely of all, the prayer you've been wanting to teach us is the one wherein we happily request (insist even, with an exclamation point) that You sweep each one of us off our feet! Then, we will all run to You - not just those of us You've already swept off our tired feet, but those we'll sweep along with us in our enthusiastic ecstasy of love for You!
We'll be irresistible. No more dragging our feet (the more I consider that earlier possible translation, the less likely it seems). We will, with the wings of the Holy Spirit, fly to You! Though You have swept us off our feet, we will courrons, that is (according to the Chevalleys and I do trust this solid pair) we will run, race, hurry, hasten, speed, as if running a race; we will search, make progress, strive, and prevail!
I haven't quite figured out "a ta suite" (with the accent mark over that opening "a"). I'm thinking it might be an idiom or special construction, and I await enlightenment.
As to the rest of my French studies, I can't tell you what happened next because your heart is not nearly as hard as mine, and if I were to tell you the revelation of love that came next (don't worry, no angel piercing my heart with an arrow yet, just the illuminating light of a French dictionary), you would no doubt die of love. And then where would we be? I love to write these posts, but it takes two to tango and two to make a happy blog. You're needed here, so no dying of love just yet. As for me, with the further revelation (in the "t" section of the dictionary; that's all I'm saying; my lips are now sealed) I was in awe, and very, very touched. That's good for a hard heart, isn't it?
And so, until another day, (I seem to remember from the card accompanying a vase of 18 pink roses given to me by a sweet friend for my 18th birthday, that here I might say "a bientot" with one of those nifty little hats on one of the vowels), let's pray together with Therese and Marcel:
Entraine-moi! nous courrons a ta suite!
And now, they're laughing heartily at our terrible accents, but that's just the best way to start a party: with really happy laughter! So no worries, and when you find yourself worrying despite everyone's advice not to, then try our new party trick and say as often as you need to (and with laughter):
"Little Jesus, I offer you this worry as a sacrifice!"
And then smile and open a window, because the room is filling with Saints and sinners-turning-into-Saints as well as roses, and we wouldn't want the sweet fragrance of all these gorgeous flowers to overwhelm us!
"Let not your heart be troubled . . . Let not your heart be troubled or afraid. You have heard Me say, 'I go away and I am coming to you.'" (Jn 14)
I'm having a little debate with myself. It is 3 a.m., an excellent time for a debate, except that usually no one else is awake, so one must have these debates interiorly, quietly, alone.
For me these debates, or conversations if you will, start with a discussion about whether or not we (the royal "we") will go back to sleep. I always think this is a good idea, but often some part of me (the other component of the "we") disagrees. I try not to allow argument over the point, and the other part of me agrees. "Let's just get up!" she says. And so, here we are.
Actually it was about 2:40 a.m. when we woke tonight (or this morning, I guess I should say). After the initial little tete a tete about whether we were sleeping or waking - and you know how that ended - we had a conversation about upcoming events, our to-do list, and what we should read. After a short tussle with a kindle, Marcel won. Praise God!
Which leads me to my current debate, the one that started just before I began writing, and just after I realized that Jesus in Conversations was saying the same thing He'd said in St. John's Gospel. Or was He?
Before I give you the impression that this interior debate is a pitched battle, let me say that my question is both friendly and happy. I'm sure that in Conversations Jesus is saying at least the same thing as He said in St. John's Gospel, but I'm wondering if He's returning to us through Marcel in order simply to expand what He said, or to add more to it.
In particular, I'm thinking of the conversation He had with the apostles at the Last Supper, and the conversation He had with Marcel on April 7, 1946, Passion Sunday that year, the Sunday before Palm Sunday in the liturgical calendar of the time. And as I pose the question whether Jesus is merely repeating Himself to Marcel (with slight embellishments) or taking the opportunity to cover more ground, I love that my question follows hard on the heels of the statement (just made in the last paragraph), "I'm sure that in Conversations Jesus is saying at least the same thing as He said in St. John's Gospel." What a gift, for Jesus to repeat Himself to us through the priceless treasure of His words to Marcel
I ran across the most interesting conjunction a couple of days ago. I have a little google elf (or several - they all look alike so it's hard to tell whether he is one or they are many) who spends a good portion of his time scouring the internet for references to me or my books and reports back to my inbox with "Google alerts." On Friday I got one such alert that referred me to a Catholic column at the website of an esteemed Catholic newspaper, which column recommended blog posts around the internet that the author deemed worthy of the readers' attention.
Interestingly, it wasn't Miss Marcel's Musings that brought my name into that column, but rather my August 9th article on Edith Stein at Catholic Exchange. What a lovely thing to have that noted and recommended. Thank You, Jesus! (No, He didn't write the column, but He and the Father must've sent the Holy Spirit to alert the author who recommended my article. The google elves are clever, but not that clever.)
What was of even more interest to me, however, since I'd already read my article, was another recommended article, a recent column by Peter Kwasniewski (fellow alum of Thomas Aquinas College, philosopher, author, and teacher whom I've never met, but have heard of repeatedly for he always seems to be up to very good things) about Angelico Press' new multi-volume edition of Anne Catherine Emmerich's revelations, and in particular the volume on the Blessed Sacrament.
While his quotations from this book were awe inspiring (and prompted me to go to Mass on Friday not only to receive Jesus in Communion, but also so I could offer the Mass to the Heavenly Father), what especially fascinated me were Peter's comments on private revelation. Apparently there had been heated comments in response to a previous post of his, comments which began, perhaps, as cautions against erroneous and false purported revelations, but which progressed to disrespectful dismissal of seemingly all private revelations. Peter, God bless him, began the piece that I read with a defense of the Church's rich tradition of mysticism and private revelation (and mentioned, in passing, that in Jesus' appearances to St. Gertrude the Great, He'd put many rings on her fingers, a fact previously unknown to me but one which brought me great pleasure, since I love jewelry and its symbolic meaning, and lately, especially, rings).
Naturally I was quite grateful to Peter K. for his passionate and thoughtful (if brief) defense of private revelation, because I find myself rather smitten with a certain private revelation (or revelations, depending on whether you count them in a group or singly) to our little brother, the Servant of God Marcel Van.
And it got me thinking about how one knows the authenticity (or inauthenticity) of a private revelation. Which question is not worrying me at 3 a.m. because I have two really good answers right off the top of my oddly brunette head (though I'm about to sound smart, so I guess that's more appropriate than that my blonde soul should shine through).
The first and most reliable way to know the authenticity or inauthenticity of a private revelation is to listen to the voice of Christ speaking through His Church.
Pope Benedict XVI when he was Cardinal Ratzinger and prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith gave a wonderful explanation of private revelation (what it is, how it works, what it should do, what it does not do, etc.) in the beginning of his Theological Commentary on the third secret of Fatima, which commentary I have in a truly marvelous book called The Last Secret of Fatima (the very book which led me to fall in love with, one after another, Lucia, Jacinta, Francisco, and Our Lady of Fatima herself), but you can find the commentary HERE. (Click HERE to be magically transported to the Vatican website. Scroll half way down the webpage to get to the theological commentary - though it's all interesting. Talk about excitement and adventure!)
The second way to know whether a private revelation is the real thing or a bunch of hooey is to call upon your sixth sense, your sensus fidei, perk up your little lamb ears, and see if you recognize the Good Shepherd's voice.
In the case of our little brother Marcel's Conversations with Jesus, Mary, and St. Therese, you'll be happy (and I hope unsurprised) to hear that Marcel and his Heavenly visitors pass both tests with flying colors.
I have often recalled the wise counsel, regarding discernment of vocations, that one needs not only an interior conviction of having heard Christ's call, but an exterior confirmation that comes more directly from the Church. So if, for instance, one felt called to enter a particular religious order, the acceptance by a community would be necessary in addition to one's own desire to join. Similarly, I remember when in October of 1987 I felt the strong interior conviction that I was supposed to marry the handsome and tall Tony Andres, I also felt strongly that I needed some exterior confirmation - namely his matching conviction that he was supposed to marry me!
So, too, in this question of the authenticity of private revelation, I'd say that our own discernment and recognition of Christ's (or Mary's, or a Saint's) voice is important, but certainly trumped - sealed and ratified or discounted and rectified - by the Church's recognition of her Divine Bridegroom's voice (or, contrarily, her identification of an impostor).
When it comes to Marcel's Conversations, I don't know which I love more: Marcel's title of Servant of God and his letter of introduction to us by a Prince of the Church, Cardinal Schonborn, or the familiar and beloved voice of Jesus, our Good Shepherd, ringing out from page after page.
Actually, I know which I love more: I love, love, love Jesus' voice most of all . . . but I cannot separate His voice from the voice of His Bride, the Church, and so I love (and need) too her commendations of Marcel and his writings.
Resting safe and secure in these commendations, I feel like a bride myself, the bride in the Song of Songs:
"I was sleeping, but my heart kept vigil. I heard my lover knocking: 'Open to me, my sister, my beloved, my dove, my perfect one!"
Well, okay, I don't usually feel like the perfect one, but I do hear Jesus knocking. Sometimes I think that's what wakes me up around 2:40 a.m., and thankfully I have an easier time finding Him than the bride in the Song who has to rise, put on her robe, undo the lock, open the door only to discover He's already gone, then seek Him without finding Him, call Him without hearing a response, go out into the city, and wrassle with the watchmen! Phew! She has a very rough time of it.
God knows I am a little soul, and He is merciful.
For me, finding Jesus is as simple as opening the door (or cover) to Marcel's Conversations, and there is my Beloved, every time, right there waiting for me.
Take this morning, for instance.
I woke, couldn't return to sleep, began to be troubled, heard that familiar knocking, and opened Conversations, from the pages of which Jesus began to speak to me silently but so truly at (385), saying to me (and to you, I have no doubt) these words He said first to Marcel:
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."
Little brother, if after that you will trouble yourself, it is certain that Mary will be very hurt. Your weaknesses, not being sins, can in no way sadden me. But since you are a poor little soul, how can you avoid weakness? Marcel, there is in you only this tendency to worry, which makes Me fear for the future. So, remain peaceful. All that you do belongs to Me. You must not trouble yourself about it since it does not concern you.
Little Marcel, are you at peace now? . . . Very good. From now on, never allow yourself to become troubled, do you understand? It is sufficient for you to love Me. We are still both in Mary's arms, you must not, therefore, fear that we will ever be separated from each other . . . you and I are both but one together. Do not worry, Mary is very happy with us both.
Your weaknesses, Marcel, far from reducing my value of you, only make it increase further, since they are, for you, grounds for much greater confidence in Me, which makes our union firmer still . . .
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? . . . Little Marcel, love Me a lot.
The sighs of love that souls cause to rise towards Me are capable of stopping the enormous stones which are thrown at My Love; these sighs divert the arrows of sinners which target My heart . . . Oh! Marcel, the weak sighs of men prevent Me from dying, suffocated on this earth. From where does such power come? From the love within them. What happiness for Me to be able to frolic in the midst of these sighs! I feel very much at ease and completely at peace, no longer fearing being seen by My enemies or being pierced by their arrows . . .
Alas, little Marcel, they are still very rare on this earth, the places where I can rest. Today, little Marcel, pray for the expansion of the reign of My Love throughout the world; it is necessary that you bring to it your full attention. The summer holidays are coming. I want to have many well-ventilated villas to go and rest in them. So, Marcel look for a large number of villas for Me. And we, both of us, will be able to enjoy then; you have nothing to lose there . . .
However, Marcel, our main villa is the very heart of Mary where we will find all consolations; nevertheless, many other houses are necessary for us, so we may get more rest.
+ + +
How bold Jesus is to talk about rest when He has awakened me and kept me awake (though I'm beginning to feel sleepy again) until what's now 4:45 a.m.! Ah, but I would not prefer sleep to this colloquy with Him and you, dear reader. How good He is, how ineffably sweet, refusing to let us worry, insistent on repeating again and again the message He gave us at the Last Supper . . . Did you hear His familiar voice speaking so personally to you?
When He tells us through Marcel that we must not be troubled or afraid, the words resound in my heart with a familiar ring.
"Do not let your heart be troubled . . . Do not let your heart be troubled or afraid," He says to us through His words to the apostles in the 14th chapter of John's incomparable gospel. And then, directly after these words, "You have heard Me say, 'I go away, and I am coming to you.'"
Yes, Jesus! You have come back to us! You have returned to us when You visited Marcel and gave him those many words to write down on page after page so that his bearded Jesus, Fr. Boucher, could collect them, copy them, treasure them, guard them, send them ahead of himself from Vietnam to Canada for safekeeping, follow them, and slowly, carefully, painstakingly translate them into perfect French, and begin to disseminate them . . . so that Jack Keogan could, unaccountably but by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit of Love, offer to translate these pages upon pages from French into English before he had even set eyes upon them!
Oh Love, You stop at nothing to reassure us, in the middle of the night as in the noon of midday, through the writing of Your little apostle Marcel as through the writing of Your beloved apostle John. Your words are the same:
"Do not let your heart be troubled,"
"From now on, never allow yourself to become troubled, do you understand?"
And when we forget and are re-troubled only 15 seconds (on a good day) after You last told us we must not trouble ourselves, You pretend to despair, gently teasing us, cheering us as You remind us, as often as we need to hear it, that there is nothing to fear:
"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."
Indeed, Jesus, what happiness can be compared to ours? You are so kind to us. You are truly our Good Shepherd, and oh, how we love to hear Your gentle voice! Thank You for speaking to us in the Gospels. Thank You for repeating Yourself endlessly to us in Your words to Marcel. Oh Jesus, let our sighs comfort You. We are capable of so little, but we are good at sighing! Thank You for making it so easy for us to love and console You. Let us be Your little villas. Let us rest with You and Marcel in the main villa of Mary's Immaculate Heart where we will find, with You, all consolations, but then, so that you can get more rest, let us be other villas for You and Marcel.
And now, allowing bygones to be bygones and forgetting the questions and debates of the wee hours, I think I'll go back to sleep, God willing. It is enough for me to know, just for a moment, just for an hour, that Jesus doesn't want me to worry. Nor you, either!
Despite my lamentable lack of confidence in most areas, I am fully confident that I will forget, quite soon, that He doesn't want me to worry (and I suspect you may resemble me and Marcel in this regard) . . . No matter. It is even so much the better, since what we have forgotten, Jesus is always here to remind us of and thus we can continually learn the lesson anew. Let us love Him a lot, and let's join Marcel in praying for the expansion of His reign of Love throughout the world. For simple souls, there must be no complicated ways, so as His little spouses, we can simply pray together:
Draw me; we will run!
As I write, it is the Vigil of the Coronation of Our Lady. Here she is, pictured above pouring roses into dear Juan Diego's tilma (his Indian cape or cloak). She surely looks more like a mom than a queen, doesn't she? That was St. Therese's insight, and one that Marcel shared. I must admit I share their enthusiasm too!
The truth is that I've been wanting to share a great quote from St. Therese - the very words in which she explains how she feels about Mary. When I went to find it, she (Therese) gave me the run around, and I had fun tracing her admirers' trails. The first book I looked in had the quote I wanted, but sent me to another book for the reference (that is, the source in Therese). The second book sent me to a book I don't have - Novissima Verba - but don't worry, I have something better. Novissima Verba was Mother Agnes' selection of some of Therese's last conversations. It was published in English in the 1920's not long after Therese was canonized. Mother Agnes (Therese's sometimes Mother Superior and always big sister) was definitely more mother than queen, and she wanted to nourish those who loved Therese, but she also wanted to guard the confidences that might embarrass others who were still living.
It was only in the 1970's, then, that ALL of Therese's last words - months and months of every last word! - were published in their complete form, first in French, and not too long after, in English (thank you, my dear Carmelite brother, Father John Clarke, for your translations of Therese!) under the title St. Therese of Lisieux: Her Last Conversations.
Well what do you think? The second book, the one that referred me to the source, told me that I should look at the dates August 20 and August 23 (1897) to find the words I was looking for in our sister's Last Conversations. I was excited to realize that meant that the very words I was looking for were uttered by Therese right around today! Except there was a mistake, and I didn't find the words on August 20 or 23. Which leads me to bad news and good news.
The bad news first - to get it over with - is that Therese didn't say these words near today.
The good news? She said the words I was looking for, the words that have been rattling around my mind so I could share them with you for this Feast of Our Lady's Coronation - today! Today as I write it is the anniversary of these last words being uttered by our sister (and Marcel's sister) little Therese! And so, I think it's safe to say that she and Marcel really, really, really want us to hear them! Which is why this is going to be a short but sweet post: so that I can give you dear Therese's (and Marcel's) thoughts on Our Lady, on the very day that Therese expressed them and her sister Mother Agnes wrote them down . . .
From Therese's Last Conversations, August 21, 1897:
How I would have loved to be a priest in order to preach about the Blessed Virgin! One sermon would be sufficient to say everything I think about this subject.
I'd first make people understand how little is known by us about her life.
We shouldn't say unlikely things or things we don't know anything about! For example, that when she was very little, at the age of three, the Blessed Virgin went up to the Temple to offer herself to God, burning with sentiments of love and extraordinary fervor. While perhaps she went there very simply out of obedience to her parents.
Again, why say, with reference to the aged Simeon's prophetic words, that the Blessed Virgin had the Passion of Jesus constantly before her mind from that moment onward? "And a sword will pierce through your soul also," the old man said. It wasn't for the present, you see, little Mother; it was a general prediction for the future.
For a sermon on the Blessed Virgin to please me and do me any good. I must see her real life, not her imagined life. I'm sure that her real life was very simple. They show her to us as unapproachable, but they should present her as imitable, bringing out her virtues, saying that she lived by faith just like ourselves, giving proofs of this from the Gospel, where we read: "And they did not understand the words which He spoke to them." And that other no less mysterious statement: "His father and mother marveled at what was said about Him." This admiration presupposes a certain surprise, don't you think so, little Mother?
We know very well that the Blessed Virgin is Queen of heaven and earth, but she is more Mother than Queen; and we should not say, on account of her prerogatives, that she surpasses all the saints in glory just as the sun at its rising makes the stars disappear from sight. My God! How strange that would be! A mother who makes her children's glory vanish! I myself think just the contrary. I believe she'll increase the splendor of the elect very much.
It's good to speak about her prerogatives, but we should not stop at this, and if, in a sermon, we are obliged from beginning to end to exclaim and say: Ah! Ah!, we would grow tired! Who knows whether some soul would not reach the point of feeling a certain estrangement from a creature so superior and would not say: If things are such, it's better to go and shine as well as one is able in some little corner!
What the Blessed Virgin has more than we have is the privilege of not being able to sin, she was exempt from the stain of original sin; but on the other hand, she wasn't as fortunate as we are, since she didn't have a Blessed Virgin to love. And this is one more sweetness for us and one less sweetness for her!
Finally, in my poem: Porquoi je t'aime, O Marie (Why I love you, O Mary), I have said everything I would preach about her.
+ + +
And now, if this were going to be a long post, I'd copy out Therese's poem, but I promised to be short and sweet . . .
And if this were going to be a longer post (even longer than the long one that included the poem), I would copy out a passage or three (or a dozen) in which Our dear Lady, Our Blessed Virgin who is more Mother than Queen, tells Marcel a thing or two that exactly reflects the truths Therese suspected about her - that her faith and her simplicity, her nearness and dearness, her maternal love and her approachability far surpass her prerogatives (great as these latter are). But then we'd be even less short, if far more sweet!
Instead I'm going to promise (in hope and trust in God's mercy and future fun) to post again soon with some of these delights. But for now, I'm going to leave you with a link.
I heard recently the most wonderful news. That thanks to our previous post (just below this one, and on the Vigil of Our Lady's Assumption), our own beloved Jack Keogan, translator of Marcel into English, learned for the first time about our own beloved St. Juan Diego. I forget that we in America - especially those of us living nearer to Mexico - are spoiled with a familiarity and proximity to Our Lady of Guadalupe that is not so enjoyed by those farther afield.
And so, my link is to an article I wrote a few years ago called With St. Juan Diego to the Merciful Mother. There it is! By some crazy internet magic, you can click on that title and VOILA! You'll be there at the article, falling in love even more with Our Lady, who is so much more Mother than Queen! I am sure she will be happy to reassure us there (as here) with her wonderful words of compassion and love, and I'm sure too that she'll be happy to pray with us (just before we click on that link and leave this page):
Draw me; we will run!
It is very early on the morning of the Vigil of the Assumption as I write. Do you like my picture for the Feast? I'm taking all kinds of liberties here today - I'm talking about the Feast of the Assumption as if it's here already (I think it is!), and I'm offering an image of Our Lady of Lourdes as if she's Our Lady of the Assumption (I think she is!). And as if these weren't enough, I'm hoping to finally convince you not to worry about anything any more, ever!
You can see I'm suffering from confusion or delusion or both, and either way I've got my work cut out for me. But no, I'm not planning on working on a feast day; I've decided the Holy Spirit must do everything, and no need for any of us to worry. (It would be counter productive for you to worry about how I will stop you from worrying, but again, let's leave that to God for whom all things are possible). We'll take these seemingly disparate but equally crazy ideas one at a time and see what He's got in store. Ready? Well don't worry if you aren't - simply keep reading, mustard seed.
First, then, the Feast. Oh my Heavens! I love this Feast so very much, and I'll tell you why. (The joy of a blog: you can hardly stop me!)
Do you know Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets of the Portuguese? If not, let me recommend them. If so, let me remind you of their beauty.
Elizabeth had been a poet-invalid (not an invalid poet, which makes it sound like she couldn't find a rhyme to save her life, but in truth she was a really terrific poet who had to recline most of the time due to illness), when a letter reached her from one of her many admirers. This fan was different than most because he was a great poet himself, and no invalid (in either sense), and an eligible bachelor to boot. His motto might have been "Faint heart never won fair lady," because alongside Elizabeth's illness and the seclusion that accompanied it, there was a future father-in-law who was himself quite an obstacle to true love, but none of that daunted Robert Browning. Nor did the faithful cocker spaniel Flush, though I can't imagine he was hard to win over. Loving his mistress as he did, he would have wanted true love for her . . . and sure enough the hero and heroine of this romantic true life story took pup with them to Italy when they wed, so it was happiness all around.
But I do seem to be getting far afield, and I have so much on my heart today, so much the Holy Spirit and Our Blessed Mother would have me say to you, that I'd better get to it.
Ahem. Sonnet of the Portuguese #43.
How do I love thee (O Feast of the Assumption)?
Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
+ + +
Isn't that perfect? It absolutely is!
And don't worry about those "lost saints" in the third to last line. My lost saints were heroes without halos whom I gave up when I discovered the real Saints. I thank God for them (my lost saints) and ask Him to rest their souls, but the true Saints are forever found and finding us, and I hope that's what happened to Elizabeth too, so no need to worry that a sour note slipped into Elizabeth's lovely verses. No need to worry about anything any more ever, but we'll get to that soon enough.
First, again, how I love this Feast. To make a start in prose to supplement our poetry (because sometimes prose can be just a smidge clearer and more concrete), let me take another shot at why I love this Feast so much.
I love this Feast of the Assumption because it promises the fullness of Heaven to us. Our Lady is taken up body and soul to be with Jesus, and we will be too: taken up to Him at our earthly deaths, and eventually given our new improved glorified bodies that we might rejoice, like Our Lady and with Our Lady, in adoration and love and unity with the Blessed Trinity forever.
But I love this Feast even more for what it gives us now. After all, to children and the childlike, by very definition the future seems infinitely far away (even if it will be here in 5 minutes), and the removal of a mother, not to mention The Mother, from our home sounds like a terrible idea, doesn't it?
Well yes, usually, but not in the case of this mother; not in the case of Our Lady's Assumption. Because what occurred to me some years ago, what has made me love this feast with all my heart, is not the absence of Mary it would seem to imply, but the actual presence of Mary it makes possible.
I've been blessed to witness (from some distance, it's true, but with the eyes and ears of faith, these distances were negligible) three friends depart this life for heaven. All three of them were parents of young children. Two were mothers, one a father (I've written lately of the father in "The Veil is Thin") and while all three left willingly because they yearned to see God, all three also left unwilling to abandon their families. Fortunately they knew where they were going and how close they could remain, in God, to those they loved on earth. I've seen the signs of their continued care for their children, and in Our Blessed Mother, we see those signs multiplied and, to use a familiar Marian word, magnified.
Our Lady's assumption into Heaven seemed to take her away. Certainly for the Apostles it was "now you see me, now you don't," just like it had been with Our Lord's Ascension. But we who are blessed to believe without seeing are given much more vision, or we might say many more visions, of her love and continued care for us.
We call them apparitions, and you'd think Our Lady, once she'd discovered the trick of her personal version of bilocation, just couldn't get enough. She's like the child who's figured out how to ride a bike without training wheels, and no fall of night will stop her from riding up and down the driveway, up and down the street, in full view of all the neighbors who share in her joy and delight at her rapid appearance at first one end of the street and then the other.
How do I love thee, O Blessed Virgin Mary? Let me count the ways:
I love thee at Guadalupe, at Lourdes, at Fatima, at Kibeho.
I love thee at Knock, at Aylesford, and at Zeitoun, Egypt.
I love thee at Soufenieh and Mount Carmel, at Akita and Betania.
I love you, dear Mother, wherever you have deigned to appear to reassure us that you have not, will not, could not ever forget us.
And sometimes, though I often forget I'm wearing my Miraculous Medal, yet sometimes when I do remember, I love thee most especially in the Rue de Bac, for it was there you stroked dear St. Catherine Laboure's hair while she rested her head in your lap as you sat in a chair in her church. You could hardly have done that if you weren't assumed into Heaven!
But most of all, O sweet Mary, Mother of God and our Mother too, do I love you in Hanoi, with Marcel and little Jesus and little Therese. I love you telling Marcel - and thereby telling the rest of us - that you're having difficulty cleaning his room (our rooms) - the room of his soul (our souls) filled with the cobwebs of worry, but you're not giving up because what's a mom to do but sweep and sweep until the room is clean?
Which is why (because she's so near in her apparitions, her insistence on "coming down" which Therese imitates when her own departure has seemed to take her away from her spiritual children) I think the picture of Our Lady of Lourdes up top of this post is perfect for this Feast of the Assumption.
Which Feast is, technically, not here yet as I write, but to dispatch my seeming illusion (or confusion #2, above) let me say that just as I've explained previously here on the occasion of the great Feast of My Birth, the Church gives us novenas, vigils, triduums, and octaves for a reason. Namely, because this really would be a valley of tears if we didn't celebrate every possible moment!
You can tell yourself, then, that I'm looney as a hoot owl (are they looney?) or looney as a toon (Daffy Duck being my model and exemplar in so many ways, you can't argue with me here), but I'm also like the child who, having counted down the days till Christmas, is thrilled to pieces that Christmas Eve is finally here - even if it's only 6 a.m. on Christmas Eve morning! Or in this case, the Vigil of the Assumption . . .
There's also the untimely Internet reality of the published post. Who knows when you'll be reading this? We'll take the long view and say that any and every Feast of the Liturgical Year is available to us at every and any moment for our delectation and delight. And so, let's delight in Our Lady's Assumption, knowing as we do (ah, the joy of being the cognoscenti!) that she is nearer to us than ever she was when she lived in the Holy Land and was contained in just one geographic region. Isn't the power and providence of God, which He shares so generously with His angels and Saints, and most wonderfully with the handmaiden He chose to be His Mother, completely awesome?
That's two down (two of my confusions turned to clarity like dross to gold with Midas' touch), but there is that third challenge I've set myself, looking like a third delusion remaining. I am now going to convince you to stop worrying any more about anything, ever.
Well at least for a few minutes, and then Marcel-like, you can revisit the truth and let me remind you again whenever you need reminding. Forget about a few minutes; you'll probably need reminding about every 20 seconds or so, if you're anything like me. But the good news will be here, eternal-like in true Internet fashion. And again, it isn't really me who can convince you, but the Holy Spirit is up to the task, so let's see what He's got for us.
We'll start with words much more effective than mine could ever be. We'll start, in honor of the Feast, with Our Lady assumed into Heaven, who I'm guessing found it wasn't Heaven for her unless the least of her children knew the extent of her love, her maternal care, her devoted attention and everlasting compassion. The result? Her words to St. Juan Diego, her little Juanito, her Juan Diegito, to whom she confided what she expects from us. Nothing less than total confidence, rest in her motherly embrace, and no worrying whatsoever. She said (and says):
Hear and let it penetrate your heart, my dear little one:
Let nothing discourage you, nothing depress you.
Let nothing alter your heart or your countenance.
Am I not here who am your Mother?
Are you not under my shadow and protection?
Am I not your fountain of life?
Are you not in the folds of my mantle?
In the crossing of my arms?
Is there anything else that you need?
Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain.
+ + +
You know you're dealing with a lunatic (me, that is) when instead of the post ending right smack dab at the conclusion of those words from Our Lady, someone (hehe) continues writing.
What can I say? Our Lady didn't stop talking, and I'm not ready to either. She's repeated herself many times since she said those most perfect and not-to-be-improved-upon words to Juan Diegito, and I can only follow her lead.
Take, for instance, the words she spoke four hundred and fifteen years after that convo with St. Juan. You may or may not be familiar with the words I'm about to transcribe (how I love my job as a little secretary!!!), depending on whether her Conversations with Marcel Van have become your constant reading yet. No matter - if you've heard these words before, you'll enjoy hearing them again. If this is new to you, I can only say thanks be to God you're here now to listen for the first time.
You see, in 1946 in the Redemptorist house in Hanoi, Vietnam, Our Lady was kind enough to repeat what she'd said to Juanito in conversations with her little Marcelito. I don't know if Marcel knew of her words to Juan Diego, but I'm sure he would've loved them if he did know them. What's marvelous is that it didn't matter whether he knew her words to Juan Diego or not because Our Lady told our little brother Marcel every single thing he needed to hear from her, and some of it was really close to what she had said to St. Juan Diego. Here, for example, is what she said to little one #2 (Marcel) in January of 1946, as he recorded in Conversations (249):
Mary: Marcel, my child, I acknowledge you as my child, my dear child. Love me. Do you understand? Marcel, I, your Mother, I love you and I have pity on you more than I love and take pity on little Jesus. Towards little Jesus my heart feels only love while towards you it feels love and pity. Only little Jesus can be loved purely and simply; as for you, you can only be loved with a love mixed with pity. My dear child, nothing is sweeter to me than to hear you call me your Mother. Yes, truly, I am your Mother, and nothing pleases me as much as to note that you really love me with a simple and sincere heart. I acknowledge you as my dear child. I carry you in my arms. I offer you to little Jesus and He will consume you in the fire of love, so that my hands will be like the sacrificial altar while you, following the example of little Therese of the Child Jesus, will be the holocaust victim offered in love and this holocaust, little Jesus will accept. My dear child, what happiness can equal yours?
Marcel: But, dear Mother, what will my sister Therese be to me?
Mary: She will be your sister, she will take you in her arms to place you on my knees with little Jesus, and with you she will tell stories to little Jesus.
+ + +
In a passage I adore because of Marcel's two feet which stuck out from below Our Lady's cloak, we hear these words which she spoke to him, as he reports in (243b) and (244):
Marcel: During the Salve . . . Mary gave me a kiss, then, drawing me towards her, she wrapped me in her cloak while saying: 'In spite of sufferings, you will always remain sheltered under my cloak, in company with little Jesus. You have nothing to fear. It is my cloak, also, which will collect your tears.' I saw nothing more then than my two feet which stuck out from below the cloak. And during the Angelus I no longer saw anything.
+ + +
I think that if Our Lady has given us one message to hold onto, it's that she is holding onto us. We are wrapped in her mantle, held close in her cloak, kissed by her, loved by her with all the affection of the most perfect creature God ever made. We forget this because we get so distracted, but don't worry about that. She loves to hold us and she won't forget us even if we forget her. Not that we will forget her for long - we've got lovely feasts like the Assumption to remind us of her. And I hope that this time when the Feast of the Assumption reminds you of Mother Mary, it will remind you as it reminds me that she who was once in Galilee is now able to be with us anywhere and everywhere we are.
May she be with you today and forever, mothering you, wiping away your tears, listening to your little stories, and repeating to you much more effectively than I can:
Hear and let it penetrate your heart, my dear little one:
Let nothing discourage you, nothing depress you.
Let nothing alter your heart or your countenance.
Am I not here who am your Mother?
Are you not under my shadow and protection?
Am I not your fountain of life?
Are you not in the folds of my mantle?
In the crossing of my arms?
Is there anything else that you need?
Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain.
Until we meet again, let's repeat our own special words to Jesus and remind Him of His job (just in case He's distracted by the beauty of His Mother Mary in Heaven beside Him):
Draw me, we will run!
I am debating with myself. Do I tell them? Do I dare post the truth about my 30th anniversary? Isn't it better to leave the impression of glitz, glamour, glitter, and sparkling romance? Or is it true that Truth is always not only stranger than fiction, but more satisfying?
I know for myself that no picture I've posted here has pleased me as much as John and Amy in a field of sunflowers, and no post has pleased me as much as the one that went with that photo, the one in which I reveled in the beauty of their wedding and the glory of 30 years of marriage to my sweet and much loved husband. Half (or a third?) of the joy of that post was telling you all about our not-too-ambitious but oh so delightful plans for celebrating our Big Day. . .
And yes, that brings me to full disclosure and hot dogs (2) and microwaved chicken tenders (2 orders worth) and possibly the most ridiculous (and most fun) anniversary ever. At least in my experience!
Because yeah, we didn't end up doing most of what I'd hoped we would do. We did revisit dear friends. But then we did not visit typewriter stores, nor go to Mass, nor have a romantic dinner overlooking a waterfall.
Somehow in God's adorable plan (which He quite effectively substituted for ours), we ended up at the airport (Sea-Tac) eating hot dogs (one for me, one for my husband) while our sons ate microwaved chicken tenders (I think the hot dogs were better, so I can't complain), sitting at a table with 3 chairs (there were 4 of us - and so chivalrous were my boys that I got one of the chairs), slightly out of the way of the rush and tumble of people going places in a hurry, but only slightly . . .
I'm thinking that early morning post (with the lovely picture of the bride and groom amidst sunflowers), and the description of our joy and gratitude in our marriage, and our plans for our anniversary must have elicited many a prayer from you, dear readers. Otherwise how can we explain my amusement over the venue? my enjoyment of the hot dog? Plenty of ketchup, a bit of relish, and a touch of mustard made it quite tasty, but it was still just a hot dog! Okay, the fries that came with my sons' chicken tenders were good too, and I do love a good french fry . . .
No, it must have been grace and grace alone that sustained us. And that's what I wanted to disclose. God is full of surprises - life is always new with Him, even in the celebration of something 30 years old, like our marriage. And in thanks for your prayers, which kept us afloat and of good cheer throughout that strange anniversary evening, I'm asking our good Jesus to supply you with a hot dog and fries (or whatever makes you smile) to let you know that you're loved!
Yes, we did try again the next night. It was a different comedy of errors, a dinner entirely unlike what we'd planned (again! and again not overlooking a waterfall!), culminating in our selecting greeting cards for each other from the "cheap rack" at an unfamiliar drugstore (still haven't written in them and given them to each other - it's been a busy week, and clearly the romance continues).
Oddly enough, that second odd evening was as much fun - even more! - than the date in the airport. Fun for me, the girl who had her sights set on France, Italy, or Montreal for our celebration. . . Which makes me think the fun might not rest in where you are, but rather who you're with.
I'm starting to think I married the right guy - the one who brought his own copy of Marcel's Conversations on our trip for his spiritual reading, the one who has no interest in going (with me or anyone else) to Europe or even Canada, the one who hates travel but accompanies me all over the place, the one who makes hot dogs in an airport and last minute drugstore gifts into things of beauty. . .
So, full disclosure - we're living the dream, but it's not quite as picturesque as I'd pictured it would be . . . it's simply joyful because it's filled with love, and I wish the same for you!
We're home safe and sound, and I went to my holy hour today and prayed there for another couple who will marry tomorrow, Andrew and Michelle. May they celebrate many anniversaries together, may their quiverful accompany them on some of their dates at least, and may their future be filled with hot dogs as tasty as the ones from Hudson Booksellers in Sea-Tac!
To top it all off with a pinch of glory, before me in church today, just in front of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, was a gorgeous flower arrangement containing 7 sunflowers! The arrangements before the Divine Mercy Image and Sacred Heart statue, and before the Blessed Mother, were full of sunflowers too! In my hands was my favorite book after Conversations, a book on Therese of Lisieux and Marie of the Trinity by Fr. Pierre Descouvemont - not the copy at home (that was at home!), but a new-to-me copy that arrived in the mail today, sent by my friend Amy (not the newly married Amy, but the many-anniversaried-Amy) who I am thinking was just a pawn. She's a sweetheart, so it was fully in character for her to send me a book she thought I'd like - but she didn't know this is my 2nd favorite and just what I needed today! Thank you, Amy! Thank you, Jesus!
So a quote to end my full disclosure, and then our prayer. Let's see what Therese and Marie (her novice) have to teach us . . . I think I know, but I'm going to let the Holy Spirit help choose. Here it is, His choice (like the hot dogs!) -
Marie of the Trinity is telling us what she told a friend in a letter:
"There is a very big mistake in your letter, and it is necessary to correct it as fast as possible, because Therese would never have tolerated it. You say, 'It's so sad to continuously hurt our beloved Jesus.' Never do the little souls like ours, filled with good will, hurt Jesus! Oh, how this truth gladdens the soul! Even in this life the soul is made to taste an anticipation of heaven. I am asking my little Therese to make you understand this."
And now, little soul who reads these words, you are wondering, slightly troubled, "Should I order this second favorite book of Miss Marcel?" and I'm glad you asked, because I have such a good answer.
No, not necessary. Marie is just telling us what Therese told her, and who do you think is telling us the same message (and many more) now that Jack Keogan has been so kind to translate his words (and Jesus' words) into English? Why it's our Marcel! If you feel compelled to buy a book today, I put my money (or yours, I guess we're talking about now) on Conversations. After all, if you have a copy already, your sister or your husband or your mother or your daughter might not! What about your parish priest? Your next door neighbor? Your godchild? Marcel Mania, that's what we're about here - and I may forget just about everything else, but thankfully I haven't forgotten quite yet that Marcel is the cat's pajamas!
To get back to that full disclosure, though, you don't even need to buy Conversations. I'm glad to keep giving you passages here (there are plenty in the past posts to keep you happy till the next Marcel moment), there's the podcast over at Catholic Exchange, and heavens, there's Marcel himself hovering near you (invisibly of course) just waiting to teach you everything he knows. He's here now, telling me to finish up with the prayer already! Alright, little brother, don't worry about anything anymore ever . . . and let's follow his example and not worry any more either! Everything we need is contained in the prayer we're about to say together, so let's do it, and let God do it . . .
Draw me, we will run!
P.S. The sunflowers were from my heavenly friend Jon, of course. He sent them to remind me of his nearness, and because he had extras. While I've been occupied with hot dogs and sunflowers, Angela's been busy with Bread and Roses. Bread to feed the hungry, and roses to nourish souls athirst for beauty. Thank You, Jesus, for sunflowers and hot dogs, roses and bread, angels and Angeline!
This is just a short post (because I only have a short time before the day is through) to let you know that over at Catholic Exchange I have an article on Edith Stein in honor of her feast. She helped me through a rough time some years ago, and it's a joy to finally have the opportunity to thank her in print - virtual print, at least!
If you go HERE to 7 Secrets of Edith Stein, you'll find not only the 7 secrets she shared with me when we first met, but also a brief biography of her, and then some fabulous links. The links appear in red in the article and they are so much fun! If you've been running out of things to do on the internet, those red words and the articles, books, homilies, and info they link you to will keep you busy and out of trouble for quite some time.
I know, I know, you are a little Miss (or Mr.) Marcel, and so you're thinking, "But I just want more Marcel!" Yes, but even Marcel was pressed by Jesus and Therese to make more friends than just the two of them! So be brave, live dangerously, and don't worry about all those links in red. (Don't worry about anything, any more, ever, but especially not about those red links) Just click over to the article at CE and enjoy Edith's compassionate love for you - yes, you! She's the quintessential woman, a spiritual mother happy to do what she can to provide for any needs you confide to her (and even some you don't dare mention). I'll add another magic portal to the bottom of this post through which you can to her. No excuses that you had to read the whole post here and then forgot to go over to the article there!
Before you take advantage of its virtual Beam me up Scottie magic, however, feel free to grab a treat - it's a feast! You wouldn't want to arrive at her party empty handed, now, would you? Or empty hearted, for that matter, so along with your treat, let's bring our prayer:
Draw me, we will run!
And now you're ready. Here again then is 7 Secrets of Edith Stein, and when you see suddenly find yourself chatting it up with Edith (she'll make you comfortable and you'll be fast friends), don't forget to tell her I said "Hi!"
So much has been happening in Miss Marcel's world that it's hard to believe a week has already gone by since the feast of Marcel's holy father. That was the day St. Alphonsus told us that one holy maxim, well ruminated, could make us Saints!
I've been thinking for a while now that just as one particle of the Holy Eucharist contains all of Jesus (Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity), so too one verse of Holy Scripture must contain all of the Truth, all of Him too. Sure, one could take a verse out of context, read it wrong, twist the Holy Spirit's meaning, but so too (though Heaven forbid and may the angels prevent it) those who despise Jesus could badly receive the one particle of the Host, thus receiving Him to their condemnation rather than their salvation, as St. Paul warns.
But we're going to trust the Holy Spirit who is Love and Joy to protect Jesus and us from such unimaginable sadness. What is more worth our reflection, what has the power to fascinate and capture our hearts is rather the Sacred Reality that He whom all Heaven could not contain chooses to dwell in the poorest of tabernacles so that He may remain with us; that He who is all Truth wills to abide in every single word of Truth as well as in all of them taken together.
Which would explain how our one holy maxim could be the making of us. Jesus Himself is the making of us, and to savor His words and the holy maxims of the Saints is to savor Him.
It's time, then, to gather a few such holy maxims from our little brother Marcel and his Conversations with Jesus, Mary, and St Therese. I was delighted to receive some of them as roses you'd sent to my inbox in response to my request for your particular favorites. As for myself, I find it so hard to choose just one that I'm grateful we're opening up room for more. I'll list mine last, though I'm still at this 11th hour wondering how I could possibly narrow my list of a hundred (or is it a thousand?) favorites to just one. Even two or three sounds impossible!
How about we try a more generous sampling of holy maxims, then. We can bring together the favorites you proposed as a top 10 list - our favorite top ten holy maxims from Marcel . . . We'll do it David Letterman style, you know, "3-2-1- blast off!" mode, so don't panic when I start at #10. We'll work our way down, down, down to our #1 favorite holy Marcel maxim.
On your Mark, Get Set . . . Go!
Top 10 Holy Maxims from Marcel-Jesus
10. "The more you forget, the more you see your weakness and your ignorance, and the more you are dear to me and receive my kisses." (Conversations, Jesus speaking, 178)
9. "In order to prove to me your love, you have only two things to do: to say to me, 'Dear Jesus, I love You a lot.' Then look at me."
(Conversations, Jesus, 192)
8. "And the words that I am saying here, I do not intend them for you alone, but also for other souls."
(Conversations, Jesus, 488)
7. "God is kinder than you think; He is satisfied with a glance, a sigh of love."
(St. Therese said this, and since Marcel is the 2nd St. Therese, all that she has is his, including her words!)
6. "You know, at least, how to breathe and to look; so, take your breaths and your glances and give them to me. Is that not to speak to me? Would you be afraid that I might not understand? Come, I understand you very well."
(Conversations, Jesus, 603)
5. "Yes, I am always pleased with you, because whatever concerns you in no why offends me. However I have one fear; it is that if you worry excessively, you will end up being angry, even with me, which would be very dangerous. That is why I tell you that it is not appropriate to trouble yourself. Besides, everybody repeats the same thing to you: your Mother Mary, your sister Therese, and if Saint Alphonsus spoke to you, he would only tell you not to worry, since it is a useless thing to do and often even harmful."
(Conversations, Jesus, 438)
4. "Even if your sins have earned hell for you an infinite number of times, you must not, for all that, lose confidence in my Love. Oh! Sin! Sin! Sin never offends my Love; there is absolutely nothing that offends my Love, except the lack of confidence in my Love . . . pray that sinful souls, so numerous, never lose confidence in my Love. As long as they keep this confidence, the Kingdom of Heaven does not cease to truly belong to them."
(Conversations, Jesus, 648)
3. "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 in peace."
(Conversations, Mary, 596)
2. "Do not worry any more, ever."
(Conversations, Jesus, 438)
And the #1 Holy Maxim from Marcel (brought to you by our sponsors, St. Therese and the Holy Spirit) . . . . . . .
Draw me, we will run!
You must have seen that coming! But if I we surprised you, all the better!
And now, I have a terrible secret - which would be no fun unless I told it to you, so here it is:
Thanks to the roses in my inbox, I only had room for one favorite holy maxim of my choosing (besides our #1 signature prayer, which I'm sure will make us saints, and a great number of others besides). All the ones you sent to me are among my favorites, and the one I somewhat randomly flipped to and added in as my contribution is a favorite too. I'm thinking we owe a big hug to St. Alphonsus for providing us, through his littlest child Marcel, not merely one or ten, but a whole book full of holy maxims. And that's why Conversations never gets old. Every page is a winner, and if you read it in a spirit of trust and forgetfulness, it is ever new, no matter how many times you re-read it!
No need to stop at ten, then. I wish you Marcel's whole book full of holy maxims. Enjoy, and remember: No need to worry any more, ever, but if you do, repeat after me: "Little Jesus, I offer You this worry as a sacrifice," and then, may God's glorious Peace enfold and surround you!
Thinking today is a good day for an experiment. Why don't we try St. John Bosco's suggestion and then see what happens? But strap in first - the management here can't be responsible for any accidents caused by the sudden WHOOSH of miracles if you're driving while entrusting . . .
Meanwhile this news just in: We got it right! Aunt Joan's signature scent was (and now it is Miss Marcel's, officially): Clinique's Aromatics!
And our signature prayer? It hasn't changed . . .
Which means I have a plan. I'm going to say our prayer, try this entrustment thing, and then celebrate by applying some earthly fragrance that smells just heavenly (like Aunt Joan)! This is a to-do list even I might be able to manage . . .
1. Signature prayer.
2. Complete surrender.
3. Signature scent.
I'm looking forward to the miracles St. John Bosco promises. Join me, won't you? Well, at least for 1. and 2 . . . Signature scents are kind of personal, and how do I know what your Aunt Joan smells like? If you can't get to a major department store (where between the Chanel lady, the Clinique lady, and a decade or so of attempts, I finally cracked the code about 6 weeks ago), I recommend asking one of your Aunt Joan's sons. If they don't know straight off (and they most likely won't, being men), they can ask her! Thanks, Mark!
And now, nothin' to it but to do it:
1. Draw me, we will run!
2. Dear Jesus in the tabernacle, please accept everything we are and have. We give ourselves to you, and all those we love, with our pasts, our presents, and our futures, our thoughts, feelings, joys, sufferings, actions and works, disappointments and dreams. Mother Mary, Help of Christians, we give ourselves to you too. Be a true mother to us - counsel us, guide us, hold us close in your arms (and all those we love too) until we get to Heaven where we can rest in God forever with you! And please kiss little Jesus for us right now, and tell Him we love Him a lot!
There, that wasn't so hard, was it? And I wish you the same ease in finding that elusive fragrance. But now I must go, so I can put some of mine on and smell like a million bucks! Or at least like Aunt Joan . . .
It's been an amazing 3 days, not to mention the last 30 years - and if you wanna talk the last 60, I don't even know where to begin!
So let's remember everything, but we'll do it in sound bites . . . Finishing up (down below, at the end of this post) with the sounds of Johnny Mercer's "I Remember You," which does tend to sum up the beauty of it all, as well as the thrill of it all. There's just something about music that captures a moment, an hour, a year, a decade, or three or six.
My husband and I are celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary today. One of the uncountable (really!) blessings Tony has brought me has been the music of his parents. They were married 30 years before we were, and so, praise God, just celebrated their 60th.
Aren't weddings just the best?
This weekend we remembered ours by celebrating another - that of my oldest brother's oldest son John, who married a stunningly terrific woman named Amy, clearly (as many who knew them best declared in the toasts) his soul mate and true love.
They said their vows in St. James Cathedral in downtown Seattle this past Saturday, and my husband and I did our best to contain our tears when the first reading in their ceremony turned out to be from the book of Tobit. John and Amy had chosen the same first reading we had in our wedding 30 years ago, a reading that no one ever seems to choose, but which brought tears to our eyes as we heard it again. What joy to think we will forever have this in common with our dear nephew and new niece!
The photo above shows John and Amy as an engaged couple not too long ago, but before they'd tasted their first moments of forever together. What a witness their vows were! I tend to feel, over and over again, like each wedding I attend is The Best Wedding Ever, but it's hard to imagine the next could outdo John and Amy's in beauty. There's something incredibly powerful about seeing the bride and groom look into each other's eyes as they say their vows, and something quite adorable about the groom jumping the gun with "I do!" before the priest has finished much more than, "Do you John take Amy." He did, and then she did, and one of the themes of the wedding was that they hope to keep doing so for not merely the next 30 or 60, but even the next 100 years, God willing.
I know just how they feel! The other day my husband said, "We're so lucky!"
We are so lucky, but I can't ever get to the end of the list of why - it just goes on and on - so after agreeing with him, I asked, "Why do you say so?"
"Because we're still newlyweds," he replied without missing a beat.
It's true. We've never been happier than now, 30 years after our own "I do's," even though most days of these past 30 years we've felt like it just couldn't get better. God is so good, and one of His favorite miracles (I'm guessing it's a favorite because He keeps repeating it) is to make each day better than the last, which is like a progression of joy that reaches up to infinite bliss. Well that sounds good - let's just love each other all the way to Heaven!
So here we were at John and Amy's wedding, in the nicest hotel we've ever stayed in (thanks, Dad!), surrounded not only by our sons (2), my parents (2), my siblings (3), my sisters-in-law (2), nieces and nephews (11), long-unseen cousins (one of whom does a great imitation of looking exactly like my oldest brother, thus inspiring our second son to throw his arms around "Uncle John!" only to find out it was Uncle Mark!), the wonderful family of the bride (our new niece), and some more seemingly long lost friends and relatives we hadn't seen almost since our own wedding . . .
But to top it off with better-than-butter-cream-icing-on-the-wedding-cake, there were my brother John's best friend Skid with his gorgeous wife and 3 (grown? what?) kids, and two of his second-best friends, Joey and Danny, with their darling wives, Kathleen (Danny's sister, married to Joey, thus making the two brothers-in-law as well as friends since childhood) and Sue (Danny's wife and - dare I say it? - my other brother's first big crush in 6th grade, though clearly God had the best plan of all, my bro marrying his own wonderful wife, and Danny marrying wonderful Sue).
I've been noticing lately that Jesus has this uncanny ability to answer prayers I haven't even remembered to pray. He just looks into my heart, notices an unmet desire, and viola! There it is - miracle # 8,472. Million,
So here I was, never having dared to dream that John and Amy's wedding would be not only Christ's kiss sealing their union, but a re-union with so many I grew up with . . .and next thing I know, I'm meeting up again with cousins Mark and Scott and their beautiful wives, and then Greg (Skid!), Joey and Danny, and their long-suffering spouses (ha! Just kidding guys!) . . . Well it just cracked open my joy, which flowed like champagne - bubbly, sparkly, and the perfect accompaniment to a glorious wedding. And because Jesus never does things by halves, my cup overflowed when Joey told me that my husband and I weren't the only ones celebrating 3 decades of marital bliss this year - he & Kathleen, and Danny & Sue, as well as the Pa & Ma of the groom (that would be my oldest brother and his ever-young wife) were also married in 1988! How awesome!
And now it's time for my confession.
In the midst of all these blessings, I've been a complete brat all summer about our 30th.
There is a reason my husband blurted out in an unguarded moment ten years ago, "I'd rather go to the dentist than have our 20th anniversary!"
It was the same reason he actually did (and yes, dear, I believe you that it wasn't on purpose!) schedule a dentist appointment on our 25th.
Can I be honest with you?
The reason that makes these faux pas totally understandable is that he's married to me, and while I know he's enjoyed nearly every minute of our spectacular marriage, I know too that he's been challenged by those minutes (and weeks and sometimes months) preceding our anniversaries because my already elevated expectations then reach their zenith - somewhere in the neighborhood of Venus (the planet, not de Milo, noted for her charms, though strictly between us, I'm cuter than Venus, and what's more I've got arms. I know all this because my husband has sung it to me a thousand times) . . .
Can you guess what I wanted for our 30th?
It was hard to settle on one thing . . . trip to Lisieux, France? Trip to San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy? Trip to Hawaii? Trip to St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal? Visit to meet Jack Keogan and his Beatrice in England? (Yes, Jack, you made the short list of my dreams!)
I was even willing to settle for 30 "smaller" events (this really did come up as a viable option in my mind, aided and abetted by Miss Marcel East. We thought it was brilliant!) - a plan sure to wear thin even my husband's great willingness to please me . . .
We knew that God's plan was, in fact, for us to visit Tony's parents in South Florida (anniversary trip number one, where we pre-celebrated our 30th and their 60th together), to visit son Joseph in Denver (anniversary trip number two, where we could be with both our sons, as well as spending time with the dearest of friends who'd brought Tony out to teach at the incomparable Augustine Institute for a week), and then finally see my parents and siblings and their families, and - fittingly and wonderfully - celebrate the first wedding of the next generation.
The calendar was full, and I didn't see (and Tony really didn't see) how God was going to get us to France, Italy, Hawaii, Canada, or even Santa Barbara for a getaway weekend, a suggestion my sweet husband threw into the mix of unlikely anniversary trips - our schedule didn't even allow for that local 2nd honeymoon.
As usual, in all my worrying, I forgot something.
(Joey, are you there? We can stop worrying now! God's got this, just like everything else. As you told me you and your cousin say, in hopes of lightening "the curse of the Raspos" or at least to lighten your own hearts, "Thy will be done!")
I forgot something, and it was something important.
I forgot that God is really, really, really big.
And really smart.
And really kind.
Kinder than we can imagine, even if our imaginations are as super-fertile and creative as mine.
You know, I've realized just lately that when He made me, God had fun making my memory the size of a grain of sand, while He made my imagination the size of the universe.
Case in point:
There we were Saturday night at the exquisitely chosen reception venue. Ocean view? check. Sunset over Seattle? check. Skyline lit up like something I've only seen in movies? check. Then, only a day after I'd had the pleasure of inviting you to "look for sunflowers, they're Jon's sign" (and you can read that post "The Veil is Thin" by scrolling down or clicking HERE), to my delight, there were sunflower centerpieces on the reception tables. (Of course I wished I could take one away with me when I left, and lo and behold, I was given one the day after the wedding by Mandy, the mother of the bride and the woman who'd baked 47 loaves of banana bread so we would all have a special something home-made with the bottle of champagne waiting for us in our hotel rooms!) And then to my further delight, quite decoratively stuck into the sunflower centerpieces were pretty gold stakes topped with our table numbers . . .
If you have not yet read my novel The Paradise Project, (if you click on the title, you can see what you've missed), then although I hate to deprive you of its hilarious sarcasm and a lot of laughing out loud, I must say I'm relieved. Because if you haven't read it, you don't know what the heroine, Elizabeth Benning, was planning to do with the stakes in the centerpieces at Emily's wedding to Mr. Collins. Take my word for it - It wasn't pretty! But it did put a huge smile on my face as I found myself beholding just such a centerpiece and stake at Amy's wedding. And my smile broke into laughter when I mentioned this to Joey at the Sunday drop-in breakfast the next day, and when I said a little something about there being a stake in the novel as well as in real life, and he knew immediately what Elizabeth had in mind for that fictional would-be weapon . . .
All of which is to say that my imagination loves to run amok, and as truth is stranger than fiction, I have been imagining that God forgot to plan just one special trip for me to celebrate this happy occasion of 30 years with my earthly bridegroom.
Why I continue to think He'll forget things, just because I do, is a mystery.
Because if God has done anything in His long career (and you know as well as I do that He's had quite a run so far), He's certainly taken care of me in every possible way (and even in many impossible ones) throughout the last 30 years and then some!
But for some of us, seeing is believing.
And so He let me see.
That veil that is so thin, well He began lifting it (with Jon's help) in Tacoma last week . . . and when we got to Seattle proper (and the wedding of the century), He just kept lifting, this time with the Archangel Raphael's help.
And so, though I continue to forget everything (like my dear Marcel! and if you're just joining us at this blog, you can learn more about him and why I think he's the top by clicking HERE), God continues to remind me - just like He reminded Marcel!
As Jesus said to our little brother back in the day and continues to say to me just about every new day, "The more you forget, the more you see your weakness and your ignorance, and the more you are dear to Me and receive My kisses."
I love kisses!
And this was a weekend of kisses for sure - the groom kissed his bride after she became his very own wife, to have and to hold until death does them part, which we pray won't be till they're doddering old fools instead of darling young ones . . . and Jesus kissed me, through a hundred special reunion kisses with those I love, and through the thousand surprises He had planned for me from all eternity as little gifts that He bestowed on me this weekend through the generosity, love, and consideration of so many (not least of whom were the bride and groom, and their parents) . . .
So even though I'm like Marcel in this too, that I often don't understand what Jesus is saying, you will be glad to know - in fact, please do rejoice with me to know - that this time I get it.
As our own special day dawns, I see what God has done and how this unexpectedly miraculous third-of-the-summer vacation is, as it turns out (and as He planned it), the best anniversary getaway week ever!
We're now with our flower girl. You know, the one from the wedding 30 years ago. We're staying with her family for a couple of days because they live in Seattle, and there's nothing like seeing your 3 year old niece as a 33 year old mom with five munchkins and a handsome husband. We hope to go to Mass today in thanksgiving for these past 30, and to ask for at least 30 more. Then we'll go with our boys to revisit some of last week's fun and beloved friends in Tacoma and Lakewood, and then on to Bremerton where my hipster husband has located two typewriter shops. Yes, you heard right: not just one but TWO typewriter shops! God is like that - He answers our prayers way beyond even our wildest dreams! (And no, the typewriter dream is not mine. I just share in it as a helpmate, and how happy I am that we can do something Tony-centric for once. It wears a girl down to be the center of the universe 24/7, though I'm not complaining . . . )
To round out the day, we're going to a fancy schmancy restaurant/lodge overlooking a waterfall. That will be like our honeymoon, when we went to Kauai and saw the most famous waterfall of the 1980's ("The plane! The plane!") and ate amazing food and thanked God for getting us to "I Do" and then to Hawaii.
I started this post proposing to bring you sound bites. There's the Marcel podcast I linked to above (which you can find by clicking HERE), but that's not nearly all. What would love be without music? It would be like the sky without stars, a skyline without lights, Vegas without bling! So let's do it - let's add one more link, to go with the song that's haunting me today with its loveliness and its presence throughout my married life - from this version I'll give you by the Four Freshmen (some of the music I married into, thanks be to God) to the incomparable rendition we heard by Nat King Cole when we watched Jim Carrey in The Majestic last week (though you'll have to find Nat on your own, since the Four Freshmen are what we grew up on).
First our prayer. Nothing like getting the prayer over with so you can sing! Don't worry, a holy and wise priest once told me, in the words of St. Augustine, that singing is praying twice, so it's all even better than good. I'll give you the lyrics so you can sing along, and then the link, so you can end with my life story in song. So first, our favorite prayer:
Draw me, we will run!
and in honor of Joey and his cousin, hoping this will help lift away all our worries:
Thy will be done!
And now, Johnny Mercer's "I Remember You," first in words, then in harmony:
Long, long ago,
Say an hour or so
I recall that I saw your smile.
I remember you,
You're the one who made
My dreams come true
A few kisses ago.
I remember you,
You're the one who said
"I love you, too, " I do.
Didn't you know?
I remember, too,
A distant bell,
And stars that fell like rain
Out of the blue.
When my life is through,
And the angels ask me to recall
The thrill of it all,
Then I shall tell them
I remember you.
+ + +
That last verse always gets me! Truth, by whomever spoken, is always from the Holy Spirit!
And when it's sung? Well, I think the angels contribute too, but you be the judge. And if you think of it, raise a glass today (no matter what it contains!) in honor of love and this great mystery: marriage, and Christ and His Church which it symbolizes.
God is so good, and I thank Him with all my heart, on behalf of my in-laws celebrating 60, all of us celebrating 30, and the many happily marrieds of varying years but unwavering love with whom I've been lucky enough to spend these past days. Oh, and to that iconic couple in the field of sunflowers, Amy and John, I just want you to know that though Amy didn't get her wedding-in-a-field-with-soup, we loved it all, and we love you too! Here's to 100 years!
And now, it's with great joy that we at Miss Marcel's Musings present the song-of-our-life:
I Remember You
And can I just say for the record - I wasn't the one to put Yes, Close to the Edge and Mozart together with the Four Freshmen, but I think I know who did. And Jesus, may I add, You're hilarious! I love You a lot! Thanks for all this fun, and I can't wait to answer the angels' questions when my (earthly) life is through . . . When they ask me to recall the thrill of it all, you know what I'll say. I may be forgetful as the day is long, but I remember Tony and I remember You!
P.S. As if the day weren't already special enough, this just in from the alumni page at our alma mater, Thomas Aquinas College:
Alumna Author's Tribute to a Late Classmate
God is so good!
I've written books and articles and even a novel. Now it's time to try a blog! For more about me personally, go to the home page and you'll get the whole scoop! If you want to send me an email, feel free to click "Contact Me" below.