I'm writing this post for a friend to whom I hope to introduce Marcel Van today. But really, since I'm writing for Jesus, I suppose I ought to say I'm writing this post for the whole world to whom I hope to introduce Marcel Van today. At the very least I'm writing to more friends than I can count, friends of Jesus, friends of mine, friends of Marcel and Therese and future friends of Marcel and Therese. Are you here? Then I'm writing this for YOU!
I had the most marvelous conversation yesterday. A lovely woman I know asked me about prayer. This is crazy because recently I was asked about prayer on a radio interview, and if you click HERE you can hear what I said then, but in case you missed it (or keep missing it because you'd rather keep reading instead of clicking, which is my hope for you and so I'll put that link in again at the end, where you can click after you finish reading!), or even if you didn't and don't miss it but hear it all through, I'd like to talk more about prayer now because there were just a few things I didn't manage to say. That was only Part One, with another interview to follow (which I'll post when it is available to hear), but even before we knew there would be another episode, I had a joke I liked (it was one of those "just joking" but actually kind of serious comments) when I told the wonderful interviewer kind enough to ask me about prayer, "Do you have 3 hours?" As I say, I was kind of kidding, but kind of serious!
Kidding because what needs to be said about prayer to get us started can be said in only 3 seconds or at most 3 minutes. But kind of serious because wow, we could talk about prayer all day and never finish! Not because prayer is scary (I don't want to talk about scary things for even 3 seconds) but because prayer is so very easy and fun, if only you have St. Therese to explain it to you.
Great news! We DO have St. Therese to explain it to us! And this is where Marcel Van comes in.
Are you new here? Are you old here? Are you 29 and counting or have you just learned how to read (haha, at any age, but I'm thinking maybe you are 6 and have gotten onto the internet for the first time and HEY, not a great idea but since you are here, it's all good!).
Well, whether you've been here before or you are just meeting Marcel now - or a combo, where you are new to Miss Marcel's Musings but old to Marcel Van - whatever may be your story, let me tell you a smidge about Marcel.
If you only have time to find out one thing about him, let me tell you this:
He was St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face's little spiritual brother.
And if you have time for a little more, here it is:
Van was born in Vietnam in 1928 and became Marcel sometime after he entered the Redemptorists (the religious order founded by St. Alphonsus de Ligouri on November 9, 1732 in Italy and brought to Vietnam in the 1920's by French Canadian Redemptorist missionaries) when he was 16 years old in October 1944. This was two years after he read St. Therese's book Story of a Soul and asked her to be his spiritual sister. To which she said yes. I mean really. She said, "Yes!" and began conversations with him, just like that! Shall I say "Don't try this at home?" Well, don't worry, it's nothing you need to try or avoid. Just get enough sleep, eat well (you know, a balanced diet, starting each day with one of those delicious and nutritious vitamin fortified cereals like Lucky Charms), and don't take any wooden nickels. And pray. Which we'll learn how to do next, straight from Marcel Van's teacher and ours: St. Therese, the Little Flower, his spiritual sister and ours too.
Because the deal is that when St. Therese started speaking to Marcel (or Van as he was known at the time), she taught him how to pray! First thing! Right away! And later when Van (or Marcel as he was known in the Redemptorists) had a novice master and spiritual director, the very Jesus-like Fr. Antonio Boucher, C.S.s.R., he wrote down (Marcel did), under obedience to Father Boucher, what Therese taught him! He wrote those words in his Autobiography, and at the same time - well not at the same moments but during the same period of his novitiate - Marcel wrote also his Conversations with Jesus, Mary, and St. Therese!
Incidentally (or for some of us essentially), these two books, along with the two other volumes of Marcel's writings, have been translated into English by the kind hearted and bilingual Jack Keogan, another good friend of Marcel's. And thanks to more very good friends of Marcel, namely and literally Les Amis de Van, these books in English are available on amazon.com for only $25 each with free (quick!) shipping to you, whether or not you have amazon prime! WOW! Best. Day. Ever indeed!
But right now, right here, not later, not online somewhere else or even as a rose in your mailbox, we can have those words of St. Therese to Marcel and thanks to him, thanks to Fr. Boucher, thanks to Les Amis and thanks to Jack K, we can have them to ponder in our own English language for as long as we need to ponder them. For me, that's until Jesus whisks me to Heaven and explains things Face to face. Or I just understand them by looking at God, hard as that is to imagine!
But for now - I need words! I need Therese's words to Marcel and then Jesus and Mary's words to Marcel (and Marcel's hilarious words to them), words which oh so happily are meant for us too.
So let's begin! This is the day (when I'm writing, perhaps when you're reading, but hopefully these words will be here until the end of time, so no hurry!) when Jesus died of love for us. And why? Because He couldn't stand for us not to know of His love and so, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, He conspired to do this crazy crucifixion thing (or rather, let it be done to Him) so we would never, ever, ever be alone in our stinky suffering in this exile on earth. Cool beans!
Thank You, Jesus! But how can we understand? How can we begin and continue to make anything at all of this crazy act of love You freely suffered for us? And why oh WHY did You do it instead of just coming down and saying, "Hey guys, how about no more suffering? I'm God and none of Us like suffering, and certainly none of you like it, so let's cease and desist and just have a happy eternity!"?????
Well, for me the answer that I can really wrap my mind and heart around comes from the books Marcel wrote for us. So let's go there. Let's go to that first meeting between Therese and Marcel, jumping to (587) in Marcel's Autobiography.
(By the way, these parenthetical numbers used time to time by those of us who quote our little brother are the numbers, equally parenthesized in his books, that were his original page numbers. Marcel would write his Autobiography and his Conversations on sheets of paper he numbered and gave to Fr. Boucher, his "bearded Jesus." Fr. Boucher later spent the final 20 years of his life back in Quebec translating these pages very carefully, much to the mockery of his confreres. Sad? Well no, the happiest thing that ever happened to us, though one would like the Little Way to have a few less scoffers peering in from the surrounding uphill climbs. Ah, well, no matter. We love you Fr. Boucher! We love you Jack Keogan! We love You Jesus! Thank you guys for preserving the parenthetical numbers so we can have our chapter and verse handy!)
Okay, so down to business . . . I'm going to skip the very initial meeting of Therese and Marcel - or rather the first few minutes of it - so I can get to the heart of the part where she is teaching him and us about prayer.
St. Teresa of Jesus of Avila, the Doctor of Prayer, explains that prayer is nothing other than spending time frequently in conversation with the One whom we know loves us! Isn't that terrific?
And so Therese the Little Flower, being Teresa's true daughter, though her littlest daughter, and also a Doctor of the Church (namely the Doctor of the Science of Love) is going to expand on her holy Mother-in-Carmel's definition, and tell us how that conversation might go.
When you think about it, there are lots of types of conversations. Some are the greatest gifts (well, after Holy Communion) that we have in this life. Others are real downers!
Our conversations with God, our prayer and our prayers, these are meant to be joyful experiences, so let's find out how that works!
Therese teaches (and you can find this in Marcel Van's Autobiography at (598)) this:
Van, my dear little brother, you see God is our Father. But because man, poor sinner, dominated by fear, dared no longer to give to God the name of Father, God Himself lowered Himself in becoming man, to remind His human brothers of the existence of a source of grace that the love of God had made to gush forth, and which would continue to flow unendingly. So from His own mouth, He has taught us to give Him the name of Father.
Yes, God is our Father, our true Father, a very real Father . . . To be God's children is for us an incomparable happiness. We are right to be proud of it and never to give way to an excessive fear.
God is our beloved Father! O dear little brother! I wish to remind you unceasingly of this so-sweet name. I am asking you to make sure from now onwards always to keep the memory of this name of Love, and never to adopt a worried air or a fearful attitude in the presence of this Love which is infinitely paternal! Yes, remember always that God is Father, that He has filled you with graces, that He has never refused to answer your smallest wishes, and that very often He has granted more than you wished for. Truly, everything proclaims the goodness and the power of God, and He only uses this power to show the kindness of His Heart toward His creatures.
Never fear God. He is the all-loving Father. He knows only how to love, and He wishes to be loved in return. He thirsts for our poor little hearts which come from His creative hands, and where He has placed a spark of love which comes from the very hearth of His Love. His only wish is to gather these sparks of love and unite them to His infinite love, so that our love lives on for ever in His. Finally, it is still the force of the attraction of Love which will draw us into the eternal fatherland of Love.
Offer all of your little heart to God. Be sincere with Him in all circumstances and in all your points of view. When you feel joy, offer Him this joy which swells your heart and, by so doing, you will transmit your joy to Him. Can there be a greater happiness than a couple loving one another and exchanging all they possess? To act in this way with God is to say thank you to Him, which pleases Him more than thousands of touching canticles. If, on the other hand, you are invaded by sadness, say to Him again with an honest heart: 'O my God, I am really unhappy!' And ask Him to help you to accept this sadness with patience. Really believe this: nothing gives as much pleasure to the good God as to see on this earth a heart which loves Him, who is sincere with Him with each step, with each smile, as well with tears as with little momentary pleasures.
Now, little brother, is there perhaps still one more thing that you are afraid of? Have the patience to listen to me so as to practice it and then you will get the habit. So, when you speak to the good God, do so quite naturally as if you were talking to those around you. You can speak to Him of anything you wish: of your game of marbles, of climbing the mountain, the teasing of your friends, and if you become angry with anyone, tell it also to the good God in all honesty. God takes pleasure in listening to you. In fact He thirsts to hear these little stories which people are too sparing with Him. They can spend hours telling these amusing stories to their friends but when it's a question of the good God who longs to hear such stories to the point of being able to shed tears, there is no one to tell Him about them. From now on, little brother, don't be miserly with your stories to the good God. All right?
[And here, Marcel writes, "Therese laughed." And then he asks her a really good question, maybe the question on your mind:]
"But, holy sister, God already knows absolutely all of these things. Is it still necessary to tell them to Him?"
It is true, little brother, that God knows everything completely. All is present to Him from all eternity. From all eternity, also, God knows, absolutely, all of that so nobody has any need to speak of it to Him. However, to "give" and to "receive" love He must lower Himself to the level of a man like you, and He does it as if He's completely forgotten that He is God who knows everything, in the hope of hearing an intimate word springing from your heart. God acts in this way because He loves you. He wishes by that to fill you with precious graces, to let you know of all the good desires and all the delights that one tastes in His love. . . .
* * *
There is more, much more, that our sister Therese and our brother Marcel, and most of all our Savior, Spouse, Beloved, Best Friend, and Brother Jesus have to tell us and teach us, but I'm going to stop now so I can post this and you can read it and be free!
Free to love Jesus more than ever, and free to let Him hear an intimate word springing from your heart.
I wonder what you will tell Him . . . maybe you wonder too! But most of all, be yourself with Him. After all, He made you and He made you because He loves you. He knows you and He doesn't make mistakes. We sure do, but not Him, not our perfect and perfectly loving God, our perfect and perfectly loving Father. So no worries!
Which reminds me. Another lover of Marcel wrote to me early, early this morning (don't worry, she didn't get up early, she just hadn't gone to sleep yet!) to remind me of some of our favorite words from that other magnificent Marcel book, our very, very favorite, Conversations, around (438). It turns out that just before Palm Sunday in 1946 (so we had this anniversary about a week ago, liturgically speaking), Jesus said to Marcel these most favorite of all favorite words - advice from Truth Himself which can serve as a mantra for you, as it does for us, just in case you haven't settled on a really good mantra yet.
Here it is, from Jesus:
"Do not worry any more, ever."
There is so much left to say, but I'm not supposed to worry about it, so I'll trust that this is what I'm supposed to give you now, as I write, as you read, as Jesus loves us.
Here at Miss Marcel's Musings we have a little prayer we say to end our posts. It's a verse from the Song of Songs that Therese taught us as a prayer in her Story of a Soul (in the last pages there), and we love it! We play with it as we pray it, sometimes varying the words, but here it is today, as a call to Jesus to make us saints, and to make everyone else saints with us too!
Draw me, we will run!!!
And then, as I promised, here's that radio link again. My interviewers (or interlocutors - doesn't that make it sound like we're having a Platonic dialog? It was a ton of fun, I must say!) are Dan Duddy and Tom Caffrey, the Click and Clack of Catholic radio with a Saturday morning show that I hope will soon be in an hour format. They're the best!
Well, actually, Marcel is the best. Well Jesus-Marcel, as the two of them explain in Conversations, but in order to finish up before all time does, HERE IS THE LINK, and happy listening!
Oh Jesus, You thirst for us, and Man, do we thirst for You!
So please, dear Love, dear Heart, dearest darling Jesus:
Draw me, we will run!!!
I'm such a maroon, to quote Bugs Bunny. An ignorananamus too!
I forgot to include (but now thanks to several guardian angels, mine and those of some dear friends including Padre Pio, I am remembering!) two important links. Well only if you feel like linking!
First, today is a huge day for Sister Clare Crockett, because Good Friday was the day she kissed Jesus at the Veneration of the Cross in the Good Friday liturgy. Don't many of us do that? Well yes, but Clare was entirely ignorant of Christ (a real maroon too, come to think of it!) until that kiss! If you don't know her yet, you will love her. If you know her already - well you already love her, so celebrate Jesus' kiss today!
If the Holy Spirit inspires you, read about her HERE, and if you are further inspired, there is a movie online about her that I'm sure your angel will help you find. Nothing like a great movie on Good Friday, just go light on the popcorn unless it's one of your official meals!
And second, an angel of a more earthly sort recently shared this stunning article with me. It's about a remarkable new book in which the author, a dad of an autistic son, explains how he found or was given A THERAPY THAT UNLOCKS THE DOOR to the autistic child! Or perhaps I should say "unlocks the door of the heart of the autistic child"? Anyhow, it is a Spirit inspired therapy which could free countless children from their autistic prisons, and I know Marcel is super excited to have you read about it and share this with the whole world. Marcel is the apostle of children, and we ask him now to spread the word about this great remedy for autistic children. You can read about this miracle HERE. And God bless the children, including ourselves!
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