You might be thinking that all these roses are a good sign - and you're right, they are! But here is the wonderful news: they don't just symbolize the gifts Jesus is giving us to answer our prayers - they're also our gifts to Him! You may wonder how I know this . . . .well how do I know anything? I read about it in Marcel's Conversations!
Whether I can find the passage again (the one that explained to me about the roses) is anyone's guess. I certainly can't find it on my own - I don't have that kind of time! The other day I saw a dear friend who told me she'd visited Marcel's blog and she had a wonder of her own: how did I find time to write so many words? Well that's the easy part: I type fast! I tried to explain, too, that I don't think when I write. This saves so much time! Now if only I could remember where I'd put that funny quote along these lines. Let me look in Conversations for that too (no, Marcel didn't say it - though I think maybe he did too, since he said nearly every funny thing possible to say, but the quote I'm looking for now is on a bookmark I made by cutting out the quote and then putting sealing tape on it. We're very crafty here at Miss Marcel's Musings).
Nope, not in my book today. I'm pretty sure that was among the heap of bookmarks I took out of Marcel's pages so I could start fresh. Of course I'm now tripping over all my new bookmarks (and the ones I couldn't possibly take out even those I was doing my best to declutter), so I might as well have left that in - kind of like my friend who never cared to make her and her husband's bed, knowing they'd just have to unmake it to sleep in again that night anyhow. She used to tell him, laughingly, "I guess the maid didn't come today!" Wasn't it a fun joke on her (she thought it was hilarious) when she and her husband lived for a semester in Rome (they were teachers) and a maid DID come in every day and make the bed for them! So you see, even before we've gotten to Marcel proper (as if such a little boy could ever be "proper," but I mean before we've gotten to his and Jesus' words), you've learned something. Ha! Perhaps you shouldn't let on that you learned it here!
Despite my missing the clever saying from the famous author (the one on the bookmark which is in the top drawer of my dresser in my room where my husband is sleeping in our unmade bed - you can't blame me yet; it didn't seem wifely to simply make it on top of him while he slept), we can find many clever, or at least charming (if not memorable - no fault of theirs but given our Marcellian memories like sieves) quotes in Marcel for this post. I'd like to begin with the one about the flowers, but let's see if it wants to be quoted . . .
Apparently it wants to be paraphrased, because my quick-flip is not unearthing what we're looking for. So (heavy sigh, deep breath), what I'd found before I lost it was a passage in which Jesus explained to Marcel that the beautiful flowers in His heart were from Marcel's tears of a previous day. They'd all blossomed into these flowers that were so very beautiful and adorning Jesus' love.
I'm sure our laughter can also produce lovely flowers for Jesus, so don't feel compelled to cry! But it's nice to know that the tears of yesterday and yesteryear are of use to our Love. And speaking of things of use to Him, I'd like to take a moment to applaud the capitalized pronouns. Isn't it spectacular how the pronoun with an unclear antecedent is suddenly made luminously clear (just like the Light of the World) when we properly capitalize it?
Take for instance, "Jesus explained to Marcel that the beautiful flowers in His heart were from Marcel's tears." You know exactly Whose heart "His heart" refers to, though if we hadn't capped, you might be scratching your head and asking, quite grammatically, "To whom did the flowers belong, to Marcel or to Jesus? Precisely whose heart did they adorn?"
Therese was a huge fan of capitalizing pronouns that refer to God; it was one more small way she could fittingly honor Him, and she was adamant in this practice. I love it too - on her behalf and God's, and it saddens me to see the no-caps-for-God's-pronouns custom having taken over Catholic as well as secular publishing. It also makes me laugh (let's see: sadness interspersed with frequent fits of laughter. We find this hysterical!) because keeping God's pronouns capped makes life so much easier for the reader, not to mention the editor. Since clarity of communication is a gift we seek whole-heartedly, it cracks me up (when it doesn't bum me out) to see so many throwing away such an obvious answer to the problem of unclear antecedents, at least when we're talking about God and men, and who wants to talk about anything else?
I console myself that it's not my job to change what I can't, so we won't worry but instead let His peace wash over us even as we eschew modern irreverent stylistic practice and make it a policy at MMM to cap our "He"s when they're His. He's given us the courage to change what we can, and so we will, with great gusto! Welcome here, then, capital letters of God's pronouns! And to you, dear reader, if I don't always appear consistent it's because sometimes we might get overwhelmed with caps (depending on the passage and the number of pronouns which are not just "He" and "His" but also when Jesus is speaking "My" and "Mine"), and so I feel free to use my discretion . . .
Another talent of Therese that I rejoice to borrow (her discretion), this time not only for piety's sake, but also in the service of charity and expediency. She felt quite free, the intrepid Celine explains, to quote loosely when it served her purposes. Unlike St. Anthony, she hadn't the opportunity or infused gift to memorize the entire Bible. So for those of us who are bad Protestants (that's what I call myself when I can't remember chapter and verse, but just the general gist, and I thank the good Lord He made our Protestant-Christian brothers and sisters so familiar with His word because someone ought to be!), it helps to know we're allowed to do our best and adapt as necessary.
But there is a quote I wanted to give you verbatim today, and it's on courage (which we were just talking about), so let's go with it now. Angels help us to adore Him, you behold Him face to face - and you are so good at multi-tasking; please help me find this quote, if you would . . . Ah yes, I had more than one angel helping me find the page. Here is Marcel smiling from a bookmark right where I needed it. Why is he smiling? And where did he come from? I was so enamored with the picture on the cover of his Other Writings that I went to the drugstore some time back and used their copy & print machine to make my own holy cards of mischievous Marcel. Here, then, is what he wanted me to share with you right where he marked the spot.
Jesus is speaking to him, but more currently He used this passage to speak to me this morning, after I'd been fretting slightly before I slept last night. You know that "I'm feeling less profitable than a half-pence run over by a bus on cobblestones, how will I ever produce a nickel's worth of anything tomorrow?" sort of feeling one has just before blessed sleep swooshes in . . . And in particular I was worried about what I might say in this post when the new day dawned. (Silly, silly me! I could quote Marcel, from his book, the whole day through and we'd all be the better for it. But we do tend to fuss about "Who will roll away the stone?")
Though I know worry is worse than useless, it's positively frowned upon by Jesus, nonetheless there I was worrying. Then blessed sleep did whoosh in, and I hadn't another coherent thought until about 5:30 a.m. when I hoped I wasn't really waking up yet. And I still wondered what I'd say here.
All was made right with that understanding smile from our little brother, along with his words and His words at (324) in Conversations:
Marcel/Miss Marcel: But I do not know how to express myself.
Jesus: In that case, be content to put up with this suffering, since I wish it. When you do not know how to express yourself, leave it to Me. But, sometimes, you could express yourself but you are afraid to do so. (Laughing) Would you be afraid someone is going to gobble you up? Yes, Marcel, you are inclined to fear things that are not worth the trouble.
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Boy do they have my number! No wonder Marcel is laughing along with Jesus now - he's safe in His arms forever, while we go on fearing things that are not worth the trouble. Let's get one thing straight, though, before we continue. You didn't have any plans to gobble me up, did you? Ha! I love that line! Who knew Jesus could be so dear, so funny, so intimate, so "down-to-earth"? I suppose we should have suspected He might be. After all, why come so far down to earth if He had no intention of being down-to-earth?
But luckily this endearing and adorable nearness of Jesus has reminded me of the longer passage that the angels (especially my guardian) unearthed for us today. It's on the same subject of Jesus' gentle, loving nearness, and I would've forgotten (did forget, in fact) if my angel hadn't surprised me with it a again and yet again.
I like to say Therese's Act of Oblation to Merciful Love as soon as I can after I wake, kind of like a morning offering, and thank goodness prayers badly said still count! One of the books I use to help me say the Act is Jacques Gauthier's I Thirst. (Yes, it is a good book. No, I haven't read nearly all of it though it's quite thin, but I'm eternally grateful to Jacques because he's given me a book large enough to have a good size rendering of the Act, and small enough to move around the house with me each morning until I get to say it. No, you shouldn't go look it up now. I won't even give you a link to tempt you at this juncture!)
So this morning when I finished the Act and then realized I'd hardly been paying attention to any of the words but decided that was still perfectly acceptable since Jesus knew I meant most of it (still not fond of that paragraph on suffering) and wasn't likely to pay any better attention a second time through, well THEN I turned the page.
You see, the Act of Oblation is Appendix One in I Thirst, and immediately following it is Appendix Two. Which, I might add, I never (never? well hardly ever) look at or see. Today I did, and good thing I did because there I found Mother Teresa's "Varanasi letter." Since I'm mentioning books already, let me tell you that one of the first places I saw this letter was in Our Sunday Visitor's greatest publishing triumph (because this is one of the best books ever, right up there after Marcel's 4 volumes), Mother Teresa's Secret Fire by Fr. Joseph Langford, the priest who founded (with Mother Teresa) the priest branch of the Missionaries of Charity. Fr. Langford knew Mother Teresa well; so well that he forced her hand, begging her to tell, insisting that she tell her whole Order (and through them the rest of the world), about the experience she had on September 10, 1946, her "Inspiration Day," the day she received on a train her "call within a call," namely the call to found the Missionaries of Charity.
What I love about Fr. Langford's book is that instead of focusing on Mother Teresa's care for the poor as her primary charism (and thus, incidentally, making me feel very, very guilty as many books about Mother Teresa, however important and true they may be, do make me feel), he zooms in on her more essential gift - the gift that is the same in the lives of all the Saints, the secret that explains how they could love Jesus as much as they did. You don't have to buy Fr. Langford's book to find out (although it's well worth the price, containing as it does some priceless pages). It's my pleasure to tell you here and now this secret, and you can drink without paying, without cost. I know what it is to hear about a new book and want to rush over and buy it, quick as a flash, so I can own more wisdom, but you're welcome to try something new for the time it takes to read the rest of this post. Stay with me and Marcel, relax for a moment, take a deep breath, and we'll tell you what the Holy Spirit has been wanting to tell you from the beginning, what the Heavenly Father has been wanting you to hear for a very long time - eternally, I dare say!
Mother Teresa's secret fire, and that of every Saint of every age, is nothing less than Jesus' love for her, that love which God shows first, way before we do a darned thing. St. John, who felt Jesus' love by leaning on His Sacred Heart at the Last Supper, tells us exactly this in his first letter. But speaking of letters, let's get to Mother Teresa's. Because of Fr. Langford's urging and pleading, she broke her decades' long reticence (half a century's worth of keeping her secret) and wrote to her sisters the message she considered, without question, her most important legacy.
Fr. Langford explains that the Varanasi Letter "was so named after the city on the Ganges where she visited on March 25, 1993, the feast of the Annunciation to Mary - the date she wished to affix to this letter that, for the first time, would speak openly of her experience and her message. Her insistence on that date for her letter would honor the original 'message' announcing the fullness of divine love given in Jesus, revealed to Mary by the angel Gabriel on this day." (This explanation is from his book; now I'll quote the letter from Appendix Two in I Thirst, where it follows my well-loved if badly said Act of Oblation.)
One more word before I give you Jesus' through Mother Teresa. I want to add that I wouldn't feel any desire to offer this letter if it wasn't exactly what Jesus is telling us through Marcel. What I love about Conversations (and that book I do suggest you may want to rush over and buy HERE, because I doubt I can give you every bit of it on this blog, though Heaven knows I'm happy to try, quoting page after page, day after day) - but as I was saying, what I love about Conversations is that Jesus is telling us there, in the plainest possible words, the same thing He's been saying every since His adorable mouth could speak, and long before that, through the Prophets. Believe me, it's all good, just like Jesus Himself! He told us in John 10 that we'd recognize His voice, and I now not only believe Him, I have experienced it. That same resonant, gentle, loving Voice that tells us, "Do not worry, little flock, it has delighted your Father to give you the Kingdom," (which Kingdom is Himself), tells us the same thing in a thousand different ways in the pages of Marcel's book.
Then, too, in Mother Teresa's letter I hear the echo of our Savior's same sweet Voice, the echo of His love, and I pray you'll hear it too . . . Saint Mother Teresa writes:
My children, Jesus wants that I tell you how much love He has for each one of you, beyond all you can imagine. I worry that some of you have not really met Jesus - one on one; you and Jesus alone. We can certainly spend time in the chapel, but have you perceived - with the eyes of the soul - with what love He looks at you? Have you heard His words of love? Ask for this grace; He has the burning desire to give it to you. As long as you do not hear Jesus in the silence of your heart, you can not hear Him say "I thirst" in the heart of your poor ones. Never abandon the intimate daily contact with Jesus as a real and living person, instead of just a pure idea. How can we spend even one single day without listening to Jesus when He says: "I love you, ______." [Your name goes there.] That is impossible! Our soul needs that as much as our body needs to breathe. If not, prayer dies and mediation degenerates into simple reflection. Jesus wants that each one of us listen to Him, as He speaks to you in the silence of your heart. Be attentive to what could prevent this personal contact with the living Jesus. The devil will try to use the wounds of life, indeed our very own faults, in order to persuade you that it is impossible for Jesus to really love you. Beware, that this is a danger for all of us. But the saddest thing is, that this is completely contrary to what Jesus would want and expect to hear from you. Not only that He loves you but even more; He ardently desires you. He misses you when you do not come close to Him. He is thirsty for you. He loves you always even when you do not feel worthy of Him. When you are not accepted by others - or even sometimes by yourself - He always accepts you.
My children, you don't have to be different (from what you are in reality) for Jesus to love you. Believe simply that you are precious to Him. Bring your sufferings to His feet and simply open your heart so that He loves you the way you are, and He will do the rest.
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I will add Jesus' words to Marcel in Conversations at (404). He has so much to say, and I don't want you to miss a single syllable of His love:
"No matter what happens, remain peaceful . . . do not worry. I remain always with you, yes, always, always. It is impossible for Me to leave you, even for half a second. Remain tranquil, you are always very pleasing to Me; later, in heaven, you will be with Me on Mary's breast. We will then be able to converse quite freely, unlike now. The happiness we will taste will be a true happiness and without end . . . I am giving you a kiss . . . Be joyful . . . "
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And now all that remains is our Novena prayer. I don't want to whisk you away from Jesus next to you, Jesus telling you to tell Him everything, but when you're ready, here's a prayer to our Mother, on whose comfy lap you can sit with Jesus while you pour out your heart out to them both.
An Old French Prayer
Blessed Mother of those whose names you can read in our hearts, watch over them with every care. Make their way easy and their labors fruitful. Dry their tears if they weep; sanctify their joys; raise their courage if they weaken; restore their hope if they lose heart, their health if they be ill, truth if they err, and repentance if they fall. Bring them finally to rest on your Immaculate Heart with Jesus and with us in eternal joy, forever and ever, Amen. Oh and help our friends find the right house, the house where you will draw them all closer to Jesus, our Love. Amen again.
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Okay, you caught me. In purely Theresian style, I've added a smidge to that prayer - but it's only because I just got a phone call asking me to pray, and once again I'm not one to leave you out. The more the merrier, in this novena and in everything else we do and pray. Be assured that your intentions are equally included, though silently, and may all your dreams come true!
Now Jesus is giving you a kiss, and so am I. Be joyful . . . and if you can manage a laugh, I'm sure that will provide yet more roses for Jesus' Heart. Have you heard the one about the dying man and the chocolate chip cookies? That always gets a laugh from Miss Marcel East :). May you too find laughter today, and if you're very lucky, your favorite cookies as well!
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