You might say I'm a day late, but in this time of great feasts, I rather feel that would be like accusing our glass of being half full just because we're sharing! Have you felt the joy and love of Our Lady's month yet? If you have, welcome to the club. And if not? Welcome to the club and doubly so - there is so much joy to be had for the taking, and we're here to share it!
To give you the whole situation (in which we find ourselves, and you too, now that you've joined us), we tried to celebrate May 13th yesterday, but there are so many Our Ladies on that day that we couldn't possibly manage to cram them all in without squashing Little Jesus in her arms!
The sequel? We've decided to spread the Marian joy over at least a triduum - perhaps for an octave or the rest of our lives! - because waste not, want not, as the saying goes. And why want in any kind of unsatisfied way when we could simply fulfill all our hearts' desires by resting in the capacious lap of any one of these marvelous Mamas?
The first picture above (If you're using a computer start on the left; on a phone it will show up on the top), is an image of Our Lady of Fatima. Shall I make this easier on us all? Let's just say that anything you want to know about her love for us and our love for her can be found HERE. (If you click on HERE, you'll get there!)
In the middle of our photo gallery we have (from left to right): Marcel, a delicious glass of chocolate milk, and Therese. Not much to say there except that in lieu of "the making of this post" documentary film, which we don't have any time to make these busy days, let me tell you that the glass of chocolate milk looked so yummy, I had to go make myself one before I could continue writing! And might I add that this is the most delicious plague I've ever found myself a part of? Feel free to go make yourself a cold or hot drink of something delightful, and meanwhile let's say, "Thank You, Jesus, for taking care of us, and please take care of all Your children throughout the world!"
Underneath our brother and sister drinking together, you'll find a photo of Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament. This title was given to Mom by our big brother St. Peter Julian Eymard, the great French apostle of the Blessed Sacrament. Thanks to St. Peter's love and inspiration, there is a feast of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament celebrated even now by his religious congregations on May 13 - sharing the day with Fatima because Peter's devotion came a few decades before Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia's.
But my favorite picture of those that top our post today is the one that comes last. Let me post it here again so that you can get a better look at it:
Can you see our little brother Marcel gracing the cover of his Conversations just above these words?
If you look above him, you'll see St. Therese, our sister, and above her, Mary, our Mother.
We sure enjoy lots of different loving gazes from the Immaculate Heart and compassionate eyes of our sweet heavenly Mom, but of all her looks of love, this image both reveals and hides one of her kindest glances ever.
Therese describes for us in Story of a Soul what she saw in Our Lady's face on May 13, 1883 (which was Pentecost that year), and she writes:
"All of a sudden the Blessed Virgin appeared beautiful to me, so beautiful that never had I seen anything so attractive; her face was suffused with an ineffable benevolence and tenderness, but what penetrated to the very depths of my soul was the ravishing smile of the Blessed Virgin. At that moment, all my pain disappeared, and two large tears glistened on my eyelashes, and flowed down my cheeks silently, but they were tears of unmixed joy. Ah! I thought, the Blessed Virgin smiled at me, how happy I am . . ."
And the physical image of Our Lady through which our Heavenly Mother smiled at Therese and cured her when our little sister was mysteriously ill in her childhood?
It's the statue of Our Lady of the Smile which you can find in the chapel of the Carmel of Lisieux when you go there! And don't let's any of us imagine that we'll never get there, because I am living proof that miracles still happen and Our Lady will bring us to Lisieux whether we want to go or not!
Take my poor husband as an example.
One year ago, he found himself before this very image of Our Lady in the chapel of the Carmel of Lisieux, yes, right there with me and Marcel and Therese, one year ago exactly! If ever there was a man who didn't imagine or desire himself in that spot, it was my sweet husband - and don't think he ended up there because I forced him. I had given up asking, begging, pleading, cajoling, and trying to trick him into accidentally (or purposely) taking me there long before he actually did it.
Okay, so the jury is out, and yet to be perfectly honest, we don't know if Tony actually took me to Lisieux. There is a theory (I'm not saying who started it, but it has merit and ought to be considered among the possible causes of my ending up in Lisieux a year ago this week) that the real Tony was abducted by aliens and Alien Tony was the one who took me to Lisieux. (The pod people having replaced him with his Martian double, or something like that. I'm not super clear on how these things work, so I only share what I can piece together about this unsolved mystery.) The one glaring problem with this theory is the feelings it evokes. I liked Alien Tony fine, but I felt sorry for Alien Tony's wife on her planet. She had been expecting a special trip just when I wasn't, and while I ended up in Lisieux, she ended up with my own Tony who acted completely natural reading a book in her living room and playing solitaire on the floor instead of taking her anywhere exotic! And when he said, "Isn't that just like me?" she must have been as startled, bemused, and nearly beside herself with confusion as I was when Alien Tony said the same thing to me, after proposing we go to Lisieux!
Anyway, however God worked it, we went! And of course we took Marcel, and thus we helped Therese to finally fulfill her promise to him! And if you think I'm taking too much credit by blithely noting that it was Tony and I who fulfilled a promise Therese made to Marcel in 1946 and took a long 73 years to fulfill (aha! the very year Therese was born! I feel like St. Augustine reading the Bible, finding meaning in every seemingly random but actually Providential number!) - well listen to my explanation and see if you can doubt its nearly demonstrative level of certainty.
Not only did we take Marcel to Lisieux last May (one year ago this week, as I've been announcing for a couple of days to anyone within earshot, for such joy as mine cannot be repressed!), and not only did this pilgrimage fulfill a conversation that he and Therese had in 1946 (which was recorded, thankfully, by Marcel in his Conversations with Jesus, Mary, and St. Therese which you can find HERE), but get this:
Whenever I want to find a particular passage in Conversations, invariably I can't! I have to search and search, and then often I give up and just take what Marcel and Jesus give me. Considering that they always give me manna, I can hardly complain (or rather I know I'd better not - the Israelites found that out the hard way!), but if I may say so, it's a bit annoying!
Today, however - I mean just now a moment ago, when I opened my handy copy of Convos to find this passage - VOILA! There it was on the first page that met my eyes! This is perhaps to some a poor proof of my pudding, but let me just say, "Oh ye of little faith! Really, believe me, this is unprecedented to find the very passage I'm looking for!"
And so without further fuss and delay, let me quote from Marcel's book, around (632) or better yet (as a reference point) from the entry he wrote on 7 Mother 1946, "Mother" being his adorable name for May, since both are in honor of Mary!
As usual, I could quote page after page, because there are pages here which are the best pages in the world! (We make an exception for the pages of Holy Scripture, but otherwise, I stand my holy ground.) Happily for all of us, though, today's pertinent words are pithy and perfectly to the point, so here we go.
Therese tells Marcel: "In a short while I will take you to France, so that you may enjoy the countryside at your leisure."
Not to delay the punch line, but might I interject for the sake of clarity?
I recently had two friends, one from Canada and the other from Vietnam, ask me for clarification in the nicest possible way. Their queries were similar, and went something like this: "Suzie, you write a blog called Miss Marcel's Musings, you bandy about names like they were going out of style, you talk about someone called Marcel who was the brother of Therese - and could you please explain what in God's creation you are talking about?"
So for those who may be stumbling upon this blog, as well as those who would like a refresher on what and whom I mean, let me explain that Therese is St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower. She lived in France from 1873 to 1897, and then flew the coop and resides (since that time) in Heaven on the lap of Jesus, when she is not on the lap of Mary. She is quite a busy little lap-dog, though (if we may call her so, and I'm sure she wouldn't mind a bit) and by any and every means at her disposal - and in Heaven, while no one is ever mean, there are lots of means! - she spends her eternity showering roses on those stuck in exile, here below. O happy victims of the shower of roses! That would be us - we, her siblings whom she loves to aid and abet, and you will begin to see her roses everywhere if you only look around!
In 1946, some of Therese's time (or eternity) in heaven was spent conversing on earth with a little Vietnamese boy, Marcel Van (1928 - 1959) who was a novice in the Redemptorists (the religious order founded by St. Alphonsus de Ligouri) in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Little Brother Marcel Van, at this point around 17 years old, was told by Jesus, but more importantly by his spiritual director (whom they lovingly called "bearded Jesus") to write down these conversations with St. Therese, as well as those he had with Jesus and Mary. He did write them down, and later his spiritual director (the Canadian missionary Fr. Antonio Boucher, C.S.s.R.) translated them from Marcel's Vietnamese into French, which the good and amazing Jack Keogan more recently translated into English for the likes of us. The book of Marcel's chats with Jesus, Mary, and Therese is called, fittingly, Conversations, and is the book we here at Miss Marcel's Musings prefer to every other, except the Bible.
So getting back to the conversation Marcel and Therese had a week and 74 years ago (my, how time flies! It feels like this was yesterday!), Therese has just finished telling Marcel that she will "in a short while" take him to France, her home country which Jesus loves very much. Since Marcel is in Vietnam, his own home country (also beloved by Jesus but it seems Jesus loves France with a very special love of predilection), and all of us like time to prepare and pack for a trip to a foreign land, naturally he asks Therese about their trip:
"But, my sister, when will that happen?"
Therese answers, "That will happen later, no other time."
To which Marcel, no dummy, though sometimes as silly as any among us, replies, "Later, that surely means when I am in heaven, not anything else. But when I am in heaven, even if you do not take me there, I will go to France nevertheless to see if the children are well behaved."
And do you know what happened next?
Well, if you fast forward to last year (from 1946, or alternately you can rewind if you feel quite stuck in 2020), we took Marcel with us to France! And jumping jellybeans, he was much less surprised than we were that at last the three of us found ourselves there - first talking to his own postulator, the wonderful Benedictine monk Pere Olivier de Roulhac at the Abbey of Saint Wandrille in Normandy, and then surrounded by all of St. Therese's special places in the life-changing, flower-filled city of Lisieux.
Do you want to see pictures? Do you want to know if the children were well behaved?
They were very well behaved, in fact, and we knew this because Therese played a great joke on us and we arrived in Lisieux at the same time as the annual pilgrimage of Catholic school children from Paris! How magnificent our little sister is! And how funny! She had been waiting 74 years to play this joke on Marcel, just as if she'd promised, "Sure, I'll let you get a glimpse of my children and you can see how well behaved they are in France. Very well behaved indeed!"
Yes, how they were! Just look!
Suffice it to say that I can never express my gratitude for being allowed to go to Lisieux in the company of my husband, my sister Therese, and most of all my little brother Marcel Van, but I'll keep trying!
And if you want the complete picture of what I learned from our pilgrimage, and what I continue to learn from my husband and our sister and brother in this month of Mary - or to be more specific, what I learn about Jesus' best little way for us to get to heaven - let me give you one last image.
This final photo was not taken a year ago in a land of beauty far, far away, but was taken a couple of days ago in the land of beauty I find myself inhabiting now. I don't know if Mary, Our Lady of Ladies, has often been compared to a Mama Duck, but Marcel and Therese have taught me that we should never be afraid to liken her to every beautiful thing in Heaven and on earth!
We love to pray simply here, and the prayer of our blog usually ends with the short cry of the heart we offer together:
Draw me, we will run!
But now, a last thought to go with our last photo:
Plague time being such a time of sheltering in place, let us shelter in Our Lady and not worry about a thing. And when she is ready to lead us - as she always does - to the Living Water, we can waddle happily behind her to our very Happiest Place - none other than Jesus, her firstborn, our brother, best friend, and Spouse of our souls, Who forever makes all things new!
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