O Jesus, whose adorable Face ravishes my heart,
I implore You to fix deep within me Your divine image
and to set me on fire with Your Love,
that I, and all those I love, may be found worthy to come to the contemplation of Your glorious Face in Heaven. Amen.
Draw me, we will run!
* * *
This novena, along with the help of some heavenly friends, is already working miracles! I was going to begin (directly after the novena prayer above) with "Now that we've got that out of the way . . . " when I realized I ought to admit that this morning when I didn't know how to pray (a not unusual occurrence), I said this prayer many times over, alternating it with gazes at Celine's portrait, and I really enjoyed myself!
I know I said yesterday not to worry if you felt nothing while praying or gazing, and I even quoted our Sainted sister's words, that we should love to feel nothing. But let's be honest: like Marcel, I'd rather have no suffering ever, and that includes the "degout" or disgust that our little brother so often complained of, not to mention plain old ennui (which google defines for me as "a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement"). If I had my druthers, I'd keep it simple. Bring on the joy!
As if my wish is His command, Jesus - who so solicitously anticipates all our prayers and desires - sent two visitors, interlopers as it were, to fill this day and this post with joy even before I was articulating the request. This is the opposite of ennui! This is listfullness! Satisfaction arising from too much occupation and excitement! (Overstimulation of a spiritual sort?) This is pure joy. Because guess whose feast is today? Wait, don't guess yet. I'm going to give you a hint, by way of another portrait of the Holy Face, only this time of Little Jesus to please our little Marcel. Here it is:
Yes, you got it! Today is the Feast of Blessed Fra Angelico! Ah, thank You, dear Jesus, for the gift of beauty and all the joy it brings us! Thank You for our dear artist-Dominican-friar-Saint, who received Your first real kiss on this day, February 18, in 1455, and waited until 1982 for our beloved Holy Father St. John Paul II to proclaim him officially Blessed. Well, I bet he wasn't waiting too impatiently, seeing as he was face to Face with Beauty, namely You, dear Jesus!
We might think of Blessed Fra Angelico as opposite of St. Therese in that it took more than 500 years for his sanctity to be officially proclaimed (whereas with little Therese it was quite a bit less than 50 years! even less than 30 years!) - but Marcel wants to point out that all of us with eyes to see had been enjoying Fra Angelico's artistic gifts to us long before he was beatified, allowing this un-Sainted Saint to move us closer to Jesus by the gorgeous pictures he left us. So too with Therese, her Story of a Soul - the first editions of which contained some of her poetry, letters, prayers, and "shower of roses" as well - the creative work she undertook out of obedience and for the love of Jesus moved many souls closer to Jesus even before there was talk of her beatification (though granted that talk started pretty quickly after her exit stage left).
But I said "Interopers" - plural - so I'd better rush on to our second guest today, a young Cajun girl who belongs here because not only has she been showering roses on my loved ones today, but guess who her favorite Saint was?
No, silly, not Fra Angelico . . . nor Marcel either, because he only died a month and a day before our new BFF! This little girl's favorite saint was Saint Therese! Her own name (our second welcome interloper) is Charlene Richard, though a couple of her nicknames were "Charlie Brown" and "Sue-Sue." (You bet I like them both!) And my goodness, she is so much fun!
Charlene was born January 13, 1947 in Richard, Louisiana (which is handy because her last name and her birth town are the same!), and died on August 11, 1959 - which was the same year that Celine and then Marcel went to heaven! But before I tell you any more, let me show you a picture of her.
Isn't she cute? And better yet, doesn't she look impish, like she's got something up her sleeve? Welcome to Marcel's club, Charlene! We're so glad to have you among our host of little ones and powerful intercessors!
Briefly, Charlene's story is this: She was born second in a family that later could boast 10 children. They lived in rural Louisiana and were devout Catholics, but no more devout that we are. (Haha, I hear you laughing and saying you bet they were a lot more devout than we are! Well, maybe a little, but "normal" is the word often applied to Charlene's family and Charlene herself.)
Charlene loved animals (especially dogs and cats, which were plentiful in her home and surroundings), babies (she wouldn't charge for babysitting and one person said of her, "She always had a baby on her hip!") and sports! She played softball and basketball and was even president of the basketball team! She loved to stick up for underdogs (once pouncing on a bully in the school bus, then getting in trouble and responding to the bus driver, "What about him?", meaning the bully!), and she was an excellent mimic! She also loved the Rosary, which makes her more like Marcel than like Therese I think - but the point is that like both of them and us, she really loved Our Lady a lot!
When she was about 12, Charlene read a book about St. Therese and asked her "Mom-Mom" (grandma), "Can I be a Saint like her?" Her grandma said yes, if you pray like her, and as you will see, Charlene must have done so! Because I think she did become a Saint somewhat like Therese, and here's what happened:
In that summer when she was 12, Charlene got sick and they found out she had lymphatic leukemia. This is something like what my father-in-law Paul has, that is, a blood cancer that makes itself known in the lymph nodes. Or at least it sure sounds like that's about it! But while my father-in-law is gratefully enjoying some respites and breaks between bouts of suffering, Charlene only had about 12 more days of her 12 years left! She was in the hospital for this time and died quickly after the diagnosis.
Meanwhile, during this almost two week period of suffering in the hospital, when the chaplain told her a Beautiful Lady would come to bring her to Heaven, Charlene responded, "I know, and I'll tell the Blessed Mother you say hello!" (or something along these lines!) And each day she would ask this good priest when he visited her, "Who are my sufferings for today?" So Father would give her the names of some who needed conversion, and others who needed healings, and Charlene prayed and suffered for them. Later, Father and the Sister who ran the hospital confirmed that all those Charlene prayed for had been healed or converted, as she requested!
After Charlene died, her story spread, and her grave became a place of pilgrimage. Therese taught her quickly in Heaven how to scatter roses upon earth, and by the time of her 30th anniversary Mass in 1989 (a memorial held at her grave), 4,000 people came!
There are Prayer Cloths of Charlene, and Friends of Charlene, and a marvelous, wondrous, adorable book about her that I'm reading on my kindle - it's called "Saint" Charlene Richard: Her Continuous Consecration to God, and the story of this book's existence and its dear author, Carolyn Anne Thibodeaux Keith, is as marvelous as the story of Charlene and inspiring me to no end today!
Carolyn's book on Charlene is available in paperback as well as in digital form, and you can check it out (read a sample!) HERE. I don't like to recommend books except for Marcel's Conversations (oh, and okay, Story of a Soul which my goodness you can get for $9.19 in paperback!!), and I definitely know better than to recommend a book I haven't finished reading yet - but hey, I'm throwing caution to the wind because that's what Charlene did when she took on me and my million and two intentions - two of which she obtained miracles for instantly, so we're down to a million! This will be a cinch!
So here's the deal. Last weekend a good woman let me know that there are several (four, I think it is) new saint causes just starting in the U.S. For ease of information sharing, I will give you the link I received and where I first read about Charlene - though the hilarious part is that by her picture I thought she was a woman (maybe older) not a child! But when I started reading about her - wow! pow! wham! - it was just like those old Batman TV shows with Adam West - I was knocked out!!!
So HERE is that article.
One thing led to another, and as I was praying to Therese and asking Charlene to put in a good word too, one of my specific requests was instantly answered (a big one!) and then, whoosh, another!
I don't want to keep you from asking for all your needs to be miraculously answered, so I'm going to end here, but let me say: Thank you, dear Charlie Brown (I mean Charlene!)!! and Thank you dear Therese! And of course thank you Marcel, because we wouldn't have a blog without you, nor half as much fun neither!
And to little Jesus, source of all miracles, we roll up all our prayers into one big-little request and say simply with our trio of little ones on Mary's lap:
Draw me, we will run!
P.S. I got a kick out of one priest devotee of Charlene who (according to an account I read) ended up calling her "my little money girl" because she came through so generously in getting him the money he needed to restore the churches where he was pastor. Sure enough, having myself put my million and two intentions in her capable hands, I just heard that one more of these intentions (this one having to do with money) was taken care of today! So at my house we're down to only 999,999 intentions needing miracles - what a little wonder worker!
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