Bringing Joy to Jesus
Although we at Miss Marcel's Musings have been musing silently for some time, the words of Jesus to Marcel have continued to captivate and enlighten us from one day to the next. What love Our Lord pours out to us through this humble Vietnamese brother! How dearly the Little Flower Therese also loves us through him! And so we are drawn again to share with you the impossibly tender mercy of God as offered to us through Marcel Van, so that by discovering how beloved you are and how important a part you play in Jesus' plans, you too might rejoice His Heart, even as He rejoices yours. But enough of generalities - I want to tell you about Jesus' latest scheme.
Yesterday in my morning time with Him, I came across a passage in Conversations (Marcel's book of chats with Jesus, Mary and Therese) that I had forgotten but which provides a marvelous example of Jesus' tremendous kindness and insatiable thirst for souls to love. I was delighted to find that as usual, He is in such a hurry to save souls that He finds ways to make it easy for us to help Him. And the very little way He offers us now is sweetly simple and completely within our very limited powers. As long as He helps us, of course, which He is ever ready to do!
Here is the passage I found, from a conversation with Jesus which Marcel wrote down on 14 November 1945:
Marcel: Why did You not give me more kisses this evening, dear Jesus? I am really sad. I have never felt anything like this. There must certainly be something that has hurt You . . . Ah! I forgot the advice that my sister Therese gave me yesterday. Sad as I was, I am now happy . . .
[The day before, Therese had told Marcel: "When on your return to work you notice that Jesus is sad, you must try to please Him. Go close to Him and ask Him a little question of this kind and, certainly, His sadness will disappear and He will give you a beautiful smile. You will say to Him: 'My Jesus, why do You look so sad? What news then have You received today? I dearly love You Jesus.' And if you notice that He continues to be sad, repeat these words unceasingly: 'You are the only one I love, Jesus.' He is sad because there are too few who love Him. Finally, if you see that His sadness still persists, call me immediately and both of us, together, will speak of love . . . And, come what may, Jesus will be forced to smile. . . One more word of advice. If at certain times Jesus is sad, it is because, more than ever, His love is trampled underfoot. There you have it, the sole cause of His sadness . . . When, therefore, you see that He is sad, do not be sad because that will make Him only sadder still. All there is to do is to seek to make Him forget His sadness." As Jesus Himself had told Marcel, "A single one of your joys suffices to console me very much."]
And so Marcel, following Therese's advice, continues on November 14:
Forgive me Jesus and tell me why You are so sad. I love You so much. I invite the whole of paradise to come down here to love You. I am even making use of Your love to love You. Yes, dear Jesus, I love You a great deal . . . There, without having had need to call my sister Therese I have succeeded in making You smile. Truly, You have a very charming smile. Now, allow me to ask You a question. Why were You sad just now? Tell me. If I am unable to comfort You, I can at least say again that I love You always and that I love You dearly.
Jesus: My little flower, when you see that I am sad, follow the advice of your sister and do not stop being happy; that is the only way to bring joy to me . . . My dear child, what saddens me is to see huge amounts of clay enclosing magnificent pearls, which are very dear to me, pile up, condemning me to look at them from afar while no one thinks to offer them to me. Nevertheless, my child, if someone placed, if only for a moment, these clods of clay in my hand, they would become as many precious pearls in my eyes . . . My dear child, do you understand the meaning of these words? Let me explain.
The clods of clay designate sinners. They allowed all the love I have given them to be lost in profane love and this profane love envelops them, making them similar to clods of earth . . . My dear child, do you love these lumps of clay? If you love them, try to think of them always and offer them to me. These simple words: "Jesus, I offer them to You" or any other loving words said with the intention of offering them to me is sufficient for me to receive them in my hand and there, my child, I will transform these ugly lumps of clay into many pearls as precious as diamonds.
* * *
Jesus has given so much to us - even Himself, Who is God, and all of Himself! We have the Blessed Sacrament in which He is really and completely present, and He comes to us that we may be entirely one with Him! Yet how many have been given this gift and have somehow let it slip away? That we have not ourselves been lost in profane love is only due to Jesus' ceaseless guardianship, protection, and untiring grasp on our poor hearts. We are allowed to live in close communion with Him, and He even instructs Marcel, "Tell them that I gladly listen to ordinary conversations, even the simplest ones, and I take pleasure in hearing them. There, that is all I expect from souls who love me." He merely wants our childlike honesty and spontaneity with Him, and how can we then, like Him, want anything else but that we may convert the whole world to such intimacy with its Creator and Savior?
Thanks be to God, He makes it so easy. Let us think of those who have wandered from Him, and those who have rejected His advances in whatever form they came; those who are distracted, confused, and ultimately profoundly unhappy because they are separated from the Source of all joy and goodness. Let us, as Jesus asks, think of them and offer them to Him.
Jesus, we offer them to You! Now may You transform these ugly lumps of clay into so many pearls as precious as diamonds! We cannot always distinguish clay from pearls, but we trust You to turn the one into the other as we offer to You all souls, especially those who have wandered far from You. Jesus, we offer them to You!
I am reminded of another passage, this one from the life-changing book I Believe in Love. In it Fr. D'Elbee goes to great lengths to assure of us Jesus' infinite love for us, and he explains at the end of the first chapter:
"I assure you, we are bathed in love and mercy. We each have a Father, a Brother, a Friend, a Spouse of our soul, Center and King of our hearts, Redeemer and Savior, bent down over us, over our weakness and our impotence, like that of little children, with an inexpressible gentleness, watching over us like the apple of His eye, who said, 'I will have mercy and not sacrifice, for I have not come to call the just, but sinners' (Mt 9:13), a Jesus haunted by the desire to save us by all means, who has opened heaven under our feet. And we live, too often, like orphans, like abandoned children, as if it were hell which had opened under our feet. We are men of little faith!"
Ah, but as the years go on, He shows us glimpses and sometimes long glances of this inexpressible gentleness. How can we forget the mercy of His sacraments given to the dying, to those who perhaps had ignored or run from Him for long years and even decades? He hears our prayers, and we can put all our trust in Him. Truly it is not hell that He's opened under our feet and the feet of those we love, but His heaven! That is why He came to live among us, suffered, died, and rose again - to open Heaven and show us the way!
Since He is the Way, let us accompany Him and rejoice in the prayers He suggests to us. Ah, Jesus, You are so good! You know our nothingness and invite us into Your all-powerful saving work, asking only that we smile at You if we can, even through our tears in this valley You know so well. Help us to use the simple words You have given us. Yes, darling Jesus, yes! We offer to You all souls, especially those covered with the clay of the world - and we trust You to transform all into pearls as precious as diamonds!
Draw me, we will run!
The Littlest Doctor and her Littlest Scribe
"Ring out your joy to the Lord, O you just;
for praise is fitting for loyal hearts." - Psalm 33
"This grace has been given to me: to proclaim to the nations the infinite riches of Christ." - antiphon from evening prayer for St. Luke
* * *
On this beautiful day in 1997, a hundred years after St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower, entered eternal life, Pope St. John Paul II proclaimed her the 33rd Doctor of the Universal Church.
And on this lovely day in 2016, almost 20 years later, our sister Therese changed my life forever by sending me a rose that is still blooming, a rose beyond any I could have imagined, and one that continues to charm me with its ever fresh color and fragrance which enchant me on a daily basis.
Five years ago I had been writing about Therese in a manuscript that has since become the book Something New with St Therese, Her Eucharistic Miracle. I finished the first draft on October 19 and asked her to give me a sign showing me that what I'd written pleased her. Never one to skimp on signs, and, more importantly, always eager to show forth God's infinite love for us, she came through with what could only be called, now that I think about it, a torrent of roses, rather than simply a shower, let alone a single rose.
For that day (or rather this day) five years ago, her little brother's book showed up in my mailbox. Therese had promised her sisters that after her death they would "find her in the mailbox," and her prophetic words continue to ring true. Servant of God Marcel Van's Conversations (with Jesus, Mary, and St. Therese) entered my life via my mailbox, and I haven't been the same since!
I had read, some years before, of this Vietnamese boy with whom St. Therese chatted from heaven during the 1940s, and I had hoped he'd written down her words. He had, but they were originally in Vietnamese, then much later translated into French by Marcel's spiritual director, and unavailable in English until the wonderful translation of Jack Keogan was published in 2008. They then took eight years to find me, but when they did - POW! Not only did they knock my socks off, they sent me reeling barefoot for joy like Snoopy doing a happy dance!
For in the book of Marcel's Conversations, I found - and have continued to find - the pure doctrine of the gospels as brought into focus by St. Therese, and then spelled out by Jesus and Marcel in primer fashion for the very little ones who need constant instructions because they (or rather we) are bears of little brain and keep forgetting everything. No worries, Jesus assures us, and even all the better, for He can remind us again and again of the truth of His love for us and the confidence and abandonment He wants from us in return.
He asked Marcel, when He began their conversations in 1945, to write down everything - not just what Jesus Himself said (and Mary and Therese), but what Marcel said too. Our Lord explained that while His usual method was to have mystics write down only His words, in the case of Marcel he should write down his own part in the conversation too - that way we could see just how typical our own littleness is, and how much He loves that in us as He loved it in Marcel!
This is Therese's Little Way of Spiritual Childhood. God is not far away, He is not disinterested in us, nor is He waiting for us to impress Him. No, He loves us in our littleness! If you think about it, He has plenty of bigness already!
The book that brought Therese's little doctrine to the world was her Story of a Soul, and it continues to captivate readers and bring hearts to Christ with a freshness and intimacy that will never fade. Conversations does the same, and it is remarkable to me in how many ways it repeats and then expands on all she taught.
To take one example, Therese concluded her memoir in 1897 with an explanation of her confidence in God's mercy. She wrote:
"Most of all I imitate the conduct of Magdalene; her astonishing or rather her loving audacity which charms the Heart of Jesus also attracts my own. Yes, I feel it; even though I had on my conscience all the sins that can be committed, I would go, my heart broken with sorrow, and throw myself into Jesus' arms, for I know how much He loves the prodigal child who returns to Him. It is not because God, in His anticipating Mercy, has preserved my soul from mortal sin that I go to Him with confidence and love . . . "
In Conversations, on May 9, 1946, Jesus explained to Marcel:
"Little brother, you do not know that I know man's extreme weakness. Even if men offend me deliberately and as gravely as you can imagine, their sin is nothing in comparison with a hint of Love . . . Love is infinite and infinite, repeat it to men; yes infinite and infinite. Have confidence in me and never, eternally never, will you be separated from me. Even the devil must despair of a soul in which the word 'confidence' is found."
Or as Therese wrote to her sister Marie of the Sacred Heart in 1896: "It is confidence, and nothing but confidence, that must lead us to Love!"
Lately I've been enjoying the simple descriptions of prayer, the simple ways to pray that Jesus, Therese, and Mary teach Marcel (and us) in Conversations. On May 5, 1946, Marcel tells Mary:
"I wanted to have many rifles and aeroplanes to fight the communists and prevent them from reigning over Vietnam, my country. Mother, I even asked little Jesus to grant me what I wanted, but He was content to answer me: 'The best weapon for safeguarding the interests of your country and to snatch it from the hands of the communists is prayer. Do not stop looking towards Me, little brother, and that will be enough. Each of your glances with this intention is enough to make me understand the situation of Vietnam, your country.' My sister told me the same thing as well."
Our Blessed Mother replies:
"And I, my child, I tell you the same thing also. The only way to save your country from communism is prayer. This is very easy; it requires neither cunning nor rifles, nor ammunition. A glance, or a smile, or a sigh toward little Jesus is enough; it is like a game within reach of everyone."
These passages echo the teaching Therese left us as quoted in the Catholic Catechism:
For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy. – Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2558.
Finally, what thrills me to the marrow is the way that Conversations shines a light on Therese's Act of Oblation to Merciful Love. Therese helped Marcel make this Act of Oblation, and Jesus explains it to him on numerous occasions, helping him (and us) to understand its pervasive beauty and power over His Heart.
On this day of anniversaries, I pray that Conversations will bring Therese's little doctrine to you too!
Draw me, we will run!
"We can never have too much confidence in the good God. He is so mighty and so merciful. We obtain from Him as much as we hope for." --Little Therese following St. John of the Cross
"After my death, I will let fall a shower of roses." --St. Therese of Lisieux
Have you been holding out on little St. Therese?
Is there a desire of your heart you have forgotten, neglected, or been shy of presenting to her? Maybe something you've almost given up on, or not even almost?
Well today is your day!
Dig deep, and speak to her openly (even if in secret) because today is our sister's feast, and she wants to show you how much God loves you!
We're finishing our novena, but that's just the beginning. Therese has roses from heaven to let fall around your ears and into your lap, roses beyond counting! So without further ado. let's summon up all our intercessions and ask for hers:
O Little Therese of the Child Jesus
Please pick for me an abundance of roses from the heavenly garden
and send them to me as a message of love.
O Little Flower of Jesus,
please ask God to grant the favors
I now place with confidence in your hands . . . those I have been sharing with you and those I have been forgetful of, those commended to my prayers and those hidden deep in my heart and known only to God.
St. Therese, help us to always believe as you did,
in God’s great love for us,
so that we may imitate your “Little Way” each day.
* * *
If you haven't experienced it before, I pray that today and in the upcoming days you feel the sweet attentions of our sister Therese pouring out God's love and roses on you. And if you have experienced this exquisite mercy in the past, I pray that you are bowled over by it again far beyond your hopes and expectations!
One of the the most beautiful roses that Therese always has available for the asking is her little doctrine, the Little Way of Spiritual Childhood. I've been marveling lately at how perfectly she expresses this Way in a letter she wrote to her sister Marie of the Sacred Heart. Our gift to you today is from this letter, and I pray it speaks to your heart and imbues you with His peace beyond understanding.
Marie had asked Therese to explain her little doctrine, and Therese had responded with what became the center section of her memoir Story of a Soul. Marie loved her sister's words, but feared they excluded her from loving God as Therese did because Therese's aspirations and desires to love Him were so great, whereas Marie constantly felt her own littleness and weakness. So she wrote to Therese again (they lived in the same monastery but passing notes is always so much more intimate than whispering in the hallway! Besides, Marie wanted to make sure Therese knew her request was important), this time asking quite specifically if it was at all possible for her to follow Therese's way of loving God.
What a great question! Can we, little Therese, follow you on the path you bushwhack for us? Our machetes are dull, our arms are weak, but you forge ahead. Does it make sense for us to keep putting one foot in front of the other, even while we feel we are losing ground and almost losing sight of you?
Here is Therese's answer:
LT 197 From Thérèse to Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart
Jesus September 17, 1896
Dear Sister, I am not embarrassed in answering you… How can you ask me if it is possible for you to love God as I love Him?...
If you had understood the story of my little bird, you would not have asked me this question. My desires of martyrdom are nothing; they are not what give me the unlimited confidence that I feel in my heart. They are, to tell the truth, the spiritual riches that render one unjust, when one rests in them with complacence and when one believes they are something great. ... These desires are a consolation that Jesus grants at times to weak souls like mine (and these souls are numerous), but when He does not give this consolation, it is a grace of privilege. Recall those words of Father: "The martyrs suffered with joy, and the King of Martyrs suffered with sadness." Yes, Jesus said: "Father, let this chalice pass away from me." Dear Sister, how can you say after this that my desires are the sign of my love?... Ah! I really feel that it is not this at all that pleases God in my little soul; what pleases Him is that He sees me loving my littleness and my poverty, the blind hope that I have in His mercy.... That is my only treasure, dear Godmother, why would this treasure not be yours?...
Are you not ready to suffer all that God will desire? I really know that you are ready; therefore, if you want to feel joy, to have an attraction for suffering, it is your consolation that you are seeking, since when we love a thing the pain disappears. I assure you, if we were to go to martyrdom together in the dispositions we are in now, you would have great merit, and I would have none at all, unless Jesus was pleased to change my dispositions.
Oh, dear Sister, I beg you, understand your little girl, understand that to love Jesus, to be His victim of love, the weaker one is, without desires or virtues, the more suited one is for the workings of this consuming and transforming Love. ... The desire alone to be a victim suffices, but we must consent to remain always poor and without strength, and this is the difficulty, for: "The truly poor in spirit, where do we find him? You must look for him from afar," said the psalmist. ... He does not say that you must look for him among great souls, but "from afar," that is to say in lowliness, in nothingness.... Ah! let us remain then very far from all that sparkles, let us love our littleness, let us love to feel nothing, then we shall be poor in spirit, and Jesus will come to look for us, and however far we may be, He will transform us in flames of love....
Oh! how I would like to be able to make you understand what I feel!... It is confidence and nothing but confidence that must lead us to Love.... Does not fear lead to Justice (1)?... Since we see the way, let us run together. Yes, I feel it, Jesus wills to give us the same graces, He wills to give us His heaven gratuitously.
Oh, dear little Sister, if you do not understand me, it is because you are too great a soul.. .or rather it is because I am explaining myself poorly, for I am sure that God would not give you the desire to be POSSESSED by Him, by His Merciful Love if He were not reserving this favor for you.. .or rather He has already given it to you, since you have given yourself to Him, since you desire to be consumed by Him, and since God never gives desires that He cannot realize. ...
Nine o'clock is ringing, and I am obliged to leave you.' Ah, how I would like to tell you things, but Jesus is going to make you feel all that I cannot write....
I love you with all the tenderness of my GRATEFUL little childlike heart.
Thérèse of the Child Jesus rel. carm. ind.
(1) To strict justice such as it is portrayed for sinners, but no this Justice that Jesus will have toward those who love Him.
* * *
That's a lot to digest! But here are the morsels and drops that feed and water my hungry dry soul again and again:
"Ah! I really feel that it is not this at all that pleases God in my little soul; what pleases Him is that He sees me loving my littleness and my poverty, the blind hope that I have in His mercy.... That is my only treasure . . . why would this treasure not be yours?"
"Oh, dear Sister, I beg you, understand your little girl, understand that to love Jesus, to be His victim of love, the weaker one is, without desires or virtues, the more suited one is for the workings of this consuming and transforming Love. ... "
"Ah! let us remain then very far from all that sparkles, let us love our littleness, let us love to feel nothing, then we shall be poor in spirit, and Jesus will come to look for us, and however far we may be, He will transform us in flames of love...."
"It is confidence and nothing but confidence that must lead us to Love.... Since we see the way, let us run together. Yes, I feel it, Jesus wills to give us the same graces, He wills to give us His heaven gratuitously. "
These last two paragraphs especially provide endless surprises. St. Therese is assuring us that God wants to love us the way He has loved her! He wants to give Himself to us completely, freely, beyond our imaginings. And He wants us to trust Him - Jesus, we trust in You! - to accomplish this even in the midst of, even thanks to, our utter poverty. He is rich, we are poor - it is a match made in Heaven! He will supply for all we lack! He will even give us His love with which to love Him! And finally we will be able to love Him enough!
"Let us love to feel nothing, then we shall be poor in spirit, and Jesus will come to look for us, and however far we may be, He will transform us in flames of love..."
I can't help but pray that today you feel a little something! Namely the truth of Therese's words and the love of God she desires so much to share with you. But if you feel nothing, don't despair! This is precisely a fitting condition for ones as little, as blind and deaf, as we are. And far from sending God away, this poverty will attract the Fatherly Love that dominates His Merciful Heart!
May the ever ancient and ever new doctrine of the Little Way of Spiritual Childhood be yours! May Therese shower you and those you love (and the whole world!) with roses on her feast and in the days and years to come. And may your littleness never keep you from the lap of God, but draw you closer and closer into His loving arms!
Draw me, we will run!
P.S. If all goes as planned, I will be a guest on Johnette Benkovic Williams' live Women of Grace show today on EWTN (via skype). If you've missed the 1pm ET airing, it will be rebroadcast at 11 p.m. ET. Then tomorrow, feast of the guardian angels, I'll be (pre-taped) talking to the Catholic Click and Clack, the amazing Tom and Dan (or is it Dan and Tom?) on their 13th Apostle show which airs in Boston on Catholic radio. You can listen "live" at 11:30 a.m. ET when it broadcasts Saturday (and the next episode the following Saturday) HERE at WQPH Catholic Radio, or later find it there as an archived show. May the angels guide us to meadows full of roses!
"Pray, hope, and don't worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer." - St. Padre Pio
The Littlest Novena
"Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert . . .
to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare my praise." (Isaiah 43: 18-21)
Last year and the year before, here at Miss Marcel's Musings we rejoiced in triple novenas that brought us to the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14), then to St. Padre Pio (September 23), and finally to St. Therese on her feast of October 1st.
If any readers here have been inspired to pray the triple novena this year - Hooray!
For ourselves, we got into the saddle about the time the novena to Padre Pio needed to start. I do find it so marvelous that by saying a novena to the dear Padre to end on the 23rd, we are then just in time to begin Therese's novena (with hardly a breath in between) and invoke her intercession, remind her of her promises, and glory in her roses for the nine days of a real traditional novena (even if in our littleness we usually manage to forget a day here or there).
And so, in our typical better late than never fashion, this year Marcel and I are at last bringing you a special prayer to Padre Pio that you can say from now until the 23rd (or as long as you like!) because even when we are not up to the glory of former days, God is ready to do new things for us and always delighted when we turn to Him through His (and our) friends, the Saints.
Plus as the days roll along, the news of much suffering reaches our ears, and we are grateful to be able to pray for all those we love, all those whose crosses are heavy, and more recently, too, all those who have lost someone they love. There are no words capable of doing what we so desire to do - to console the afflicted in such a way that we take away their pain and suffering - but then again, there are words that can help immensely and perhaps even as much and more than we hope: namely, the words of our prayers. God's love is infinite - so very infinite! His mercy is everlasting and ever new, and He longs to pour it out upon us. He does so even before we ask, but when we ask, we delight His Heart as well as Him delighting ours.
And so, in the spirit of the previous novenas here, know that ALL your intentions are included. Marcel and I have been praying for Padre Pio's intercession since last week, and we invite you to join us for the duration. We found a most beautiful prayer and as we continue to say it, we are moved by its absolute fittingness to the situations we and those we love find ourselves in these days.
Since we like to do even little things a little big here, I'm going to start our novena prayers with our petition to Our Blessed Mother for everything and everyone - as our hearts grow bigger, this prayer seems to include the whole world - and then I'll give you our prayer to St. Padre Pio who, along with little Therese, cherishes the opportunity to make Jesus' love known to us by being very near.
You can say these prayers 9 times at once, or 3 times a day, or once a day, or once altogether! In fact, when typing out the prayer to Padre Pio, my angel and I found a way to divide it into 9 petitions, so just reading-praying it over once means you've covered the numerical requirements of a perfect novena! For simple souls, there must be no complicated ways, and for forgetful souls, sometimes all-at-once is our best hope of reaching the finish line!
One of my prayers today is that you know that you are loved and are part of something much bigger than yourself: that is, the Mystical Body of Christ whose Heart is ALL Love! I pray too for your confidence, because as our sister Therese taught us, it is confidence, and nothing but confidence that must lead us to that Love, but I know confidence can seem hard to find. My best suggestion is that if your confidence feels low, join us in co-opting Pio's and Therese's! Our brother and sister in Heaven have no need for their enormous confidence now that they SEE God face to Face, so I ask them to bequeath that confidence to us! And now, not worrying about the former things except to praise God for them, let us RUN together, and see what Our Father has ahead for us in this spate of new things, this torrent of His infinite Love which makes the desert of our hearts into very watered and flourishing places . . .
Ready? Asking our guardian angels to help us pray, let's go:
An Old French Prayer for Friends
Blessed Mother of those whose names you can read in my heart, 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. Amen.
Prayer to Padre Pio for Help in Difficult Situations and Hard Times
Padre Pio, the Lord has given you the gift to carry out extraordinary works, I ask you in prayer to obtain, by your intercession, His powerful help to overcome this difficult moment.
Padre Pio, the Lord's faithful servant, the Church honors you as one who shares in the Divine Mercy; help me, come to my rescue, free me from this moment of overwhelming difficulty.
O Padre Pio, you have always been consolation in human suffering; you've given relief and peace, joy and favors, hear my voice, my prayer; I'm truly in need of your help to come through this difficult situation that is putting a strain on my life.
Dear Padre Pio, help me in this time of trouble, as my efforts seem vain . . .
I plead with you, guide me and strengthen me; let me not be abandoned in my desperation.
Padre Pio, I turn to you in prayer to seek refuge and protection, be a father to me and those I love.
Fill the emptiness in our lives, fill us with joy and hope.
Show us yet again your love, oh dear Padre Pio, and bring us before our omnipotent God so we may have all the help we need (make your particular petitions now with great faith and confidence - and remember, you can use Therese's and Pio's own confidence to supplement yours).
Renew each day my faith, body, spirit, and will - O Padre Pio, a Saint among men, intercede on our behalf and obtain for us peace, joy, and Jesus abiding in our hearts to banish all anxiety and fill us with Himself. Amen.
Draw me, we will run!
More Roses From Mary
I had the joy of seeing the gifts of Mary visible to a larger audience today on Catholic Exchange, HERE. That made my day, but unfortunately I didn't realize until the day was almost over that my previous post below was missing Mary's special birthday gifts - her words - which had somehow wandered off into some unknown empty place on the internet!
Thanks be to God for kind readers, one of whom thoughtfully wrote and asked where those words might be. Without finding out their longitude and latitude, I was nonetheless able to find them (with the help of St. Anthony and the angels) and put them back where they belong - namely under the picture of presents in the post below! If you haven't had a chance to read them yet, they await your visit. We'd hate to leave Our Lady's gifts to you unopened!
And now, the only reason I can think why the angels let the words escape in the first place is that Our Lady, Queen of the Angels, sent her messengers to sweep them under the rug for a few hours so that when the loss was made known they could be retrieved, but with an additional few roses, that is words, from her to us. And there's a very dear reason for more gifts! Have you ever known families that celebrate a birthday week? I'm always one for at least a birthday triduum if not an octave, and I've discovered that Our Lady is too! So let's celebrate again the gift of being her dear children, the gift of our brother Marcel's Conversations, and most of all the gift of Our Lady (and her words of Good Counsel) to us . . .
In addition to the Five Gifts of Our Lady's Good Counsel in the post below, then, here are three more, in honor of the Blessed Trinity and in order to make a total of eight, just like the lovely Eighth Day of September. And when you count the ultimate gift (again, in the post below, now that it's been restored to its rightful place), you'll reach nine, in honor of the choirs of angels! And so without further ado:
The Sixth Gift of Our Lady of Good Counsel:
"My child, just listen to me a little. Your soul is really a living room; and in this room, what dust and untidiness . . . It is I who must sweep it and make everything tidy; it is I who must make sure to open and close the door so that you may breathe easily and be comfortable. In short, it is impossible for me to favour you more than I do." (590)
"There is only one job I find tiresome. I have even asked little Jesus and your sister Therese to help me in this, but it seems that we have not yet fully succeeded. Do you know what it is a question of? Bearded Jesus, himself, has not been able to bring it to a close; I mean that he has not succeeded in ridding you of anxieties. This spider's web is very difficult to remove, but I have the firm hope that one day you will be relieved of it. I know that this spider's web, in which consist your troubles, makes breathing very difficult for you. However, remain at peace. I am going to do the chores for you and so you will be very happy." (592)
"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 at 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 offered 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." (596)
Although we love to add, as always, our tiny prayer with St. Therese as well:
Draw me; we will run!
Happy triduum, happy octave, happy birthday of Our Blessed Mother!
Birthday Presents from Our Lady
I do realize it's most typical to get birthday gifts for the birthday girl, or if one is the lucky birthday guy or gal, to receive gifts on the special natal day. But luckily for us, Our Lady already has every good thing in abundance, and as the quintessential mom, she's happy to share her gifts with us on her birthday as well as on ours. So although this post is in honor of Our Blessed Mother's birthday, open wide your heart because this is the occasion on which she wants to spoil you!
If you look at the picture that tops this post, you'll see the most obvious gift she has for you, and yet wonder of wonders, as many times as she gives Our Lord to us, He is always doing something new.
The second gift Our Lady has is her Good Counsel. A friend recently asked me if there was a picture of Mary that I particularly loved. She hadn't yet found one that was just right, and I replied that this image of Our Lady of Good Counsel (also known as Mother of Good Counsel) is the one for me. I never get tired of gazing at Mary's beautiful face, though I must admit little Jesus gives her a good run for the money - I love gazing at Him in this image too!
But since this Mary is Our Lady, Mother of Good Counsel, she has more than her serene and pacifying beauty to share, more than her Divine Son to share. She has, too, the best of motherly advice and wisdom no matter what situation we find ourselves in or what difficulties we are facing.
Our Lady's most famous good counsel comes in the gospel of John when she tells us, "Do whatever He tells you." But beyond that, I find her most wonderful counsels to me in the pages of Marcel Van's Conversations.
Because I've not been the personal recipient of heavenly locutions (thanks be to God, I always say, since in that case I'd have to get a serious spiritual director and really find out what's going on before I fall into the deep end and drag others with me!) - I've been befriended by our little brother Marcel, who did receive such heavenly locutions from Jesus, Mary, and even St. Therese. His spiritual director and novice master Fr. Antonio Boucher ("bearded Jesus" in the Conversations) confirmed Jesus' request that Marcel write His words (and Marcel's responses) down, and thanks to Fr. Boucher's tireless work translating Marcel's writings from Vietnamese to French, and the later dedicated efforts of our friend Jack Keogan translating from French to English, we now have easy access to the most delightful conversations a lover of Jesus and Mary and Therese could desire. Hooray!
For Our Lady's birthday, then, I'm happy to have this chance to share some of her words with you, words originally spoken in the 1940's to Marcel, but as fresh and true today as when she spoke them. Think of these as the sparkly ribbons and wrapping paper that you can open to find the birthday gifts Our Blessed Mother has for you on the feast of her nativity. She wants to share every good thing with you, and these passages will get you off to a good start.
First Gift (after Jesus and Mary) of Our Lady's Good Counsel:
"My dear child, if you wish to please little Jesus, accept cheerfully things which inconvenience you slightly; by that you will be able to stop the stones that sinners, today, throw at Jesus . . . Little Jesus is your true friend; if you love Him, try to protect Him by your sighs of love. . ." (383)
"My child, continue to tell me quite simply your little problems; by that you please me, and I, I can only love you more. My child, I love you a lot . . ." (383)
"My child, candour is a natural characteristic of children. The naive child is simple and sincere; he shows himself as he is; he does not know how to distinguish between good and evil since, being still too young, he does not have the use of reason. . . My child, if your soul possesses this candour, it will be closer to me. In the same way that the young child remains always with its mother, you will remain always close to me. I wish that there may be more souls like yours, so as to be able to freely imprint the lips of little Jesus on the forehead of each of them; so as to be able to unite their hearts to that of little Jesus and, at the same time, be at peace with Him." (384)
"My dear little one. You have been looking at me. It is not surprising therefore that I hasten to ask you this question. It is something really astounding. My child, by a simple glance you have drawn to yourself my compassionate gaze. So, what do you want and what is it that little Jesus has just said to you? Are you very troubled? That is very unfortunate, my child. I am very sorry for you. Today, the recreation day, when you should be relaxing, all you do is worry yourself. It is very painful. But, my child, why trouble yourself in this way? I was once in the same situation as you; my soul also needed to believe, to hope and to love like you. Although aware of the wonders that God was working in me, I had, nevertheless, to believe, since I had no conception of the graces that the divine Father was granting to me. If, at that time, I had not had the need to call on the virtue of faith, I would no longer have been a humble creature like you, my children. If, therefore, I still had need to believe, with much greater reason have you, my child . . . (426)
"My dear child, remain in peace, all right? Little Jesus has not scolded you; neither have I. Our sole intention, both of us, is to get rid of your troubles. Do not worry, I love you dearly. See, I have more pity for you than for little Jesus. In that case, it is He who should be sad; but you, what reason have you to be sad? Come, my child, I am kissing you, I am giving you twice as many as I am giving little Jesus, nevertheless, little Jesus is very happy with that." (426)
"Do whatever He tells you . . . " (John 2:5)
And what does Jesus tell us through our dear little brother Marcel? Ah, the icing on the birthday cake is right here in the words of Our Lord to Marcel and us:
"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.'" (385)
* * *
Incidentally, those parenthetical numbers are the original page numbers of Marcel's sheets of paper, and they serve to indicate where in Conversations one can find the above words. These numbers go up to 773, so you can imagine that Our Lady has a lot more Good Counsel in the pages of my favorite book! If you need more presents, Our Blessed Mother and I suggest you get yourself a copy of Conversations for her birthday - or if you already have enough copies, just flip one open to find more of this her heavenly wisdom, tenderness, and consolation. Our sweet Mary never tires of our reading the words of love written by her dear Marcel at her and Jesus' bidding.
Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Good Counsel, may this birthday of yours on September 8, 2021 be your happiest yet because we, your little ones, hearken to your counsels and snuggle nearer than ever with Jesus in your Immaculate Heart!
Draw me . . . we will run!
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!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARCEL!!!!!!!
It is a week of great joy for Catholics, and thus for the whole world, since we are all about sharing the beauty of the saints God has shared with us.
St. Patrick will soon be with us on March 17, and his exuberance for Christ has won over not just Ireland (or Arlen, if you want to pronounce it like a local) but really the whole world.
St. Joseph never leaves our sides, but we'll celebrate him in an extra special way on March 19, and how we will ask him to bless the whole world whether they know him yet or not!
But there is another saint we rejoice in this week, and he's laughing (as usual) - this time because he finds it funny that he's made it into the week of Giants, although he'd be the first to tell you he's far from a giant himself. More like Little Sprout at the side of the Green Giant in those old commercials for vegetables!
Nonetheless, though not himself a Giant, our brother Marcel Van is happy to ride into heaven on the coattails of a sort of giant - the great little St. Therese of Lisieux, the little flower of Jesus, who became his sister and mentor, as well as his companion and best friend despite the 30 years that divided her exit from this earthly life and his entrance into it.
There. At last we've come to the point.
Servant of God Marcel Van's birthday (not into heaven, but into earth) is today!
And let's see..............if he had stuck around to a ripe old age, he'd be 93!
That was the very age at which I met Fr. Nicholas Maestrini, P.I.M.E., Italian missionary extrordinaire. Well no, I wasn't 93, but he was! And he was as spry and active a 93 year old missionary as I'm sure Marcel would be if he hadn't flown the coop and darted to heaven in 1959 at the age of 31.
And so, having the pleasure of Marcel's company as an angel to guide us from heaven, rather than a friend we might meet in the normal earthly way (standing, socially distanced with masks on, let's say, waiting in line at Costco or the local grocery, perhaps), what is Marcel's message for us today?
Happily, another of his best friends and one who is, in fact, quite versed in providing Marcel's words to the English speaking world since he (the friend I'm about to introduce) translated Marcel's opera omnia from French into English (the French having been translated from the Vietnamese by Marcel's "bearded Jesus," Fr. Antonio Boucher, C.S.s.R.), none other than Jack Keogan (pronounced Cogan, it turns out!) has a message for us in these lovely spring days that comes straight from Marcel.
Jack K. recently wrote the most delightful reflection from himself and Van (Marcel's name before he entered the Redemptorists and so a kind of nickname quite common among his dear ones), and having shared it with me he instantly ran the risk of my sharing it with you! I don't think he'd mind at all! Quite the contrary!
Since Jack resides in England and I (Miss Marcel) am in California, the time change causes a slight lag in our communications. Fortunately, I'm confident with Theresian confidence that in our common mission of Marcel-for-world-domination, as well as in the wake of Laetare Sunday, Jack will rejoice in my publishing his message here. Ah, but if this blog post suddenly poofs out of existence, it may turn out that I spoke too soon. Or to put it another way, Jack being British, he may object to Marcel for world domination, but I bet he agrees that we should continue our project of introducing everyone to Marcel Van and Marcel to everyone, and so at least in that spirit, let me without further ado offer Jack's wonderful words, which in their turn will introduce Marcel's charming message.
Here, then, is Jack:
As part of my lock down reading I decided to revisit Van's autobiography. As you know, little Van's early years were not always filled with sunshine and roses! It was not long before he was introduced, without his awareness, to his vocation "to change suffering into joy." Many a reader has, on reading the early years of Van, had to put the book down to compose themselves before taking up again the story, so unbelievable was the cruelty that Van was the victim of and, sad to say, the perpetrators were, very often, those entrusted with his spiritual growth and bodily welfare.
At Christmas 1941, Van, aged 13, learned that the Father Director of the junior seminary at Lang Son wished to admit some new candidates. It was here that, in the care of the Dominican fathers, Van encountered the paternal love and sympathetic attention that his tender soul craved. Whilst there, he was enrolled in the Cadets of Our Lady, a spiritual movement modelled on the boy scout movement and run, in the seminary, by Father Dreyer Dufer.
Let Van take up the story:
"On joining the troop I had, first of all, to do my training as a cub scout but at Pentecost of that year I was admitted to make my promise and joined the troop of scouts, second class. I received the name of *Squirrel* of the "Stag" patrol.
"This happy life had transformed me within a short time into a new man. In my opinion this change was due partly to the spirit of charity which animated our teachers, but it was due, mainly, to divine grace itself which was active in me. I noticed that I had always found it easy to live in intimacy with God, and I had the fairly clear feeling that God was everywhere for me like a palpable reality. In the past my soul had become ill with the anxiety which imprisoned my life in a narrow, parched setting, and although it had been set free by God on Christmas might 1940, it still remained, more or less, sickly, as if it had not yet recovered entirely the serenity of early infancy. But at the seminary God caused all the after-effects of the sickness my soul was still suffering to disappear. He used this "joyful life" to give back to me my former smile.
"He had opened my soul fully to the wonders of nature; he had tightened the bonds of my love for him during these nights of intimacy and silence under the light of the moon, at the side of a spring, or, again, in the peace that one tastes in the shade of a pine at the side of a mountain.
"At this point the memory of the days when we went camping comes back to me. Ah! to go camping! This fills me with happiness and brings back to my memory all the joys of those unforgettable days. To go camping was, for me, the sweetest of retreats. There, alone with God, with Jesus my leader, the only view the trees, the mountains and all the marvels of nature were for me a stimulus to unite myself more intimately to Him. The more beautiful the flower, the more gentle the breeze, the more green the tree, the more roaring the waterfall, the more verdant the meadow; the more, also, was my heart uplifted as if by so many steps right up to the highest heavens, and there I loved God and He wrapped me in His tenderness. What intimacy there was between us during those moments of calm and close union! There, I went over in my mind my past life and I did not see an instant, not the smallest movement, not the least action, which did not have its origin in divine grace." [Autobiography (534)]
And Jack concludes, in a word common the world over (or so I imagine) as expressive of the inexpressible:
* * *
Wherever you are, dear reader, I hope the sun is shining. I hope you can see flowers, or a single flower, from where you sit (or stand, or recline, or kneel). But if you see only this page, no worries! We're pleased to offer you, in honor of his birthday, some of the flowers Marcel would have seen:
And just in case the beauty of these flowers, in their on screen form, is not quite enough to transport you into the arms of Love, let us add a favorite quote of our own from our little brother Marcel's Autobiography. This comes at (599) and I can never hear these words often enough. It is with joy that I speak them to you, along with the original speaker - St. Therese, the little French flower of Jesus, the Carmelite spouse of the One who is always happy to use her to spread His love and His peace to the four corners of the earth. So wherever you are, we pray her words reach the depths of your heart:
"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!"
Now there's a Lenten program! An Easter and Pentecost program, and a program for life!
On this, our dear Marcel's birthday, may you bask in the love of our beloved Father, and may our sweet spouse Jesus free you from all anxiety so that you, like Marcel and Therese in heaven, may never more adopt a worried air or fearful attitude in the presence of this Love which is infinitely paternal.
If you have trouble living as heavenly a life as we at Miss Marcel's Musings suggest, don't forget (or if you have never heard it before, or if you are Marcel-ish and forget constantly, then let us remind you again and again, without a trace of annoyance but only gladness that we have this little mission) of the words of our Blessed Mother to Marcel and us:
If you don't succeed in Not Worrying Any More Ever (or in other words, if you find yourself worrying), just say this perfect prayer:
Little Jesus, I offer You this worry as a sacrifice.
And then, allow yourself to relax and be at peace.
Or if you are me, feel free to say it again at the next moment when the latest worry (or the old one) pops up again, but no scrupples and no obsession about this - simply "Little Jesus, I offer You this worry as a sacrifice!" and then rejoice that we have foiled the liar, and launched ourselves right back into Jesus' arms, and with a gift, even!
It is our custom here to end with the prayer St. Therese taught us in Story of a Soul at the end of her Manuscript C (often simply at the end of the book). It's our way of joining her in asking Jesus to bring the whole world to HImself. Hooray for Jesus! Hooray for little Therese. And on this March 15, 2021 (or whenever you find yourself reading this post) - HOORAY FOR MARCEL!
Draw me, little Jesus; we shall run!
Happy Feast of St. Therese!!!
We here at Miss Marcel's Musings hope you have had a lovely feast of St. Therese! We are urging her to shower her roses upon you, and if you haven't received them yet, don't give up hope! There is, in Catholic tradition, not only the feast itself, but like a mirror of the novena that precedes a big feast, there is on the other side an octave in which to celebrate. This allows us to pray that, over the next week or so, our sister's roses and the heavenly graces they represent become so abundant in your life that you practically begin to take them for granted!
If you are seeing this on your guardian angel's day, let us be among the first to offer praise and thanks to God for your heavenly helper. What a gift that. along with all the saints who watch over us, we each have our own angel to guide us from birth in this life to our birth into Eternal Life! What a loving Heavenly Father we have, One who thinks of everything for our safety and comfort!
But wait! Did I say I hope you will take Therese's roses for granted? Heaven forbid! What I really meant was simply that seeing yourself so favored by our sister's answers to your prayers, you will become accustomed to being surrounded by her roses (visible and invisible, earthly and heavenly) and thus approach her and the sweet Infant Jesus with more confidence than ever!
Along these lines, I can't think of anything more wonderful to share in honor of Therese's feast than some of her sayings that most inspire confidence. And keep in mind that while her feast is celebrated in the new calendar on October 1st, we who can't get enough of her can celebrate again on October 3rd, according to the "old calendar" that accompanies the extraordinary form of the liturgy. God is so very good! He knows how badly we need our sister's help, and so He has doubled her feast for us in these trying times!
For your delectation, then, a feast of good words from our sister Saint Therese:
1. Jesus does not demand great actions, but simply surrender and gratitude.
2. He alone disposes the events of our life of exile . . . It is the hand of Jesus that guides everything.
3. I assure you that the good Lord is much kinder than you can imagine. He is satisfied with a glance, with a sigh of love.
4. In spite of all obstacles, God accomplishes what He wills. . . . The work I had been unable to do in ten years was done by Jesus in one instant . . .
5. We can never have too much confidence in the good God who is so mighty and so merciful. We obtain from Him as much as we hope for.
6. God knows our weakness. He remembers that we are but dust. As a father is tender toward his children, so is the Lord compassionate towards us.
7. God is too good, too generous to give His favors meagerly.
8. Your arms, my Jesus, are the elevator which will take me up to Heaven. There is no need for me to grow up; on the contrary, I must stay little, and become more and more so.
9. Jesus will come for us, however far away we may be from Him, and will set us afire with His love.
10. I will spend my heaven in doing good upon earth. Do not the angels take care of us while still enjoying the Beatific Vision?
* * *
I love these wise words, but then, too, our sister can be so funny and so very clever! Her cousin in the convent, Sister Marie (Guerin) of the Eucharist, asked the dying Therese to obtain great graces for her once Therese was in heaven. Therese responded:
"Oh! when I am in heaven, I will do very many things, great things . . . It is impossible that it is not God who has given me this desire; I am sure He will answer me! And also, when I am up there, I will follow you closely!"
To which Marie replied that this would frighten her! But her cousin (our sister) had the perfect answer:
"Does your guardian angel frighten you? He follows you nevertheless, all the time. Well, I will follow you in the same way, and even closer! I won't let anything pass you."
You see, then, that once again God has timed everything perfectly: Therese day, guardian angel day, and Therese day again! Let's celebrate a triduum at the beginning of our octave!
Happy continued feasting, and may our sister follow you like an angel, inspiring you at every step, helping you in all your trials, and making your real angel's job much easier!
As to the many intentions we have been praying for in this novena, let's remember the very easy way Therese has taught us to pray. She knew that if she tried to enumerate every need of those she loved and whom God had entrusted to her, "the days would never be long enough," and she feared she would forget something important. But she is forever reminding us that Jesus is tenderly solicitous to all our needs, and this is a prime example. She explains:
"For simple souls there must be no complicated ways; as I am of their number, one morning during my thanksgiving, Jesus gave me a simple means of accomplishing my mission.
"He made me understand these words of the Canticle of Canticles: 'DRAW ME, WE SHALL RUN after You in the odor of Your ointments.' O Jesus, it is not even necessary to say: 'When drawing me, draw the souls whom I love!' This simple statement: 'Draw me' suffices; I understand, Lord, that when a soul allows herself to be captivated by the odor of your ointments, she cannot run alone, all the souls whom she loves follow in her train; this is done without constraint, without effort, it is a natural consequence of her attraction for You. Just as a torrent, throwing itself with impetuosity into the ocean, drags after it everything it encounters in its passage, in the same way, O Jesus, the soul who plunges into the shoreless ocean of Your Love, draws with her all the treasures she possesses."
And so, with simplicity, gratitude, and joy, we pray with Therese to our adorable Jesus:
Draw me, we will run!!!
P.S. Marcel asked if he might add a few words . . . these are words said to him by his new sister St. Therese on a Thursday in October 1941 when she first spoke to him, and he wanted to be sure you got to hear them too. This is how he and we can rejoice her heart, and especially Little Jesus' Heart, in these glorious days when we especially remember her. In his Autobiography (600), he recounts that she told him:
"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 forever 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 that 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 accept this sadness with patience. Really believe this: nothing gives more pleasure to the good God than 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."
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