Just when I think Marcel won't have anything new to offer me, I go ahead and open Conversations just in case, and wouldn't you know he bowls me over with another winning page.
Or to be more precise, Jesus bowls us both over (Marcel and me), or Mary does, or Therese. And it's not that I really doubt the power of this book to inspire me, again and again, but gee, what a mystery that it is so consistently and predictably heart warming, not to mention life changing!
Take today, for instance. Since I'm not so good at living in the present moment, today is a good day to take as a test case. I can show you what I mean and live in the moment at the same time!
I opened to (596) to find Our Blessed Mother speaking to us through Marcel, and oh how I love her suggestion here. This is an idea whose time has come, and if it had a patent, we'd make millions. But the good news is we don't need a patent to make millions with it - millions of roses! And oh how much better are roses than dollars (or pounds, or yen, or lire or francs, or I suppose I should be saying Euro, though how very boring that sounds compared to shekels or pesos . . . ) And sure, in some of those cases a million wouldn't get you all you wanted. Make it a hundred million then! Roses, as I say, not other forms of currency, but if you need me to write a post on "why roses are better than filthy lucre," I will shake my head at you. Silly! Can't you see even in the very names which is to be preferred, which is more valuable, which is the treasure and which the dross?
Ah, roses. The signature flower of our little sister Therese, though she claims she is a little white flower. Have you ever stooped down to see something on the ground and noticed there's a flower, maybe two or three, a teeny tiny forgotten or unseen (until you saw it) creation as perfect as the brightest star? I love the little white and purple daisies I've discovered this way when I least expected them. I also love the large white and purple daisies that are fairly common in our area (yet rare pleasures, nonetheless), but the tiny ones have something very special about them . . .
Those are gifts from God to us, but the roses I'm making millions of (and you can too!) by taking Our Lady's advice, these are roses we can offer back to Him, roses of our own creation, and more exquisite - and at the same time more common - than anything you could imagine or find in a florist's shop.
Let me quote the passage that has so inspired all this creativity. I feel like I've discovered a way to make manufactured gems or some other such strange and sparkly 21st century miracle. In fact, I'm only using an ordinary household item to make my roses, kind of like the modern version of spinning flax into gold thread. (Knowing very little beyond a muddled up concatenation of vague bits from fairy tales floating in the far reaches of my blonde soul, I'm not sure if anyone ever did spin flax into gold, but it sounds good, doesn't it?)
Here is what Our Blessed Mother, always so compassionate and merciful, advises this morning. She doesn't mention the roses, but the truth is I knew there were roses coming today, so I chose the photo above this post and waited. Then as I said at the outset, and as is my custom when I know not how to pray (daily), I opened Conversations and immediately found everything I needed, which happened today to be roses: Roses we can give Jesus in thanks for all of the roses He gives to us.
Our Lady doesn't mention the roses, she mentions sacrifices, but before you cringe (I cringe at the mention of sacrifices, so in the interest of empathy I'm assuming you do too), listen closely and hear what the sacrifices are. They're nothing more nor less than those common household items I mentioned earlier, and you'll be glad to declutter them by offering them as roses to Jesus. But let's hear Mary's explanation. She says it simply and sweetly:
"My child, did you just mention sacrifice? . . . 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 in 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 offer 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.'"
+ + +
And now we know where the thorns on roses come from. The devil, of course! You see, there is the net he holds out to us to drag us along, and he's filled the net with thorns. But wait! as soon as we offer our anxieties (the thorns) to Jesus as a sacrifice, He turns them into roses (which the angels instantly de-thorn) and draws the whole kit and caboodle - net, roses, and us! - into His arms and close to His Heart. The devil is foiled and we are safe once again. Not that we were ever truly in danger, but it was feeling prickly inside our souls, and now we are quieted and everything is turning up roses, just like it should in a Bollywood movie or Real Life (which my husband maintains is so much like a Bollywood movie, what with the beauty and the bright colors and everyone breaking into song and dance as needed).
If you were skeptical about the roses being countless, try to count them now! When I have tried to apply Our Blessed Mother's good counsel here, I have been shocked by how my ongoing mental radio seems stuck on the worry station. No sooner have I dispatched one worry by offering it to little Jesus as a sacrifice, than another takes its place. It's as if the whole radio is supplying nothing but worry stations! Switch the channel from worrying-over-the-kids radio and you get worrying-over-tomorrow, commercial free! Try twisting the knob and next you get worrying-over-what-you-will-wear and then worrying-over-what-you-will-eat, as if Jesus' sermon on the mount merely provided good suggestions for anxiety radio playlists!
Well leave it to Our Lady to help us find the way out. She brought Jesus to us in the first place, and she'll bring us to Him as well, all wrapped in nets and riddled with thorns as we may be. Yes, it's a "come as you are" (and B.Y.O.R. - bring your own roses) party. Thankfully the thorns morph into roses as soon as we remember to say the sweet prayer Mary just taught us: "Little Jesus, I offer you this worry as a sacrifice."
Uh-oh. Did I say "as soon as we remember"?
Shockingly, Our Lady said it first, as if she had forgotten how feeble our little white or purple daisy memories are.
"Always remember this method, all right?"
Those were her exact words.
Well to be honest, I've been waiting for a challenge like this.
Some run marathons.
Others get up the moment the alarm clock sounds.
As for me, I've been thinking for years it would be marvelous to remember something. Maybe this is it. You know, like St. Alphonsus said. Don't worry if you don't know what St. Alphonsus said. I forget myself, but I can look it up . . .
A slight technical difficulty has arisen.
In looking up what Marcel's dear holy father said (I know it was along the lines of: "One holy maxim frequently pondered is enough to make a Saint), not only could I not find it in my 45 second window (beyond that my attention will fade to the extent that I'll start answering emails or reading old posts, and this one will languish instead of flourish), but to make matters worse, I discovered that I'd already written (somewhere in the hinterlands of Miss Marcel's Musings) on this very passage that's so captivated me today.
Well, we don't have time to waste in pondering the eternal mystery of my forgetfulness. We barely have enough time to celebrate.
Why that Jesus reminded us, just as He promised!
Because I do remember, fortunately for my piece of mind (which is very small, and my peace of mind, which is thankfully bigger) that Jesus told Marcel (and therefore us) not to worry about forgetting because it is just the excuse He needs to come remind us. "All the better!" were His exact words, I think. (Well, translated from Vietnamese into French into English. But don't they have that ring of Divine truth?)
Oddly but wonderfully enough, Jesus likes reminding us!
That's reason enough to celebrate, even if the place weren't about to be flooded with roses. Our forgetting gives Him the perfect opportunity to come save us again, and that is, after all, what He's so perfect at doing (among an infinite variety of other things). It's His very mission, you might say.
Following our policy of full disclosure, however, I must add that Jesus isn't the only one who will celebrate with us when we remember to say this prayer, and He isn't the only one who will enjoy the roses filling the room with their fragrance and beauty. As our Mother explained, so many souls are saved through these little sacrifices of our worries offered to Jesus. These souls will be celebrating too! And besides knowing we've delighted Jesus with the spectacular show of our thorns miraculously turning into roses mid-air, and besides delighting with Him in the souls we're helping Him save (and delighting with them in Him), there is the further and exceedingly delightful relief of abandoning our worries, letting them go, and feeling that we're exactly where we are supposed to be, and Jesus will take care of everything.
Lest you think we're putting Jesus out (despite my attempt to reassure you that He loves us and far from minding our littleness, as St. Therese teaches so authoritatively He loves us in our littleness), here is something to further encourage you in our new practice.
(I'll whisper this so you're not embarrassed if you forgot already. Our new practice is saying, "Jesus, I offer you this worry as a sacrifice.")
I don't know if you caught this, but Our Lady said the funniest thing when explaining what we are to do. She remarked that Jesus is happier this way (with our offering Him our worries as sacrifices) than He would be simply defeating the devil without our being part of the equation.
He loves to have us near Him, He loves to have us working alongside Him. He knows that we labor in faith, and that our faith is sometimes blind, and we often can't see that He is near. But this makes the victory all the greater when we repeat this trick and give the devil the slip by making gold roses out of the stuff of our worries. (Cobwebs, I believe they are made of, according to Our Lady in other conversations with Marcel.)
Part of me is wondering if you're getting tired of my repeating my favorite passages to you. They're always new to me, and I'm glad to help Jesus remind you, or tell you for the first time if you've just arrived, fashionably late, to our party - I'm like the hostess who can't wait to introduce you to our guest of honor, our brother Marcel, just back from 'Nam and worthy of a hero's welcome.
Since Marcel wouldn't be anything more than another unknown soldier to us if it weren't for his best friends, instructors, and confidantes - Jesus, Mary, and St. Therese - and his translators, Fr. Antonio Boucher and Mr. Jack Keogan, you'll meet them all too in these virtual halls of my interior castle. I'm so lucky to live here, it's the least I can do to welcome you with my whole heart. And if you notice me repeating myself, I'm not entirely batty, I'm merely pointing out, each time we pass them, the highlights of the tour.
But then, what am I thinking? I've forgotten already! I'm not supposed to worry about repeating myself (or anything else), but now that I've found I've written myself into a corner, I'm going to click my heels three times and say, "Little Jesus, I offer you this worry as a sacrifice."
There. Feeling better and smiling bigger already!
We've only our signature prayer to say before I let you loose to go make roses yourself. First, though, I've got to tell you the most wonderful surprise Marcel and Therese sprung on me yesterday.
It started the day before yesterday, actually, when Marcel gave me a really beautiful small French Bible. I had to pay the Friends of the Library $2 for it, but you know Marcel's specialty is giving, not paying, so I did it when he wasn't looking. Kind of like slyly leaving something extra for the tip like we used to do when my husband's adorable little grandma took us out to lunch, but she was using decades old standards of what might be a fitting compensation. Wow. Do you think Marcel's ever been compared to a little grandma before? He must be laughing!
Well, Therese had already given me a Concise French Dictionary at a similar library book sale a few months ago. And lest she think she's a better giver than Marcel because her gift was totally free (on their "discarded but please take" table), let's remind her that a Concise French Dictionary, however helpful (and this one is ironically and amusingly very large and largely helpful) cannot compare to the Word of God in any language . . .
So. That brings us to yesterday when I opened my French Bible to the Cantique des Cantiques (you gotta love French; they make it as easy as they can for the rest of us to guess their meaning) to read our signature prayer in French! (For those just joining us, our prayer is taken from the last pages of Therese's Story of a Soul, but she took it from the Song of Songs, or rather, Le Cantique des Cantiques.)
It goes like this (in French! isn't this exciting?):
Entraine-moi! nous courrons a ta suite!
(There is supposed to be an accent mark over the "a" before "ta suite.")
In English, we've been praying:
Draw me; we will run!
So if we compare the two, you can get an idea of which word is which. At least you can't be much worse at this than I am, but the main surprise is coming in the very first word, so you won't have to learn a lot of French to fall in love with Jesus all over again . . .
You see, I found out that my very fat Concise French Dictionary is really for translators. The authors (yes, dictionaries have authors, which is astounding and a natural wonder in itself) say in their introduction that their purpose is to provide the closest possible English-word-translation for each French word. You can see, then, why Therese chose this particular dictionary for me, out of all the French dictionaries ever printed. Thanks, sis!
Naturally, then, the first word we need to look up is the first word, "Entraine," and since the first phrase is "Entraine-moi" and we all know from Miss Piggy that "moi" is "me," well I just ran with it and guessed that "entraine" was going to be "Draw," and "Entraine-moi" would be "Draw me!" I love that the Holy Spirit wanted two exclamation points in the French version. And you'll soon see why.
In my Concise Oxford French Dictionary, the good Abel and Marguerite Chevalley have provided this entry in the "E" section:
entrainer: 1. to draw or drag along; 2. to carry away, to sweep away, to sweep (a person) off his feet . . .
Oh my sweet Jesus! You sly dog! You hound of heaven! You aren't asking us to pray that You might politely draw us. If necessary you're willing to drag us to Yourself, but as Our Lady says that's what the devil is planning to do with his net, I don't think that's quite the right translation. Most likely of all, the prayer you've been wanting to teach us is the one wherein we happily request (insist even, with an exclamation point) that You sweep each one of us off our feet! Then, we will all run to You - not just those of us You've already swept off our tired feet, but those we'll sweep along with us in our enthusiastic ecstasy of love for You!
We'll be irresistible. No more dragging our feet (the more I consider that earlier possible translation, the less likely it seems). We will, with the wings of the Holy Spirit, fly to You! Though You have swept us off our feet, we will courrons, that is (according to the Chevalleys and I do trust this solid pair) we will run, race, hurry, hasten, speed, as if running a race; we will search, make progress, strive, and prevail!
I haven't quite figured out "a ta suite" (with the accent mark over that opening "a"). I'm thinking it might be an idiom or special construction, and I await enlightenment.
As to the rest of my French studies, I can't tell you what happened next because your heart is not nearly as hard as mine, and if I were to tell you the revelation of love that came next (don't worry, no angel piercing my heart with an arrow yet, just the illuminating light of a French dictionary), you would no doubt die of love. And then where would we be? I love to write these posts, but it takes two to tango and two to make a happy blog. You're needed here, so no dying of love just yet. As for me, with the further revelation (in the "t" section of the dictionary; that's all I'm saying; my lips are now sealed) I was in awe, and very, very touched. That's good for a hard heart, isn't it?
And so, until another day, (I seem to remember from the card accompanying a vase of 18 pink roses given to me by a sweet friend for my 18th birthday, that here I might say "a bientot" with one of those nifty little hats on one of the vowels), let's pray together with Therese and Marcel:
Entraine-moi! nous courrons a ta suite!
And now, they're laughing heartily at our terrible accents, but that's just the best way to start a party: with really happy laughter! So no worries, and when you find yourself worrying despite everyone's advice not to, then try our new party trick and say as often as you need to (and with laughter):
"Little Jesus, I offer you this worry as a sacrifice!"
And then smile and open a window, because the room is filling with Saints and sinners-turning-into-Saints as well as roses, and we wouldn't want the sweet fragrance of all these gorgeous flowers to overwhelm us!
I've written books and articles and even a novel. Now it's time to try a blog! For more about me personally, go to the home page and you'll get the whole scoop! If you want to send me an email, feel free to click "Contact Me" below.