I don't know if you, dear reader, love St. Francis de Sales the way that I do (with great affection and gratitude), but he wanted to join us today (along with Snoopy and Lucy) in order to instruct us very gently in how we might continue to profit from our recent novena. Luckily for us, his once-upon-a-time English translator, much like our Jack Keogan with Marcel's Conversations, did such a fab job that lo, these 35 years after I initially read the first 19 pages or so of Introduction to the Devout Life, I still remember that quaint and ideal word (so perfectly conveying St. F de S's meaning) "nosegay," thus allowing me to instantly recall (with a little help from our friend Google) the exact words (in English) that good St. Francis dropped by to share, thus sparing him the trouble of an apparition or locution, and me the trouble of finding that answer to prayer ("Excuse me, not to be rude, but are you really St. Francis de Sales?") spiritual director who may well be just a phone call away but most likely has, as good Father Thomas Dubay used to call it, a "time pressure problem." (So many locutions, so few qualified spiritual directors.)
But thanks to the two-fold gift of the great spiritual masters and Doctors of the Church - 1. their books; 2. their kind reluctance to burden us with frequent audible contact - and the remarkable talent and charity of their translators, we can by-pass a personal spiritual director for now and, l'air du temps [please see yesterday's post for a brace of translation options], avail ourselves of any number of loving, qualified, ever available, virtual spiritual directors. Today, then, in addition to our on-staff director, Marcel Van, and our occasional guest director, Charles Schultz, we welcome St. Francis de Sales, who without further ado recommends:
One should gather a little nosegay of devotion. My meaning is as follows: Those who have been walking in a beautiful garden do not leave it willingly without taking away with them four or five flowers, in order to inhale their perfume and carry them about during the day: even so, when we have considered some mystery in meditation, we should choose one or two or three points in which we have found most relish, and which are specially proper to our advancement, in order to remember them throughout the day, and to inhale their perfume spiritually. Now we should do this in the place where we have made our meditation, either staying where we are, or walking about alone for a little while afterwards.
My Heavens! I don't know what is more charming - St. Francis' willingness to multi-task at a moment's notice, sharing the breadth of his wisdom with us while gazing on the Face of God and praying for us in His presence, or the picture he paints with these words: walking in a beautiful garden, taking away four or five flowers, inhaling their perfume and carrying them about with us during the day - what an antidote for our digitized, citified, modernized, screen-filled lives!
We may find it a challenge, though one worth accepting and fulfilling, to walk through a garden in the near future (St. Anthony, come to our aid and help us each find a nearby actual-factual garden in which to stroll and refresh our beauty-starved 21st century bodies-and-souls), but as to the spiritual garden of the mysteries we've been considering in our novena, to this garden we have immediate and easy access.
Since, then, we are in the place where we made our meditation, let's stay a moment longer, that we might choose from our novena a nosegay of little flowers to take with us as we go about our days. Our first and second little flowers are none other than Therese and Marcel, and since, in the immortal words of Snoopy pictured above, "Every lover needs a lovee," now that they've found us, these two Little Flowers have no intention of letting us go anywhere without their sweet fragrance accompanying us.
As I hope you already know, our garden here at Miss Marcel's Musings is open 24/7 and you're always most welcome to wander our little ways, but perhaps you have other demands on your time and can't peruse our paths to your hearts' content. Or maybe you are like me and Marcel, blessed with a bad memory so that Jesus is forever having to repeat His loving blandishments to your eager but forgetful heart. As docent at this site, I'm happy to help in any way I can, and presenting you with a nosegay of reflections to take away from our novena is just one of my many happy tasks here at MMM. I don't mean to discourage you from revisiting the paths down which we've rambled; in fact, I hope these flowers of devotion will invite you back for more rest and refreshment - back along the paths of our novena, or back to continue our stroll with the Saints as we proceed forward. There's no end to the beauty of our garden, and its master gardener Therese, along with her apprentice Marcel, pray that this little bouquet will remind you to return frequently to one of the many sun drenched benches here, where you can read Conversations with us at your leisure.
There is a large sundial in the center of our garden. It's hard to see at first, surrounded as it is by sunflowers. You'd think a sundial should be surrounded by small flowers at its base - pansies, perhaps, or marigolds. But no, nothing but sunflowers would do for Marcel and his friend Jon (all I can tell you now about Jon was that apparently he spent the day with Marcel when Therese left them in charge of plantings about the sundial). We can't complain, though, because the effect is lovely, and it doesn't obscure the sundial once you know that the secret to seeing everything is to stoop low, rather than aiming high. It's the little way, and the best view is reserved for small children and those at their level.
As St. Therese herself explained, "The only way to advance rapidly in the path of love is to remain always very little. That is what I did, and now I can sing with our holy Father, St. John of the Cross: 'Then I abased myself so love, so very low, that I ascended to such heights, such heights indeed, that I did overtake the prey I chased."
Have you ever seen children trying to catch birds in the backyard? Look out, little Jesus! You are the bird in this game and Therese has learned the secret of sneaking up on You, putting salt on Your tail, and nabbing You for keeps! It's with good reason (and to great effect) that she tells us, "My patrons and my special favorites in Heaven are those who, so to speak, stole it, such as the Holy Innocents and the Good Thief. The great Saints won it by their works; I wish to be like the thieves and to win it by stratagem - a stratagem of love which will open its gates both to me and to poor sinners. In the Book of Proverbs the Holy Spirit encourages me, for He says, 'Come to me, little one, to learn subtlety!'"
Anyhow, here we are wandering down another winding pathway, but the motto on the sundial, that's what I wanted to make sure you didn't miss. It says "For simple souls there must be no complicated ways." There was quite the kerfuffle over it because Marcel had an idea which Therese couldn't help but tease him about, before she placed the order for the angels to etch the inscription. We can't go into the whole story here, but the short version is that Marcel's choice for the motto was, he thought, perfect because it had a reference to time in it. Therese laughed because it was very, very long - too long to put around a sundial, and so she chose one that was much shorter. Marcel laughed back at her and pointed out that hers didn't have the time-honored time-allusion in it. Which was quite clever of him to even know, but his guardian angel was behind this sudden infusion of Sundial Motto Lore.
As you can see, they are both laughing at Miss Marcel, who even in relating the motto cannot help but complicate the simple presentation of a nosegay to our readers.
The great thing about being little is that we don't hurt ourselves much - when we fall we are not far from the ground! And so, dusting off my knees, I then curtsy to you, dear reader, as a bride once did each time the guests at her wedding clanged their glasses - how adorably modest and sweet was that bride! I curtsy and offer you this nosegay of little flowers from our recent novena, sealed with a KISS for "Keep it simple, silly!"
And now, an important claimer from the management:
We at Miss Marcel's Musings heartily subscribe to the perennial wisdom presented herein with no apologies. You'll find nowhere (but in the next few lines) any of that infernal nonsense, "The opinions and views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position, let alone the opinions and views, of those presenting them to you but now disclaiming any awareness of the content in order to prevent lawsuits or any other inconvenience."
And so we not only offer (with our heartfelt endorsement) this nosegay, but also the tried and true adage we've mentioned before in these posts and repeat now: "A picture is worth a thousand words."
With that in mind, we hope you'll accept our blonde presentation of good St. Francis' suggested little bouquet - though we suspect he had in mind something with more words and fewer pixels. Due to the ubiquitous time-pressure problem, those words will come tomorrow (God willing) in the form of a flower or two from each day of our recently concluded novena. For now, we leave you with a trinity of little flowers just for today: a word (or several, really) from Marcel; our signature signature; and one last kiss until we meet again.
Marcel: What I have, little Jesus, You already know. I told You this morning. I have nothing of real importance; I have only my poor, loving heart and I offer it to You. I asked Mary to place it under your eyes at the altar of repose in the church, so that there, by its presence, it might make You forget Your sadness and You may keep it continuously in this church. Little Jesus, although my heart is not worth a lot, I dare to wish, however, that it be placed today in all the tabernacles of the world where You are present in the Eucharist. It is true that I am expressing here a great wish, but I really believe that You are going to respond to this mad desire in realizing it fully. Besides, I know very well, as You told me, that even by my sighs of love, I can give You a place of rest in me. I am asking You to distribute my sighs of love in all the tabernacles of the world where, today, You are residing. I have not the strength nor the opportunity to go and visit all these tabernacles: I have only my sighs of love to make these visits in my place. Graciously accept them and grant my wish. (Conversations, 467)
Draw me, and we shall run.
And finally, as promised, one last kiss for the road . . .
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