Happy St. John Eudes Day!
This is a marvelously joyful day for lovers of Marcel (and welcome to our company!) because St. John Eudes is famous for not being St. Therese. Or, rather, for being St. John Eudes. And if that makes no sense to you, it's because I'm explaining myself quite badly but smiling all the while! Let's see if I can do better . . .
When our dear Marcel Van was a young novice with the Redemptorists, each New Year's he chose a slip of paper on which was written the name of a saint who would be his special patron for the next year. In his book of Conversations (with Jesus, Mary, and St. Therese), Marcel writes on January 1, 1946 the following dialog he had with Jesus about his new saint for the year:
Jesus: Marcel, for the new year I wish you an abundance of everything: much love, much joy, much suffering. I wish that you eat a lot, that you have a lot of fun, that you sleep a lot, that you work a lot . . . in a word, I wish everything for you in abundance. Were you surprised yesterday to receive Saint John Eudes, of whom you had never heard, as your patron for the year? It's very strange is it not? Is that what has made you sad?
Marcel: Yes, little Jesus, I am very sad. After having asked You insistently, You have given me neither Your name nor that of Mary and You have not even left me that of my sister Therese. You always tell me that You give me all I ask; and yet, after having begged You so much, You have not given me what I desired. Truly, You do not keep Your word. I am very sad because of it, little Jesus.
Jesus: Come, come, Marcel, what did I say to you the other day? I told you that I would choose a very strange patron for you. So, how can you reproach me for not having kept my word? . . . it is necessary that you enlarge the circle of your relations with your brothers and sisters, the saints . . .
Marcel: So, Jesus, why have You not given me my father Saint Alphonsus? And who, therefore, is Saint John Eudes, little Jesus? I know absolutely nothing about him; I only heard of him for the first time yesterday.
* * * And here is the punchline! I never fail to enjoy Jesus' response here - see what you think:
Jesus: Saint John Eudes, Marcel, is Saint John Eudes, that's all. He is a saint who loved me a lot during his life, after his death he ascended to heaven with me and the the Church canonized him . . . And now, I want to give you him as your patron of the year. Marcel, you are so fussy; even if you know nothing of Saint John Eudes, that's of no consequence and I am not obliging you to know any more about him. The only thing that you must know is that I have chosen him for your patron of the year. And since I have chosen him for you, why would it not be as suitable as another. Do not be sad, Marcel. And even if you were sad, you would not be able to change is since you have already eaten some sweets in his honour; if you were going to change, all the saints would make fun of you and you would be very ashamed.
* * *
Ah, how natural Jesus and Marcel are together, and this is exactly why Jesus asked Marcel to write down their conversations. He is inviting us, too, to be honest with Him, to tell Him what we want, to complain when we don't get it, and to listen as best we can to His Divine excuses, I mean reasons, for every carefully planned Providential detail He has prepared for us. In my case, the listening to Him part usually happens in nano-second intervals between the thousand and one absurd or seemingly urgent distracting gnat-like thoughts that flit around my Pooh-bear-brain, but Jesus is so gracious. He patiently explains, again and again - especially through my reading of Marcel - why it is good for us to be here with Him and how He has not forgotten us, not for the nano-second we attend to Him, nor for the remainder of time and eternity! In this particular conversation from January 1st, St. Therese enters in to explain more:
Marcel: My sister Therese, why did you not present yourself last night to be my patron for one more year? It is not that long.
Therese: My dear little brother, what has little Jesus just said to you? . . . You remain always my dear little brother and I, I continue to teach you to love Jesus. You do not have to worry about being abandoned by me. Be at peace. Remain joyful and smiling since seeing you sad makes me sadder. When it is time to be joyful, why be sad over nothing? When little Jesus decides something concerning you, is it not by love that He does it? Little Jesus loves you a lot. He never wishes to see you sad; and if you are sad, He no longer knows who to laugh with . . . Little brother, never be sad. Keep smiling so that little Jesus might be more joyful. I love you little brother, I am giving you a kiss; my only wish is that you remain always happy. That is something that I have repeated to you many times, little brother, do not forget it. And if you happen to forget it, I will remind you of it. So, little brother, smile, smile, come on, smile! Do you remember that time when I put my hand over my eye to make you laugh? It worked, didn't it? Dear little brother, I love you a great deal; my only wish is to see you always smiling . . .
* * *
On this day of St. John Eudes, lover of Jesus and happy to be our patron too, we at Miss Marcel's Musings celebrate the wedding anniversary of an East Coast Miss Marcel and her Mister. Like in all marriages, just like in Marcel's choosing of a patron for the year 1946, Jesus has had many surprises in store for these dear friends of ours. What strikes me today is that in every single surprise Jesus is there, and His infinite love remains in control of the situation and the hearts involved. The glory of the saints is that now, in heaven with Him, they understand completely that His love has guided everything, healed and repaired everything, brought joys and sorrows alike with floods and oceans of grace on which to carry our frail selves - even when we have felt we were drowning! He sends Our Lady and the Church as our ship, our water-tight, never sinking vessel of mercy to carry us over the years, and He sends the saints we know and love and those we don't know and love but who know and love us! We are never alone, and we haven't even mentioned the company of the angels, beginning with our own singular companion who has traveled with us from birth and will stick to us more powerfully and effectively than super glue until the day we are brought (with our loved ones) to live in eternal bliss with God who is Love.
We've been hearing the words of Jesus, Marcel, and St. Therese. It seems only fair to let St. John Eudes say a word to us on his day, and here is what he has to tell us, an exhortation of love that is quite worthy of a saint, whose glory is none other than Jesus:
"He belongs to you, but more than that, He longs to be in you, living and ruling in you, as the head lives and rules in the body. He wants His breath to be in your breath, His heart in your heart, and His soul in your soul."
I've found a beautiful way to let Him live in me always, a way St. Therese revealed in her Act of Oblation to Merciful Love. I write about this new little way at length in Something New with St. Therese, and I hope you'll discover, as I did, this powerful Eucharistic Miracle that our sister wants to share with us.
Most importantly, let's heed St. Therese's reminder that Jesus never wishes to see us sad. I've been realizing more and more how much we depend on Jesus Himself to supply the joy He wishes to find in us, so I pray that He fill your heart with His peace and joy. Even amidst the suffering He allows us in order to keep us safely in His arms on the cross, I wish you, as He wishes us through His words to Marcel, "that you eat a lot, that you have a lot of fun, that you sleep a lot," and even "that you work a lot," with Our Lord providing the energy and satisfaction of a job well done. "In a word, I wish you everything in abundance," but especially the smiles Therese encourages us to offer to Jesus. And no worries, it's her job, and St. John Eudes', and our angels', to startle the smiles out of us by surprising us with the joy Jesus so desires for us.
Therese had her ways of making her friends laugh, and I have mine . . .
May St. John Eudes bring you joy this day and throughout the next year. It is our glory to count the saints among our closest collaborators, and so be brought by their unfailing efforts to the place where there is no more suffering but only joy. St. John Eudes, pray for us, and bring us laughter as well as smiles!
Draw me, we will run!
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