The Most Beautiful Thing
Recently I've been taking consolation from something Jesus told Marcel about the most beautiful thing. This saying of Jesus is in the very first entry of Conversations, among the early pages headed "Before 7 October 1945," and the passage I've been pondering lately is at (14), that is, on the fourteenth page Marcel wrote for Fr. Boucher. It shows us concretely what we already know generally, that Jesus is full of truth and grace from the beginning. Still, I'm not going to tell you yet what it is that Jesus said was the most beautiful thing, because it's got me thinking, and I'd like to share my thoughts first, to lead up to His. That's just one outrageous aspect of a blog--if you're silly enough (and apparently I am), you can preface Jesus' Truth with your own musings.
Since Jesus is telling us through Marcel about what is the most beautiful thing, I've been thinking about beautiful things. It's kind of fun to imagine what might be the most beautiful thing. What if you had three guesses?
If I had three guesses as to what the most beautiful thing might be, I've decided that first I'd guess Jesus, second Mary, and third friendship, and in particular, friendship with the Saints.
That Jesus is most beautiful might seem too obvious to comment upon, but here is a delightful commentary from Marcel which surpasses anything I could have imagined. When Marcel was serving Mass for Fr. Boucher on Christmas night, 1945, he saw Jesus. Here is what he wrote:
"His hair was blond and curly, His eyes were dark and of average size, His lips were fresh and bright red and His face was quite round but not entirely so. Finally, He was barefooted. Seeing Him like this I found Him very handsome but it is impossible for me to describe Him perfectly; all that I can say is that He was of a beauty which surpasses all imagination. However, if at that moment I had been an artist possessing all the colours I could wish for, I would have painted His portrait immediately. But, as I am very clumsy, all I could do was feast my eyes on Him . . .I stayed there quite dumbfounded, while Jesus sat with me in the cradle, looking at me and laughing . . ."
Ah, beautiful little Jesus!
And must not His Mother, from whom He takes His beauty, be then the next most beautiful thing? Some might argue that since He came from her, she must be more beautiful, but I think we have to make allowance for the beauty of His Divinity transcending even the beauty of our spotless Mother.
I love the story of Lucia, the seer of Fatima, who was pressed by a sculptor to admit that his image of Our Lady of Fatima, perfected with directions from Lucia herself, was most beautiful. Poor Lucia! Having seen the real Lady, clothed with the sun, she could only respond, "It's not as ugly as all the others!"
But then when I consider what else is beautiful and what I might guess third as to the most beautiful thing, I'm inclined to say friendship with the Saints. I'm just bowled over by the joy and consolation that flows from this understanding that we are not alone. Not only has God given us each our own guardian angel (and if we could see them, I bet they would be on the top of our list of most beautiful things!), but He gives us too, in increasing numbers as our lives in exile go on and on, the friendship of His favorites. He gives us everything, and so He gives us His best friends as our own as well.
It's no accident that when musing upon Marcel and his writings, my thoughts turn to friendship with the Saints. His friendship with Thérèse is the stuff that dreams are made of, and she in turn has such a profound understanding of love and friendship, especially friendship with the Saints. By "saints" we can mean those around us striving for sanctity, but in particular the depth of friendship increases when one of the parties has gone to cash in on the Heavenly reward. I love reading in Proverbs 3 that:
"The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace. For if before men, indeed, they be punished, yet is their hope full of immortality . . . In the time of their visitation they shall shine, and shall dart about as sparks among stubble."
We are the stubble, and the souls of the just are so happy to dart about as sparks among us! To the foolish it looks like our friendships are over, but that is far from the reality. Here is what Thérèse wrote on the subject to another of her spiritual brothers (this one her contemporary), Maurice Belliere:
"I have to tell you, little brother, that we don't understand Heaven in the same way. You think that, once I share in the justice and holiness of God, I won't be able to excuse your faults as I did when I was on earth. Are you then forgetting that I shall also share in the infinite mercy of the Lord? I believe that the Blessed in Heaven have great compassion for our miseries. They remember that when they were weak and mortal like us, they committed the same faults themselves and went through the same struggles, and their fraternal tenderness becomes still greater than it ever was on earth. It's on account of this that they never stop watching over us and praying for us."
If you have not yet experienced this compassion of the Saints, and, more specifically, of a particular Saint for you, I urge you to delve into this beautiful world. If you don't know where to start, start with Marcel. Having been himself very weak, he can certainly relate to your weakness and have pity on it. And further, having been himself the beneficiary of one of the sweetest friendships ever between Heaven and earth, he certainly knows the importance and beauty of such friendship. If you ask him, I'm sure he'll be glad to be your friend. And as he's still relatively unknown, you'll be getting in on the ground floor, so to speak!
I could say more, but I must not abuse my privilege of writing about Marcel, and this I would do if I either taxed your attention or (worse yet) Jesus'! He's infinitely patient, but it's not polite of me to bank on that, making Him wait to tell us what He, Truth, knows to be the actual most beautiful thing.
So here goes. Here is what Jesus told Marcel sometime before October 7, 1945, and according to His words, what He'd told another friend of His, the Visitation nun Sister Benigna Consolata sometime in the early 1900's (she lived in Como, Italy from 1885-1916, and was another of Jesus' little secretaries). Are you ready? [The ellipses (or little dots like these . . . ) are in Marcel's text here at (14); I'm not leaving anything out, though I'll add bold for the Most Beautiful Thing.] Here goes then. Jesus tells us:
"What I said previously to Sister Benigna Consolata . . . My little flower, My spouse, little apostle of My love, I recall it now for you . . . Nothing is more beautiful than to do the will of the one who one loves . . . Accept, therefore, to do My will. My child, I am taking you in My arms, I am lifting you to My lips and I am giving you a kiss. Seeing your soul burning with love for Me, I am beside Myself and My sole desire is to see many souls love Me as you do . . . My spouse, there is nothing so beautiful as to do the will of the one one loves. There are still many things that you must write and that I will tell you later . . . Little apostle of My love, the words that I am dictating to you here, do you find them beautiful? . . . As for Me, I find them very beautiful as they are coming from a heart overflowing with love."
I admit it. I find Jesus' words beautiful.
So now that we know what Truth has to say is most beautiful, what does become of my list? (What Miss Marcel Muses, we could call it, or WMMM for short!)
Maybe Jesus is being modest. I don't think He can deny that HE is most beautiful :)
And if you asked Him straight out, I very much doubt He could deny His Mother's beauty either!
As to friendship with the Saints . . . well this is exciting. I think in my musings I've made a connection or had an insight.
But first a confession. When I initially read that nothing is more beautiful than to do the will of the one who one loves, I was a more struck by a low-grade anxiety than by its beauty. You see, I have (and I guess others might have to) a fear that the will of the One I love is going to include suffering. This is something Marcel shared with me, and it brings me tremendous comfort to read about Jesus' teasing, laughing, ever patient responses to Marcel's fear. He (Jesus) says, "I haven't even mentioned the word!" or in another place, "All I have to do is mention the word (suffering) and you are a basket case!" I'm paraphrasing, but not by much!
What I forget, and perhaps Marcel often forgot too, is that the One whom we love is Love! There is nothing scary in Love! On the contrary, as St. John tells us in his first letter in the New Testament (and he should know--He was Jesus' beloved disciple and leaned on His sacred breast at the Last Supper when Jesus poured out His love, Himself, in the fullest gift He, God, could come up with: Himself as food for us in the Eucharist)--"Perfect love casts out fear."
Marcel has helped me see, in his friendship with St. Thérèse and with Mother Mary, and especially in his friendship with Jesus, that these words that Truth speaks are true: There is nothing more beautiful than to do the will of the one who one loves. That is a kind of act of friendship, that doing. It is an act of devotion, of expression of love for the One who loves us into being and keeps us here until such time as He will take our being to Heaven to live happily forever with Him. We do not have to be afraid, or even a tiny bit anxious. The most beautiful thing is to do His will because His will is from Love, for love, in love--there is only Love!
I've been clinging to Jesus' revelation lately because I had hoped to write more frequently on this blog. But the will of the One I love has recently included laundry and grocery shopping, preparing meals (and eating them - much more fun!), and many other ordinary actions of daily life that aren't writing. Bummer! And yet . . . I have been able to read Marcel (if not write about him), and in Marcel's Conversations I find Jesus encouraging me with His trademark, "Be not afraid!" and "I love you, little one" over and over again (and delightfully, in many other words, phrases, sentences, and thoughts of His heart). As long as I am trying to do the will of the One I love, I can let go any calendar of blog post entries that I'd been semi-consciously hoping to fulfill. It is all for the love of Jesus, so what does it matter if I have to set aside my schedule for His? I have the unshakable feeling that His schedule is by far the more beautiful one!
I end this post, then, with the hope of writing another soon, but along with that hope is a conviction that whatever Jesus has me doing next will be most beautiful. Meanwhile, may I recommend to you something with which you can fill your time until we meet here again? You know a picture is worth a thousand words. I wonder if that means that a moving picture is worth a million? There's a terrific video about Marcel Van, and thanks to modern technology and the generosity of many of Marcel's friends, you can watch it for free (with English subtitles even) on your computer. My favorite part is the part about friendship with the Saints . . . well actually that comes up several times, but my very, very favorite is when the movie includes part of an interview with Marcel's "bearded Jesus," his novice master, spiritual director, confidante, and eventual translator, Fr. Boucher. The emotion with which Fr. B speaks of Marcel is overwhelmingly beautiful. Praised be God, who gives us friendship with the Saints!
The movie is called Hidden Apostle of Love, and you can get to it by clicking on these very words: Hidden Apostle of Love.
If you get a chance to watch that, and then you find you want more Marcel, you can explore the website (full of treasures) where you find the video. If you are further inspired to want yet more friendship with Marcel, I continue to highly recommend (even when I'm not writing!) his Conversations. And now I'm signing off to go and have a good friendly chat with him myself, to let him know he may be hearing from you soon!
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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. To receive new posts, enter your email and click "Subscribe" below.