Day three of the novena to saints Louis and Zelie Martin
The Virgin of the Smile at Les Buissonnets. Photo credit: Al Basil
Prepared for Sainte-Therese Parish in Metz, France. Used with the permission of Fr. Jean-Claude Lange and translated by Mary Davidson for "Saint Therese of Lisieux: A Gateway." Please join me in praying in thanksgiving for their generosity and asking God to bless both persons and the parish.
The test and the sickness
"Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden" (Matthew 11: 28)
Prayer to the Holy Spirit:
Speak, Holy Spirit, and make a fountain in my heart, whose pure and wholesome water saves the greatest sinner, heals the most incurable sinner, and forgives the most guilty to make them worthy of heaven. More needy than Mary Magdalene, Lazarus in the tomb, or the Samaritan woman, I ask you for this water that I would drink. I ask for this precious gift, knowing that the greater your gift, the more you will be glorified. Help me in my powerlessness; I am a living reed. Stop my inconstancy; I change more than the wind. Dispel my ignorance; I am a man born blind. (St. Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort).
1 Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;
the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.
2 The Lord protects and preserves them—
they are counted among the blessed in the land—
he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.
3 The Lord sustains them on their sickbed
and restores them from their bed of illness.
4 I said, “Have mercy on me, Lord;
heal me, for I have sinned against you.”
5 My enemies say of me in malice,
“When will he die and his name perish?”
6 When one of them comes to see me,
he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander;
then he goes out and spreads it around.
7 All my enemies whisper together against me;
they imagine the worst for me, saying,
8 “A vile disease has afflicted him;
he will never get up from the place where he lies.”
9 Even my close friend,
someone I trusted,
one who shared my bread,
has turned against me.
10 But may you have mercy on me, Lord;
raise me up, that I may repay them.
11 I know that you are pleased with me,
for my enemy does not triumph over me.
12 Because of my integrity you uphold me
and set me in your presence forever.
13 Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Amen and Amen.
Reflection: At Les Buissonets, the Virgin of the Smile calls us and invites us to understand that her smile is welcoming and a source of healing. In the school of St. Therese, recognize the true smile in the trial, as in sickness, and distance ourselves from selfish, negative speech that dries up hope: “Why is this happening to me?” Until the end of her life, Zelie Martin endured this trial. It led her to the feet of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes beyond disease and suffering. She practiced hope above all. At Lisieux, Louis Martin put down his cross on the stone altar as a sacrifice of love. The couple chose to stand at the foot of the cross as faithful and compassionate children because they knew, faithful to the school of St. Bernadette, that they would be happy not in this world, but in the next. In our turn, we must understand that our whole life, whatever trials compose it, can be and must become an offering. But how can we find this passage from darkness to light? Listen to St. Peter Chrysologus: "Offer your life to God; the offering of fasting is a pure offering, a holy sacrifice, a living victim who intercedes on your behalf and that is given to God. Those who do not give God their lives will have no excuse, because we always have ourselves to offer. But those who offer their lives will receive mercy. Fasting bears no fruit unless it is watered by mercy. What you do not give to others, you will not receive." Trials, family problems, illness, professional disappointments--these await us and threaten us regularly. When a catastrophe shakes our lives and our surroundings, everything may seem disproportionate and unfair. But whatever happens, let us remain in the just judgment, the right state of soul. Always have an attitude of listening to the other. Let us keep intact our ability to give, to offer, even if God seems to take back what God seemed to give in a mysterious relationship of the heart. The offering of ourselves should be our ideal for life, supported by Charity, the great theological virtue. Louis and Zelie Martin gave everything. They offered everything without reservation, and sowed in the hope of reaping their harvest in the heavenly kingdom. Are we able to sow and harvest, to wait with patience and with humility? Agree to remain as a little child in the hand of the Father. Are you not already accepting His blessing?
Louis and Zelie Martin teach us an understanding of love from within our trials and illnesses.
Saints Louis and Zelie, intercede for us so that, in our true offering, we may become carriers of water to cleanse the wounds of Him who gave everything for love.
Daily Prayer: Our Father; Hail Mary; Our Father.
"Prayer to Saints Louis and Zelie Martin
Saints Louis and Zélie Martin,
after having had the desire for religious life,
you heard the Lord's call to the vocation of marriage.
You are the "parents without equal"
of whom your daughter Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus speaks;
the fortunate parents of Léonie,
the Servant of God, Sister Françoise-Thérèse;
of Marie, Pauline, and Céline,
transplanted to Mount Carmel;
and of the four children
taken from your affection in their youth:
Hélène, Joseph, Jean-Baptiste, and Mélanie-Thérèse.
You gave all glory to God
through your humble and patient work,
your commitment to the poor,
and your family life,
where reigned the happiness
of loving and being loved.
You lived your daily life concretely
through the joys and sorrows of your existence.
You love us as your own children,
with the heart of a father and the heart of a mother,
because you are the friends of God.
Listen to our prayer and our request
(state the request . . . )
and intercede for us with God the Father,
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
in the grace of the Holy Spirit.
This prayer is courtesy of the Shrine of Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin in Alencon.
Prayer that was recited before the canonization:
God Our Father,
I thank you for Louis and Zelie Martin,
a couple united in faith, giving the witness of an exemplary Christian life
through the exercise of the duty of their state in life
and the practice of the evangelical virtues.
In the education of a large family,
through trials, mourning, and suffering,
they generously expressed their trust in You
and their submission to Your will.
Deign to grant, O Lord, the graces that I seek,
in the hope that the father and mother of St. Therese of the Child Jesus
will one day be proposed as models for today's families for the entire Church. Amen.”