The family of Louis and Zelie – Letter #21
January 13, 2019
“My father is content and happy to see that he is loved and wanted in your home…” Zelie to her brother Isidore, December 23, 1866, C.F. 20
“To be loved and wanted”
“To be loved and wanted”: This is one of the greatest joys we can experience on this earth. It is the opposite of what the Gospel tells us happened on Christmas night: “Jesus was born in a manger because there was no guest room available for them” (Luke 2).
“To be loved and wanted”: Shall we not be aware and consider that He leaves us peace? This inner peace should not be confused with the happiness of living, of living a life that is oriented, that has a meaning, a goal. A life in the sense of the beautiful invocation of Jesus: “Peace be with you.” The peace that a multitude of angels sang about in Bethlehem that night: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
In her letter, Zélie also explains that her father is kindly welcomed through the attention each generation of the family gives him. Louis, Mr. Guérin’s son-in-law, “lends himself to this arrangement (to do everything for a proper welcome) and one would not find one in a hundred who is as good as he is with his father-in-law,” says Zélie. She also states that her daughters and children must adapt to “some of their grandfather’s quirky habits.”
Immediately after Christmas, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. May this feast be, for each of us, a revelation of what it means: “To be loved and wanted.”
Let us continue with a reflection from Saint Augustine
The Office of the Readings from December 24 contains a Christmas sermon from Saint Augustine entitled, “Awake.” Augustine begins by saying: “Awake, mankind! For your sake, God has become man. Awake, you who sleep, rise up from the dead, and Christ will enlighten you. I tell you again: for your sake, God became man.” He goes on to finish with these words: “For what greater grace could God have made to dawn on us than to make his only Son become the son of man, so that a son of man might in his turn become son of God?”
We become, in a certain way, more sons of God by our concrete adherence to His plan, a plan in which God enjoins peace and love to reign on earth: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1: 14). In this sense, when we give people attention and allow everyone to feel “loved and wanted,” we build the foundation of the Kingdom right here and now. This applies to all stages of life, from beginning to end. The correspondence of the Martin family gives us numerous examples of a life filled with the desire to make everyone feel “loved and wanted.” Zélie’s words edify and elevate us because they show us how to love. In the Martin family, there was integration between faith, daily life, worship of God, and service to neighbor. Louis and Zelie taught us how to pour ourselves out and forget ourselves in love of others. What a beautiful way to live!
To go further and put into practice
The challenge Zelie faces in a single phrase is “intergenerational solidarity.”
There is no shortage of families today with multiple generations living side-by-side. People in their sixties experiences this tension especially. Many new retirees have to look after parents in their old age, with physical dependencies that often go hand-in-hand with an increase in loneliness. On the other end, the younger generation also needs their care as they face their own challenges (academically, professionally, emotionally, etc.).
1) Let us take the time to sit in the presence of the Source of all Love and feel loved and wanted by Him.
2) Ask Him to fill us with the Spirit of Love and daring that gives the proper actions and words… for all those we meet…
What we do will then become a beautiful prayer that we can offer to the Lord. This mirrors what the priest says during each Eucharistic celebration: “This bread we offer you is fruit of the earth and work of human hands.” Let us, therefore, offer to God what we are able to produce: the bread of our love and attention.
Guy Fournier, Deacon
Administrator of the Shrine of Alençon
The sanctuary team is counting on your missionary spirit in distributing this letter.
Let us pray with Psalm 85
Show us, Lord, your mercy; grant us your salvation.
I will listen for what God, the Lord, has to say; surely, he will speak of peace. To his people and to his faithful. May they not turn to foolishness!
Near indeed is his salvation for those who fear him; glory will dwell in our land.
Love and truth will meet; justice and peace will kiss.
Truth will spring from the earth; justice will look down from heaven.
Yes, the Lord will grant his bounty; our land will yield its produce.
Justice will march before him and make a way for his footsteps.