The family of Louis and Zelie – Letter #25
May 13, 2019
Peace to this house
“My husband had the house arranged exactly as I like it.” Zélie, July 30, 1871, CF 68
These words of Zélie refer to Alençon, the house where the Martin family resided from 1871 until Zélie’s death in 1877. They resonate particularly at this moment when the sanctuary opens its Louis and Zélie guesthouse. A guesthouse is a place for people to rest; it is also a place that has a soul. It allows everyone « to make themselves at home. » We sometimes say, especially in some places: « I feel good here. » In other words, « I like it. »
On the other hand, we hear the Lord say to his disciples, « Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him […]: the kingdom of God is at hand. » Luke 10:6-11
The goal of every pilgrim is to seek peace and above all the Kingdom of God. As we welcome summer and the season of travel, may the guesthouse of Louis and Zélie become a place that emanates peace and advances the Kingdom of God. It is our desire and prayer that it be this way.
Let’s continue thinking about what a house means
“Here is Marie who dreams of going to live in a beautiful house on the rue de la Demi-Lune across from the Monastery of the Poor Clares. Yesterday she talked about this all evening and you would have thought it was Heaven! Unfortunately, her desires cannot be fulfilled. We must stay where we are, though not for all of her life. But as for me, I’m only going to leave when I die.
Your sister, though so unworldly, is never happy where she is. She aspires to something better; she would need very large and well-furnished rooms. She couldn’t get over her surprise in seeing the wet nurse’s little daughter involuntarily letting out a cry of admiration while entering her bedroom on Thursday, and remaining frozen in the doorway, while saying, “Ah! It’s beautiful!”
The poor little one believes that there’s nothing more beautiful, but Marie knows the opposite from her companions at the boarding school and dreams of something else. When she has something else, perhaps she’ll feel even greater the need for more. As for me, I imagine that if I were in a magnificent chateau, surrounded by everything one could wish for on earth, the emptiness would be bigger than if I were alone, in a little attic room, forgetting the world and being forgotten.”
Family correspondence, Zelie to her daughter, Pauline, January 1876, CF 150
To go further and put into practice
A few sentences from the blessing ritual of a house invite us to reflect: are the places in which we dwell a « domestic church » that radiate the love of God?
« Blessed are you, the Resurrected Lord Jesus, who after Easter visited the house of Emmaus with two of your disciples. We implore you: enter and stay in our house, show your presence to those who live here. Lord, hear our prayer.
Blessed are you, Holy Spirit, you who are everywhere present and who make us your dwelling place. We pray: transform in love those who live under this roof and those who will be welcomed here. Lord, hear our prayer. «
Let us pray: asking for peace in our homes
Lord, you who make peace a gift of God for men, grant our family this peace without which there is no justice, love, or forgiveness.
Turn us aside from all malice and vengeance. Teach us to listen to one other.
May our homes be a haven of tranquility amidst the tensions of this world.
In the image of your Church, let Christ – the Prince of Peace – be the source and the meaning of our lives so that He reigns over our family.
Teach us, Lord, to be masters of ourselves so as not to impose on others our fatigue and bad moods.
Give each of us an understanding heart, a listening ear, a helpful hand.
By diffusing conflict, let peace always have the final word.
May everyone who comes into our family experience the peace that comes from you.
Let us remember always the importance of praying for peace without which there is no future or possibility of friendship between men.
We pray especially for our children that, by the example of our familial unity and spirit of forgiveness, they may experience a peace that will make them trustworthy and dependable witnesses. Amen.
Guy Fournier, Deacon
Administrator of the Shrine of Alençon
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