The family of Louis and Zelie – Letter #27
July 13, 2019
“You tell me, my dear sister, that you found your trip to Alençon delightful. I’m very flattered because you didn’t find it delightful because of the entertainment I provided, but because of the deep friendship we feel for each other that made us enjoy the time we spent together.” Zélie to her dear sister-in-law, Mme Guérin, September 13, 1874, CF 122
Enjoy the Time We Spend Together
Zélie raises the question of how we rank the choices in our life: the distractions we pursue and the relationships we cultiviate.
It is an important, if not vital, question particularly in our western world. Today we frequently succumb to a consumerist worldview, in other words, the belief that our happiness is proportional to the amount and variety of goods we consume. The purpose of advertising is to incite us to desire things and to convice us that we will be happier if we have them. In short, we are constantly called upon to consume more and more.
Zelie’s speech to her sister-in-law is not, for us, an invitation to return to the 1870s. Rather it is a beautiful message to ask us to consider the question afresh: « what brings happiness to our lives? »
In the minds of the Martin family, there are certain renunciations of the enjoyment of property that their fortune could have allowed them, which some people today call, as does Pope Francis, « a happy frugality. »
Let us continue our reflection
The choice of sobriety reminds us that the satiety of our time does not concern everyone, far from it. This choice leads naturally to sharing. « Sobriety, when lived freely and consciously, is liberating. It is not a lesser life or one lived with less intensity. On the contrary, it is a way of living life to the full. Happiness means knowing how to limit some needs which only diminish us, and being open to the many different possibilities which life can offer. » (Pope Francis, Laudato Si, No. 223)
To go further and put into practice
Enjoy the Time We Spend Together
What is most important to me: relationships or consumerism?
- In my relationship with God
«I feel the need for a little quiet reflection to think about my salvation, which the troubles of this world make me neglect.» Zélie, CF. 172
And me…during the summer holiday, what is my relationship with God?
- In my relationship to people
«I’m only happy when I’m with you, my dear Louis.» Zélie, CF. 179
What place do relationships have in my life? How much attention do I give to « living together » with those closest to me (spouse, children, parents, friends, co-workers)?
- In my relationship to fashion
«However, I don’t want to escalate this; all of that is a veritable slavery, and one is truly a slave to fashion!» Zélie, CF. 151
Am I free in respect to fashion?
- In my relationship to money
«Poor Madame X! Despite all her millions, I know she’s not happy.» Zélie, CF. 172
How do I take stock of my use of money?
Let us pray with Pope Francis in Laudato si
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures. You embrace with your tenderness all that exists. Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction. Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light. We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace.
Guy Fournier, Deacon
Administrator of the Shrine of Louis et Zélie in Alençon
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