The family of Louis and Zelie – Letter #29
September 13, 2019
Keeping the Course
“As long as I reach Heaven with my dear Louis and see them all there far better placed than I, I will be happy enough like this.” Zélie to her brother, Isidore, December 23, 1866, CF 20
If time of arrival rhymes with time of making plans (in French), this is then the perspective of Zélie Martin who sets a course for unhindered happiness. Zélie makes this wish to arrive in Paradise, whereas in the preceding lines of this long letter (N ° 20), she reviews with total realism the very diverse events of her everyday life, (her husband Louis who in his goodness lends himself admirably to the reception of his father-in-law who has all the obsessions of an old man … the cursed Point d’Alençon lace which puts the finishing touch to all Zélie’s misfortunes as a business owner and mother … envying the happiness of her sister, a religious with a calm life, a woman with a head turned upward toward heaven while she (Zélie) is bent towards the ground, troubling herself to amass gold that she knows will be taken away …). In other words, Zélie keeps the course in joy as in adversity. Across the entire spectrum of life. She invites us to go beyond our own limitations, which sometimes makes us consider we have a « bad life » due to our circumstances.
Let us continue our reflection with Vatican II and Saint Paul
“The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a community composed of men. United in Christ, they are led by the Holy Spirit in their journey to the Kingdom of their Father and they have welcomed the news of salvation which is meant for every man. That is why this community realizes that it is truly linked with mankind and its history by the deepest of bonds.”
This introduction to the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et spes, invites us to keep the course in the diversity of human events by preserving our bonds with those around us.
For his part, St. Paul expresses it differently: “Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly; do not be wise in your own estimation.” (Romans 12: 14-16)
To go further and put into practice
Staying the course: Yes, but how?
- Let us consider what generates “bad living” in our own daily circumstances. Let us identify this so as to better stay the course, that of hope.
- What do the words of Jesus mean to us: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Zélie made these words real in her own life. Is this true for us?
- Hoping to see all her loved ones better placed, Zélie is decentering herself because she is concerned instead about a shared happiness. In the same way, in his apostolic exhortation, “Christus Vivit,” Pope Francis invites us to be de-centered and he warns against the threat “of lamentation, of resignation” (No. 141), and further on he speaks of “all our youthful energy, dreams and enthusiasm” weakened “because we are tempted to dwell on ourselves and our problems, our hurt feelings and our grievances” (No. 166).
On what occasions can we give ourselves to others?
Let us pray with the words from the song, “Pursue Hope”
Place Hope on every page of your life
Open your eyes,
Sing Hope in the middle of the night, at midday,
unfolding before you a magnificent life!
1. Do not sit back and watch time pass you by
When she invites you to imagine, Hope!
You have in your head a lot of ideas just waiting to emerge,
She will help you in all your projects, Hope!
2. Do not cast your eyes down to see only the tip of your nose,
When she tells you to look more closely, hope!
So take the time to stop, to listen and to observe,
She will teach you to marvel, Hope!
Guy Fournier, Deacon
Administrator of the Shrine of Louis et Zélie in Alençon
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