The family of Louis and Zelie – Letter #36
April 13, 2020
“Let us do our best and leave the rest to Providence. The Abbé de Rancé was right: it is in vain that the raging sea foams and roars, that the waves dash and howl, that the vessel is tossed about; if the breath of Providence swells its sails it cannot be wrecked, and nothing will prevent it from reaching the harbor.” (Quote from an unknown author taken from the hand of Louis Martin and displayed on the wall of the belvedere des Buissonnets)
“When I think of what God, in whom I’ve put all my trust and in whose hands I’ve put the care of my whole life, has done for me and my husband, I don’t doubt that His Divine Providence watches over His children with special care.” (CF 1 from Zélie to her brother Isidore, January 1, 1863)
When the Easter Bells Ring
Here it is that yesterday, Sunday, April 12, the distant bells announced the Resurrection of Christ. How can we not remember the way in which they rang on March 25 to unite us in common prayer as proposed by the bishops of France while the Coronavirus began to spread in our country. Two days later, the same occurred at St. Peter’s Square in Rome, when Pope Francis invited us to world-wide prayer in asking God for deliverance from this pandemic. And then, by the Eucharistic blessing, he conferred on those who wanted a plenary indulgence.
In his meditation on the account of the calming of the storm (Mk 4, 35-41), he described our situation: “We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other.”
He analyzed the evil from which our contemporary world suffers: “Greedy for profit, […] we did not stop at your reproach to us, we were not shaken awake by wars or injustice across the world, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet.”
He specified that this event calls us to a double conversion:
- “redirect the road of your life towards the Lord and towards others.”
- And take a new look “at ordinary people, often forgotten […] – but who without any doubt are in these very days writing the decisive events of our time: doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaners, caregivers, providers of transport, law and order forces, volunteers, priests, religious men and women and so very many others who have understood that no one reaches salvation by themselves.”
And he ended with words of encouragement – calling us to the kind of confidence epitomized by Saints Louis and Zélie which I quoted at the beginning of this letter, “because this is God’s strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies.”
As the Easter season begins for us and life, we hope, will return to a more “normal” course in the coming weeks, there is a great risk of our resuming life as usual without learning the lessons of this crisis and all that it has revealed about ourselves and our societies. Let us not forget the words we have heard, those that the Pope shared with us or those we received during these weeks of quarantine. And in this Easter season as we journey to Pentecost, let us invoke the Holy Spirit so that we receive strength from God that alone can bring about the necessary transformations in our lives.
Listening to the Word of God
From the Letter to the Romans, Chapter 8, 31-39
If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who acquits us. Who will condemn? It is Christ [Jesus] who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written: “For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paths for our meditation and prayer, personal or with others
- Let these words of the apostle Paul resonate in our hearts.
- What do we notice from the events we are experiencing? What concrete calls for change in our life have we experienced? How do we plan to implement these changes?
- When in our life and in that of the world the headwinds arise, on what, on whom does our confidence rest?
To nurture our personal or common prayer, let us invoke the Virgin Mary
If the squalls of temptations arise,
If you fall upon the rocks of tribulation,
If the waves of ambition carry you away,
If the storm of passions is unleashed
Look to the star, call on Mary,
If you follow her, there is nothing to fear.
Look to the star, call on Mary,
She leads you on the way.
When anguish and perils cause you to doubt,
When the night of despair overwhelms you,
If troubled by the enormity of your faults,
The thought of Judgment terrifies you:
If your soul is overcome with anger,
Jealousy and betrayal overwhelms
you If your heart is engulfed by the abyss,
Carried away by currents of sadness
She rises on the sea, she lights up
Its radiance and its rays illuminate
Its light shines on Earth
Into the heavens and to the bottom of the abyss
If you follow her, you won’t deviate
If you pray, you won’t lose heart
You fear nothing when she is with you
And she will guide you until you arrive at the harbor
You can count on the prayers of the sanctuary of Louis and Zélie in Alençon.
Fr. Thierry Hénault-Morel
Rector of the Shrine of Louis et Zélie in Alençon