The family of Louis and Zelie – Letter #37
May 13, 2020
Quarantine, end of quarantine, these are words which have suddenly come out of disuse and dominate our conversations. At a time when the second term seems to prevail over the first, two ends of quarantine come to my mind.
End of quarantine
The first example was experienced in the Martin family home the same year Thérèse was born. Marie, the eldest of the family, was “kept in quarantine” because of a particularly deadly typhoid fever that had been found in some neighboring county. This prevented Pauline, her sister boarding at Le Mans, from returning to the family for several months.
On May 14, 1873, Saint Zélie wrote to her: “So we still have two weeks to wait. It’s quite a long time, and we all want to see you very much. As for me, I can’t stand it anymore; I have to give you a kiss no matter what.” (CF 101)
This overflowing of tenderness comes from a mother to her daughter whose return she wishes to share with others, inviting in particular her family at Lisieux to celebrate this moment of reunion: “Pauline, who didn’t have an Easter vacation, will arrive Saturday evening to spend a week with us. […] If it’s possible for you to come spend this time with us […] I’d be so happy!” (CF 103)
Her testimony awakens us to a happiness that we can experience too after eight weeks of confinement (quarantine). We care about one other; we are becoming more aware of it. It’s time to share it: Let’s dare tenderness.
The other memory of deconfinement (an end to quarantine) is of another order: the founding of the early Church.
The current liturgical calendar gives its relevance. Between Easter and Pentecost, the early Church went from being locked up in fear and discouragement to being confident and daring – fired by the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
The Acts of the Apostles tell us: the Virgin Mary is there in the cenacle and participates in prayer. She who has allowed herself to be filled with the Holy Spirit intercedes for the Church so that she may allow herself to be inhabited in turn by Christ and sent by the Spirit.
This deconfinement (end to quarantine) gives all its meaning to the month of May which is aptly called the “month of Mary.”
We wrote last month: “While 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.”
One of you expressed it in a prayer that he entrusted recently to the sanctuary and that we can make our own: “May the Lord put an end to this pandemic and put in the hearts of men, kindness, compassion, solidarity, an understanding how they should behave from now on toward others and toward our planet.”
We sense that the months ahead will be difficult – especially if we must further adjust our lives. So, with the Virgin Mary, let us invoke the Holy Spirit to send us strength from above so that we can courageously meet these challenges.
Listening to the Word of God
From the Gospel according to Saint Luke (Lk 12, 54-5)
“He also said to the crowds, “When you see [a] cloud rising in the west you say immediately that it is going to rain—and so it does; You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time? Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?”
Paths for our meditation and prayer, personal or with others
- Let these words of Jesus Christ resonate in our hearts.
- Let us not hesitate to take from these two months of quarantine a beautiful thing we have seen or experienced and another that has challenged us. Let us share our victories and struggles with those closest to us.
- What concrete practices/changes do we feel called to implement?
To nurture our personal or common prayer
Let us invoke the Holy Spirit and / or the Virgin Mary, by choosing a prayer or a song that we like.
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