The family of Louis and Zelie – Letter #44
December 13, 2020
« I cannot fear a God who made himself very small for me… I love him! For there is nothing in Him but love and mercy. » From Thérèse to Abbé Bellière (LT 266)
“A little child! Ah! How can you not be attracted to the good Lord who is made so low! Such a lovable little child!” From Louis Martin to his daughter, Sister Agnès (Céline Martin, My Saintly Parents: Louis and Zélie Martin. Le Cerf, Paris: 2016, p. 29)
In these days before Christmas…
In these days before Christmas, how can we not meditate on these words spoken by friends of God?
The words of Thérèse in calligraphy on an image, the last that she painted and that she intended for Father Bellière, “as an inheritance.”
And the words of Louis, her father, that he addressed one Christmas day to Sister Agnès in the parlor of her convent in Carmel.
These words were spoken by both at the end of their lives, as if they wanted to convey something essential about the Lord and his mystery – a message that in some ways echoes what Pope Francis wrote in his apostolic letter given from the Hermitage of Greccio Sanctuary (the birthplace of the Christmas nativity scene) on December 1, 2019:
God appears as a child, for us to take into our arms. Beneath weakness and frailty, he conceals his power that creates and transforms all things. It seems impossible, yet it is true: in Jesus, God was a child, and in this way he wished to reveal the greatness of his love: by smiling and opening his arms to all.”
If, at first, this discovery of a God who makes himself so small for us invites us to reconcile ourselves with our own smallness – the way of the spiritual simplicity and childlikeness of Thérèse finds its origins here – the fact remains that this abasement of God can only be explained by His love which leads Him to join us. This abasement certainly calls for a response of love on our part: “love is only paid for with love.” And it is the quality of this response that is the strength of Thérèse’s testimony, her extreme desire to love and to prove it. To those who would be tempted to forget such a necessity, Thérèse declared on August 8, 1897: “Many souls say ‘I do not have the strength to make such and such a sacrifice’ but let them make efforts! The good Lord never refuses the first grace which gives the courage to act.”
We are called then not to rely merely on words when it comes to loving.
Such is true with the Lord:
Living on Love is giving without limit
Without claiming any wages here below.
Ah! I give without counting, truly sure
That when one loves, one does not keep count!
Overflowing with tenderness, I have given everything,
To his Divine Heart… lightly I run.
I have nothing left but my only wealth:
Living on Love.
Such is true with others:
Living on Love is sailing unceasingly,
Sowing peace and joy in every heart.
Beloved Pilot, Charity impels me,
For I see you in my sister souls.
Charity is my only star.
In its brightness I sail straight ahead.
I’ve my motto written on my sail:
I live on love!
(extracts from the Poetry of Thérèse)
Paths for our meditation and prayer, personal or with others:
– Advent 2020 is already well underway. In the midst of a pandemic that we are experiencing in almost all the countries of the world, when so many of us are fatigued, anxious for the future, and also filled with a healthy questioning, how have we focused on Advent?
– What goals have we set for ourselves? And what place do we leave for the Lord and his arrival? What gift do we ask of Him for Christmas?!
For our personal and communal prayer:
For example, let us meditate on the astonishing reality of Christ being made in human likeness (Philippians 2, 6-11) and let us not hesitate to listen to the song: “Living on Love,” beautifully set to music by various composers.
« Make your own the mind of Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped. But he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming as human beings are; and being in every way like a human being, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross. And for this God raised him high, and gave him the name which is above all other names; so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father. »