Friday, Nov 13
St. Zelie Martin practiced virtue heroically, moving me to tears as I read the little book about her life written by her daughter Celine. All at once I was in awe and envious of this mother of The Little Flower. How? How could someone be so holy? Especially someone who endured such heartache and suffering! I really was a little bit irritated by Zelie after I read her daughter’s account of her saintly life. I mean, really. How is it possible for someone to be so focused on the sanctity of their children? What was it that gave her such a spirit of detachment from the things of this world?
In the event that you haven’t read this beautiful little book, allow me to share a few quotes taken from the many letters Zelie wrote to various family members…
Anybody else tearing up? I am. Again. Okay, so I know she wrote this in a letter. And I realize that she was not the Blessed Mother, a sinner like the rest of us, writing a letter perhaps at one of those moments when she was feeling particularly warm and fuzzy about her children. Nonetheless, it makes me uncomfortable about my own attitude toward motherhood to read this. It causes me to reflect on just how grateful I am for the gift from God that my children are.
How about this morning offering she taught her children to pray each day?
It’s no wonder her daughters were so pious! What a beautiful prayer. It sheds a lot of light on the holiness and spirituality of the Little Flower, doesn’t it? It makes me think of all the opportunities that we have in the course of a day to teach our children to offer their work, their pains, their sorrows, their joys, for the sanctification of their own souls and for the souls in Purgatory.
So detached. Abandonment to Divine Providence anyone? The faith of this woman is truly astounding. I have a difficult time when I don’t get my way, you know for something inconsequential, like a bigger clothing budget. Here is Zelie, who had been praying to Our Lady and even making a pilgrimage while painfully ill with breast cancer to Lourdes, and she has resigned herself to the Will of God. If He wants her, then He must take her, a young mother with five daughters and a family business to run!
It was a difficult read for me, this book about the mother of the Little Flower. I immediately felt more discouraged than encouraged and I realized that was because of my pride. How many times I’ve been impatient, uncharitable, frustrated, ungrateful! How many missed opportunities to lead my children closer to heaven. So many unsaintly moments. Thank goodness for a good cry, some healthy catholic guilt, the Sacrament of Confession, and God’s mercy!
St. Zelie, thank you. Thank you for your example of true charity in your vocation to the married life and motherhood. Please, please pray for us! May we follow your example, along with that of the Blessed Mother, to become the saintly mothers we are called to be! Intercede for us that we may be humble instruments of God’s love to His children.