Catechisms Cannot Teach Your Children to Love God

All parents have the primary responsibility to educate their children. This is a duty that parents cannot in good conscience shirk off or place on others. They are obliged to find a good school for their children or educate them at home. For Catholics the duty of education especially includes teaching their children the precepts of the Catholic faith and showing them how to live as faithful Christians. But religious education from a textbook, as it has been traditionally done, has a danger of becoming either completely shallow and soppy, or at the other extreme of becoming entirely cerebral. A true religious education is that of the whole person — the heart, mind, soul, strength, and even the body — but primarily the heart.

Yet, how does one go about educating their children in the faith?

The easy answer is to send them to a Catholic school where they will have religion or catechism class, sign them up for CCD if they go to a non-Catholic school, or teach them their catechism at home from a curriculum. These days there are a wide variety of books for educating our children in faith.

Still, studies show that young Catholics are leaving the Church as teenagers. A diocese I worked for had a problem of families coming to Mass only on the Sundays when their religious education program required it for their children to receive the sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation. And the one hour per week that catechists spent with the children was spent reading a religious text that neither delved into actually explaining the faith nor taught them how to talk to God in prayer. Everything was superficial. My husband, who teaches philosophy at a university in the Catholic tradition, has had students who were raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools, but who never learned that one could use reason to come to the knowledge of God’s existence. Sadly, this poor state of catechesis is one that the Church has been striving to remedy for decades.

As a parent who is raising children in the Catholic faith and as one raised in a family where all four children are devout, practicing Catholics as adults, I hold that learning one’s catechism from a book or going through an unsystematic, light religious textbook is not enough. My experience in home schooling shows me that children need more.

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register.

Women and Men are Equal in Nature and in Grace

There has been a lot of discussion in the online world of “Catholic Twitter,” podcasts, and in the blogosphere about men and women — their complementarity, whether or not they are equal, and how they are different. Podcaster Timothy Gordon stated on The Matt Fradd Show that the Church has taught against married women working, and he said that the New Testament and natural law point to the idea that “men and women are utterly unequal,” though equal in dignity. He did not, however, go on to explain how they are “utterly unequal,” except to state that men are “bigger, stronger” and have a “different forebrain.” He holds that natural law proves, and Christian tradition supports, that a husband is the boss of his wife. Yet, the only argument he gave for this is that in all of human history this has been the case, and only since the feminist movements has the trend of men having authority over women and of men being seen as higher than women been questioned.

The problem with these statements about the inequality of men and women is that they overlook that, since they are human beings, members of the same species, men and women have all of the same powers. Thus, one cannot say that they are “utterly unequal.”

Women and men are first of all rational animals, human beings, made in the image of God. All humans have an intellectual power to reason, learn, understand and know God. Both men and women have wills where they can freely choose good or evil. They have passions and appetites that influence these choices and must be ruled over by reason. These abilities to do things are called their powers. Men and women have the power to love God, love others, see, speak, eat, walk, have conversations, make plans, teach others, use and create tools, and so many other things. They are the same in all of these things.

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register.

Life These Days

Somehow we have hit a rhythm that is working this semester. Maybe it is working for me because I get to sleep until my Lyme diseased body is ready to wake up, and the professor is doing the work of getting the children up for the day. But I think that perhaps he is okay with things as well, especially since we put our feet down earlier this year and made all the children ages 5 and up responsible for getting themselves ready and fed in the morning.

I have been waking up around 8 am most days to the sound of my children laughing and playing outside my door. By the time I am dressed and out of my room, the school aged children are hard at work at the dining room table, and the professor is working beside them. His sabbatical has become a semester of studious contemplation for us all. Once I am able to manage the school and teach the subjects that need teaching (about half of their work is independent requiring very little one on one instruction), the professor disappears to do his work away from the chaos of four children.

I guide the children through school until lunchtime at 12:30pm. We have fourth grader, second grader, kindergartner, and a three year old bundle of energy this year. Mostly the younger two entertain themselves with continual reminders to play somewhere else when they intrude upon school space. I do make time to work on math, reading, and handwriting with my kindergartner, and my preschooler is gleaning all sorts of things like counting, colors, playing blocks, building duplos, coloring, from his older sister.

We have found our rhythm in the elementary school level as well. I am used to our curriculum for each subject now (though fourth grade singapore math is getting intimidating–I can’t remember at what grade level I learned the order of operations…but we just covered it!), so teaching is going smoothly.

Lunchtime has become super easy as well since we instituted the “make your own lunch” rule. To clarify, we have guidelines about this for them–they choose from a small variety of healthy options. The older children then move the dishwasher along after lunch while listening to a fairy story from the Andrew Lang Fairy Books (which we learned recently were actually compiled by his wife and some of her friends!).

After lunch is nap time for the three year old and quiet time for the rest of us. The girls and I start of each quiet time with a short prayer time where I read the daily Mass readings to them and then we reflect quietly (or look through saint books or children’s Bibles) for ten minutes. They go off to their quiet time spots for an hour and I settled into reading theology for about an hour (trying to get through St. Gregory the Great’s Morals on the Book of Job before Christmas), and then whatever writing or editing work I need to do for that day.

We have streamlined dinner meals to be shorter an easier these last few years, so I can usually get away with working until 4:30 or so before I cook dinner (which I have been able to do these past two weeks…this Lyme will be beaten!).

At dinner we will often have a discussion topic. We cover one painting and one work of music a week. Lately, we have been reading through the Constitution and discussing it. About once a week we watch Ken Burn’s National Park’s documentary with dinner, and that sparks discussion as well–our kids are turning into environmentalists! Sometimes we will discuss a question from St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae. Then the professor reads to us from the Bible–a chapter of the Old Testament and a chapter of the New Testament in order. We have been doing this for over three years and it is so great to hear it, and for the children to learn salvation history in a family setting.

After dinner, I take my crazy amount of meds (had a morning dose as well), and help the professor clean the kitchen.

We get the kids to bed in a leisurely way with family prayers, stories, and lots of “last drinks” and visits to the bathroom. The professor reads to the older kids from a chapter book. They just finished Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, and are reading The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle. It is the second time through for King Arthur, but the younger kids do not remember it.

Once everyone is in bed, the professor and I have been indulging in Star Trek: Enterprise. We were both into Star Trek in high school, gave it up in college, and tapped back into it our first years of marriage. This series is new to us, and has been a good way to enjoy the evening quiet while I have been sick. We usually have time for reading as well. I just finished Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray, and am now plowing through my second reading of Framely Parsonage by Anthony Trollope.

So, despite the annoyance of being sick since we got back from our wonderful trip Out West, I am finding a peaceful enjoyment in the studiousness of our life these days. I think it is good for the kids and for us to spend our days in study, even if my two afternoon hours does not seem like that much, it does wonders for me. This is the home school life I dreamed of, and I wish the professor’s sabbatical would last forever…and maybe we could avoid all the extra curricular activities that have not yet started…

NCRegister: Chastity, for Each and All, is Central to the Life of Holiness

I know I am not alone in my sorrow over the reports of sexual immorality among the clergy of the Church from the scandals of abusive priests of the early 2000s to the more recent revelations of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s notorious predatory behavior, the letter of the Honduran seminarians about homosexual activity in their seminary, the stifled report of priestly abuse in Pennsylvania, and so on. The actions of abuse of children and clergy using their power to intimidate those below them into sinful actions and to covering up immoral acts are sins that cry out to heaven for justice.
The words of Jeremiah to the unfaithful Israelites in the readings recently ring true to us today:

Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will let you dwell in this place. Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ […] ‘Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Ba’al, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’ — only to go on doing all these abominations? Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, says the LORD. (Jeremiah 7: 3-4, 8-11)

Clergy and lay people in the Church have covered up these sins for too long. One of the many things that need to be improved is the understanding of the virtue of chastity as central to a life of holiness. I think it is not too much to expect that ordained clergy actively seek holiness, and along with holiness comes the formation of all the virtues. We are all called to live chastity; but it looks different in different states in life.

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register…

Always Carrying About in the Body the Dying of Jesus

Two weeks ago I hobbled into my functional medicine practitioner’s office on crutches to discuss my gut healing that we had been working on. I left the office with a probable diagnosis of Lyme disease. The symptoms started the Sunday eight days previous before I even noticed a bite—my legs seized up at dinner several hours after walking slightly off a trail at near the Mississippi River. In the week that followed I had neck stiffness, leg swelling, headaches, blurred vision. It was not until midweek that I noticed large raised bug bite on my ankle. It did not hurt at all, nor look funny, but my ankle joint pain was getting worse.
I woke up in the middle of the night early Friday morning with shooting leg pain, and spent a half an hour Googling symptoms. I could not figure it out. By the next evening I could not walk around the house without help. I decided to go into urgent care on Saturday—because clearly I was injured. At urgent care I got an x-ray and a few blood draws, but their best explanation was a sprain or bursitis, though I had not had an injuring event. So, when I went to my appointment on Monday, it all came together.

I had always been terrified of someone in our family getting Lyme—I knew it was bad—and now we are living it.

The first week of treatment had me just getting worse—as the bacteria started to die off, they released toxins into my body, which increased my symptoms. I could not even get up to go to the bathroom without extreme leg pain, which then led to my legs throbbing for almost an hour after I made it back to the bed or couch. But I had to drink fluids to promote healing, which would lead to another painful hour of recovering from getting up.

The professor took care, still is taking care, of all my needs. He makes me breakfast in bed, lunch on the couch, dinner on the couch. He helps me pick out clothes. He helps me run the bath and shower since I do not have the strength to stand in the shower. He brings me my medicines and fluids. He takes care of all the kids needs. He preps the dinners and washes all the dishes. And I can’t do a thing to help him, because I am too sick and too tired.

A sweet friend arranged a meal delivery sign-up as soon as she heard of my illness, and we have been supported by so many meals all accommodating my extreme dietary restrictions. THANK YOU FRIENDS! You are the best!

Last Friday, our pastor came over and I received three Sacraments: Holy Eucharist, Penance, and the Anointing of the Sick. It was so beautiful to experience a Sacrament specifically praying for my bodily health—my health so that I can serve the Church again. As Father left, he said that he felt that my whole motherhood was under attack because of the way I have been limited from doing my normal tasks of motherhood for my children and for my family. Which is true.

But all along as I have not been able to walk and have been in pain, I have been thinking about how an illness in one part of the body affects the whole body. I have been praying for the whole Body of Christ throughout my suffering, because our Catholic Church so needs it.

But while we are afflicted in every way, we will not be destroyed, because Jesus rose.


This summer since we got home has been a ridiculous one. I had a bad case of mastitis (which they thought was cancer for about 5 days), and then have been being treated for candida (an overgrowth of yeast) in my gut, and now this. But the Lord is giving me the great gift of uniting my suffering, my fatigue, my fears, with Him.

I do not know how long I will be ill. Some people take years to recover from Lyme. For most, if it is caught early, the first four week round or so of antibiotics is enough. It would be nice if the professor could actually use his sabbatical to write his book, and if I could have the strength to home school the kids each day soon.
 
I am walking mostly pain free now–still limping, so still using a crutch. Today, while I was in less pain, I barely had energy to sit up and eat. Eating has been a trial–I struggle to get through each meal and feel triumphant and relieved when the last bite is in. Yet, I am steadily getting better.

So, please pray for my complete recovery, and I will continue to offer this all for the Church, that healing will happen, the truth will be made clear, and that justice will be done.

NCRegister: St. John Cassian, Gluttony, and Internet Intemperance

…While gluttony is certainly a temptation in my life, though my vocation has not lead me to the austerity of the monastic life, this monk’s account of his battle with gluttony rang very true to a different form of intemperance in my life. The truth is, and I am certain I am not alone, that I struggle daily to have self-control in my use of the internet and social media.

The more I have tried to limit my use of the internet, the more I realize that this tool is a necessary part of the life I live. It is central to much of my work, managing my children’s home school, cooking meals, keeping up on basics like weather and news, staying in touch with out of town relatives and friends, and my prayer life. Yet, I can never seem to come to terms with it, especially since I got my first smartphone a few months ago (and I still call myself a millennial)…

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register…

Day Nine, July 12: Novena to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin

Statue above the East transept altar of Notre-Dame-des-Victoires in its eponymous Basilica.
By KJK – Own work (Original text: self-made), Public Domain
 Day Nine: The Virgin Mary
“Behold, your mother!” John 19:27
“I would like to say, humbly, to those who suffer and to those who struggle and are tempted to turn their backs on life: turn towards Mary! Within the smile of the Virgin lies mysteriously hidden the strength to fight against sickness and for life. With her, equally, is found the grace to accept without fear or bitterness to leave this world at the hour chosen by God.
            “To seek this smile, is first of all to have grasped the gratuitousness of love; it is also to be able to elicit this smile through our efforts to live according to the word of her Beloved Son, just as a child seeks to elicit its mother’s smile by doing what pleases her. And we know what pleases Mary, thanks to the words she spoke to the servants at Cana: ‘Do whatever he tells you.’”
            Benedict XVI, Homily at Lourdes, 15 September 2008
“My dear brother, if you would agree to this one request I’m asking of you, I’d be happier than if you sent me all of Paris. Here it is: you live very close to Notre-Dame des Victoires. Well! Go there just once a day and say a Hail Mary to the Blessed Mother. You’ll see that she’ll protect you in a very special way.”
            Letter of Zélie to her brother Isidore, CF 1
“I have nothing new to tell you. I expect my father will tell you all that he knows. Remind him to light a candle for himself and for me in Notre-Dame des Victoires. He promised me he would.”
            Letter of Zélie to her brother Isidore, CF 9
“I had the happiness of receiving communion at Notre-Dame des Victoires, which is like a little heaven on earth. I also lit a candle for the intention of our entire family.”
            Letter of Louis to Zélie, CF 2-a
At the end of this novena, let us place all our intentions in the heart of the Virgin Mary. Louis and Zélie Martin drew strength and hope from Notre-Dame des Victoires; she will obtain for us too the grace and peace of God our Father.
Magnificat (Luke 1:46–56)
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.
Glory to the Father…
Novena Prayer
O God, in Louis and Zélie Martin you have given us an example of holiness lived in marriage.
Look kindly upon the families of our time, and strengthen them with your love;
Let young people find in them the support they need to hear your voice and respond to your call.
Support the sick and the elderly with your power.
Louis and Zélie loved to pray to Notre-Dame des Victoires; through her intercession, we present to you our intention for this novena…
            (period of silence, or state the intention)
Watch over us, and lead us at last into your kingdom of love.
Notre-Dame des Victoires, pray for us.
Holy Family of Nazareth, pray for us.
Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, pray for us.
——
Sources

Novena translated by Elizabeth and Turner Nevitt from: Neuvaine par l’intercession des bienheureux Louis and Zélie Martin. Basilique Notre-Dame des Victoires (Paris). Éditions Salvator: Paris, 2010. Used with permission of Hervé Soubias, rector of the Basilica of Notre-Dame des Victoires, Paris.

Louis and Zélie Martin. A Call to a Deeper Love: The Family Correspondence of the Parents of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, 1863–1885. Ed. Frances Renda. Trans. Ann Conors Hess. New York: St Paul, 2010. Translation of Correspondance familiale (1863–1885), Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 2009.

The Psalms: The Grail Translation. 1963.

The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition. 1966.

Day Eight, July 11: Novena to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin

Day Eight: Abandonment to Providence

“He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24
“We too must place our trust in God alone. It is tempting to think that today’s advanced technology can answer all our needs and save us from all the perils and dangers that beset us. But it is not so.
            “At every moment of our lives we depend entirely on God, in whom we live and move and have our being. Only he can protect us from harm, only he can guide us through the storms of life, only he can bring us to a safe haven.”
            Benedict XVI, Apostolic Journey to Malta, 18 April 2010
“I was like you when I began my Alençon lace business, and I made myself sick over it. Now, I’m much more reasonable. I worry much less and resign myself to all the unfortunate events that happen to me, and may happen to me. I tell myself that God allows it, and then I don’t think about it anymore.”
            Letter of Zélie to her brother Isidore, CF 26
“The best thing to do is to put everything in the hands of God and await the outcome in peace and abandonment to his will. That’s what I’m going to try very hard to do.”
            Letter of Zélie to her brother Isidore, CF 45
Praying this novena with perseverance, let us confidently place ourselves in the Lord’s hands, and ask for the grace to do his will in all things.

Psalm 143

Lord, listen to my prayer:
turn your ear to my appeal.
You are faithful, you are just; give answer.
Do not call your servant to judgment
for no one is just in your sight.
The enemy pursues my soul;
he has crushed my life to the ground;
he has made me dwell in darkness
like the dead, long forgotten.
Therefore my spirit fails;
my heart is numb within me.
I remember the days that are past:
I ponder all your works.
I muse on what your hand has wrought
and to you I stretch out my hands.
Like a parched land my soul thirsts for you.

Lord, make haste and answer;
for my spirit fails within me.
Do not hide your face
lest I become like those in the grave.
In the morning let me know your love
for I put my trust in you.
Make me know the way I should walk:
to you I lift up my soul.
Rescue me, Lord, from my enemies;
I have fled to you for refuge.
Teach me to do your will
for you, O Lord, are my God.
Let your good spirit guide me
in ways that are level and smooth.
For your name’s sake, Lord, save my life;
in your justice save my soul from distress.
Glory to the Father…
Novena Prayer
O God, in Louis and Zélie Martin you have given us an example of holiness lived in marriage.
Look kindly upon the families of our time, and strengthen them with your love;
Let young people find in them the support they need to hear your voice and respond to your call.
Support the sick and the elderly with your power.
Louis and Zélie loved to pray to Notre-Dame des Victoires; through her intercession, we present to you our intention for this novena…
            (period of silence, or state the intention)
Watch over us, and lead us at last into your kingdom of love.
Notre-Dame des Victoires, pray for us.
Holy Family of Nazareth, pray for us.
Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, pray for us.
_______
Sources

Novena translated by Elizabeth and Turner Nevitt from: Neuvaine par l’intercession des bienheureux Louis and Zélie Martin. Basilique Notre-Dame des Victoires (Paris). Éditions Salvator: Paris, 2010. Used with permission of Hervé Soubias, rector of the Basilica of Notre-Dame des Victoires, Paris.

Louis and Zélie Martin. A Call to a Deeper Love: The Family Correspondence of the Parents of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, 1863–1885. Ed. Frances Renda. Trans. Ann Conors Hess. New York: St Paul, 2010. Translation of Correspondance familiale (1863–1885), Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 2009.

The Psalms: The Grail Translation. 1963.

The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition. 1966.

–>

Day Seven, July 10: Novena to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin

Cathedral in Lisieux. Photo by Katie Boos.
Day Seven: Enduring Trials Together
“Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.” Ephesians 5:2
“[It is possible that a] crisis will become a passage of growth and that love will emerge from it purified, matured and strengthened. God alone can do this. He wants his disciples to serve as effective collaborators, to approach couples, listen to them and help them rediscover the hidden treasure of their marriage, the flame that has been buried under the ashes.
            “It is he who revives this flame and brings it back to life; certainly not in the same way as falling in love, but in a different, more intense and profound manner; but it is always the same flame.”
            Benedict XVI, Address to the World Meeting of the Retrouvaille Movement, 26 September 2008
After the death of little Hélène at the age of five, Zélie wrote: “I didn’t expect such a sudden end, nor did my husband. When he came home and saw his poor little daughter dead, he began to sob, crying, “My little Hélène! My little Hélène!” Then together we offered her to God.”
            Letter of Zélie to her brother Isidore, CF 52
When her cancer was diagnosed, Zélie wrote to her sister-in-law: “I couldn’t help myself from telling my family everything. I regret it now because there was a grief-filled scene […] My husband is inconsolable. He’s given up the pleasure of fishing and put his lines up in the attic, he doesn’t want to go to the Vital Circle anymore. It’s as if he’s shattered.”
            Letter of Zélie to her sister-in-law, CF 177
We are not alone in the trials we endure: the Lord is with us, as he was with Saints Louis and Zélie Martin. Like us, they knew all kinds of difficulties, and their intercession opens a way of hope for us.
Psalm 130
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord,
Lord, hear my voice!
O let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleading.
If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt,
Lord, who would survive?
But with you is found forgiveness:
for this we revere you.
My soul is waiting for the Lord,
I count on his word.
My soul is longing for the Lord
more than watchman for daybreak.
Let the watchman count on daybreak
and Israel on the Lord.
Because with the Lord there is mercy
and fullness of redemption,
Israel indeed he will redeem
from all its iniquity.
Glory to the Father…

Novena Prayer
O God, in Louis and Zélie Martin you have given us an example of holiness lived in marriage.
Look kindly upon the families of our time, and strengthen them with your love;
Let young people find in them the support they need to hear your voice and respond to your call.
Support the sick and the elderly with your power.
Louis and Zélie loved to pray to Notre-Dame des Victoires; through her intercession, we present to you our intention for this novena…
            (period of silence, or state the intention)
Watch over us, and lead us at last into your kingdom of love.
Notre-Dame des Victoires, pray for us.
Holy Family of Nazareth, pray for us.
Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, pray for us.
 —— 
Sources

Novena translated by Elizabeth and Turner Nevitt from: Neuvaine par l’intercession des bienheureux Louis and Zélie Martin. Basilique Notre-Dame des Victoires (Paris). Éditions Salvator: Paris, 2010. Used with permission of Hervé Soubias, rector of the Basilica of Notre-Dame des Victoires, Paris.

Louis and Zélie Martin. A Call to a Deeper Love: The Family Correspondence of the Parents of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, 1863–1885. Ed. Frances Renda. Trans. Ann Conors Hess. New York: St Paul, 2010. Translation of Correspondance familiale (1863–1885), Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 2009.

The Psalms: The Grail Translation. 1963.

The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition. 1966.

Day Six, July 9: Novena to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin

Les Buissonnets, The Martin family house in Lisieux. Photo by Kristi Tyler.
 Day Six: Marriage Through the Test of Time
“It was thy word, O Lord, which heals all men.” Wisdom 16:12
“This lack of wine [at the wedding at Cana] brings to mind the moment in a couple’s life when love ends, joy runs out and the enthusiasm of the marriage suddenly drains away. [… But Jesus transforms] the water into wine. We know that this ‘good wine’ is a symbol of salvation, of the new nuptial covenant that Jesus came to make with humanity. Yet every Christian marriage, even the most wretched and insecure one, is a sacrament of precisely this and therefore can find in humility the courage to ask the Lord for help. When a husband and wife in difficulty or even already separated entrust themselves to Mary and turn to the One who made ‘one flesh’ of two, they can be certain that, with the Lord’s help, this crisis will become a passage of growth and that love will emerge from it purified, matured and strengthened.”
            Benedict XVI, Address to the World Meeting of the Retrouvaille Movement, 26 September 2008
“I wonder if my plan to go see you will ever be realized. I encounter so many obstacles that I dream about them at night. For example, one time I dreamed that I left, and I saw my husband make a long face, saying that I was leaving him in a predicament. The next day, I told him about my dream, and he said that I had dreamed the truth. He didn’t need to tell me; I know it well. It’s true that it’s not easy for me to be away, above all because of my lace business. And then, when it’s necessary to leave four children for two weeks, it’s a little long. However, I really want to get away, but I don’t know how to do it.”
            Letter of Zélie to her brother Isidore, CF 19
As we entrust our intention for this novena to Louis and Zélie Martin, let us consider how they emerged victorious from the test of time, and invoke their fidelity.
Psalm 144
Blessed be the Lord, my rock
who trains my arms for battle,
who prepares my hands for war.
He is my love, my fortress;
he is my stronghold, my savior,
my shield, my place of refuge.
He brings peoples under my rule.
Lord, what is man that you care for him,
mortal man, that you keep him in mind;
man, who is merely a breath,
whose life fades like a shadow?
Reach down from heaven and save me;
draw me out from the mighty waters,
from the hands of alien foes.
Let our sons then flourish like saplings
grown tall and strong from their youth:
our daughters graceful as columns,
adorned as though for a palace.
Let our barns be filled to overflowing
with crops of every kind;
our sheep increasing by thousands,
myriads of sheep in our fields,
our cattle heavy with young,
no ruined wall, no exile,
no sound of weeping in our streets.
Happy the people with such blessings;
happy the people whose God is the Lord.
Glory to the Father…
Novena Prayer
O God, in Louis and Zélie Martin you have given us an example of holiness lived in marriage.
Look kindly upon the families of our time, and strengthen them with your love;
Let young people find in them the support they need to hear your voice and respond to your call.
Support the sick and the elderly with your power.
Louis and Zélie loved to pray to Notre-Dame des Victoires; through her intercession, we present to you our intention for this novena…
            (period of silence, or state the intention)
Watch over us, and lead us at last into your kingdom of love.
Notre-Dame des Victoires, pray for us.
Holy Family of Nazareth, pray for us.
Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, pray for us.
——-
Sources

Novena translated by Elizabeth and Turner Nevitt from: Neuvaine par l’intercession des bienheureux Louis and Zélie Martin. Basilique Notre-Dame des Victoires (Paris). Éditions Salvator: Paris, 2010. Used with permission of Hervé Soubias, rector of the Basilica of Notre-Dame des Victoires, Paris.

Louis and Zélie Martin. A Call to a Deeper Love: The Family Correspondence of the Parents of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, 1863–1885. Ed. Frances Renda. Trans. Ann Conors Hess. New York: St Paul, 2010. Translation of Correspondance familiale (1863–1885), Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 2009.

The Psalms: The Grail Translation. 1963.

The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition. 1966.