|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.
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…
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.
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.
“Benedict XVI.” https://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en.html
The Psalms: The Grail Translation. 1963.
The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition. 1966.