The afternoon light lit up the stained glass in the dim church. I knelt in the pew gazing at our Blessed Lord in the monstrance with my heart thumping in prayer as my daughter was in the confessional opening herself up to the grace of the sacrament of penance for the first time. I prayed for this to be the beginning of a lifetime of going to receive this sacrament, one that we all need to receive regularly to grow in the life of virtue.
Over the years, I have learned to approach the care of the souls of each of my children as Sts. Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, did. Their daughter Celine, who became Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face, explained that at the birth of each child, which was always followed up within a day or two by the sacrament of baptism, St. Zélie would pray: “Lord, grant me the grace that this child may be consecrated to You, and that nothing may tarnish the purity of its soul. If ever it will be lost, I prefer that You should take it without delay” (The Mother of the Little Flower, p. 6). St. Zélie knew that children going to heaven is the most important thing that can ever happen to them.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that sacramental preparation begins in the home, stating, “Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children,” and “Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child’s earliest years” (2223, 2226).
I am excited to share a new (to me) novena to Sts. Louis and Zélie Martin this year. I have been praying a novena to the holy Martins for the past four years, and have hosted it on my blog three of those years.
Sts. Louis and Zélie as we will learn through praying this novena lived a very holy life together. They had nine children, four of whom died in infancy or childhood. Their five surviving daughters all joined convents. Four of them including the youngest St. Thérèse of Lisieux became Carmelites, and their daughter who struggled the most to behave Leonie became a Visitation sister after three other attempts to enter the convent. Leonie now has a cause for canonization, and we named our baby who miscarried in November after her. Zélie died of breast cancer at the age of 45, but Louis lived on and eventually died at the age of 71 after suffering from dementia and other illness for six years. The were beatified in 2008 by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and canonized in 2015 by Pope Francis.
The professor and I have been devoted to the Martins since 2009 when we attended a series of talks about them at Carmel in Buffalo, New York. I look forward every year to praying to them up to their Feast day of July 12, which is their wedding anniversary, and have seen and experienced great fruits in my marriages and that of other for whom we have prayed for.
Some friends of came across this particular novena to the Martins in France from Basilique Notre-Dame des Victoires in Paris. They have worked laboriously to translate the novena from French into English and have even obtained permission from the rector of the basilica for me to publish here on my blog.
I am super excited to share this beautiful novena with you.
I will be posting each day of the novena which goes from July 4-July 12 on my blog the night before each day–the date to pray each day will be in the title line of the post.
If you would like to receive it by email you can sign up to receive my blog email updates in the side bar of the home page of my blog. Or you can follow the novena through my Facebook page.
I also would love to pray for your intentions during this novena. Please leave any intentions you would like me to pray for during this novena in the comments or feel free to email me at livingwithladyphilosophy at gmail dot com.
My girls frequently talk about what they will be when they grow up. One says that she would like to be a mom, while another proclaims her desire to be a princess, and another often talks about becoming a sister or nun. Around the canonization day of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, I read the newest book from “The Life of a Saint” series published by Magnificat and Ignatius Press called Mother Teresa, The Smile of Calcutta. Within hours of reading the book, one of my daughters came up to me with the book saying, “I want to be that kind of sister…”
Today begins the novena to St. Jude, Patron of Hopeless Causes and Desperate Situations. Last year my intention was for baby T’s teeth to come in and him to start sleeping in longer than 45-90 min stretches at night because I was desperate for sleep. St. Jude has been a dear patron of mine since that time. I ask for his help a lot.
In this year’s novena I am praying that enough citizens decide to vote third party or write-in a candidate for president of the United States that neither Mrs. C nor Mr. T win the presidency. Or that neither of them is elected by some other means.
This presidential election is truly a hopeless cause and desperate situation.
I love that I was assigned to write about St. John the Baptist today. I have a special connection to him my whole life having been born two weeks past my due date on his Nativity in June. Today is the day in which we remember his martyrdom at the hands of King Herod. And as always happens when I write devotions, what I drew from the readings is so relevant to me today. I pray that I can be more like St. John the Baptist and allow Christ to use me despite my littleness.
Here is my devotion: ——-
Two things stand out to me in today’s readings for the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, the first being how King Herod felt about John:
Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man,
and kept him in custody.
When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed,
yet he liked to listen to him.
King Herod knew that Saint John was a righteous man, and that he was speaking truth. But the truth put King Herod into a funny position. If he listened to Saint John, he would have to completely change his life. He would have to admit that he was wrong, and give up the women that he had taken as a wife from his own brother. He was stuck, and he was very attached to the life that he had, and because of this he was forced to kill a man who he knew to be holy and righteous.
The first time I that read the Holy Rule of St. Benedict, I was particularly struck by the adaptability of the Rule to family life. This is not to say that a family should follow the Rule to a T. Rather, in our home life we should emulate the virtues that are needed for the particular roles in a monastery. Also, a structured routine of prayer, work, and planned relaxation is key for the formation of holiness. I have found that our whole family is happier when we have a routine, and that our routine helps us all learn the discipline required for forming virtuous habits.
One of our good college friends will soon be joining a monastery, and in discussing his future life, I asked him about the daily routine at the monastery. He described his day of waking early to pray, to eat breakfast, to pray, to work, to pray again, to pray more, to eat the afternoon meal, and then what they call “the Little Silence” (as opposed to “the Great Silence” at night)…
About two years ago, my eldest daughter at the age of four showed me a painting of St. Agatha’s martyrdom that she found in a children’s book of saints. The painting shows a deathly pale St. Agatha after the torture impose upon her of cutting off her breasts, gesturing in a pleading manner up to Heaven. A sorrowful looking woman is holding her from behind, pressing a bloodied cloth against the wound. And her breasts are being carried away on a platter. My second daughter at a similar age was fascinated by this painting and by this martyrdom, in her turn. She still has a great devotion to St. Agatha, though she has not yet asked to carry a basket of bread to the All Saints day party at our church. I will say that I have not yet been explicit with them about the details of her death.
My children’s wonder at martyrdom has always been prevalent in our discussion of the saints, and the manner of the saint’s death is often the first thing they inquire about. Christians should draw strength from the witness of the martyrs, and in my children’s youthful innocence, they see something appealing in martyrdom, in making a sacrifice.