Marie Zelie Guerin, who was eight years younger, entertained the thought to be a nun like her sister. She approached the Daughters of Charity, who were committed to caring for the sick, to accept her as a postulant. As she had seen in herself drawn to life of prayer and service she thought that the Lord was calling her to the convent. It didn’t take long for the Mother Superior to discern that the pious young lady had a different vocation.
We may think similarly that if someone is religious, prayerful, profoundly interested in the Faith the person shows the signs of a religious vocation. Of course it can be the case but the newest saints raised to the glory of the altars provide us with an insight much needed for our Church and our society as well. Deep faith and seriousness in prayer life are crucial, even essential, for those who are to be married and have children.
Saints Louis and Marie Zelie are a great gift for our contemporary Church. Their canonisation shows a forgotten aspect of the marriage, that the husband and wife support each other to become saints. Louis and Marie experienced lots of hardships. Four of their nine children died at the early age. Four times that saintly couple had to make their way to the local cemetery to bury their children. Then Marie, at the age of 47 died of the breast cancer. Hard life but filled with life and faith. I have written of their faith already. Now to finish it is worth writing of their mutual love. We have nearly 250 letters they exchanged during their married life. It doesn’t mean that they were separated for a long time. No, most of the time they lived together but during those brief trips when they weren’t together they would write to each other. Isn’t a powerful expression of their marriage spirituality? Probably they are not only the first married couple canonised but they are also the first saints whose love letters have been studied to prove their holiness. I pray for all husbands and wives so that they may see in their mutual love the path to the summit of holiness.
A few days ago Pope Francis ordained a new bishop in Rome. One of the rites during such celebration is placing an episcopal ring on the finger of the new bishop. Before Pope Francis place the ring of the bishop he paused for a moment, looked at him and said: “Before this ring, there were the bonds of your mum and dad, the rings they exchanged on their wedding day. As you receive you bishop ring remember that in your ministry you must defend the family.”
the parents of St. Thérèse, as an example of holiness in marriage.
They remained faithful to You and Your commandments
in all the duties and trials of life.
They desired to raise their children to become saints.
May their prayers and example
help Christian family life to blossom in our world today.
If it be your will, grant us the grace we now ask of You,
through the intercession of Saint Louis and Zélie Martin.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.