Who Am I?

Identity Mask Disguise Mindset PixabayA classic parlour game, with a Leonie’s Longing twist! Answers below.

a) My parents refused me permission to enter the convent because they could not give me a dowry. Several religious communities rejected my application to enter because I was poor and had little formal education.

b) I made three attempts to enter the religious life in active communities of sisters, none successful. Finally, I accepted my spiritual director’s advice to enter the Capuchin Poor Clares, a community to which I felt no attraction at all.

c) I entered the Sisters of Mercy in my early twenties, but my health collapsed and I returned home after eighteen months of religious life. I was unwell for nearly two years afterward. During this time of illness I began to feel called found my own religious community, but my spiritual director told me that this idea was a deception to be rejected.

d) As a young woman with poor health, I applied to the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul and was turned away. My sister was accepted by the Visitandines. I decided that, if I could not be a religious sister, I would raise a large family and dedicate my children to the Lord.

e) When I applied to the Passionists, the superior sent back a letter saying, “We will not have the convent contaminated by her.”

f) All of my sisters became nuns. My own first attempt at living the religious life lasted eight weeks; I made two more unsuccessful tries before persevering.

g) After years of struggling to keep up academically in my studies for the priesthood, I was dismissed from the seminary. I was re-admitted, and failed my examinations again. It took me eleven years to complete my studies and become a diocesan priest.

h) At the age of twenty-two, I applied to the Augustinian Canons of the Great Saint Bernard Hospice in the Swiss Alps, famous for rescuing pilgrims lost in the snow or endangered by the treacherous conditions. However, in order to be accepted I was ordered to learn Latin, a language which I found impossible; finally, I admitted defeat and accepted, to my great disappointment, that I did not truly have a religious vocation.

i) My spiritual director told me to put the idea of a religious vocation out of my head; I was poorly educated, and considered slow-witted. A few days later, however, he came back and asked me whether I really did believe that Jesus was calling me to religious life. When I said that I did, he asked me whether I could at least peel potatoes. Yes, I said, I can peel potatoes. So he told me to go to the convent to peel the potatoes, and I did!

j) I was enclosed in a church as an anchoress, and was resolved to stay there forever. There was fierce opposition when God called me out of my anchorhold to reform the Poor Clares; it was considered a betrayal of my vocation.

k) I applied to enter the Franciscans and was initially accepted, but later turned away after I confessed the details of my past life to one of the friars. I was devastated, and broke down in tears during my next Confession.

l) I was accepted as a novice by the Third Order Dominicans, and I made my first vows in the community; however, I found out that my true vocation lay in the cloistered life, and I left the Dominicans to become a Carmelite.

m) I was rejected by seven monasteries before I realised I was not called to religious life.

n) As a young seminarian, I felt a deep attraction to the life of a Carmelite friar, but my bishop told me to finish what I started, and would not permit me to transfer to the monastery. I finished my studies and became a diocesan priest instead.

And the answers…

a) Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, mystic and Secretary of the Divine Mercy, canonized April 30th, 2000.

b) Servant of God Sister Consolata Betrone, mystic and victim soul.

c) Venerable Mary Potter, foundress of the Little Company of Mary.

d) Saint Zelie Martin, mother of Saint Therese of Lisieux.

e) Saint Gemma Galgani, mystic and victim soul, canonized May 2nd, 1940.

f) Servant of God Sister Francoise Therese (Leonie) Martin, sister of Saint Therese of Lisieux.

g) Saint John Marie Vianney, Patron Saint of priests, canonised 1925.

h) Saint Louis Martin, father of Saint Therese of Lisieux.

i) Saint Maria Bertrilla Boscardin, Dorothean Sister and nurse during the First World War, canonised June 8th, 1952.

j) Saint Colette of Corbie, foundress of the reformed branch of Poor Clares which bears her name, Colettine.

k) Father Thomas Merton, Trappist monk, priest and spiritual writer.

l) Blessed Elia of Saint Clement, spiritual writer.

m) Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, the pilgrim Saint, French mendicant and Franciscan tertiary, canonised December 8th, 1881.

n) Pope Saint John Paul II, canonised April 27th (Divine Mercy Sunday), 2014. Yes, really!

Can you add any others?

Happy Birthday, Leonie!

The first fact about the celebration of a birthday is that it is a way of affirming defiantly, and even flamboyantly, that it is a good thing to be alive. – GK Chesterton.

As we celebrate the birthday of our patroness (born June 3rd, 1863), please offer a prayer for those who are bringing the cause of her beatification before Rome, and also for women who are struggling now, as she did, to find their vocation in life. Servant of God Lenie Martin, pray for us!

September 30th: Original Publication of The Story of a Soul

From Leonie Martin: A Difficult Life by Marie Beaudin-Croix

The Story of a Soul was published at the end of September 1898. Leonie immediately devoured the book and was moved to rediscover memories of their shared childhood; but most importantly of all, she finally knew all the secrets of the love which Therese and her beloved Lord had shared. The Story of a Soul became Leonie’s bedside book; and it helped her to regain hope for her own vocation.

Leonie’s heart was constantly drawn toward her beloved Visitation Order; but she hesitated, because of her fragile health and her innate restlessness – a restlessness which sometimes made others see her as indecisive, whereas in fact she was strong-willed to the point of stubbornness.

One day, Leonie would learn – and would bear witness to it at the Process for Therese’s Beatification, in 1910 – that in early 1888, after Leonie’s first attempt to join the Visitation Order, Therese had said prophetically to a Benedictine sister in Lisieux: ‘We must not worry about the fact that Leonie’s attempts at religious life have been unsuccessful. After my death, she will enter the Visitation Order; she will take my name, and that of Saint Francis de Sales.’ In 1888 Therese was fifteen and about to enter the Carmelite convent, and no one dreamed that she would die young; she was in good health, and photographs of her as a novice show us a cheerful, round-faced little country girl.

In 1915, during the Apostolic Process for the Cause of Therese, Leonie recounted a fact which she had learned from Pauline: ‘Mother Marie Gonzaga, the prioress, told Therese that on the day of her Profession (8 September 1890), when she prostrated herself , she should pray that our dear father would be cured; but in fact, she prayed, “God, since Mother Marie told me to ask this of You, grant that Papa may be cured, if it be Your will; but grant that it be Your will that Leonie should become a Visitandine, and if she has no vocation, I beg You to send her one; You cannot refuse me this.” It is true that I made another fruitless attempt to join the Visitation Order; but the faith of this Servant of God was unshakeable.’

(Pages 72-73.)

Happy Feast Day to Blesseds Louis and Zélie Martin!

Today is the Feast Day of Blesseds Louis &  Zélie Martin, the parents of Léonie Martin (our namesake!) and of St. Thérèse. In their honor, we offer you a few short quotes and a prayer.

“If the Blessed Virgin doesn’t cure me, I shall implore her to cure my child, Léonie, to develop her mind and to make her a saint.” ~ Zélie Martin, in a letter to her brother

“Léonie will love God very much, and will be good to everyone.” ~ Zélie Martin, shortly before her death

“When Léonie left the Visitandines, he did not complain; he never reproached God for not having answered his prayers to send his daughter a vocation. Indeed, it was with a kind of joy that he went to meet her. Léonie spent her time in Lisieux visiting the sick and the dying and doing house work.” ~ St. Thérèse speaking of her father

[All quotes from the book Léonie Martin, A Difficult Life, by Marie Baudouin-Croix]

Prayer for the Canonization of Blesseds Louis and Zélie Martin

God of eternal love, You gave us Blesseds Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of Léonie and 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 Blesseds Louis and Zélie Martin, and let them be counted among the Saints of the Church. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blesseds Louis and Zélie, pray for us as you prayed for your children.

Many thanks to Jacqueline Thérèse for providing quotes and prayer!