Monday, February 15, 2010

The Parents of St. Therese

I wanted to share the stories of the parents of St. Therese because they witness the openness to the will of God in their lives. Their process for beatification is in process. Both her father and mother discerned a vocation to religious life before ultimately answering the call to married life. This is the challenge. We are called, each one of us, to be open to the call to priesthood, religious life, marriage, or the single life. That does not mean we must be a priest or a husband. Rather we must be open. The beauty of God's will is that He will give us only what we truly need and desire. The lives of Louis Martin and Zelie Guerin are an exemplary model for us all.

Her father, Louis Martin, was only 21 when he discerned a call to monastic life with the Augustinians at the Monastery of Mount St. Bernard in the Swiss Alps. But without any knowledge of Latin, he was told to wait until he had completed his Latin studies. He studied hard for a year until illness required him to give up the studies and he never returned to them.

He became a watchmaker and was quite successful at it. He continued to live a very devout Catholic life. It was only at the age of 35, and just three months after their first meeting, that he married Zelie Guerin in 1858. They both desired to live the religious life so they continued to be chaste during their marriage. It was only after a confessor suggested they consider the vocation to family life that their ideas changed. He would be a faithful husband and father even while losing his wife to illness and all of his daughters to religious life.

Here are a couple interesting quotes from him:

When Louis took his first daughter Marie to St. Pierre de Monsort to be baptised he remarked to the priest, ‘This is the first time you have seen me here for a baptism, but it won’t be the last!’

Towards the end of his life he suffered a stroke. He once remarked to a doctor, ‘I was always accustomed to command, and here I must obey. It is hard! But I know why God has sent me this trial. I never had any humiliation in my life; I needed one.’

Her mother, Zelie Guerin, sought to enter religious life but perhaps on account of her poor health, the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent De Paul would not accept her as a postulant. She decided that if God did not want her to be a religious, she would marry and have many children who would all be consecrated to Him.

One day while crossing a bridge she noticed a man passing by and heard an interior voice. "This is he whom I have prepared for you." It was Louis Martin.

Still convinced that she was called to religious life, she agreed with Louis to remain chaste. That did not last long. They would eventually have 9 children in 13 years though only 5 would survive to adult years.

I have not done justice to these two future saints but hopefully the little I have said will inspire you to read a more complete biography of their lives at this website.


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