Blessed Louis Martin and God's Will


#1

Recently, I spent a weekend at Belmont Abbey. While there, I spoke with several of the monks, including the abbot, about how it seemed that God couldn’t seem to make up His mind about what my vocation truly is: is it to marriage, or to religious life? [Plus, I often feel that the Spirit is teasing me with great fervor for religious life since I can’t commit to the latter until my personal debt is eliminated.] In many ways, this flip-flopping around on my part (and on God’s) has caused me to doubt somewhat in His existence, or if not in His existence then in His Plan.

The only thing that helps to keep me focused is reflecting on the life of Blessed Louis Martin, the loving father of St. Therese of Child Jesus and the Holy Face, who pursued a vocation to religious life by climbing a mountain where a monastery resided. The monks turned him away on the basis that he didn’t know Latin, but asked him to return once he learned it: Blessed Louis never could. His marriage to Blessed Zelie was also quite happenstance. She, on the threshhold of spinster-hood, was introduced to Louis on a whim, and their marriage happened almost as a matter of course. As a result, though, of these “whims” and “matters of course,” several holy daughters were born to them, one of which is a Doctor of the Church, and the others being considered for canonization themselves.

All I know is that I’m a Catholic Christian man in his late twenties, I’m very active with my parish, being a catechist and a Knight of Columbus, and I’m daily trying to find my spiritual niche. I may be continually thwarted in my attempts to become any sort of religious, perhaps even any sort of Third Order, but like Blessed Louis, I just have to realize that God’s Will is bigger than me and the first rule of poverty is to surrender myself to just that.

Thanks for reading.


#2

Another good saint to consider is St Benedict Joseph Labre - he tried out his vocation with the Carthusians and the Trappists and was rejected by both (he might have tried the Cistercians too, not certain about that) - some modern thinkers suggest he may have been suffering mental illness which made it difficult for him to stick to a rule of life.

He held fast to God’s plan for him, and even though he ended his days as a homeless wanderer, walking the pilgrim routes of Europe over and over, helping and healing people on the way, and ended his life on the streets of Rome, he is acknowledged a saint after the model of the mendicants and ‘fools for Christ’ of the early Church.

Goes to show, no matter how hard things get, God has a plan, He will turn it all to the good.


#3

God doesn’t flip-flop. He has called you to something. He is still calling you to it. Whatever it is.


#4

Hmm - well, while God may have something definite to which he’s calling me, there have been enough misleading detours along the way to lead me to my opinion that He does indeed flip-flop, though I recognize in those detours part of the definite Plan.

A constant self-reminder of my creatureliness is one of the things that helps me remain focused on the tasks at hand, though I would like those tasks to include religious life of some grade, even if it is just a Third Order. Joining a Third Order, however, seems to posit a whole new set of lifestyle choices for the future than I’ve been working towards, and yet, paradoxically, may just be the perfect fit for the decisions I’ve already made. God doesn’t owe me anything, so even if I become impatient with where I am in life and where I would like to be, I recognize that it’s better to surrender to whatever happens, like Blessed Louis and other saints rather than becoming resentful and unproductive with the work I’ve been given. I’m reminded of a woman saint, whose name I cannot recall, who asked a Pope several times to join a contemplative order, and the Pope repeatedly denied her request. So, the woman began working with the sick and homeless, saving thousands both physically and spiritually, until she herself suffered a stroke late in life and was sent to a Trappist nun’s convent in order to heal, where she remained the rest of her life – thus, she ultimately got to join the contemplative life.

It’s stories like these which keep me hopeful.


#5

Actually, Bl. Louis and B. Zelie did die within an Order. They were both perpetually professed Secular Franciscans and very faithful to the Rule of Penance. They prayed the Liturgy of the Hours, observed the fasts of the order, observed all of the ascetic practices of the order, the material simplicity and wore the habit under their street clothes as Secular Franciscans did in those days. They were active in the ministries of the Franciscan order, especially toward the poor and observed the rule faithfully until death. Both were burried in the Franciscan habit. They spent six years in formation to become Secular Franciscans. The usual formation is usually three to six years, depending on your formation director. Because Louis could not manage the Latin it took him six years to make final profession, until he learned to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. The Martins are both on the Franciscan calendar of saints, they are remembered in our liturgical celebrations.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:


#6

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