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33 Days to Merciful Love

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Models of Mercy

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By Melanie Williams (Jul 12, 2017)
Mercy is the path of the saints. Consider Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin, whose feast day we celebrate on July 12.

Saints Louis and Zelie Martin were the first married couple to be canonized together, and they were canonized on Oct. 18, 2015. Louis was a watchmaker, and Zelie was a lacemaker. Together they had nine children — five of whom survived early childhood. All five of those were daughters who entered convents.

Perhaps more of you are familiar with their daughter, St. Thérèse, the Little Flower. Perhaps some of you have consecrated yourselves to Merciful Love with the book by Fr. Michael Gaitley, based on St. Thérèse's consecration to Merciful Love. Did you know that St. Thérèse appeared to St. Faustina? Saint Faustina wrote in her Diary:

I want to write down a dream that I had about Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus. I was still a novice at the time and was going through some difficulties which I did not know how to overcome. ... I made novenas to various saints, but the situation grew more and more difficult. The sufferings it caused me were so great that I did not know how to go on living, but suddenly the thought occurred to me that I should pray to St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus. I started a novena to this Saint. ... On the fifth day of the novena, I dreamed of Saint Thérèse. ... [She] began to comfort me, saying that I should not be worried about this matter, but should trust more in God (150).

Saint Thérèse also told St. Faustina that Faustina's parents and siblings would make it to Heaven, but they needed many prayers.

Both Louis and Zelie Martin discerned a priestly and religious vocation, respectively, before meeting each other. They consecrated their marriage to God and made an offering of themselves and all of their children to God.

Zelie suffered and died from breast cancer when Thérèse was only 4 and a half years old, and after all of his daughters had entered convents, Louis offered himself as a victim soul to God as well. He told his daughters that he prayed, "My God, I am too happy. It's not possible to go to Heaven like that. I want to suffer something for You." Louis suffered cerebral arteriosclerosis, which entailed a long hospitalization. There, he learned humility and obedience in a new way. He said, "I have always been accustomed to commanding, and I see myself reduced to obeying: It's hard. But I know why the good God has given me this trial: I had never had any humiliation in my life. I needed one." Returning to his home, he died paralyzed and unable to speak. This struck Thérèse so deeply that, later in life, she would offer herself as a "victim to the merciful love of God."

Without Louis' and Zelie's examples to their daughters of offering oneself to the merciful love of God, we wouldn't have the model example of St. Thérèse's offering to the merciful love of God, which has become an avenue of grace for so many along the "Little Way." Thanks be to God for her holy parents!

The Holy Fathers of our era — Blessed Paul VI, St. John XXIII, St. John Paul II, Benedict XVI, Francis — have all emphasized the importance of the domestic church, the family.

Did you know that your family is a domestic church? The Church teaches that just as Holy Mother Church gives birth to many children of God through Baptism, so a mother and father have children whom they are obliged to raise in the faith. Parents are the first educators of their children in the faith, and as a family, they are called to serve God and the Church.

Louis and Zelie did this not only by teaching their daughters about the faith, but by frequenting Confession and the Eucharist and enrolling their daughters in a children's missions ministry. They lived a life of mercy as a family.

How can you and your family live lives of mercy? Try to do works of mercy, spiritual and corporal, as a family. Even if you think someone in your family might not be interested, always say a prayer for them and extend an open invitation. You never know what effect a prayer and an invitation can have on someone.

Saints Louis and Zelie Martin, pray for us!

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