[Last week’s post was destroyed by the re-format monster. This is the second attempt.]
Exactly two months ago, I arrived at the monastery, thus marking the beginning of my Benedictine postulancy. I won’t say too much about my experience; but I would like to briefly share one experience with you.
Adopted by St. Therese and Her Family
Fr. Paul of Moll once remarked that life is full of crosses, and that the easiest path – and the most fruitful – is to do everything for the love of God. The Cross, writes Bl. Dom Columba Marmion, is the root of all fecundity.
Before entering the monastery, I was well aware that I was going to encounter the Cross. I think it was Marcelline Pauper who had a vision of numerous crosses of shapes and sizes, which represented the trials and tribulations that were ahead of her. I think we can all relate to this.
For me, the biggest cross that I have faced in the last 2 months is homesickness. All I will say is this: I wept like a baby in an onion factory. Twice. Or was it thrice? I actually don’t remember; I was a mess. Jetlag doesn’t help either – especially when combined with fatigue, sorrow for one’s sins, and a longing for Heaven that cannot be satisfied in this valley of tears.
Amidst all this, I felt inspired to send up a prayer to St. Therese and her family. (I have been reading the Letters of St. Therese in my spare time, and I must confess my love for St. Therese and her family; they are so pure in their faith, so affectionate, so simple, and so loving).
As I was lying on my bed one day, homesick (though to a much lesser extent than previously!), and reading the Letters of St. Therese, I felt inspired to offer one year of Masses in honour of St. Therese, her recently canonized parents, and her entire family. Immediately after making this intention and offering it to God and these holy souls, I felt inspired to ask St. Therese and her siblings to adopt me as their little brother. I also asked St. Louis and St. Zelie to adopt me as their son. Then I forgot about it.
‘Longing to Belong’
The following day, I was in the scriptorium/library, which is home to some 3000 books (a rough estimate). I didn’t have much time for reading, so I picked up a random book that caught my eye, and started flicking hastily through the pages. A certain picture stood out. It was a beautiful photo of St. Therese and her family (actually it was a collection of photos that were framed under the heading, ‘Le Martin Familie’ or something French like that). I thought nothing of it at the time.
It was only later than night that I recalled my prayer the previous day. Then I considered the likelihood of stumbling upon a picture of the Martin family… in a book about a Benedictine monk.
“They have adopted me!” I thought. Now, you might think I jumped the gun a bit; but I experienced an overwhelming sense of joy at what seemed to be an answer to prayer.
Then the thought occurred to me: “Why is there a picture of the Martin family in a book about a Benedictine monk? … I wonder if he asked the Martin sisters to adopt him?” I don’t know why, but I half-expected the this. I wanted to check the book to find the answer, but I had to wait another day.
Thursday came, and I entered the scriptorium, full of anticipation and curiosity. I picked up the book (‘Longing to Belong: The Life of Dom Mayeul De Caigny’), and this is what I read:
“It is interesting to note that Sr. Marie du Sacre Coeur [Marie Martin, sister of St. Therese] always addresses Dom Mayeul [born March 29 – the day I arrived at the monastery] as her “brother.” At some early date, Dom Mayeul had asked the Martin sisters if they would accept him as their ‘adopted brother.’ The Martin family consisted of five girls, but no boys. They seemed very happy to welcome Dom Mayeul into the family circle as a surrogate ‘brother.’ (p. 348)
Long story, short: I was thrilled!
[I also discovered, one week later, that the day I made that prayer was May 17, the 91st anniversary of the canonization of St. Therese. How this little one looks after me! I expect the same from my new little family, too!]
That is all I have time for today!
+ Pax +