While on my travels, I took a couple of the new CTS pamphlets with me. One I would heartily recommend is the one on Louis and Zélie Martin by Fr Paulinus Redmond. in 75 pages he does an great job of capturing the spirit of their life and of their exceptional family.
Zélie wanted to be a religious sister but was rejected. her prayer then was:
Lord, since, unlike my sister, I am not worthy to be Your bride, I will enter the married state in order to fulfil Your holy will. I beg of You to give me many children and let them all be consecrated to You.When they were first married, Louis and Zélie lived a life of continence in imitation of the Holy Family. However, a wise priest advised them that the Holy Family was an exceptional case and that normally, married people should have children. Within a year, Zélie was pregnant with their first child, Marie Louise.
In one of her letters, Zélie wrote
When we had our children our ideas changed somewhat. From then on we lived only for them. They made all our happiness, and we would not have found it without them. Nothing any longer costs us anything; the world was no longer a burden to us. As for me, my children were my great compensation, so that I wished to have many more in order to bring them up for heaven.They had nine children all together, seven girls and two boys. The two boys and two of the girls died in infancy or childhood. The family home was occupied by Prussian soldiers during the Franco-Prussian war, and after the war, the economic consequences meant that they had to move to a smaller house in Lisieux. Sometimes the family is presented as living simply a comfortable bourgeois life but they had their share of hardships with which to cope.
Zélie died in 1877 at the age of 45. Louis was devastated but heroically continued to care for his family. In his declining years, he suffered from both mental and physical illness, bearing both with fortitude.
Louis and Zélie Martin are to be beatified at Alençon this coming Sunday. Fr Redmond's pamphlet would be an excellent source of inspiration and edification for this great occasion.
(Price £1.95 from the CTS.)