By: Glenn Dallaire
When studying the lives of the Mystics of the Church, certain remarkable facts come to light. One of these would certainly be the extraordinary appearences of Saint Therese "the Little Flower" in the lives of the mystics. In light of this St Therese, it seems, could perhaps be condidered a "Patroness of Mystics". And then again, did she not write in her Autobiography-- "I will spend my heaven doing good upon the earth. I will let fall a shower of roses"
Servant of God, Brother Marcel Van C.Ss.R.-The spiritual brother of St Therese
Brother Marcel Van strongly desired to become a saint, but was frightened at the austere sacrifices that he thought were necessary to becoming one. He wrote in his Autobiography: “In spite of my great desire to attain holiness, I was certain that I would never achieve it, because to be a saint, you have to fast, lash yourself with a whip, wear a rock around your neck and little chains covered with spikes, a coarse horsehair shirt, endure the cold, the scabies, etc...My God, if it is like this, then I give up... All that is way too much for me.”
The appearance of St Therese of Lisieux –The Story of a Soul One day, Van spread out on a table books on the lives of many Saints. He said a prayer, asking God to guide him, promising that he would read whatever book his hand fell upon. Then, with his eyes closed, he put his hand down at random. “I opened my eyes. My hand was resting on a book I had never read before—“The Story of a Soul" by Saint Therese of the Child Jesus.”
Marcel Van quickly looked over the book—one that he had never read before, but dismissed it as containing nothing unusual. But he soon reproached himself saying “Ah, by acting like this, you have broken your promise!” I then took the book again with my head full of muddled questions—‘What is this “Story of a Soul”??? Who is this St. Therese of the Child Jesus??? Where did she come from???’ What is certain is that is that she resembles many thousands of other saints.’
“Then I summarized her life in an amusing manner in these terms---'Since her birth until her last breath she had many ecstasies, and performed a number of miracles. She fasted on bread and water only taking one meal a day. She spent the night in prayer and gave herself to discipline until she bled. After her holy death her body emitted a very pleasant fragrance and many extraordinary things happened at her tomb. Finally she was canonized by the holy Church...etc...’
“Today I see clearly how rash these statements were without knowing anything about St. Therese. I had dared to sketch out her life in such a summary manner. Oh my dear sister, you must necessarily be a Saint of great courage to put up with me and the foolish statements that I made about you!”
As promised, Van then began to read the book. He states:
“I had scarcely read a few pages when two floods of tears were flowing down my cheeks...What moved me so deeply was little Therese's reasoning:
'If God only stooped to the level of the most beautiful flowers, the symbol of the Holy Doctors, His love wouldn't be quite absolute, because it is Love's nature to stoop to the farthest limit... Just as the sun shines at the same time on the cedars and on every little flower as if it were the only one on earth, so does Our Lord take care of every soul as if there were no other soul like it'
“I understood then that God is Love... Like St Therese, I can sanctify myself through all my little acts... A smile, a word or a look, provided that everything is done in love. What happiness!....From now on, sanctity will no longer frighten me....my tears were flowing like an inexhaustible spring.”
“I had received therefore, that afternoon, a source of grace and happiness. “The Story of a Soul” had become my dearest friend, and followed me everywhere and I did not cease reading or rereading it, without ever getting weary of it. There was nothing in this volume which did not conform to my thoughts, and what pleased me even more in the course of my reading was to see clearly the spiritual life of Therese was identical to mine. Her thoughts, even her yes or no were in harmony with my own thoughts, and the little events of my life. Truly, never in my life have I met a book which was so well adapted to my thinking and feelings as is “The Story of a Soul”. I can confess that the story of Therese's soul is the story of my soul....”
The next morning, Van woke up and kneeled before the altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary and prayed: “... Blessed Virgin, my Mother: Today is truly the first day that I have been given to taste such a sweet happiness; the day which introduces me to a new way.... From now on, my Mother, guide me in my new way to teach me to love God perfectly, and to offer myself to Him in total confidence. I dare to express a wish to you: That I may be wrapped in your love, as was formerly Therese, the Little Flower. I even wish you to give me this Saint as my guide in her “Little Way”. Oh what happiness there would then be for me since I feel that my life cannot free itself from the feelings of childhood that God has engraved in my soul as an innate gift”
Then turning to Jesus, he prayed: “Oh Jesus, my only and beloved master, you know that I love you and look only to respond to your wishes. You have aroused in my mind the desire to become a saint. Then, you made me find, in a very simple manner, the “Little Way” by which you guided St. Therese of the Child Jesus. You have used the hand of this little Saint to write for the use of souls, the sweet councils to which you have led her on her little way. Today, I know that you love me, and that in your immense love you behave towards me as with a little child. Oh, how you deserve to be loved in return! From now on I have decided to follow in your footsteps as you wish, and so that each of my steps conforms to your Will, I wish, oh my God, that you grant me this favor: Give me St. Therese of the infant Jesus is my guide, so that she can teach me to love you as I ought, since I am very ignorant. Grant me also the grace to persevere in your love right to the end, so as to love you afterwards eternally, in the homeland of love reserved for those who love you.”
Van becomes the little spiritual brother of St Therese
Soon afterwards, Van went on foot to a nearby hill to pray and read. Suddenly, in the silence, he was startled by a voice that was calling him. “Van, Van, my dear little brother!” But, no one was around him! The voice spoke again: “Van, my dear little brother!” ‘I was stunned and a little troubled, but I remained calm and guessed immediately that this voice which called me was a supernatural voice—-I then let out or hurried cry of joy—“Oh, it's my sister Therese!”— “Yes, it is indeed your sister, Therese... From now on, you will personally be my little brother, just as you have chosen me to be your big sister... From this day on, our two souls will be just one soul, in God's one love... from this moment I will let you know all my beautiful thoughts on love that which has occurred in my life, and has transformed me in the infinite love of God.... it is God himself, who has arranged this meeting. God wants the lessons of love that He taught me before in the secret of my soul to live on in this world, and He has deigned to choose you as a little secretary to carry out His work, which He wishes to entrust to you.... ”
This first appearance of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus went on for quite sometime, and there were many other appearences of St Therese who became a "spiritual director" to Brother Van. So those interested should read "The Autobiography of Marcel Van" to read all of the intercessions of St Therese in the life of Br. Marcel Van.
However, before leaving Van on this first occasion, St. Therese says in closing: ‘I love you because you are a soul who is a member of my friends of Love. As for you my little brother, my only wish is to see accomplished the works that the divine Love desires so ardently for you. So, little brother, listen to me: from now on in your relations with our heavenly Father, do not fail to follow my advice. But for now it is late, allow me to end our conversation here, since it is already mealtime. Tam and Hien are waiting for you, and Tam is getting impatient..... I am giving you a kiss.....We will have plenty of opportunities to talk together again. And we can do it no matter where, without fear that anyone might know.’
“Therese stopped talking, and I was like someone coming out of a dream; half anxious and half happy, and when she said ‘ I am giving you a kiss’ , I immediately felt as if a gentle breeze was touching my face. And I was overcome by such a joy that I momentarily lost consciousness. Some of this sweet joy stays with me today, but I do not know what to compare it with exactly.”
From then on, St Therese became Van’s close companion and spiritual director, intimately guiding him in his spiritual life and his ascent towards God.
- See more at: http://www.mysticsofthechurch.com/2010/08/intercession-of-st-therese-in-lives-of.html#sthash.3kHFLEp0.dpuf