Today is the feast day of Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin, the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, who is well known for her autobiography, A Story of a Soul.
Like Louis, I am a father of only daughters so I payed very close attention to Therese’s description of her “Papa” in her autobiography. There is one scene and description that I think of often when I am at church or in prayer with my kids. She writes:
If St. Teresa was mentioned [during the homily at Mass], my Father would bend down and whisper to me: “Listen attentively, little Queen, he is speaking of your holy patroness.” I really did listen attentively, but I must own I looked at Papa more than at the preacher, for I read many things in his face. . . . his soul was absorbed in the thought of another world.
. . . Later on we went upstairs for night prayers, and there again my place was beside my beloved Father, and I had only to look at him to know how the Saints pray.
St. Therese of Lisieux, A Story of a Soul, Kindle Edition, 10%
I think of that last line often: “I had only to look at him to know how the saints pray.”
There have been many times at Mass or during family prayer that I am filled with anger pointing to kneelers or yanking my kids up on their feet when they are not paying attention properly.
Is that the way saints pray?
Children watch their parents attentively.
Daughters adore their fathers. They watch them.
If you want to raise a saint, you can’t do it through direct instruction.
Show them how to pray.