Greetings from Pittsburgh! We just returned from two weeks in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada, where Joe was born and raised. As part of this visit we went whale watching for the first time in the Atlantic Ocean. I was surprised by my own level of joy when our captain started to shout that there were five large fin whales next to our boat. Thinking of the creator of these amazing creatures was a bit overwhelming at the time. These beautiful fin whales can be as long as 90 feet (27 meters) and weigh up to 100 tons. We understand it was a rare treat to see five at one time. We will not soon forget this special glimpse into the work of our “Beloved Master”.
Several weeks ago, I received an email from an American woman, Karen Feitl, from the state of Indiana, who is part of a group of people with a well established devotion to Elisabeth Leseur. We have exchanged numerous emails and a few special prayer requests. If we lived closer to each other I am sure we would work together even more sharing the life and works of Elisabeth. Karen has helped us to quickly grow our Elisabeth supporters in and around Indiana. I asked her if she would write a reflection for us for September which I am happy to share.
Karen Feitl “met” Elisabeth in 2005 after a friend gave her The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur: The Woman Whose Goodness Changed Her Husband from Atheist to Priest. Since that time Karen has formed a deep devotion to Elisabeth, as she lives, loves, and struggles in her own sacramental marriage. Her husband is a baptized Christian, albeit not practicing, and their communication, especially about faith and religion has been a very real challenge over the years. She absolutely loves Our Lord and the fullness of truth found in the genius of Catholicism. For the joy set before her, she embraces her crosses and grows more in love each day for her husband and their six children.
God drew Elisabeth to Himself and she loved Him with all her heart, mind, soul, and strength. In the silence of these places she encountered Christ. Through her humility and meekness, His power was made perfect. United with Christ, her love and prayers for Felix were so powerful as to bring about his conversion and ordination to the priesthood. The publication of her writings, a work began by Felix, and the telling of her faith and trust in God, continue to transform the lives of people around the world.
Elisabeth’s life of love, peace, and suffering is one great circle from and back to God which continually deepens her interior life and reveals Christ’s love for all souls. “And yet through all these trials and in spite of the lack of interior joy, there is in my soul some central place, which all these waves of sorrow cannot reach. In this place is hidden all my inner life; there I can feel how completely united I am to God, and I regain strength and serenity in the Heart of Christ.” (p. 37)
Even today, Elisabeth’s life and timeless writings continue to point us toward the Heart of Christ Himself.
- To hear. The origin of the word “obey” is “to listen, hear.” Elisabeth heard the Word with the ears of her heart and she fully lived the Greatest Commandment: to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and the second, to love your neighbor as yourself. At her very core she was one, in love with God. Draw me after you; let us run! (Song of Solomon 1:4)
- Family. “As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.” –St. John Paul II. Elisabeth was a perfect example of living the vows of her marriage—in good times and in bad. She and Felix, despite their differences, were blessed with an amazing love for each other, the two of them in their sacramental marriage. It affected their friends, community, nation, and the world—one soul at a time. “I believe much more in individual effort, and in the good that may be done by addressing oneself not to the masses but to particular souls. The effect one can exert is thereby much deeper and more durable.” (p.8)
- Confident trust! Trust in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Hold Our Lady’s hand. Elisabeth is praying for us. Like Elisabeth, we can offer praise and thanksgiving in all things—accepting that which the Lord gives. As a loving Father, He absolutely adores us! He wants what is best for us; and He will give us or allow all things for our good and our holiness.
- Silence. In our busy, loud world, God whispers. We encounter Him in the silence. Elisabeth will walk with us, pray for us, as we learn daily be with Christ in the silence. She wrote, “Silence is sometimes an act of energy, and smiling too.” (p.166) Elisabeth’s Monthly Spiritual Retreat is a good guide to follow as we read her writings. Each month focuses on a virtue to practice. Allowing her retreat reflections to resonate all day long while slowly working through her selected writings, is a great way to journey with Elisabeth to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
We are most grateful for everyone’s support. We know we are just a small link in the Circle of Friends. Please help us grow the circle by sharing ELcause.org.
With our gratitude and prayers,
Jennifer and Joe MacNeil