I looked at the portrait of Blessed Louis Martin on the front cover of The Father of the Little Flower by Celine Martin, TAN Books. He was a fine-looking man, handsome, even, but what held my gaze was his most earnest, childlike expression, not unlike that of St. Therese on the back cover. The refined, yet kind face on the front and the sweet, eager one on the back represented the father and daughter so well that I felt as if they would appear to me at any minute. I waited. They didn’t. A little disappointed I had to remind myself that they didn’t have to. The Father of the Little Flower by Celine is written so well, and like her book on her mother, offers us so many beautiful vignettes from his life that his holy life stands out from the pages like an apparition.
Strong and courageous, gentle and kind, Blessed Louis Martin lived a life worthy of the call of Christ. Revered by family, friends, and neighbors, Louis valiantly gave himself for others out of a genuine, longing love for Jesus and those around him could easily see Our Lord in him. We’ll hear in the upcoming weeks stories of Louis’s valor, zeal, and the same absolute self-abnegation as we saw in Zelie, giving us a incomparable model of Christian masculinity in modern times.
Celine writes, “He used to repeat with a note of satisfaction and pride: ‘I am the bobillon with my children,’ that is, tender and kindly. In our advancing years my sisters and I used to love to say very softly to each other, referring to our father’s expression, that our Heavenly Father, the Lord God Himself, has always been “bobillon” towards us.”
Celine continues, “To complete this moral portrait, even at the risk of repetition, let me quote a passage from my Deposition for the Beatification Process of Therese: ‘My father was a very simple and upright character. Physically and morally he had the appearance of a Patriarch. There was also another striking resemblance: I remember that when he used to take me to the Benedictine School, my teachers, the nuns, used to say he reminded them of St. Joseph. Indeed he was truly a just man, and when I wish to picture what St. Joseph was like, I just like to think of my father.’
“Our little Therese has declared likewise: ‘If an earthly father can be so ideal, what must our Heavenly Father be like…!’”
Blessed Louis Martin, please pray for us in the weeks to come, most especially for our husbands, fathers, and sons, that they may be so inspired to follow your example and strive for manly holiness.