Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Saint-maker

I found this amazing story of Elizabeth Leseur, the wife of one Dr. Felix Leseur, who was the spiritual guide of another Peter John Sheen, who was called 'Servant of God'...

Elisabeth was born in Paris to a wealthy bourgeois French family of Corsican descent. She met Félix Leseur, also from an affluent, Catholic family in 1887. Shortly before they married on July 31, 1889, Elisabeth discovered that Félix was no longer a practicing Catholic. Though he continued to practice medicine, Dr. Félix Leseur soon became well known as the editor of an anti-clerical, atheistic newspaper in Paris.
 Elisabeth and Felix Leseur during happier times
Despite his pledge to respect Elisabeth's religious beliefs, as his hatred of the Catholic faith grew he soon began to question, undermine, and ridicule Elisabeth's faith. In his memoirs, Félix describes how his efforts to "enlighten" Elisabeth nearly succeeded. He had persuaded Elisabeth to read Ernest Renan's Life of Jesus with the expectation that it would finally shatter her last remaining loyalties to Catholicism. Instead, he records that she was "struck by the poverty of substance" on which the arguments were based and was inspired to devote herself to her own religious education. Soon, their home was filled with two libraries. One, a library devoted to the justifications of atheism and the second to the lives of the saints and the intellectual arguments in favor of Christ and Catholic Church. Félix was frustrated to discover that his challenges to her faith had actually led her to become not only more grounded in her beliefs, but more fervent and determined to become holy.

In 1905, she was taken ill and tossed on a bed of constant pain until August 1914. When she was dying, she said to her husband, "Felix, when I am dead, you will become a Catholic and a Dominican priest." To this he responded: "Elizabeth, you know my sentiments. I've sworn hatred of God, I shall live in the hatred and I shall die in it."

She repeated her words and passed away. She died in her husband's arms at the early age of 47. Rummaging through her papers, Felix found her will. She wrote: "In 1905, I asked almighty God to send me sufficient sufferings to purchase your soul. On the day that I die, the price will have been paid. Greater love than this no woman has than she who lay down her life for her husband." Dr. Leseur, the atheist, dismissed her will as the fancies of a pious woman.
He decided to write a book against Lourdes. When he went down to Lourdes however and he looked up into the face of the statue of Mary, he received the great gift of faith. He saw it all. At once.
In the year 1924, during Lent, Fulton J. Sheen (born Peter John Sheen), made a retreat in the Dominican monastery in Belgium under the spiritual guidance of Father Felix Leseur of the Order of Preachers, Catholic Dominican priest, who told him this story.

Saints are never made in isolation. 

Remember your place in God's plan.

It is true that you may never meet the person you helped become a saint, but you may be sure you will be blessed for it.

Elisabeth Leseur's cause for canonization is under consideration. Her current status in the process of canonization is that of a 'Servant of God'.