Monday, October 12, 2015

The Story of a Family (TAN Books)

We are less than a week away from having two new saints in the Church - Louis and Zélie Martin! I have a family of friends who are so excited for their canonization, you'd think they were distant relatives of theirs. For those of you unfamiliar with these two future saints, they are the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux as well as many other children including four nuns! They were truly a holy family and a model for us all, and I believe we should read more about them, so that we can emulate them. TAN Books is one of the best sources for books about the Martin family, and I'd like to tell you about a few of them today.

The Story of a Family was published in the 1940s, reprinted in 1994 by TAN Books, and now has been reprinted again in 2015 in time for the canonization of Louis and Zélie Martin. The book is only fifteen chapters in length, but it is full of detail as it spans 400+ pages. The book begins by giving us a backstory of the two parents and their early years. We learn that Louis was a watchmaker and Zélie was a lacemaker. It was these two professions that led to their chance meeting. Both felt a call to the religious life, but chose to marry. Interestingly enough, after marriage, Louis Martin wanted to live a celibate married life, like Mary and Joseph, but Zélie had strong maternal instincts. We also learn about the children they had, the children they lost, and a great deal about Thérèse.

Chapter 13 - 'The Offering of the Children" was my favorite chapter. In this chapter, we learn of the Martins deep desire to give birth a future priest. They lost two boys, and therefore their hope was lost after this. However, with each girl, they had dreams, which came true, of populating the cloister. "They were not of the number of those pusillanimous parents who dread sacrificing to God what they have no hesitation in handing over to a creature." It was surprising to me to read these words, not because they were so accepting and encouraging of religious vocations, but because even that far in the past, parents were still hesitant to embrace the idea of religious vocations for their children. May the Martins serve as an example for all of us with children!

I have two final observations to leave you with regarding this book. First, the true treasure of this book is found in the images. We as Catholics have a lot of older saints who we see depicted in ancient artwork, but no real actual photographic evidence. Being able to see actual pictures of these recent saints, help demonstrate to us that they were humans just like us, and that we too can be saints if we follow their examples and say Yes to Jesus! Second, the age of the book is reflected in the writing style and language, but that doesn't mean that it is impossible to read. As a fan of classic literature, I personally enjoy that style, but it isn't for everyone. I for one am grateful that this book is back in print, and think it is a very good introduction to the Martin family. After reading this, I plan to read some more books about the Martin family, mainly The Father of the Little Flower, The Mother of the Little Flower, and My Sister Saint Thérèse. All of these were written by Sr. Genevieve of the Holy Face (Celine Martin), the sister of St. Thérèse and should provide a more personal and intimate look at the Martins.

This book was provided to me for free by TAN Books in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!