Have you ever struggled with abject despair that a person close to you, maybe a family member, is turning away from God? What can you do in such a situation?
We can draw strength from looking at real life role models such as Elizabeth Leseur. (Élisabeth Arrighi Leseur, born Pauline Élisabeth Arrighi, was a French mystic best known for her spiritual diary and the conversion of her husband, Félix Leseur, a medical doctor and well known leader of the French anti-clerical, atheistic movement)
Born in the last years of the 18th century in France, Elizabeth was engaged to a doctor from a wealthy Catholic family. His name was Dr Felix Leseur. To her dismay, Elizabeth Leseur discovered that the man who she was about to marry was an atheist and this disturbed her greatly, as she was a woman of strong faith. She decided to go ahead with the marriage anyway. Over the years, Dr Felix became the editor of an anticlerical, atheist magazine, becoming more and more scornful of his wife’s faith.
In great sorrow, Elizabeth turned to the Lord and also started chronicling her thoughts and worries for her husband in her diary. Her faith remained strong, despite her trials. She fell sick after a few years and told her husband on her deathbed – that he would embrace the faith and become a priest.
He mocked her and said that would never happen and he would in fact, die an atheist. Few days later, while going through her personal belongings, he stumbled upon her diary and one of the entries in which she wrote that she was ready to pay the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of her husband’s soul. “On this day I shall have paid the price. You will have been bought and paid for. Greater love no woman hath that she should lay down her life for her husband,” she wrote.
He ignored this writing and continued in his atheist ways. On his way on a trip to Lourdes, to disprove the miracles, he was gifted with faith in a sudden moment of grace. Realising the folly of his ways, he repented and turned to faith. On special request by the Pope at that time, he was given permission to start training to become a Dominican priest.
And thus, atheist Dr Felix Leseur became Fr Felix Leseur, due to the great sacrifice made by his wife. Too late he realised the enormity of her sacrifices made for his soul. He took the efforts to get his late wife’s diary published. This diary of a simple French housewife has inspired many over the years ( including the late Bishop Fulton Sheen) on what they can do when one close to them is turning away from God.
Let us all be inspired by Elizabeth Leseur that we can turn our loved ones back to God with our own sacrifice, prayers and perseverance.
I end this article with her words, “ My present trial seems to me a somewhat painful one, and I have the humiliation of knowing how badly I bore it at first. I now want to accept and to carry this little cross joyfully, to carry it silently, with a smile in my heart and on my lips, in union with the Cross of Christ. My God, blessed be Thou; accept from me each day the embarrassment, inconvenience, and pain this misery causes me. May it become a prayer and an act of reparation.”
By Tom Thomas Maliekel
Tom is an Indian entrepreneur with interests in technology, manufacturing, reading, scribbling, running, faith and family (not necessarily in that order) He was greatly inspired on his journey of fitness by the amazing transformation that the Snehagram Community – www.snehagram.org – has made in the lives of HIV infected youngsters, by shaping them up into some of the most outstanding amateur runners in India.