Many of you probably know this story from Bishop Fulton Sheen.
I just came across it this weekend, and figured I'd share it here for those of you that don't know it. It's an incredible example of what it means to offer your Earthly life and comforts for someone you love. (When I read what Elizabeth wrote in her journal, I sat there in shock at the pureness and selflessness displayed in her request to our Lord.)
"Just at the turn of the century, there was a woman married
in Paris, just a good, ordinary Catholic girl, to an atheist doctor, Dr. Felix
Leseur. He attempted to break down the faith of his wife and she reacted and
began studying her faith.
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.”
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
“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. He went down to Lourdes to write against Our Lady.
However, as he looked up into the face of the statue of
Mary, he received the great gift of faith. So total, so complete was it, that
he never had to go through the process of juxtaposition and say, “how will I
answer this or that difficulty?”
He saw it all. At once.
The then reigning pontiff was Benedict XV. Then came World
War I. Hearing of the conversion of Dr. Leseur, Pope Benedict XV sent for him.
Dr. Leseur went in the company of Fr. Jon Vinnea, orator of Notre Dame. Dr.
Leseur recounted his conversion and said that he wanted to become a Dominican
priest. Holy Father said, “I forbid you. You must remain in the world and
repair the harm which you have done.”
The Holy Father then talked to Fr. Vinnea and then again to
Dr. Leseur and said:
“I revoke my decision. Whatever Fr. Vinnea tells you to do,
you may do.”
In the year 1924, during Lent, I, Fulton J. Sheen, made my
retreat in the Dominican monastery in Belgium. Four times each day, and
45 minutes in length, I made my retreat under the spiritual guidance of Father
Felix Leseur of the Order of Preachers, Catholic Dominican priest, who told me
- Bishop Fulton J. Sheen
God Bless you.