Tuesday Adoration…Delight of the Father

Today during Eucharistic Adoration, in preparation for the Feast of St. Teresa of Avila, (a Solemnity for Carmelites),  I was reading some of her Spiritual Testimonies and received, from the Saint, a beautiful new insight into what transpires during Holy Communion.  Perhaps what St. Teresa reveals will be a blessing to you as well.

 

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Once after receiving Communion I was given understanding of how the Father receives within our soul the most holy Body of Christ, and of how I know and have seen that these divine Persons are present, and of how pleasing to the Father this offering of His Son is, because He delights and rejoices with Him here–let us say–on earth.  For His humanity is not present with us in the soul, but His divinity is.  Thus the humanity is so welcome and pleasing to the Father and bestows on us so many favors.  I understood that He also receives this sacrifice from the priest who is in sin, except that He doesn’t grant to his soul the favors He grants to those who are in the state of grace.  But the reason for this isn’t because these influences proceeding from this communication, by which the Father receives this sacrifice, lose their force, but because of a lack on the part of the one receiving it; just as the lack is not on the part of the sun when it fails to shine on a piece of pitch as it does on crystal, but on the part of the pitch.  If I could now describe this, I would give a better explanation, for there are deep interior secrets revealed when one receives Communion.  It is a pity that these bodies of ours do not let us enjoy them.

The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, Volume I
Spiritual Testimonies, No. 52, Deep secrets revealed in Communion
ICS Publications,
Washington, D.C.
(Italics by me)

Therese invites you to Love….

 I beg You to choose in this world a multitude of little victims worthy of Your LOVE!!! (sic)

In my previous post, Will you be a victim…of Love, I shared the account of how Therese had been seized with the desire to offer herself as a victim to the Merciful Love of God.

Therese saw her Offering as a means to relieve the suffering of God Whose Love must remain pent up within His Heart, because It is rejected and refused by so many.. Enlightened by the Holy Spirit, she resolved to offer herself to be “consumed unceasingly” by this torrent of Love. Her dream was to become a true “holocaust” of Divine Love, being so burned up within these Flames, that she would eventually become “a martyr to Your Love, O my God!”

But Therese knew immediately that this revelation from the Most Tender Heart of God was not given for herself alone. Only moments after having received the inspiration during Mass on Trinity Sunday, 1895, she shared the invitation with two of her blood sisters, Celine (Sister Genevieve of St. Teresa),  and Pauline (Mother Agnes of Jesus), who were nuns in the same monastery. In fact, Pauline was then serving as prioress.

Later, Therese invited the novices in her care to make the Offering as well. She also tracked down her other blood sister, Marie, (Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart) while she was working in the garden one day. Marie at first protested, thinking that to make such an Offering would be to invite additional suffering and punishment upon herself.

But Therese gently explained that was not the case: I do understand what you are saying, but to offer oneself to love is an entirely different thing to offering oneself to His Justice. One does not suffer more. It is a matter only of loving God more for those who do not love Him.

As in most things, Therese was victorious, and Marie agreed to also become a victim of Merciful Love.

Hence, Therese offers to each of us the same invitation….to love God for those who refuse to love Him… to remain beneath His Heart, and allow ourselves to be immersed in the waves of Tenderness pouring forth from that Divine Heart, so grateful for release. For to love God is most of all about allowing Him to love us.

“…..for God loves to be love, and love is His Ecstasy, His Life in the Trinity, His Mystery, and the Secret of His gratuitous creation, of redemption and of heaven.”  (from With Empty Hands, the message of St. Therese of Lisieux, by Conrad De Meester)

But now, let us return to June 9, 1895. And afterward, we shall see what God’s response to Therese’s Offering was…

Therese, accompanied by Celine, had explained to the prioress, that she wished to offer herself as a victim to the Merciful Love of God.  Mother Agnes, having such respect for the holiness of her little sister, immediately gave her consent.

Therese then set herself to the task of composing what truly must be one of the most beautiful prayers ever written by a Saint. It seems she wished to leave out nothing from her Offering, and so she proceeds to ask for all that Love can give.

Two days later, on June 11, Therese and her sister Celine, knelt before the statue of the Virgin of the Smile, and Therese read the Prayer of Offering that she had composed.

She neither asked for nor expected any sign from God in response to her offering.  She always sought the little, simple and hidden way in her life….the way of little souls.  Unlike her Holy Founders, St. Teresa of Jesus and St. John of the Cross, lofty mystical experiences were not part of Therese’s life.  In fact, almost her entire nine years in Carmel were spent in a state of spiritual dryness.

However, on Friday, June 14, while alone in the chapel making the Way of the Cross, Therese suddenly found herself seized with a Love for God which burned so intensely that she thought she would die. I was on fire with love, and I felt that one moment, one second more, and I would not have been able to bear this burning without dying.

Her Divine Spouse had deigned to manifest to His little victim that He was indeed pleased with her Offering to His Merciful Love.

Theresian scholars describe this experience as the consummation of the Mystical Marriage or Transforming Union, the final stage of the spiritual journey and the deepest union with God one can experience this side of Heaven.

As for Therese, she said only that she believed God had confirmed His acceptance of her Offering.  Out of obedience, she disclosed the mystical experience to her prioress, but then said no more about it.

As for her Offering, she carried the written copy over her heart for the rest of her life, and she repeated the words often, even on her death-bed.

Her great dream had been to die of love for God, and one can hardly doubt that she did.

After months of unbearable suffering from the ravages of tuberculosis, when it seemed her death agony would drag on for hours, she picked up her crucifix and gazed at it tenderly, uttering with her last breath:

Oh, I love Him!  My God, I love Thee!

(Tomorrow I will post  the Prayer Therese wrote to offer herself as a victim of Holocaust to the Merciful Love of God.  Those who feel called are invited to follow her in this little way of LOVE).

Happy Birthday, Sweet Mother of God!

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“Only after the Last Judgment will Mary get any rest; from now until then, she is much too busy with her children.”
–St. John Vianney
 

“Men do not fear a powerful hostile army as the powers of hell fear the name and protection of Mary.”
–St. Bonaventure<

 

“Mary, give me your Heart: so beautiful, so pure, so immaculate; your Heart so full of love and humility that I may be able to receive Jesus in the Bread of Life and love Him as you love Him and serve Him in the distressing guise of the poor.”
–Blessed Mother Teresa

 

“For God, having given her power over his only-begotten and natural Son, also gave her power over his adopted children – not only in what concerns their body – which would be of little account – but also in what concerns their soul.”
–Saint Louis Marie de Montfort

 

“Prayer is powerful beyond limits when we turn to the Immaculata who is queen even of God’s heart.”
–Saint Maximilian Kolbe

 
 
“In that first ‘fusion’ with Jesus (holy communion), it was my Heavenly Mother again who accompanied me to the altar for it was she herself who placed her Jesus into my soul.”
–Saint Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church

 

We love you, O Most Blessed Mother, Queen of Heaven and our Refuge.  Happy Birthday!

…just as no one knows the Father except the Son

Holytrinity

‘Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will. We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory, Lord God, heavenly King, O God, almighty Father.
Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son, Lord God, Lamb of God,
Son of the Father, you take away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us; you take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.
For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.’

When I was in formation for First Promises in the Discalced Secular Carmelites, my formation teacher taught our little group to be aware of words, thoughts, ideas, etc., which seemed to recur throughout the days and weeks.  This could happen in a book or through something we were listening to or watching or in a friendly conversation, but most importantly, especially during prayer.  She instructed us to write down these “coincidences,” and to look for a pattern, because God often communicates with us in this way.

I remembered this little exercise when over the past couple of Sundays at Mass, the phrase, Son of the Father, from the beautiful song of praise, the Gloria, caught my attention.  How many times have I heard these words, and yet suddenly they were impressed deeply upon my heart.

Monday morning, when I tuned in to Women of Grace on EWTN, Johnette’s guest for the week was Father George Montague,SM who has recently written a book entitled: Living in the Father’s Embrace.  If I were still keeping my little notebook, I would have had much to write.

As though I needed more encouragement, the patron Saint chosen for this week’s Women of Grace series was St. Therese, described as  “a patron for loving the Father.”

Lord, what does all of this mean?  I whispered.  I thought perhaps it would please Jesus if I began calling Him Son of the Father more often…not just at Mass.

Then I turned to the Scriptures and recalled the words of Jesus:  “Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, just as no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”  Matthew 11:27 (NJB)

On Johnette’s programs this week, one theme has been how so many view the Father as the God of the Old Testament.  Many people fear thunderbolts and severity if they draw too near to God the Father.  Yet, Who is Jesus but the perfect Image of the Father?  All of the tenderness, mercy and love we are attracted to in Jesus dwell in the Heart of the Father as well.

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In the introduction to his book, Father Montague writes:  “…if we really want to know Jesus, we had better ask the Father to show us who Jesus really is.  And by the same token, to know the Father as Jesus knows him…and that is the only way…Jesus must give us the gift of his own experience of the Father.”

I am excited and humbled that Jesus is calling me, and surely you as well, to better know His Father as He knows Him, and in turn, to know Jesus as only the Father knows the Son.

To know God more is to love Him more!  Let us enter deeply into this revelation which Jesus, Son of the Father, desires to share with us.  Surely His Sacred Heart burns for us to love His Father with the greatest affection and trust.

St. Therese, whose confidence in God knew no bounds, spoke of playing on the “lap” of God in Heaven.  Surely she will indeed be a patron for us in learning to love God the Father.

 

Father Montague gives us this lovely prayer in the introduction to his book:

Jesus, lay your hands upon my head at this
moment and send me the Holy Spirit to teach me to
know the Father as you know him, to call him
“Abba.” As I read, may your Spirit breathe upon
my heart and enlighten my mind to this mystery of
Trinitarian LOVE.  

Quotations by Father George Montague, SM are from his book:
Living in the Father’s Embrace
Experiencing the Love at the Heart of the Trinity
Introduction: Invitation
Publisher: The Word Among Us Press
Copyright 2014 by George T. Montague, SM

Let us follow Our Mother to Heaven…

The Virgin Mary was taken up to the heavenly bridal chamber where the King of kings is seated on a starry throne.  (Antiphon 2, Evening prayer for the Solemnity of the Assumption)

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Today at Mass, on the Feast of Our Lady’s Glorious Assumption, one of the topics Father spoke about was the value God places on our bodies.

God loves our bodies.  In fact, He esteems them so much that He did not hesitate to take upon Himself human flesh, in the Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

I recently heard a mystic describe an experience of God’s Love overwhelming him.  He said that it was as though every cell in his body knew and responded to its Creator, and that although the experience lasted but a few moments, he cried out, “Jesus, stop, or I will die for I cannot contain anymore of Your Love for me.”

This is almost exactly the description St. Therese gave of her mystical encounter where she was “burning up” with love. One moment more and I would have died.  St. Teresa of Avila, St John of the Cross and many other mystics relate similar experiences of God invading their entire being with His Love.

Most of us don’t often think about God’s love for our physical being.  We tend to focus mostly on our souls, which of course are made in the image and likeness of God.  But our souls and bodies dwell in a mysterious union.  What we think about is simultaneously transmitted to our bodies, which react with fear, joy, peace, tears, laughter and many other emotions and sensations.

Perhaps the most frightening thing about death is the awareness that our being will be rent in two… our soul and our body separated for the first time in our existence.  We cannot imagine what that will be like.

Nor do we know how long this separation will endure.

But in the gospels, Our Lord assures us that our bodies will live again.  We know that for those who die in God’s Grace, they will be glorious, resplendent bodies, free of pain and suffering, and in complete accord with our will, which will then be perfectly united to God’s Will.

Our bodies then should be holy, as Father said this morning, since they are tabernacles of the Most Holy Trinity.  We should keep them clean, modestly dressed, and borne with the dignity of a child of God.  Moreover, we should treat the bodies of others with respect at every stage of life.

Our Lady, in her Church approved apparitions is always described as “beautiful,” a word usually stammered out in desperation, in a feeble attempt to capture what is beyond human comprehension…..the glorified appearance of our Heavenly Mother.  What is seen by these chosen visionaries is no doubt vastly inferior to the true, radiant beauty and glory which the Mother of God possesses in Heaven.

How different that heavenly beauty is from what we admire on earth, where outward appearance attracts so much attention.  In heaven, it is the holiness of the soul which will communicate its splendor to our glorified body.  Earthly beauty will have passed away.

Today we celebrate with joy, Our Lady’s bodily assumption into Heaven.  It is a day to rejoice that Our Lord and Savior has promised to all of us that if we have died in Christ, we shall also rise with Him.

At the signal given by the voice of the Archangel and the trumpet of God, the Lord Himself will come down from heaven; those who have died in Christ will be the first to rise, and only after that shall we who remain alive be taken up in the clouds, together with them, to meet the Lord in the air.  This is the way we shall be with the Lord for ever    I Thessalonians 4: 16-17  (NJB)

 

An Unpetalled Rose….

(I have been on a bit of a blog break, falling in love with my precious granddaughter….now ten weeks old).   Meanwhile, here is a favorite post of mine from 2011.

 

The summer after I graduated from highschool, I attended a “going away” shower for a pretty girl who had graduated with me.  She was leaving to enter a Carmelite monastery nearby.                                                                                                                  

Earlier that year when Mary had announced her plans, the comment, “What a waste,”  was frequently bantered about.  And on the day of her shower, after we had helped her load the gifts into her car, and she had hugged everyone good-bye, the same comment was repeated as she drove away.

Then there was Dolores Hart.  She sent the “what a waste” crowd into apoplexy when she abandoned her Hollywood career to join a Benedictine monastery — even after starring in two movies with Elvis, no less.  I admit to being intrigued by Dolores myself when she made appearances on EWTN Live a couple of times over the past few years.  She is still beautiful in her 70’s, and is radiant and funny and full of joy– and still a nun.

My friend Mary, and Mother Dolores Hart come to mind whenever I read one of my favorite poems by St. Therese.  It’s titled, The Unpetalled Rose.  How like Therese to want to “squander” her life just for God — simply to give Him pleasure, to be a fresh petal beneath His feet.

But this beautiful poem is not limited to cloistered nuns like Therese and Mary and Dolores.  We can all desire to be “unpetalled.”  We can surrender with joy our plans and dreams into the Heart of God and fling away the script we had hoped our life would follow.

And, petals fall too when we truly seek the last place, rejoicing when others are praised and rewarded while we are overlooked….when we live our lives “with mystery” as Therese states in the last stanza of her poem.  To live in mystery is to be an enigma to the world, to choose what the world does not understand, all the while in secret, unpetalling the rose of our lives.

There are a thousand ways to lose our petals, and allow ourselves to simply be used up for God’s pleasure.  You can tell when you are being unpetalled.  There is a pain within, like a struggle… like dying…..to self.

But suddenly, you feel lighter.  There is fragrance.  Another petal has dropped…. for  His Joy Alone!

But now let Therese tell us as only she can –

An Unpetalled Rose

By
  St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face

Jesus, when I see you held by your Mother,
Leaving her arms
Trying, trembling, your first steps
On our sad earth,
Before you I’d like to unpetal a rose
 In its freshness
So that your little foot might rest ever so softly
On a flower!….

This unpetalled rose is the faithful image,
Divine Child,
Of the heart that wants to sacrifice itself for you unreservedly
at each moment.
Lord, on your altars more than one new rose
Likes to shine.
 It gives itself to you…..but I dream of something else:
 To be unpetalled!….”

The rose in its splendor can adorn your feast,
Lovable Child,
But the unpetalled rose is just flung out
To blow away.
 An unpetalled rose gives itself unaffectedly
To be no more.
Like it, with joy I abandon myself to you,
Little Jesus.

One walks on rose petals with no regrets,
And this debris
Is a simple ornament that one disposes of artlessly,
That I’ve understood.
Jesus, for your love I’ve squandered my life,
My future.
In the eyes of men, a rose forever withered,
I must die!…

For you, I must die, Child, Beauty Supreme,
What a blessed fate!
In being unpetalled, I want to prove to you that I love you,
O my Treasure!…
Under your baby steps, I want to live here below
With mystery,
And I’d like to soften once more on Calvary
Your last steps!….

(all emphases by Therese)

From:  The Poetry of St. Therese of Lisieux

Translated By:  Donald Kinney, OCD

ICS Publications, (Institute of Carmelite Studies) 1995

(first posted August 9, 2011)

From the palette of God….

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”   Psalm 14:1

 Lilac breasted Roller in South Africa.

Lilac breasted Roller in South Africa

There is no God? But who could believe such a thing? See the masterpiece I present to you above? A reproduction of a tiny, simple creature whose magnificence puts to shame even the greatest art created by man. For, in nature, this beauteous bird has a beating heart and downy feathers, and his little wings lift him aloft to fly above the treetops. Yet, he knows not where he came from, or even what he is. He simply hatched from an egg and shook out his little body into a cascade of breathtaking colors. See his design? How carefully each grouping of feathers is “painted,” with highlights shimmering in all the perfect places?

If you saw this bird — a splash of painted perfection across a canvas in a museum, you would surely look for the artist’s name….for of necessity, there would be an artist.  Such wonders do not occur when a palette of paints accidentally tumbles onto a canvas.

But if this bird with heart beating, song singing, wings fluttering….if this living, breathing, warm fluff ball of rainbowed loveliness alighted on a branch near you, and cocked its little head, if you are a fool, then you might say, “There is no God.”

And indeed, you would have proved yourself a fool
…………to consider the imitation more needful of a creator than the vibrant reality before you.

God is Beauty, and He has strewn wonders across our world in a super abundant feast to attract us, to fascinate us and to give us enticing glimpses of what awaits us when we at last behold the One Who is all Beauty.

Be a fool no longer!  Seek your Creator, the God of the Universe, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, your Beloved, the Beautiful One.

He longs for you, desires you, above all the beauty of His creation.

He calls to you?  Will you not answer….will you not seek Him and the delights He has prepared for you alone?

You ravish my heart,
my sister, my promised bride,
you ravish my heart
with a single one of your glances,
with a single link of your necklace.
What spells lie in your love,
my sister, my promised bride! 
Song of Songs 4:9-10 (NJB)

(first posted in January 2013)

Enter into His Heart…in silence

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God loves silence.

In silence, when all noise and distraction have ceased, there is only God, Who is everywhere. God and us in the silence…together.

Great and mighty things happen in silence.  The Eternal Word leapt down from Heaven and became flesh in Mary’s womb … in silence.

“…and on the third day, He arose again from the dead.”  In silence.

Little miracles happen in silence too.  We go to bed at night and we wake up in the morning, and roses have bloomed and seeds have sprouted and the sun has appeared again….all in silence.

Our Lady is almost completely silent in the gospels, her Immaculate Heart so united to God that she too prefers the silence….so full of God.

On this Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I am thinking of the silence of His Eucharistic Heart beating within us at Holy Communion.  I love to ponder the Heart of Jesus embracing my poor little heart and beating with Infinite Love within me, during those precious moments of His Presence…..that union with Him beyond words.

Yet all is silent.  I do not sense the flames of Divine Love.  I do not hear His sweet voice, or experience the transformation of my soul.  But I believe that all of this is present….in the silence in which I immerse myself in thanksgiving.

I try to rest in that silence, my head on His breast, my inner voice stilled.  It is enough to be with Him in those few moments, in a mutual embrace of love….in silence.

It is the same when I kneel in Adoration before His Sacred and Eucharistic Heart.  Those hours are the most silent periods of my week.  Yet, they are the most transformative.  I am in His Presence.  Nothing more is needed.  He is at work in my soul … silently.

An hour, a  day, a week, a month later, I experience evidence of those Divine touches.  I find patience I did not know I had, forgiveness comes easily, there is strength for a difficult trial, there is peace in my soul, there is joy in my heart.   All the work of the Master.  He never comes without changing us, without leaving gifts yet to be discovered.  You too have experienced this, I know.

And, He does it all….in silence.

Let us not become discouraged because we do not see visions of the Sacred Heart like St. Margaret Mary, or do not experience Jesus placing a flame of His Heart within us as He did to this humble nun..

Let us not even doubt when we walk the path of spiritual dryness and darkness and feel as though Jesus has abandoned us.  That will never happen.  He likes to hide, that we might seek Him more, as the bride in the Song of Songs sought her Lover.

And are they not especially silent, these times of aridity and spiritual desolation?  Great graces are being showered upon us, if we remain faithful to God….in the silence.

Our poor little hearts are so easily distracted by what our senses perceive.  But God gives us the gift of silence wherein there is only He, and nothing created to compete with the One we cannot yet see.

What joy we will bring to the Sacred Heart of Jesus today, if we seek Him in silence, draw near and rest our head upon that Heart which is filled with such unimaginable tenderness for each one of us.

“Behold this Heart which has so loved men, but is loved so little in return.”  Jesus to St. Margaret Mary.

Let us love Him in return….in silence,  which is, after all,  the language of Love.

(If you would like to read more about silence, please visit my friend Theresa’s blog, desert of my heart, where she writes so beautifully on this topic.)

 

After This….nothing more but Heaven

“The Eucharist is the supreme proof of the love of Jesus. After this, there is nothing more but Heaven itself.”

St. Peter Julian Eymard

“When we go before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament we represent the one in the world who is in most need of God’s Mercy.” We “Stand in behalf of the one in the world who does not know Christ and who is farthest away from God and we bring down upon their soul the Precious Blood of The Lamb.”

Pope St. John Paul II

 “O Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, I would like to be filled with love for You; keep me closely united with You, may my heart be near to Yours. I want to be to You like the apostle John. O Mary of the Rosary, keep me recollected when I say these prayers of yours; bind me forever, with your rosary, to Jesus of the Blessed Sacrament. Blessed be Jesus, my love..,” 

Pope St. John XXIII, Journal of a Soul

 “For One in such a lofty position to stoop so low is a marvel that is staggering. What sublime humility and humble sublimeness, that the Lord of the Universe, the Divine Son of God, should stoop as to hide Himself under the appearance of bread for our salvation! Behold the humble way of God, my brothers. Therefore, do not hold yourselves to be anything of yourselves, so that you may be entirely acceptable to One Who gives Himself entirely to you.”

St. Francis of Assisi

“O Sisters, if we would only comprehend the fact that while the Eucharistic Species remain within us, Jesus is there and working in us inseparably with the Father and the Holy Spirit and therefore the whole Holy Trinity is there…,” 

St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi

I broke His Heart….

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My Jesus, how often I forget that it was I who condemned You to death. If everyone else who has ever lived could somehow vanish, as though they had never been, you still would have been condemned to death, by me….and my sins. Not by Pilate, but by me. Your Love for me alone would have brought You to the Cross.

Jesus, as I look upon Your Suffering, with compassion and sorrow, let me remember that my sins cause you immeasurably more pain than the scourging and the thorns and the nails. Those were physical sufferings, but I broke Your Heart.

Grant that I may remember always that the slightest deliberate venial sin wounds Your Heart so deeply, and brings tears to Your Beautiful Eyes. Jesus, I tremble to think that it was I in the crowd screaming “Crucify Him,” when Pilate asked what to do with You.

Yes my Jesus, I condemned You to die by my sins.  Forgive me……….