Isn’t He beautiful?

Thou art beautiful above the sons of men: grace is poured abroad in thy lips; therefore hath God blessed thee for ever.  Psalm 45:2 (DRB)


O Jesus, Your Incomparable Face!
It is my Glory, my Joy, my Fascination.
O how I long to see You!
Promise me that that moment will be ever new
That it will never end;
But always be beginning.
Grant that I may be
Eternally falling in love
With the indescribable Beauty of Your Face.
I felt Its Radiance today,
And I was lost in wonder!
O God of Beauty! I await You!
Reveal Yourself to me.
Show me Your Face,
The Face of Love!

Will you go to Purgatory?

Today is All Souls’ Day, when we remember our beloved dead whom we entrust to the Mercy of God.  The whole month of November is especially dedicated to praying for these departed souls.  We must never forget to pray for them, and ask God to hasten their entrance into His Presence, should they be detained in Purgatory.

But All Souls’ Day is also a time when I love to re-read the amazing thoughts of St. Therese on Purgatory.  


Therese was convinced that she would not go to Purgatory, and she even taught her novices to embrace the same hope (to the horror of her superiors) . Her belief was certainly not borne out of any presumption upon the Mercy of God, or based in any worthiness of her own. Rather, like everything else, Therese saw Purgatory through the lens of God’s Love.

She reasoned that His Love was a Fire which could purify instantly and completely: You can prepare me to appear before you in an instant. (From her Act of Oblation to Merciful Love)

Therese believed that God would gladly accept anyone who truly trusts in Him, and embraces their littleness…souls with “empty hands” who in all humility depend entirely on the Love and Mercy of God. It follows that such souls, while not necessarily possessing the perfection of the Saints, would nevertheless live their lives trying to love and serve God as best they could, humbly asking Him to clothe them in His Own Sanctity.

And if she was wrong…well, Therese had a charming “backup plan”.  She would spend her Purgatory praising God, strolling through the flames singing the Canticle of Praise from Daniel 3: 57-88. But, her hope remained in her Beloved, and she fervently prayed:  May my soul, without delay, leap into the eternal embrace of Your Merciful Love. 

And what about the rest of us poor mortals, not quite burning with the fire and holiness of Therese? Well, we can hope too. And, we can remember that God takes into account the suffering we have endured on earth. And, as Therese would say:  Can we ever hope for too much from God’s Goodness?



  by Father Dr.Hubert van Dijk, ORC¹

Doctor of the Church for the third millennium

St Therese of Lisieux, who was declared Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul   II on October 19, 1997, felt the calling in the monastery to teach others and wanted to be a teacher (docteur)1  Early on, God revealed the mysteries of His Love to her. She writes about this: “Ah! had the learned who spent their  life in study come to me, undoubtedly they would have been astonished to see a child of fourteen understand perfection’s secrets, secrets all their knowledge cannot reveal because to possess them one has to be poor in spirit!” 2

In his apostolic letter Divini Amoris Scientia, published when St Therese was declared Doctor of the Church, the Holy Father says that one should not look for a  scientific revelation of God’s mysteries. “Thus we can rightly recognize in the Saint of Lisieux the charism of a Doctor of the Church, because of the gift of the Holy Spirit she received for living and expressing her experience   faith, and because of her particular understanding of the mystery of Christ… That assimilation was certainly favored by the most singular natural gifts, but it was also evidently something prodigious, due to a charism of wisdom from the Holy Spirit.”3
Her writings offer an abundance of ideas concerning practically every field in theology and spirituality, a multitude which even a hundred years after her death bas been far from exhausted. As the popes repeatedly express: Therese of Lisieux is a gift to the Church. Before the year 2000, she was declared Doctor of the Church, becoming the third woman amongst the thirty-three recognized Doctors of the Church. She died young. Not only is she the youngest of all, but also the best known, loved, and read! Already she has given the Church a lot, and in the dawn of a new millennium, she will continue to bless the faithful with her many gifts. Thus, she is also known as “Doctor of the Church of the third millennium.
“One does not need to go to Purgatory”
Little Therese’s theology is a theology that springs from life, a theology of experience. She received a fervent Catholic upbringing at home, in her parish community, as well as at the school of the Benedictine nuns in Lisieux, and thus, she was familiar with the teaching of Purgatory. Being led by-the Holy Spirit, thoughts, notions, and ideas developed which finally became, “The teaching of the Little Flower on Purgatory.”4

The common teaching within the Church is that Purgatory can hardly be avoided. While still only a novice, the saint commented about this with one of the sisters,  Sr. Maria Philomena, who believed in the near impossibility of going to heaven without passing through purgatory:

You do not have enough trust. You have too much fear before the good God. I can assure you that     He is grieved over this. You should not fear Purgatory because of the suffering there, but should instead ask that you     not deserve to go there in order to please God, Who so reluctantly imposes this     punishment. As soon as you try to please Him in everything and have an unshakable trust He purifies you every moment in His love and He lets no     sin remain. And then you can be sure that you will not have to go to     Purgatory.5

She even said that we would  offend God if we didn’t trust enough that we would get to heaven right after dying. When she found out that her novices talked occasionally that they would probably have to expect to be in Purgatory, she corrected them saying: “Oh!  How you grieve me! You do a great injury to God in believing you’re going to Purgatory. When we love, we can’t go there.”6 Now, this is a new doctrine, but only for those who don’t know God, who are not childlike, who don’t trust. It is so correct to see things this way. It is true that God will judge us at one point, but He is always and first our Father Who… suffers when He has to punish His child and sees its suffering. The child should do His will just out of love, and not to avoid punishment. And this really means that God does not want Purgatory! He allows that His children suffer, but only  as if He had to look away.7
If St. Therese is correct that one does not need to be in Purgatory   because God Himself does not want this and would   love to help us, the thought that Purgatory can be avoided is suddenly not so far-fetched anymore. But first there is the problem of the
.  aforementioned opinion which says that only few will avoid Purgatory. This is   confirmed by great saints and mystics like St. John of the Cross who says, “Only a small number of souls achieve perfect   love”8 (perfect love is necessary to go straight to heaven). St.   Teresa of Avila also had the experience that only few   will be able to avoid Purgatory.9 St. John Vianney said, “It is definite that only a few chosen ones do not   go to Purgatory and the suffering there that one must. endure, exceeds our imagination.”10
One also has to take into consideration that even practicing Christians are convinced that even the good and faithful and those consecrated to God will have to be 
exposed to purification in Purgatory for a certain amount of time. The reason for this is always the same: “It is not easy to avoid Purgatory. No one is a saint, and I will certainly  have to spend some time there myself.” They add to this that “God is just” or   “we certainly deserve this.”

Therefore, it is even more amazing what St. Therese has to say. Once she encouraged her novice, Sr. Marie de la Trinire to have the faith that it was possible even  for her to get to heaven right away.Shewondered “If I fail even in: the smallest things, “may I still hope to get straight to heaven?” St Therese, who knew   well the weaknesses of her novice, replied: “Yes! God is so good. He will know how He can come and get you. But despite this, try to be faithful, so that He does not wait in vain for   your love.”11
God is Father rather than   Judge.

Once St. Therese had a confrontation regarding this topic with Sr. Marie  Febronia, who not only was sixty-seven   years old but also was sub-prioress. She had heard that St. Therese encouraged the novices to believe that they could go straight to heaven. She did not like this as she considered this kind of confidence presumptuous, and  thus she reproached St Therese. St Therese tried lovingly and calmly to explain to Sr. Febronia her point of view but with no success as Sr. Febronia clung to belief. For St.  Therese God was more Father than   Judge, and she took the liberty of finally responding,   “My sister, if you look for the justice of God you will get it. The soul will receive from   God exactly what she desires.”

The year had not passed when, in January 1892, Sr. M. Febronia together with other sisters fell prey to the flu and died. Three months later Sr. Therese had a dream which she related to her Mother Prioress and which was then documented: “O my   Mother, my Sr. M Febronia came to me last night and asked that we should pray for her:.  She is in Purgatory,   surely because she had trusted too little in the mercy of the good Lord. Through her imploring behavior and her profound looks, it seemed she wanted to  say, You were right. I am now delivered up to the full justice of God but it is my fault. If I had listened to you I would not be here now.”12
St. Therese’s “doctrine” in 7 key words

1. Purgatory became a rule   rather than the exception.

An infinite number of souls who suffer in Purgatory     and for whom the Church prays daily after consecration did not need to go there. If we think in human terms, God does not wish for us to need Purgatory. God     does not put us here on earth, where we are tested and are suffering after the fall, only to let us suffer     again–and much worse–in Purgatory. Everyone receives enough graces in order to go straight to God after passing the trials on earth. However, Purgatory is an emergency entry to Heaven for those who have wasted their time. However,     what God considered the exception became the rule, and the rule–to go straight to heaven–became the exception.

2. To cope with the “inevitable” is a grave error.

Since God does not really want Purgatory, He does not want it for me either! But then I also have to not want it! Nobody would expose themselves to the danger of Purgatory by living a mediocre and–as is the case so often today–a sinful life.    If they only thought of the intense sufferings in Purgatory. In this regard, the     mystics unanimously say that the least suffering in Purgatory is much greater than the     greatest suffering here on earth!The reason for this is that once in Purgatory, one does not go through the time of God’s Mercy but of God’s Justice. Here, the Lord’s word applies: “1 tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the very last    copper’ (Lk 12:59). The many who carelessly say, “I will probably spend some time  there,” are gravely wrong. Nobody just spends some time there, one has to suffer     there like one     has never suffered nor could have suffered while on earth. One often  even suffers a long time there also. If the Poor Souls in Purgatory had known on earth what to expect in eternity, Purgatory would have remained empty.

3. Purgatory is a waste of time.

   This is what St. Therese says, “I know that of myself I would not merit even     to enter that place of expiation since only holy souls can have entrance there.     But I also know that the Fire of Love is more sanctifying than is the fire of Purgatory.     I know that Jesus cannot desire useless sufferings for us, and that He would not inspire the longings I feel unless He wanted to grant them.”13 It is true that Purgatory is a wonderful grace, for if needed, without the purification in Purgatory we would not go    to Heaven, and the work of art which God intended and created us to be would not be    completed. But St. Therese is right: at the moment of our death we already have our    place in Heaven. Afterwards, there is no growing in grace anymore. Whoever does  not go through Purgatory does not miss anything.

4.   We need a more positive image of God.

We already know that St. Therese told her novices that they offended God when they thought they would go to Purgatory. That is a very shocking statement: for if this is correct, millions   of Christians are offending God or at least hurt Him. And     yet this is the case. They are focused only on themselves, thinking–not without    reason–that they deserve Purgatory. They do not notice God Who is by their side and would love to help them so much. The fact that we fear Purgatory so much also has     to do with a rather negative image that we have of God. We, Christians of     the 20th Century, were like so many, raised with the image of a strict God, anxious to punish us as often as we deserve it. This thinking goesback to heresies like Jansenism. Quietism, or Calvinism.     14

5. Love banishes fear

The question of whether Heaven will follow right after death is a question of trust. God     does not need our merits in order to take us straight to Him but He needs all of our     trust.    Or the other way around–it is not -our sins that can prevent God     from giving us this grace    but rather our lack of trust. Therefore, we must draw the conclusion that     everything depends solely on trust. There is no trust without perfect love. And vice versa, there is no     love without trust. And this is     exactly what the Apostle John writes in his first letter, “In this is love perfected with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as He is so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with     punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love” (1 Jn. 4:17-18).

This text enlightens our topic very much. Judgment Day is the day of our death. Whoever achieves perfect love at the moment of their death sees God as so merciful and generous that they cannot believe in punishment in Purgatory. We are dealing with the same kind of grace in the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. St. Thomas Aquinas teaches us that this Sacrament has as its real fruit the wiping out of punishment due to our sins.15 After those who have received the Sacrament of the    Anointing of the Sick, others present often notice that the sick enter a period of growing peace and trust, together with a great surrender to the Will of God, and even    serenity and desire for Heaven. This also applies to those who up to that point did not believe or even lived in mortal sin. Even these people, as the great theologians of the scholastics say–for example, St. Albert the Great or St. Bonaventure–go straight to Heaven without having to go through Purgatory first. This shows the wonderful grace coming from the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.16

6. The last will be the first.

While many Christians do receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick,     experience tells us that they do not go straight to Heaven. The mystics often relate    that many priests and religious suffer long time and have to     wait for their release. However, all of them or almost all of them have received the Sacrament of     the Anointing. What is the reason for this? The answer is certainly that they did not receive the Sacrament with the necessary repentance or     surrender to the Will of God, or that they did not want to change their flaws and vices a long time before their death.
St. Therese of Lisieux tells us that she heard that sometimes great saints with   
many merits come before the Judgment of God, but have to go to Purgatory because our justice before God is often unclean. That is why she recommends to give immediately away all the merits of our good deeds, and that it is better to appear before God empty-handed.17 She recommends to her oldest sister and godmother Marie, to be given Heaven free of charge by God.18

While on the one hand the first ones don’t always get to Heaven first, on the other hand there are enough examples that the last ones become the first ones. Therese refers in her writings to the Lord’s mercy towards the good thief,19 and wishes that the story from the “desert fathers,” about how a great sinner called Paesie died out of love and is being taken straight to heaven, should be added to her    autobiography, “Souls will understand immediately, for it is a striking example of     what I’m trying to say.”20   
When our great hour comes, as St. Therese writes to Abbe Roulland,   
missionary in China, if only we trust, the Blessed Virgin will obtain “the grace of making an act of perfect love” should we have “some trace of human weakness” and so will we reach heaven     immediately after death.21

7. St. Therese’s teaching, a great message for the third millennium

One can rightfully say that Therese is turning all common opinions on    Purgatory upside down.22 She wants to appear before God empty-handed and explains    why it can be easier for sinners who have nothing to rely upon, to reach Heaven than    the great saints with all their merits.. She emphasizes that trust alone is enough, that merits are no guarantee but often an obstacle for the straight way to Heaven, and that sins do not need to be an obstacle. After a ‘messed-up’ life, God can still take one straight to Heaven if the dying person only has trust. And how easy it can be to trust    if there are no     merits but only one’s misery! Through trust she shows the shorter way to Heaven to the small and humble. And so many can and will go that way. She    writes about this to her sister Marie:“…what pleases Him (God) is     that He sees me loving my littleness and my poverty, the blind hope that     I have in His mercy… That is my only treasure, dear Godmother, why     should this treasure not be yours?…”23

As has been said, she has made sanctity available     for everyone through her little way, and this is also true for the straight way to Heaven… This will no longer be an exception. Once those who are smart enough to gather from the treasures of our new Doctor of the Church will walk this way easily, especially those who want to be    part of the legion of little souls which St. Therese asked God for at the end of her    manuscript B, “I beg You to cast Your Divine     Glance upon a great number of little souls. I beg You to choose a legion of     little Victims worthy of YourLOVE!”24Yes, by listening to her wonderful message there will be many, many souls…    and with that, Purgatory stops being the unavoidable detour to Heaven!

    St. Therese of the Child Jesus gave us a lot to think about. There are   yet many new thoughts to be   understood in terms of theology. For us, however, the most important, even existentially significant of everything she wrote is the message on   Purgatory. The question of what happens to us after death should move us deeply. Let  us just remember Sr. Febronia and her suffering in Purgatory; her silent message from the next world should move us. “It seemed,” says Therese, “as if she wanted to say: If I had listened to you I would not be here now.” This is actually shocking when you think about it. One   has to admit that Sr. Febronia entered the next world through the wrong door. And with her, thousands and millions who would have managed to avoid  Purgatory. And why did they not achieve this? The simple reason is that nobody   showed them the correct way. Considering this, one does   understand that Therese is a true gift to the Church. God gave her to us as leader and comforter   for the apocalyptic days in which we very obviously live. Her message concerning Purgatory is a true grace of God’ s   merciful love for the moment of our death. One can apply the urgent exhortation of our LORD: “‘He who has ears to hear. let him hear” (Lk. 8:8).

Father Dr.   Hubert van Dijk, ORC



1. I would like to enlighten souls-as did the   Prophets and the Doctors.’St Thereseof Lisieux. Story of a   Soul. ICS. Washington     DC, 1996, Ms B, 2v, pg. 192. 2. St. Therese of Lisieux.  Story of a SOUL, ICS, Washington DC, 1996, Ms A, 49r. Jig. 105. 3. Divini Amoris, I.c., Nr. 7.4. Philippe de la Trinite,  La Doctrine de Sainte Therese sur Ie Purgatoire. Editions du Parvis, CH-1648 Hauteville/Suisse 1992,     pg. 16. . 5. Annales de Sainte Therese, Lisieux. Nr. 610, Febr. 1982. Translated   from the German. 6. Last Conversations,   ICS. Washington DC. 1971, pg 273.. 7. La Doctrine, l.c. pg 16. Translated from the German.   8. St. John of the Cross, The Dark Night, IT. ch. XX. 9. Ferdinand Holbőck.  Das Fegefeuer, Salzburg 1977, page 94f. Translated from the German. 10.  La Doctrine, 22f. Translated from the German.   11. Lucien Regnault, La Pensee de Ste. Therese de 1’Enfant Jesus sur Ie Purgatoire in Annales de Sainte Therese,   1986, Suppl. Nr     101, pages 21-29, quote on page 26. Translated from the German. 12. Annales de Sainte Therese, Nr. 610. Feb. 1983, page 5. Translated from the German.   13. Story of a Soul, Ms A, 84v, pg.181. 14. La Pensee,l.c., page 23. Translated from the German.   15. St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Suppl. Qu. 30, art. 1.   Translated from the German. 16. P. Philipon. Vie Spirituelle, Jan./Feb. 1945, pages 21-23; 16-17. Translated from the German. 17. La Doctrine, l.c. page 13. Translated from the German. 18. St. Therese of Lisieux, Letters St. Therese of Lisieux, ICS, Washington DC, 1913, Vol. II, pg 998, LT 197. 19. Pious Recreations, RP 6, 9v, translated from the German.   20. Last Conversations. pg. 89. CJ, 11.7.6   21. Letters of St. Therese of Lisieux. Vol. II, pg. 1093, LT 226.   22. La Pensee, l.c., pg. 28. Translated from the German.   23. Letters of St. Therese of Lisieux, Vol. II, pg. 999, LT 197.   24. Story of a Soul, pg. 200. Ms B, 5v.

(1) Webmaster’s Note: This article, in German, appears in the December 2001, and the January 2002 issue of “Der Fels” (A German Catholic Publication) – see  and respectively. It was translated into English by Père (Father) de la Trinité, ocd. Fr. Van Dijk, confirmed the authenticity of his writing – which I had requested because it appears that our website is the only place where this article appears in English. We have checked the references noted in the Footnotes, they all check out. Fr. Van Dijk hopes that we can make his paper known to the world. We shall try to do that. / Fred Schaeffer, SFO, webmaster.                            top

St Therese…victim of Love

Celebrating the Feast of my beloved St. Therese with a post from the archives.  May she pray for each of us “to love God as He has never been loved before.”

I pray that many who read these posts on Therese may experience God’s call to become little victims of His Merciful Love.


During Holy Mass on Trinity Sunday in 1895, twenty-two year old Sister Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face was given a most remarkable insight into the Merciful Heart of God.

Therese was so overwhelmed by this new inspiration of the Holy Spirit that she immediately sought out the Prioress, her sister Pauline (Mother Agnes of Jesus), who later described Therese as appearing “aglow with excitement.”

What transpired between God and Therese on that Trinity Sunday can best be described in her own words, written six months later and recorded in her autobiography, The Story of a Soul:

..I was enabled to understand more clearly than ever before how Jesus longs to be loved. I was thinking of those souls who offer themselves as victims to the Justice of God, so that, by drawing it down on themselves, they turn aside the punishment due to sinners. I thought this a noble and generous offer, but I was a long way from feeling that I should make it myself.

From the depths of my heart, I cried, “O my Divine Master, must it be only Your Justice which has its victims? Hasn’t Your Merciful Love need of them too? It is everywhere rejected and ignored. Those on whom You long to lavish It seek a wretched, fleeting happiness in other creatures instead of flinging themselves into Your arms and welcoming the flames of Your Divine Love.

Must Your rejected Love stay shut up in Your Heart? It seems to me that if You found souls offering themselves as sacrificial victims of Your Love, You would consume them speedily and would rejoice to unloose those torrents of infinite tenderness You hold within Yourself. If Your Justice must spend itself, though It is concerned only with the earth, how much more must Your Merciful Love long to inflame souls, since, “Thy Mercy reaches even to the Heavens..”

O Jesus, let me be Your eager victim and consume Your little sacrifice in the Fire of Divine Love.

Therese motioned for her sister Celine (Sister Genevieve of St. Teresa) to follow her as she went to find Mother Agnes. Celine described Therese as too overcome with emotion to speak. When at last she had located the prioress, Therese was able to breathlessly explain that she wished to offer herself as “a victim of holocaust to the Merciful Love of God.”

For Therese, her discovery was no passing whim or pious dream. Nor was it to be merely a lovely prayer or an unattainable desire.

To this pure and passionate soul, who had never wished for anything but His Happiness, God revealed that He desired a new kind of victim — one who would place no limits on the Love in which He burned to immerse her.

Therese knew that the greatest Joy of God is to give Himself away…to be a fountain of Mercy and Love to all of His children.

Years before, she had noticed in a picture of Jesus Crucified that His Precious Blood was falling to the ground with no one to receive it. She determined then that she would remain at the foot of His Cross to receive His Blood, and through her love, prayers and sacrifices, she would distribute this Blood to sinners so in need of it.

Now she beheld her God with His Love “locked up” in His Heart, with so few willing to notice or care. But her Beloved had revealed to His little spouse a remedy.

No, she would not be a victim of Divine Justice. She would instead become a victim of Merciful Love, allowing those rejected torrents of Infinite Love to fall upon her, to consume her, and in the end, she wished to “die of love.”

As I will share in the next post, Therese had already reached the heights of sanctity in 1895, but she did not hesitate to invite the novices in her care to also make the same Offering….and at the end of one of the three manuscripts which compose her autobiography, she exclaims to Jesus: I beg You to choose in this world a multitude of little victims worthy of Your LOVE!!! (sic)

And that includes you, and me…

Heaven’s Queen….our Mother

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.  Revelation 12:1


For many centuries, Catholics all over the world have rejoiced to honor Mary and call upon her aid under the title “Queen of Heaven.” According to St. John’s vision in Revelation 12:1, she appeared in heaven wearing a crown of 12 stars on her head, symbolic of the 12 tribes of Israel, and the 12 apostles who were the foundation stones of the New Israel, the Church. Mary is clearly the heavenly Queen of the People of God.

This title for Mary was also foreshadowed in the story of the Annunciation. When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, he promised her that her son would reign forever as the Messiah:

He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end (Lk 1:32-33).

Now, if Mary’s son was to inherit an everlasting Kingdom, this implies that Mary was literally to be the “Queen Mother” of His Kingdom, for we know for a fact that in ancient Israel, the mother of a king usually received the role and title of “Queen Mother.” As Catholic theologian Dr. Mark Miravalle points out:

In the Old Testament, Our Lady’s role as Advocate is foreshadowed in the office of the “Queen Mother.” …[T]he Queen Mother tradition refers to the tradition among the Davidic Kings to appoint their mothers as their queens of the kingdom, and who then became the principle advocates for the people of Israel to their kingly sons (cf. 1 Kings 2:19). The Queen-Mother was referred to as the “Gebirah” or “Great Lady” of the Kingdom, who gave the people of the kingdom their greatest intercession to the king. The Queen Mother, the “Great Lady” was therefore the principle advocate and intercessor for the people of the kingdom. (From the Marians of the Immaculate Conception)

Mary is indeed our Queen, for her Son is the King of kings!  But she is also our Beloved Mother, and as St. Therese so aptly expressed it:
Mary is more Mother than Queen.

Musings on Father’s Day……

I love this picture of my son and his one month old daughter on His first Father’s Day one year ago.  He is looking at her with such absolute delight, and she is trying to look back, in spite of her little bobbing head.   But, I see so much more  here…..

FathersDay14 022

This little scene reminds me so much of God’s Love for his children.

My son is obviously delighted with his baby girl, as he gazes upon her with sheer joy.  But why? What has she to give?  She doesn’t even know who he is yet.  She can’t even see him well, in spite of attempts to steady her bobbing little head long enough to see her father’s face.

But one thing she does have is trust.  She knows that firm but tender touch which supports her.  She recognizes the familiar voice, although the words are incomprehensible.  It’s a voice she has come to know, a voice that brings food and dry diapers and soothing back rubs when her tummy hurts.  In her four weeks of life, she has already learned that her dad’s voice means safety and comfort.  Perhaps most of all, it means the warmth of being held close in his strong arms.

One day she will see his face, and comprehend his words and begin to understand how much he loves her.  But for now, she begins with trust.  When he’s there, it’s safe and warm and she falls asleep.

When Jesus spoke of becoming like little children if we wanted to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, maybe He was thinking of helpless infants trusting completely, because they haven’t yet learned how to doubt.

And maybe this is where God wants us to be, resting peacefully in His arms.

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After a year of seeing and knowing and being loved…she is learning to give back, if only in that adorable smile! <3

What a difference a year makes! Father’s Day 2015

Do you know your ruling grace?


I first encountered St. Peter Julian Eymard when I came across his marvelous nine volume set of little books devoted to the Holy Eucharist.

As I began to collect these treasures penned by the French priest who founded the Blessed Sacrament Fathers, I found myself particularly drawn to one, simply titled “Holy Communion.”

My somewhat tattered copy of this little book is heavily highlighted, especially within the chapter named The Grace of Life. In this little chapter, I learned from St. Peter Julian something I had not heard of before….that each soul seeking the way of perfection on the spiritual journey possesses a “ruling grace.”

It is a grace of perfection which demands much more than the mere accomplishment of the law; it is the life, the sanctity of the soul.

….in the supernatural order, there are ruling graces, accessory graces, and complementary graces. Of the ruling graces, a single one is sufficient to lead to perfection. They give life and force to all other graces; they are the seal and impress of a life. (Holy Communion, pp. 170-171)

Did you ever wonder why you may not be especially attracted to fasting and penance, or why you admire those who work intensely with the poor, but you yourself do not seem drawn to do so? Do you struggle to have a constant awareness of Our Lord’s Passion, or become frustrated because you cannot seem to pray the rosary as often as you think you should?

If so, the above virtues and devotions are most likely not your ruling grace…the grace of your life. The “impress” of your life.

The ruling grace of a soul has two effects: first, it points out the path the soul must follow in its spiritual conduct; second, it guides the soul to a special vocation.

This grace of graces will give a special impress to piety, to virtue, to life. It will be the moving force of all actions, so that the soul will make every advance, will do everything from a single impulse.

To embrace all virtues together is beyond the scope of the human spirit. We cannot fix our gaze on all at once; it would be too great a strain and would result in a loss of simplicity and in suffering for us. Our efforts would be scattered instead of converging in unity toward one central object.

Each one must seek inwardly to discover his predominant grace, for upon correspondence with this grace depends the entire spiritual life. (Ibid, pp. 172-173)

And then St. Peter Julian continues on for several pages, writing about his own personal ruling grace, devotion to the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar.

He describes this grace of special love for the Blessed Sacrament to be the sweetest and most excellent of the ruling graces, and also the most frequently given by God.

At the end of this chapter, he warns that, “We must cooperate with this grace with great fidelity; if we are unfaithful to our ruling grace, we shall be unfaithful to all others. ( p.177)

I am grateful to St. Peter Julian Eymard for his teaching on the grace of our life. It gives one peace in orienting prayer and action in the direction one’s soul feels especially drawn. It relieves guilt over not forcing oneself into spiritual practices which do not seem to resonate with the soul.

Most wonderfully, it instills passion and joy into the spiritual journey, so that even when one is wandering in the desert, they still find comfort in clinging to their ruling grace…that special grace which acts like a prism through which they view the mysteries of God.

This teaching of St. Peter Julian does not mean that one is dispensed from seeking perfection through other means, such as penance, Our Lord’s Passion, etc. But the soul who has identified its ruling grace will learn to incorporate this special attraction into every area of their spiritual life.

In the very heart of the tree is the sap, which is its life. Wood and bark protect that life and tend to shield it from the cold of winter.

Ah Well! Your sovereign grace is the sap which gives fertility to every branch of your life. Guard it well; defend it as the heart, as the soul of your supernatural life. ( p. 177)

St. Peter Julian Eymard, pray for us!

(All quotations above in italics are taken from Book II of the Eymard Library, Holy Communion,published by The Eymard League, 1948)

(from the archives, first published August 2, 2012)

A Perfect Mother’s Heart…..

Behold, the only Heart which loves Jesus with a Mother’s love….

image And would she not be perfect, and pure and rendered impeccable by God for her unique and glorious privilege:  to conceive, bear and mother the only-begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ Who took upon Himself her very flesh.

Immaculate Mary, pray for us!

A Prayer so needed in these times….


Act of Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Most sweet Jesus,
Redeemer of the human race,
look down upon us,
humbly prostrate before Thine altar.

We are Thine and Thine we wish to be;
but to be more surely united with Thee,
behold each one of us freely consecrates himself today
to Thy Most Sacred Heart.

Many, indeed, have never known Thee;
many, too, despising Thy precepts,
have rejected Thee.

Have mercy on them all,
most merciful Jesus,
and draw them to Thy Sacred Heart.

Be Thou King, O Lord,
not only of the faithful who have never forsaken Thee,
but also of the prodigal children who have abandoned Thee,
grant that they may quickly return to their Father’s house,
lest they die of wretchedness and hunger.

Be Thou King of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions,
or whom discord keeps aloof
and call them back to the harbour of truth and unity of faith,
so that soon there may be but one flock and one shepherd.

Be Thou King of all those who even now sit in the shadow of idolatry or Islam,
and refuse not Thou to bring them into the light of Thy kingdom.
Look, finally, with eyes of pity upon the children of that race,
which was for so long a time Thy chosen people;
and let Thy Blood, which was once invoked upon them in vengeance,
now descend upon them also in a cleansing flood of redemption and eternal life.

Grant, O Lord,
to Thy Church,
assurance of freedom and immunity from harm;
give peace and order to all nations,
and make the earth resound
from pole to pole with one cry:
Praise to the Divine Heart
that wrought our salvation:
to it be glory
and honour forever.


By Pope Pius XI