Let us walk with Jesus on this Lenten journey. He is, after all, the Way, and there is no other way to Eternal Life.
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through Him, and without Him, nothing came to be. What came to be through Him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.
And the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, and we saw His glory, the glory of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-5, 14) NAB
I AM THE WAY AND THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE
A dear friend posted this picture on Facebook yesterday, and when I saw it, I thought: Now, this reminds me of the kind of “Valentine” that God sends to us at every moment of our lives. And, considering all the snow which has fallen in many areas of our country recently, the words on the picture also brought a smile to my face, as I remembered something St. Therese once said.
Therese had completed her postulancy in Carmel, and was about to be clothed in the holy habit of Carmel on January 10, 1889.
In those days, the taking of the habit was a magnificent ceremony in which the postulant was dressed as a bride, just as she would be to marry an earthly spouse. Only in the case of a religious, it would be the last time she would wear secular clothes.
Therese, barely 16 yeas old, is reported to have been a vision of loveliness as she was escorted to the altar on her father’s arm. She wore an exquisite velvet dress, with appliques of the Alencon lace which her mother so beautifully made for many years before her death when Therese was four-years-old.
On her head was a veil with a crown of roses and on her feet, white satin shoes. I have seen these shoes, and Therese did not have small feet. :) She was actually quite tall for her time, measuring five feet, five inches.
Everything was perfect except for one tiny wish Therese cherished in her heart. She wanted it to snow on her clothing day. She loved snow, but this had been a warm and balmy January, and snow was not in the forecast.
But now, I’ll let her tell the story of the snow in her own words, from her autobiography, The Story of a Soul:
That January day, the weather was so mild, snow seemed unlikely. However, upon returning to the cloister, the first thing that struck my eye was the statue of ‘the little Jesus’ smiling at me from the midst of flowers and lights. Immediately afterwards my glance was drawn to the snow: the monastery garden was white like me! What thoughtfulness on the part of Jesus! Anticipating the desires of his fiancée, He gave her snow. Snow! What mortal bridegroom, no matter how powerful he may be, could make snow fall from heaven to charm his beloved?”
I love this story. It reveals the tender charm of our Great God Who did not think it too much to grant His most pure little bride the snow she so longed for.
And, let us remember His Words in the picture above, to St. Teresa of Avila: I would create the Universe again, just to hear you say you love Me.
We can be sure that He says the same to you and to me. And I can’t imagine a more beautiful….or romantic Valentine…..can you?
And what will we offer Him in return?
( A post from the archives, but such a perfect Valentine)
Permanently my eyes are on Yahweh,
for He will free my feet from the snare.
Permanently, unwaveringly, immovably, let my eyes be fixed on You alone, O Most Blessed Jesus! In Your Divinely Beautiful Gaze, I find all love, all peace, all strength, all wisdom, all joy.
Like Peter who was privileged to walk on water, I can do all things in You. It is only when I look away for a moment, that I too begin to perish.
O Eternal Beauty, let no creature, no earthly attraction draw my gaze away from Your Loveliness. But when in my foolishness, I am distracted from the incomparable Glory of Your Face, grant that I may turn again immediately to You, Who have promised to free my feet from the snares of this world.
O my Adorable Jesus, the more I look upon You in the Most Blessed Sacrament, the more intimate this gaze we share becomes. My poor heart is drawn ever deeper into Your Flaming One. In silent adoration, I come to know You, and to experience that I am known and loved beyond my most daring desires.
I make my own the prayer of St. Therese: “Jesus, grant that I may be fascinated by Your Gaze, and be the prey of YOUR LOVE!”
(First published, June 5, 2011)
(This map represents states which have a combined population of 57 million, the number of babies aborted in the United States since 1973. Will the map someday all be blacked out?)
I’m so sorry that I didn’t get to meet them…the 57 million who were slaughtered before they were even born. No doubt they would have been much like all of us….some brilliant and gifted, bringing wonders to the world: another Louis Pasteur or Steve Jobs (almost aborted) or Albert Einstein for example.. I’m sure there were Saints among them too…maybe like Blessed Mother Teresa, or perhaps St. Augustine or our beloved St John Paul.
Surely there were priests as well…priests who will never offer the Holy Mass or raise their hands in blessing, priests called by God from all eternity and yet, never ordained.
Probably, most of the 57 million were destined for ordinary lives like me, and maybe you…but called to holiness all the same. Called to become God’s dream of them, invested with talents, and a mission which no one else can ever fulfill. Called to leave a unique footprint upon the earth which no one else can match.
But we will never know. We will never know if heart disease could now be prevented, or if cancer would have been cured in our lifetime. There are so many beautiful faces we will never see….so many smiles, so much laughter never heard. And, we have lost not only the 57 million, but the countless millions who would have been their descendants…denied to us and the ages to come
What wonders had God planned for us….He Who only desires our good? Who was He sending that we threw back into His face? And who are we to play God? Adam and Eve tried that, and we know what happened to them, and to us.
I am haunted by the immense impact of destroying 57 million lives before they could even draw a breath. I am missing friends, neighbors, maybe even family members, for all I know. I would like to have met them, known them, seen their gifts and talents flourish, rejoice as they learned about God and His Love for them, prayed with them, held them….my fellow human beings, my sisters and brothers of our Heavenly Father.
Dear ones whom we remember on this dreadful anniversary, I am so sorry that you are lost to us….so tearful that this earth is soaked with your blood. We are so much poorer for your absence, for all the gifts God intended for you to spread in our pathways….for your brightness, your inspiration, your genius which we will never know.
But there is one thing you can still do:
PRAY FOR US, FOR WE ARE THE CULTURE OF DEATH!
O Holy Night….words so precious, so sublime that it seems they must be whispered. Jesus has come! The Light has come into the world. The Son of God has been born, and nothing will ever be the same.
I give thanks to the Lord with all of my heart that I was chosen to live after the coming of Jesus. I cannot imagine a world without Jesus; a life without the sweet and consoling Presence of His Love.
He is truly the Light of the world. How dark those places are where He is shut out, where His Beauty, Truth and Love are unknown or rejected.
Imagine….living in the era before the birth of Jesus. How hopeless life must have seemed, for Jesus is our Hope, our Joy, our Everything!
O Heavenly Father, thank You for the Gift of Your Son, Whose birth we celebrate on this Holy Night. We are astonished that Your Love would deign to send Him to us, to live among us, to give His Life that we might have eternal life. Jesus, the inestimable Gift!
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness grasped it not.
It was the true light that enlightens every man who comes into the world.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. And we saw his glory…glory as of the only-begotten of the Father..full of grace and of truth.
(John 1: 4, 9, 14)
This evening at Mass, on the Solemnity of Christ the King, I watched as the line formed to receive Our Lord’s Precious Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in Holy Communion.
Is Jesus not the most approachable of Kings? One Who is humble, condescending and generous beyond all imagining!
As I took my place in the Communion line I thought of how this Glorious King does not seek to surround Himself with the rich and powerful of His Kingdom, but prefers the simple and ordinary souls who would never be allowed in the presence of an earthly king.
Yet, if Jesus has any favorites, it is the poorest, most despised and rejected among us. His heart aches to love the least loved. His Mercy burns for the most wretched sinner. Jesus is the King of Love.
As I drew nearer to the priest and glanced above the altar, I did not behold a King robed in magnificent garments and crowned with jewels. I saw a gentle and irresistible King, hanging on a cross and wearing a crown of thorns.
This is Jesus Who is both King and Bridegroom, Whose Merciful Heart longs to wed every soul to Himself, to give each a share in His Eternal Glory and even a participation in His Own Divine Life.
That is what you do when you wed someone. You give them all that you have, and all that you are. And when Jesus gives Himself to us in Holy Communion, that is what He does. He gives ALL.
And for a throne, Jesus desires our hearts….yours and mine. How unthinkable that He would prefer us over all Creation, but He does. He yearns to be King of our hearts and make His dwelling there. He told us so on the night before He died.
Anyone who loves Me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we shall come to him
and make a home in him. (John 14:23) NJB
I could never find a picture for this post, glorious and beautiful enough to illustrate Jesus as He reigns in Heaven. But, I don’t think Jesus minds at all. He still bears His Wounds in Glory.
And somehow, I think He prefers the crown of thorns over any crown of gold and precious stones.
It is His Crown of Love….this King of Love. My King. Hopefully, your King too..
Our Heavenly Bridegroom!
Tomorrow is Halloween, and there is a horror movie being released called Ouija. I’ve read reviews of it and throughout the movie, the young people “playing” with this extremely dangerous tool of the occult keep saying, “It’s only a game.”
But it isn’t. I am re-posting today my own terrifying experience resulting from involvement with this so-called “game.”
Sadly, ouija boards are sold in the toy departments of many popular stores. Tragically, sales will probably increase after the release of this movie.
I hope you will read my story below, which is also an account of God’s Grace and Mercy.
If my story doesn’t convince you, please at least listen to Catholic exorcists who warn about ouija boards being one of the portals though which the devil and his demons can enter into your life in powerful ways.
Praised be Jesus Christ Whose Holy Name makes all of hell tremble!
(St. Michael the Archangel, protect us from evil.)
As I reached the top of the staircase, intense hatred rushed upon me, almost smothering me with its rage. I gagged as though I were being choked, and the unseen evil fled as swiftly as it had come.
It all started a few months before with that ouija board. My husband was away on business, and I had gone to spend two weeks with my former college roommate. We were working on a writing project together.
I arrived on a Sunday evening, which also happened to be March 25, Feast of the Annunciation….but I hadn’t even been to Mass. I was a confused Catholic, steeped in my sins, ashamed to go to confession, and who with an arrogance which now horrifies me, had decided I would “fix” everything when I was “old”….like maybe 60 or so.
My friend, Anne, brought out some entertainment after dinner….a homemade ouija board. I laughed. My mother had one when I was a child, and none of use had ever been able to make it “work.”
But Anne explained that her husband’s cousin had visited recently and that she had the “gift,” and now Anne had it too. I was completely skeptical until I touched the base of the delicate sherry glass we were using as a pointer, and it literally flew across the table in search of a letter.
I was astounded. There was no doubt that something unworldly was happening. We spent hours at the table, asking questions and getting answers from “deceased relatives,” all of whom claimed to be in Purgatory.
Thus began my entry into the world of the occult– months of deception and confusion, and contact with evil, the potential danger of which I will only fully understand when God reveals it to me in eternity.
God, O God! How can I ever praise Him enough for His Grace and Mercy! Never can I doubt that He can bring great good out of evil…no matter how dark that evil is. He literally brought me to conversion and a return to my faith at the same time that I was caught up in this dangerous foray into the occult.
Anne and I had no intentions of doing anything evil. Neither of us thought that what we were doing was sinful. Anne had placed a rosary on the table and we had prayed a Hail Mary before we touched the sherry glass. But, praying before one enters into sinful activity, especially when it involves opening oneself up to the power of evil spirits is an abuse of prayer.
Why God protected us from worse harm, and even brought great good out of this situation remains another mystery for now. But He did, and briefly, this is how it came about.
As Anne and I continued to “converse” with spirits on the ouija board for several days, we soon became aware that we could also “hear” them in our thoughts. This began slowly, with our “hearing” the words before they were actually spelled out on the board. In our ignorance and foolishness, we were delighted. We could now “talk” with our deceased loved ones without the slow and cumbersome ouija board.
One afternoon, about mid-week, I was working alone on our writing project when suddenly, unexpected words broke into my consciousness. As stated above, I had become used to this by now. But, I was not expecting the message I was given.
“You must go to confession.” I froze. Confession? We had been going to Mass all week. I was talking to souls in Purgatory. I thought things were “cool” between God and me. I thought He had waived the confession thing. Wasn’t I special….even allowed to talk to “holy souls?”
“You must go to confession, or God will be so sad.” This second command cut through my resistance and went straight to my heart. “….God will be so sad.” How could I refuse now? I had longed for Him ever since I could remember….ever since I had committed what my seven-year-old conscience deemed a mortal sin. (Please see https://theholyfaceofjesus.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/on-my-way-to-hell-at-seven/ for a helpful introduction to this current post.)
As it dawned upon me that yes, I would have to obey, I heard a comforting promise, “Don’t worry. We will be with you and give you strength.”
Over the many years since this happened at age 25, I have pondered the above message. At first I thought it was the evil spirits putting me to a test they thought I would fail, and thus enable them to have even more access to me. But, as I have grown in faith and knowledge, and hopefully in God’s Grace throughout the years, I have come to think that it was perhaps my guardian angel……permitted by God to offer an invitation to me. To offer it in such a way that it would be so very hard to refuse. To phrase it almost as though he were speaking to that seven-year-old. The tone of this voice was kind and encouraging……something the other voices seemed unable to imitate.
I immediately told Anne, crying in her arms in terror. She was very supportive and encouraging. She even suggested that we talk to her pastor after I went to confession, and ask him what he thought about what we had been doing with the ouija board, and how we now had voices in our heads.
When Saturday afternoon arrived, Anne drove me to her parish church, and I did what I had avoided for the past 18 years. I entered the dark confessional and knelt down, my heart pounding out of my chest. But, I wasn’t alone. Just like the voice had said, there was a presence with me, a warm and loving and strong presence. The priest slid open the little window and I felt surreal, as I somehow stammered out an honest confession. Although my body was in a panic, my mind and spirit were clear, and strangely calm.
The priest was most kind. Hearing my situation, he gently led me through the Ten Commandments, listening carefully, but asking only a few questions. It was all over in what seemed a brief moment, and then I heard the most beautiful words in the world, “I absolve you from your sins, in the Name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
But, I hadn’t confessed playing with the ouija board. I didn’t think it was a sin. However, shortly after Father finished hearing confessions, Anne and I entered the sacristy to tell him all about it, and to ask his advice. Although well-intentioned, he did not send us away with the wise counsel we needed. And we were led further into the darkness.
To those who will not return to read the next installment, please know this: never, ever, dabble in the occult. Do not even read horoscopes for fun. All of these “fun” things have the capacity to open the door to the powers of evil (fallen angels) which are very real, and which hate you beyond anything you can imagine. As I will explain next time, even a soul in the state of grace can still suffer from the effects of past involvement in the occult.
But God is so faithful, so merciful and loving that there is nothing to fear, if one asks His forgiveness and places themselves in His care, determined to never, ever again go near ouija, boards, tarot cards, crystals, fortune tellers, mediums, etc. Avoid like poison anything even remotely associated with the occult. Please!
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.
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
(Italics by me)
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).