Lifting up the world….in Him

Today is the Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux, my most beloved heavenly friend.  This post combines some of her wisdom with my own thoughts about the last presidential election.  I thought it might be appropriate to re-visit it today.  Blessings to everyone on this beautiful Feast of the great Virgin and Doctor of the Church,  Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, OCD.

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It has been reported that 50 percent of Catholics overall, and 42 percent of Catholics who regularly attend Mass voted to re-elect the current president.  I was astounded by the latter number in particular.  How can this be?

It is sad but true that many good people simply accept abortion as a “necessary evil,” one which they would not choose to participate in, but which they accept as an option for others. This same attitude of relativism is driving the tolerance and even approval of so-called same sex “marriage.” I know some of these people. They attend Mass, but ignore much of the Church’s teaching on social issues. The Church is, after all,  “extreme in these matters…and hopelessly out of date….”   As am I.

Over the past few days, I have been wondering, “What can I do Lord?  How can I make a difference?”

Then I read Evening Prayer for today, and the power of God was pulsing through every line of Psalm 46:

God is for us a refuge and strength,
a helper close at hand, in time of distress,
so we shall not fear though the earth should rock,
though the mountains fall into the depths of the sea;
even though its waters rage and foam,
even though the mountains be shaken by its waves.

And I was uplifted.  God is with us.  Of course He is!  He always is…..

Then in the Reading which followed the Psalms, I found the future….so far removed from our world engulfed by sin and darkness.  I saw the future which God desires for each one of His children:

I saw a new Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down out of heaven from God, beautiful as a bride prepared to meet her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne cry out: “This is God’s dwelling among men. He shall dwell with them and they shall be his people and he shall be their God who is always with them.” I saw no temple in the city. The Lord, God the Almighty, is its temple — he and the Lamb. But nothing profane shall enter it, nor anyone who is a liar or has done a detestable act. Only those shall enter whose names are inscribed in the book of the living kept by the Lamb.  (Revelation 21: 2-3, 22, 27)

One day, I hope to dwell in this holy place with all of my brothers and sisters.

And God brought to mind what I could do.  I thought of the Angel of Peace, who appeared to the children of Fatima.  I remembered the prayers that He taught them, and I particularly remembered the brief intercessory prayer, so simple, so perfect:

My God, I believe, I adore, I trust and I love Thee! I beg pardon for all those that do not believe, do not adore, do not trust and do not love Thee.

This prayer from Heaven was entrusted to the innocent souls of little children. But, we can all pray it, sinners though we may be. We can pray for those who may be far from God, and not even aware of it, or worse, not even care.

But God is so Good and so Merciful, and Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has won for us an Infinite Treasury of Graces from which our prayers may draw down pardon, light, a change of hearts…even miracles.

In the words of the “greatest Saint of modern times,”

The Almighty has given them (the saints) as fulcrum: HIMSELF ALONE; as lever: PRAYER which burns with the fire of love. And it is in this way they have lifted the world; it is in this way that the saints still militant lift it, and that, until the end of time, the saints to come will lift it.” Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of ST. Therese of Lisieux (3rd edition, by John Clarke, O.C.D.), p. 258.

LORD, send us Your Holy Spirit, that our prayers may “burn with the fire of love,” so that like St. Therese, we may lift the world up to You, so that one day all people will believe in, adore, trust and love You.

“Be still and know that I am God, supreme among the nations, supreme on the earth!” (Psalm 46)

(All Scripture verses are from the Liturgy of the Hours, Evening Prayer II, Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran)

(First posted on November 9, 2012)
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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.  

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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?

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“God’s Mercy is Greater!” THE TEACHING OF ST. THERESE OF LISIEUX ON PURGATORY

  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!

Conclusion
    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

 

Footnotes:

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, I.c.page 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 www.der-fels.de/2001/12-2001.pdf  and www.der-fels.de/2002/01-2002.pdf 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

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).

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)

St. Therese’s Act of Oblation to Merciful Love…

As I have written about in my two previous posts, God entrusted to St. Therese a most beautiful and astonishing revelation. It was truly a Divine response of Infinite Goodness to her deepest longing “…to love You as You have never been loved before.”

Therese, flushed with joy on Trinity Sunday, 1895, was inspired by her Beloved to offer herself as a victim to Merciful Love. No longer would God’s rejected Love have to remain “…locked up in Your Heart.” Therese would offer her entire being to receive these Torrents of Divine Love. She even hoped that they would consume her so that she would “…become a martyr to Your Love…”

But Therese knew that so great an invitation, springing from the depths of Infinite Tenderness, was not meant for her alone. She convinced several of the other nuns in her monastery to also make this Act of Oblation. And, she invites us too!

But lest anyone feel they are unworthy to make such an offering, please know that you are then the most worthy. I quote Therese: Is the choice of me worthy of Love? Yes, for in order that Love should be fully satisfied, it needs to stoop down, to stoop down to Nothingness and to transform this Nothingness into FIRE.

So, the least and littlest and the poorest souls are those which allow God’s Love to soar to the heights in manifesting Its Greatness and Magnanimity.

So, little souls, let us not be afraid. Therese thought of us long ago: I beg You to choose in this world a multitude of little victims worthy of Your LOVE!!!

ACT OF OBLATION TO MERCIFUL LOVE

J.M.J.T.

Offering of myself as a Victim of Holocaust to God’s Merciful Love

O My God! Most Blessed Trinity, I desire to Love You and make You Loved, to work for the glory of Holy Church by saving souls on earth and liberating those suffering in purgatory. I desire to accomplish Your will perfectly and to reach the degree of glory You have prepared for me in Your Kingdom. I desire, in a word, to be a saint, but I feel my helplessness and I beg You, O my God! to be Yourself my Sanctity!

Since You loved me so much as to give me Your only Son as my Savior and my Spouse, the infinite treasures of His merits are mine. I offer them to You with gladness, begging You to look upon me only in the Face of Jesus and in His heart burning with Love.

I offer You, too, all the merits of the saints (in heaven and on earth), their acts of Love, and those of the holy angels. Finally, I offer You, O Blessed Trinity! the Love and merits of the Blessed Virgin, my dear Mother. It is to her I abandon my offering, begging her to present it to You. Her Divine Son, my Beloved Spouse, told us in the days of His mortal life: “Whatsoever you ask the Father in my name he will give it to you!” I am certain, then, that You will grant my desires; I know, O my God! that the more You want to give, the more You make us desire. I feel in my heart immense desires and it is with confidence I ask You to come and take possession of my soul. Ah! I cannot receive Holy Communion as often as I desire, but, Lord, are You not all-powerful? Remain in me as in a tabernacle and never separate Yourself from Your little victim.

I want to console You for the ingratitude of the wicked, and I beg of You to take away my freedom to displease You. If through weakness I sometimes fall, may Your Divine Glance cleanse my soul immediately, consuming all my imperfections like the fire that transforms everything into itself.

I thank You, O my God! for all the graces You have granted me, especially the grace of making me pass through the crucible of suffering. It is with joy I shall contemplate You on the Last Day carrying the sceptre of Your Cross. Since You deigned to give me a share in this very precious Cross, I hope in heaven to resemble You and to see shining in my glorified body the sacred stigmata of Your Passion.

After earth’s Exile, I hope to go and enjoy You in the Fatherland, but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for Your Love alone with the one purpose of pleasing You, consoling Your Sacred Heart, and saving souls who will love You eternally.

In the evening of this life, I shall appear before You with empty hands, for I do not ask You, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is stained in Your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in Your own Justice and to receive from Your Love the eternal possession of Yourself. I want no other Throne, no other Crown but You, my Beloved!

Time is nothing in Your eyes, and a single day is like a thousand years. You can, then, in one instant prepare me to appear before You.

In order to live in one single act of perfect Love, I OFFER MYSELF AS A VICTIM OF HOLOCAUST TO YOUR MERCIFUL LOVE, asking You to consume me incessantly, allowing the waves of infinite tenderness shut up within You to overflow into my soul, and that thus I may become a martyr of Your Love, O my God!

May this martyrdom, after having prepared me to appear before You, finally cause me to die and may my soul take its flight without any delay into the eternal embrace of Your Merciful Love.

I want, O my Beloved, at each beat of my heart to renew this offering to You an infinite number of times, until the shadows having disappeared I may be able to tell You of my Love in an Eternal Face to Face!

Marie, Francoise, Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, unworthy Carmelite religious.
This 9th day of June, Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, In the year of grace, 1895.

(All emphases by St. Therese)

Reproduced with permission from Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux, translated by John Clarke, O.C.D. Copyright 1975 by the Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc. Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications.

What is a victim of Love?

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

In my previous post, You are invited by St. Therese, 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!

(Next week, I will post the text of Therese’s Offering to Merciful Love….perhaps you too will choose to join her “multitude of little victims worthy of Your Love!!!”)

Tuesday adoration….give Me every moment

adoration

Jesus is real.  He’s not a nice idea, or someone who lived long ago.  He’s real now.

I was driving to my Tuesday adoration hours this afternoon when a very joyful young woman on the radio emphatically stated the above words.  Coincidentally, she was sharing her own experiences with Our Blessed Lord in Eucharistic Adoration.

“We cannot conceive how much our visits mean to Him,” she went on.  Then she shared this little story:

I had promised to make a holy hour each day during Lent.  But one night, I got home really late, and I decided to go to bed instead.  But, the Lord was relentless.  My conscience kept bothering me and so I got up and got dressed and went to the chapel.

I tried to stay awake, and after checking my watch, I saw that 50 minutes had passed.  Is it okay if I leave now, Jesus?  It’s almost an hour.  Then I heard in my heart these words, “Before you go, open the bible.”  So, I did, and it opened to Matthew 26:40, “Could you not watch one hour with Me?”  Oh no!  I’m so sorry, Jesus.  I’ll stay.

And then she went on to talk about how crazy in love with each of us Jesus is.  How it matters; it really matters that we spend time with Him.

Funny….earlier today I was going through a box of old books, and thumbed through one about some private revelations concerning the Eucharist from Jesus to a nun in Kenya. ” I count your very breaths, your every heartbeat.  You cannot imagine My Love for you….and I am abandoned here in My tabernacle.”  I put that book in the save pile.

Listening to that joyful young woman on the radio this afternoon gave me much to ponder when I reached the chapel….three minutes late.  My prayer partner is always on time, so it never occurred to me that being one to five minutes late, as I often am, mattered that much.  But today I realized that it matters very much to Jesus.  

When you love someone deeply, you cannot wait to see them again.  When my son and his wife came for dinner Sunday, I was so excited when I heard their car in the driveway.

But Jesus!  Who can measure His Love for us?  He sold Himself for me, for you.  I know He thought about us while He hung on that Cross.  And because He is God, He could think of each and every one of us by name.  I think He did that.  I think His Love, not His Power, was the strength that kept Him on that Cross.

What did He see, looking down through the ages?  Who would return His Love?  Is that why He cried out, “I thirst!”  Did He see the paltry return most of us would make for His entire gift of Himself?

Did He see me, taking a break, between my 4pm and 5pm holy hours?  While it’s true that because I am the only adorer at 5pm, I often need to grab a little snack before my 4pm prayer partner leaves…because I tend to get low blood sugar symptoms at the 6pm Mass, if I don’t.

But, how many times have I checked phone messages while in the car getting my snack? Or even texted a quick reply to someone?  Or put on some lipstick?  And yet, Jesus was counting the minutes.  Jesus, was in the chapel waiting, while I wasted time that I had promised to Him.

Jesus is real!  But, He is so much more than that.  He is God, and He loves us beyond anything that we could desire or dream of or hope for.  The Saints tell us that we would literally die if we could for a moment experience that Love in Its Fullness.

St. Therese experienced a few moments of only a touch of this Divine Love a few days after she had made her Act of Oblation to Merciful Love, and she declared that she would have been dead, had It lasted a second longer.  She was on fire!

I thank Jesus that I heard that young woman on the radio today.  It was like He was saying to me:

Remember a long time ago, when you first began to come?  Remember when spending hours with me was so new to you?

You brought Me flowers, and you knelt the whole time just gazing at Me.  You were so careful to bow reverently, and you hated so much to leave Me when our time was over.

Let it be like that again.  I so long for your love, and every moment is precious to Me.  Don’t  waste even one when you are here.  

Most of all, fall in love with Me again…and again.   Just as I am forever and eternally in love with you, My precious child.

Just until glory comes….

A few days ago, I asked Our Blessed Lady to be the mistress of my home, and that I might be her servant girl.  I am in dire need of her loving presence, guidance and wisdom in my vocation as wife, mother and homemaker…and every other aspect of my life as well.

So, I’ve been listening, eager to hear her advice.  Yesterday, I was busy about those boring, mundane chores which most of us have to do on a regular basis.

I get tired of dusting and vacuuming and cleaning out the refrigerator.  Whilst wielding my Swiffer duster, I daydream of doing other things…at least writing a blog post, or maybe even an e-book.  I wish I lived in a bigger city where there were more exciting things to do.  Nothing ever happens here.  I wish I could make a 30 day retreat, or even travel to all the places of pilgrimage in the world or be involved in Catholic radio.  I still have dozens of books left to read, and if I could work on being an Olympic figure skater… I wish…..hmmm.

Yesterday, I washed the kitchen curtains, and as I struggled to slip the rod past the seam, it got hung up, and I tried to be patient as I maneuvered the fabric.

Then I thought of Jesus, working with Joseph in the carpenter shop in Nazareth.  Jesus, laboring by the sweat of His brow, struggling to shape furniture out of wood… He Who twirls the planets and makes the stars twinkle, and fashions each snowflake into a tiny work of art.

Was He bored?  No…because He did everything out of Love (being Love Himself), and in obedience to His Father’s Will.  Who more than the King of Heaven had a right to put down the tools, and with but a mere thought transform the trees of Palestine into acres of woodcraft?  But, He never did.  He never walked away from the hard work.  Just like He didn’t walk away from the Cross.

Love constrained Jesus.  Love of us confined Him to tedious work in a small town for most of His life, and then to traveling with and teaching a rag-tag group of men who deserted Him when He was preparing to lay down His life for them..and for us.

And I am bored?  The rod slipped through to the other end of the curtain.  “Thank you, Mary.”  And thank you for reminding me what Therese knew so well….that the smallest act done out of love can save a soul and bring God so much joy.

Was it Mary who seemed to reply?

It is sometimes a struggle to do these routine tasks, because you were created for greater things….much greater things.  You were born to spend eternity immersed in that Furnace of Love which is the Most Holy Trinity.  You were created to adore the thrice holy God, your whole being trembling with joy.  Your heart and your soul long for this, and you are restless because you cannot yet fulfill your eternal purpose.  You possess the very image of God …you were born for glory.

I love this thought.  I believe it’s true.  We were…all of us, created to be sons and daughters of the Most HIgh God.   Earth is our exile; Heaven is our true home.

I was awakened from my reverie by our cat coughing up two hairballs just as I was preparing to start dinner.  Out came the paper towels and the steam mop….but this time, with a smile.

Yes Mary, I’ll try to serve without complaining…at least most of the time.  You bore the Son of God and yet spent your life doing the most simple but demanding household chores.

But it helps to dream of glory, doesn’t it?  The glory of one day seeing God Face to face….the One Whom St. Augustine called,  “O Beauty ever ancient, ever new…”

Sweet Mary, help us to prepare for that day as Jesus and you did, by doing the Father’s Will in every ordinary moment of our lives…..but please remind us now and then, that it’s just until the glory comes.

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee..”   St. Augustine

 

“O Eternal Word, my Savior, You are the Eagle I love……”

Therese at 15 years old.

Today is Therese’s Feast Day, and as the sun sets where I live, still gently casting light through the trees in the woods behind my house, I think of how much Therese loved nature, and of how everything reminded her of God.

She once remarked, “I don’t think I have ever gone more than three minutes without thinking of Him.” An amazing statement, and she was not yet a nun.

There is no denying that Therese is a superstar among Saints. I would dare to say that more has been written about her than perhaps any other Saint who passed our way. Her statues abound in churches throughout the world — even in places like Russia. We are all familiar with the countless holy cards and novenas bearing her image.

Therese herself knew it would be so. In spite of the night of faith she dwelled in during her last 18 months on earth, she once told her sister, Mother Agnes: I know full well that everyone will love me.

Earlier in her life she had said, I feel that I was born for glory. I would like to become a great Saint.

But I doubt that even Therese ever dreamed of the “Storm of Glory,” that her Beloved Jesus was preparing for her.

Why do we love Therese so much? What IS it about her?

Here we have a Saint born into a family of means, surrounded by love from her first memories, possessed of an attractive appearance and exceptional intelligence, who while prodigious in holiness from an early age, did not dwell in a world of mysticism as one might expect, but led quite an ordinary life.

Thank God!

Therese climbed to the heights of sanctity by doing little things with great love. That makes her so approachable. And, she writes about it all with such charm, and the romantic phrasing of a young girl, still at an age when dreams of great deeds and great love seem possible.

It was so lovely of God to give us this girl-Saint with the sweet face of youth concealing a soul possessed of such Divine Wisdom that she is now a Doctor of the Church.

In the early years of her ascendance to greatness, many did not know what to make of her. In her own convent, some sisters wondered what her obituary would say about her; she seemed so ordinary. One of those nuns was cured of cerebral anemia – even before Therese was buried — by pressing her head against the feet of Therese shortly after her death.

As Therese’s star continued to rise, scholars, theologians, bishops and even popes realized that Therese’s genius is deceptively simple.

Therese rejoiced that God needs nothing from us…but our love. He is not impressed with great intellects or magnificent deeds. He much prefers a little act of kindness done out of love for Him. Therese was famous for her sweet smile, and she called it her “alms.” Since as a nun she had no money of her own, she loved to give away her smiles at every opportunity.

She was so convinced that love alone can exalt even the smallest effort, that she would even stoop to pick up a pin, “just to please God.”

She was a student of the gospels, and Jesus was her great model. “Jesus, make me resemble You…” she prayed.

She sought out the least loved sisters and spent her recreation time with them. She gave up all of her precious free time, so scarce in monastery life, to write poems and do other little favors requested by her fellow nuns.

Perhaps her greatest discovery was her realization that her own nothingness qualified her to depend on Jesus for everything. She counted on His Merits, His Charity, His Purifying Love to enrich her own soul.

In the evening of this life, she wrote, I will appear before you with empty hands… for all of our good works are stained in your sight….be Yourself my Sanctity.

Therese threw herself into the arms of God with the complete trust of a little child, knowing that Jesus had said, “…of such is the kingdom of Heaven.”

While on pilgrimage in Paris at age 15, she encountered her first elevator. She was fascinated, and as usual made a connection to God: The arms of Jesus will be my elevator to Heaven.

She slept in His arms quite literally — often falling asleep during her thanksgiving after Holy Communion. Undisturbed, she observed that, Doctors put their patients to sleep to operate on them. She was quite sure that Jesus was not disturbed if she slumbered while He transformed her soul.

Even Purgatory did not deter her.  She was convinced that those who truly love God do not go to Purgatory.  Still, she said that if she should find herself there, she would walk among the flames singing the canticle of love like the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace.

While Therese’s little way of spiritual childhood may at first glance seem an easy one, it requires a will of iron…which is one reason I have never liked her famous Little Flower title. She is much more, (to copy one author), a steel magnolia who refused to bend to the natural desires for rest, attention, self-indulgence, complaining and the whole host of faults so difficult for most of us to resist.

Day after day, year after year, Therese faithfully picked her flowers for Jesus — her metaphor for her continuous life of self-denial and acts of charity. It is extremely difficult to adhere to such a program of virtue even for a day or two, much less for a lifetime, and under extreme physical and spiritual suffering such as she endured for the last 18 months of her life.

Most of all, Therese loved God.  She loved everything else in Him.  She loved Him because He was so Worthy of her Love — not for any reward or favor. She liked to say, I love what He does. If she received consolations (rarely), she was happy. When he plunged her into an almost unbearable trial of faith, she wrote out the Creed in her own blood, but never asked Him to take away her suffering.

For her, Heaven would equal possession of God. I want no other throne or crown than You, O my Beloved..
And she did not wish to rest until the last soul had been saved. She wanted to return to earth after her death, to make souls love God as I love Him.

Therese, one biographer wrote, was obsessed with the happiness of God. She cared for nothing else.

Ah Therese, how your Beloved Jesus has heaped glory on glory upon you! You were not mistaken!  It is love alone that counts!

O precious Saint, as you once implored Our Lady, teach me the secrets of loving Jesus, I implore the same of you.  And imitating your prayer to those “eagles” the great Saints, I beg you, now yourself an eagle, for a double portion of your love for God!

My life is but an instant,
an hour that passes by,
A single day that slips my grasp
and quickly slides away.
O well you know, my dearest God,
to love you,
I only have today.

(by St. Therese)

Thank you, Therese!  Happy Feast Day my dear Sister.