Monday, August 20, 2007

Fragments from the book "In the silence of Mary" - presenting life of Mother Mary of Jesus, Carmelite Prioress and Foundress (1851-1942). In Chapter 4 of this book, we continue to follow young Sister Mary of Jesus spiritual development and growing intimacy with God - described mostly in her own words. "In the Hands of the Living God" - last fragments of chapter 4.

The signs of a new phase are apparent even towards the end of 1875, but manifest themselves more clearly and seem to develop as the next year advances. There is an intensification of spiritual suffering reflected in one brief note: 'I am passing now through a more intimate Purgatory - night - a deeper abyss.' This sense of suffering sounds, as it were, like undertone of diminishing intensity throughout the ensuing period, with a note of joy increasingly dominant and resolving the harmony. 'As for this suffering' she writes 'of which I can say nothing, because nothing describes it, it is like a look of fire falling on the soul and consuming it. I could readily believe that it is God purifying it. St John of the Cross says that it is the same flame that is at first distressing and afterwards no longer so: it is, then, always the same love at work'. 'From my poor suffering there springs rejoicing without end, which makes me love everything'. 'One loves this precious sufferings that unites us to God and operates such wonderful things in the soul'. Little by litle, she is coming to realize that union will be the outcome of these trials, and with the growing certainty, there is a corresponding increase of joy. It is at the end of 1875, just after the note already quoted, that she writes: 'There are moments when my soul experiences more than gratitude, a sort of transport of love and of joy, in seeing that, in spite of my wretchedness, God is giving Himself'.

Early in 1876, one finds this entry. 'A few days ago, I do not know what was happening in me, but it was so strong, that I could only say: "My God, finish Your work in me, finish it!"'; and this for two hours. God did not show Himself or give Himself in any sensible way, but I had so strong a feeling that it was He, that I needed to thank Him by going to Holy Communion....He has not given Himself: I have not yet met Him, but it seems to my soul that He is preparing for His coming by different divine touches and operations'. From this point onwards, she reiterates this feeling that the hour of union is drawing near. She uses the word rencontre to designate it, but it is clear each time from the context that she has more in mind than merely a 'meeting'. Sometimes during Lent she describes another experience. 'One Sunday morning, God.......absorbed everything. It was perhaps a suffering, for there is suffering when a certain life, a certain intimate part of one's being leaves one, tends towards God without ever reaching Him. It is a little like having something snatched, but with no violence, and without any effort on my part. If it is a suffering, it is at the same time a grace, a joy for the soul, and it is impossible to say: "this is too much" or even: "this is too hard"'. After Pentecost, she speaks of God's incomprehensible love and mercy, 'wanting me to be so near, so very near Him, nothing except for Him; it is wonderful. He seems to want my Religious life to be His alone. He is even the only one Who can see anything in it. I have not yet reached God: there is always a space between us'. Sometimes after the anniversary of her Profession in September, she repeats: 'I still have not met Him. That state of union, definite, substantial union (see John of the Cross 'Spiritual canticle: 26:9, 38:4; Dark Night: II, 23:2; Living Flame: 4:3, also St Teresa: Interior Castle: 7th Mansion, ch2), I have not reached it, I do not know it. I have so often seen and believed that there would be an insurmountable obstacle between Him and me. I have suffered so greatly all my life from the thought and fear that I would never be able to love Him, never reach Him, that now the sight of the contrary gives me joy I cannot describe. I have not yet met Him, but one might say that we are in each other's presence, on level ground, and that it is only a question of advancing'. She realized, however, that what she had written in 1875 still remained to be answered: 'Which of us must make the step? I cannot make it without His help. I can tend towards it, but Jesus must take my desire and unite it to Him.