Thursday, January 10, 2008

In conformity with the Rule, Soeur Therese never raised her eyes in the refectory, and, as I found great difficulty in this observance, she composed for me the following prayer. It reveals her exceeding humility, because in it she asked a grace which I alone stood in need: “O Jesus, in honour and in imitation of the example Thou gavest in the house of Herod, Thy two little Spouses resolve to keep their eyes cast down in the refectory. When that impious king scoffed at Thee, O Infinite Beauty, no complaint came from Thy Lips. Thou didst not even deign to fix on him Thy Adorable Eyes. He was not worthy of the favour, but we who are Thy Spouses, we desire to draw Thy Divine Gaze upon ourselves. As often as we refrain from raising our eyes, we beg Thee to reward us by a glance of love, and we even dare ask Thee not to refuse this sweet glance when we fail in our selfcontrol, for we will humble ourselves most sincerely before Thee.” I confided to her that I made no progress, and that consequently I had lost heart. “ Up to the age of fourteen,” she said, “I practiced virtue without tasting its sweetness. I desired suffering, but did not think of making it my joy; that grace was vouchsafed me later. My soul was like a beautiful tree the flowers of which had scarcely opened when they fell. Offer to God the sacrifice of never gathering any fruits. If He will that throughout your whole life you should feel a repugnance to suffering and humiliation – if He permit that all the flowers of your desires and of your good will should fall to the ground without any fruit appearing, don not worry. At the hour of death, in the twinkling of an eye, He will cause fair fruits to ripen on the tree of your soul.“ We read in the Book of Ecclesiasticus: ‘There is an inactive man that wanteth help, is very weak in ability, and full of poverty: yet the Eye of God hath looked upon him for good and hath lifted him up from his low estate, and hath exalted his head: and many have wondered at him, and have glorified God. Trust in God, and stay in thy place. For it is easy in the Eyes of God, on a sudden, to make the poor man rich. The blessing of God maketh haste to reward the fruit, and in a swift hour His blessing beareth fruit." (Ecclus. 11: 12, 13, 22-24). "But if I fall, I shall always be found imperfect; whereas you are looked upon as holy.”
“That is, perhaps, because I have never desired to be considered so. . . . But that you should be found imperfect is just what is best. Here is your harvest. To believe oneself imperfect and others perfect – this is true happiness. Should earthly creatures think you devoid of holiness, they rob you of nothing, and you are none the poorer: it is they who lose. For is there anything more sweet than the inward joy of thinking well of our neighbor? “ "As for myself I am glad and rejoice, not only when I am looked upon as imperfect, but above all when I feel that it is true. Compliments, on the contrary, do but displease me.”

credits: St Therese "Counsels and Reminiscenses" from Carmel books on-line