Friday, November 29, 2013

Feast of Immaculate Conception of Our Lady

O Lord, teach me to do Thy will, teach me to converse worthily and humbly in Thy sight; for Thou art my wisdom, who knowest me in Truth, and didst know me before the world was made, and before I was born in the world. (Imitation Bk 3:3)

Our Lady's unique privilege was her Immaculate Conception and divine Motherhood, and yet Our Lord tells us that whosoever shall do the will of my Father that is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother (Matt 12:15). it is well to speak of Mary's prerogatives but that is not enough, we must make her loved. If a sermon on her only calls forth "ohs"! and "ahs"! of admiration, it ends by being wearisome, and does not draw us to love and imitate her. (St Therese 'Novissima Verba')

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

On the Love of God

They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. (Luke 21) 

O strong love of God! I really think nothing seems impossible to one who loves. O happy soul that has obtained this peace from its God! For it has become mistress over all the trials and perils of the world. If only it can serve its good Spouse and Lord, it fears none of them – and with good reason... Think of something which occurs to me now and which is applicable to those who are naturally pusillanimous and have little courage... Although in actual fact their soul has been raised up to this state, the weakness of their nature makes them afraid. We must be on the watch or this natural weakness will deprive us of a great crown. When you find yourselves as pusillanimous as this, my daughters, have recourse to faith and humility and do not fail to go forward with faith, for nothing is impossible to God (Lk 1,37). He has thus been able to give many holy saints the courage to endure all the cruel tortures which they had resolved to suffer for His sake! It is of this resolution and this free-will that the soul wishes to make Him Master, though He has no need of our efforts. Indeed, His Majesty is pleased that His works should shine forth in those who are weak, since in these there is more scope for His power and for the fulfilment of His desire to grant us favours... Pay no heed to the arguments adduced by your mind and your own weakness: this weakness will only grow if you begin to imagine what will and what will not happen...This is no time to think about your sins: leave them alone; humility is out of place now, it comes at the wrong time... Be assured that the Lord never forsakes those who love him and risk everything for his sake. (St Teresa of Jesus, ‘Conception of the Love of God’)
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Saturday, November 16, 2013

"Pray always without becoming weary"

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, "There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, 'Render a just decision for me against my adversary.' For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, 'While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.'" The Lord said, "Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? (St Luke 18:1-8) 

What an extraordinary thing it is, the efficiency of prayer! Like a queen, it has access at all times to the Royal presence, and can get whatever it asks for. And it's a mistake to imagine that your prayer won't be answered unless you've something out of a book, some splendid formula of words, specially devised to meet this emergency. If that were true, I'm afraid I should be in a terribly bad position. You see, I recite the Divine Office, with a great sense of unworthiness, but apart from that I can't face the strain of hunting about in books for these splendid prayers-it makes my head spin. There are such a lot of them, each more splendid than the last; how am I to recite them all, or to choose between them? I just do what children have to do before they've learned to read; I tell God what I want quite simply, without any splendid turns of phrase, and somehow he always manages to understand me. For me, prayer means launching out of the heart towards God; it means lifting up one's eyes, quite simply, to heaven, a cry of grateful love, from the crest of joy or the trough of despair; it's a vast, supernatural force which opens out my heart, and binds me close to Jesus. (St Therese of the Child Jesus) 


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Monday, November 04, 2013

Receipt for Sainthood from St Therese

On a sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees. He said to the host who invited him, "When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." (St Luke 14:12-14) 

I have noticed (and this is very natural) that the most saintly Sisters are the most loved. We seek their company; we render them services without their asking... On the other hand, imperfect souls are not sought out. No doubt we remain within the limits of religious politeness in their regard, but we generally avoid them, fearing lest we say something which isn't too amiable... This is the conclusion I draw from this: I must seek out in recreation, on free days, the company of the Sisters who are the least agreeable to me in order to carry out with regard to these wounded souls the office of the good Samaritan. A word, an amiable smile, often suffice to make a sad soul bloom; but it is not principally to attain this end that I wish to practice charity, for I know I would soon become discouraged: a word I shall say with the best intention will perhaps be interpreted wrongly. Also, not to waste my time, I want to be friendly with everybody (and especially with the least amiable Sisters) to give joy to Jesus and respond to the counsel He gives in the Gospel in almost these words: “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not invite your friends, or your brethren, or your relatives, or your rich neighbors, lest perhaps they also invite you in return, and a recompense be made to you. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; and blessed shall you be, because they have nothing to repay you with, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (cf. Lk 14,12-14; Mt 6,4-5) What banquet could a Carmelite offer her Sisters except a spiritual banquet of loving and joyful charity? As far as I am concerned, I know no other and I want to imitate Saint Paul who “rejoiced with those who rejoice” (Rm 12,15). It is true he wept with the afflicted and tears must sometimes appear in the feast I wish to serve, but I shall always try to change these tears into joy (Jn 16,20), since “the Lord loves a cheerful giver” (2Cor 9,7).
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Friday, November 01, 2013

Feats of All Saints and All Souls

Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.(Matt 5:48) 

O my God, what unspeakable sufferings our souls have to endure because they have lost their liberty, and are not their own masters!  What tortures come on them through that!  I sometimes wonder how I can live through such agony of soul as I myself suffer.  God be praised who gives me His own life in my soul, so that I may escape from so deadly a death!  My soul has indeed received great strength from His Divine Majesty.  He has had compassion on my great misery, and has helped me.  Oh, what a distress it is for my soul to have to return to hold commerce with this world after having had its conversation in heaven!  To have to play a part in the sad farce of this earthly life!  And yet I am in a strait between two.  I cannot run away from this world.  I must remain in it till my discharge comes.  But, meantime, how keen is my captivity; how wretched in my own soul am I.  And one of my worst distresses is this, that I am alone in my exile.  All around me people seem to have found their aim and end in life in this horrible prison-house, and to have said, Soul, take thine ease.  But the life of my soul is a life of incessant trouble.  The cross is always on my shoulder; at the same time I surely make some progress.  God is the Soul of my soul.  He engulfs into Himself my soul.  He enlightens and strengthens my soul.  He attends to my soul night world, and to lay up their treasure in those things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.  May it please His Majesty that the great munificence with which He has dealt with my soul, miserable sinner that I am, may have some weight with some of those who read this, so that they may be strong and courageous to give up everything at once and most willingly for such a God! (Santa Teresa an Appreciation: On the Soul)

The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace. For if before men, indeed, they be punished, yet is their hope full of immortality; Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself. As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself. In the time of their visitation they shall shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble; They shall judge nations and rule over peoples, and the LORD shall be their King forever. Those who trust in him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with him in love: Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones, and his care is with the elect. (Book of WIsdom 3:1-9)

Picture from public domain

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