Sunday, November 29, 2015

ADVENT WITH ST THERESE


IT is Jesus alone, content with my feeble efforts, who will lift me to his side. Covering me with his infinite virtue, he will make a saint of me (Story of the Soul)

I have understood that Our Lord's love will reveal itself as well in the simplest soul which offers no resistance, as in the most noble (Story of the Soul)

Like a mother caressing her child, in this way I will comfort you, I will carry you at my breast and caress you in my lap...Having said this, there's nothing else to say all that's left is to wrap in gratitude and love (Story of the Soul). 

I understand that to become a saint, one must suffer a great deal, always seek perfection and forget one's self (Story of the Soul)

Now nothing surprises me, I am not concerned when i see that I am weak. On the contrary, it is that weakness which glorifies me. Every day I expect to discover new imperfections within myself.

God wanted to create great Saints who could be compared to lilies and roses, but also created lesser Saints. They should be content to be daises and violets, destined to simply enjoy God's glance as they lie humbly at His feet. 

I do not know if you are still feeling as you did when you last wrote, but I am sending you in answer this passage from the Canticle of Canticles, which describes so vividly a soul in a state of dryness, who can find no comfort anywhere: "I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valleys, and to look if the vineyard had flowered, and the pomegranates budded. I knew not: my soul troubled me for the chariots of Aminadab (Cant 6:10,11)." That is a picture of our souls. How often we go down to the fertile valleys where we found spiritual food, to the pleasant fields fo Scripture where we discovered so many treasures, but which now seem like a waterless desert. We no longer know where we are: instead of peace and light our lot is darkness and distress, but like the Bride we know the cause of this trial. We are not yet in our fatherland, but have still to be tried by temptation as gold in the furnace. Sometimes we feel utterly abandoned, and cannot make sure whether the chariots, that is the noise and commotion which surround us, are whitin or without. We do not know, but Jesus knows, and He sees our sorrow, and suddenly in the dark night, His voice is heard: "Return, return, O Sulamitess: return, return that we may behold thee (ibid, 6:12).

But if the son comes to know the dangers from which he has been spared, will he not love him [his Father] more? Well, I am this child, object of the provident love of a Father who did not send his Son to redeem the righteous, but the sinners.

  Oh! I love you, Mary, saying you are the servant
Of the God whom you charm by your humility
(Lk 1: 38).
This hidden virtue makes you all-powerful.
It attracts the Holy Trinity into your heart.
Then the Spirit of Love covering you with his shadow,
(Lk 1: 35)
The Son equal to the Father became incarnate in you,
There will be a great many of his sinner brothers,
Since he will be called: Jesus, your first-born!
(Lk 2: 7)

O beloved Mother, despite my littleness,
Like you I possess The All-Powerful within me.
But I don't tremble in seeing my weakness:
The treasures of a mother belong to her child,
And I am your child, O my dearest Mother.
Aren't your virtues and your love mine too?
So when the white Host comes into my heart,
Jesus, your Sweet Lamb, thinks he is resting in you! ...

You make me feel that it's not impossible
To follow in your footsteps, O Queen of the elect.
You made visible the narrow road to Heaven
While always practicing the humblest virtues.
Near you, Mary, I like to stay little.
At the home of Saint Elizabeth, receiving your visit,
I learn how to practice ardent charity.

There, Sweet Queen of angels, I listen, delighted,
To the sacred canticle springing forth from your heart
(Lk 1: 46).
You teach me to sing divine praises,
To glory in Jesus my Savior.
Your words of love are mystical roses
Destined to perfume the centuries to come.
In you the Almighty has done great things.
I want to ponder them to bless him for them.
 

("Why I love you, o Mary" from 'The Poetry of St Therese of Child Jesus')

All citation from the 'Story of the Soul' unless otherwise specified.


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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Christ the King Solemnity


On one occasion when I was in prayer I had a vision in which I saw how all things are seen in God. I cannot explain what I saw, but what I saw remains to this day deeply imprinted on my soul. It was a great act of grace in God to give me that vision. It puts me to unspeakable confusion, shame, and horror whenever I recall that magnificent sight, and then think of my sin. I believe that had the Lord been pleased to send me that great revelation of Himself earlier in my life, it would have kept me back from much sin. The vision was so delicate, so subtle, and so spiritual, that my hard understanding cannot, at this distance of time, close with it; but, to make use of an illustration, it was something like this. Suppose the Godhead to be a vast globe of light, a globe larger than the whole world, and that all our actions are seen in that all-embracing globe. It was something like that I saw. For I saw all my most filthy actions gathered up and reflected back upon me from that World of light. I tell you it was a piteous and a dreadful thing to see. I knew not where to hide myself, for that shining light, in which was no darkness at all, held the whole world within it, and all worlds. You will see that I could not flee from its presence. Oh that they could be made to see this who commit deeds of darkness!  Oh that they but saw that there is no place secret from God: but that all they do is done before Him, and in Him!  Oh the madness of committing sin in the immediate presence of a Majesty so great, and to whose holiness all our sin is so hateful.  In this also I saw His great mercifulness in that He suffers such a sinner as I am still to live. (Santa Teresa an Appreciation: On the Godhead). 

The picture of 'Christ Blessing' painting was taken in El Greco Museum in Toledo, Spain


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Sunday, November 15, 2015

All Carmelite Souls


Jesus said to his disciples: Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still, and trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father's house; if there were not, I should have told you. I am going now to prepare a place for you, and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you with me; so that where I am you may be too. You know the way to the place where I am going. (St John 14:1-6)

I had a father and a mother who both feared God. My father had his chief delight in the reading of good books, and he did his best to give his children the same happy taste. This also helped me much, that I never saw my father or my mother regard anything but goodness. Though possessing very great beauty in her youth, my mother was never known to set any store by it. Her apparel, even in her early married life, was that of a woman no longer young. Her life was a life of suffering, her death was most Christian. After my mother’s removal, I began to think too much about my dress and my appearance, and I pursued many such like things that I was never properly warned against, full of mischief though they were both to myself and to others. I too early learned every evil from an immoral relative. I was very fond of this woman’s company. I gossiped and talked with her continually. She assisted me to all the amusements I loved; and, what was worse, she found some very evil amusements for me, and in every way communicated to me her own vanities and mischiefs. I am amazed to think on the evil that woman so changed me that scarcely any trace was left in me of my natural disposition to virtue. I became a perfect reflection of her and of another who was as bad as she was. For my education and protection my father sent me to the Augustinian Monastery, in which children like myself were brought up. There was a good woman in that religious house, and I began gradually to love her. How impressively she used to speak to me of God! She was a woman of the greatest good sense and sanctity. She told me how she first came to herself by the mere reading of these words of the Gospel, ‘Many are called and few chosen.’ This good companionship began to root out the bad habits I had brought to that house with me; but my heart had by that time become so hard that I never shed a tear, no, not though I read the whole Passion through. When at last I entered the Religious House of the Incarnation for life, our Lord at once made me understand how He helps those who do any violence to themselves in order to serve Him. No one observed this violence in me. They saw nothing in me but the greatest goodwill. At that sore step I was filled with a joy so great that it has never wholly left whatsoever in the path of duty: for our God is omnipotent, and He is on our side. May He be blessed for ever! Amen. O my supreme Good and my true Rest, I know not how to go on when I call those happy days to mind, and think of all my evil life since then! My tears ought to be tears of blood. My heart ought to break. But Thou, Lord, hast borne with me for almost twenty years, till I have had time to improve. And all that it might be better known to me who Thou art and what I am. Woe is me, my Maker! I have no excuse, I have only blame. Let Thy mercy, O Lord, rest on me. Other women there have been who have done great deeds in Thy service, but I am good only to talk: all my goodness ends in so many words: that is all my service of Thee, my God. Cost me what it may, let me not go on coming to Thee with idle words and empty hands, seeing that the reward of every one will be according to his works. Depart not from me, and I can do all things. Depart from me, and I shall return to whence I was taken, even to hell. One of the reasons that move me, who am what I am, to write all this even under obedience, and to madness as mine! Where could I think to find either pardon for the past, or power for the time to come, but from Thee? What folly to the stumbler to run away from the light! Let all those who would give themselves to prayer, and to a holy life, look well to this. They should know that when I was shunning prayer because I was so bad, my badness became more abandoned than ever it had been before. Rely on the waiting and abounding goodness of God, which is infinitely greater than all the evil you can do. When we acknowledge our vileness, He remembers it no more. I grew weary of sinning before God grew weary of forgiving my sin. He is never weary of giving grace, nor are his compassions to be exhausted. May He be blessed for ever, amen: and may all created things praise Him! I have made a vow—[it is known as ‘the Teresian vow,’ ‘the seraphic vow,’ ‘the most arduous of vows,’ ‘a vow yet unexampled in the Church’], a vow never to offend God in the very least matter. I have vowed that I would rather die a thousand deaths than do anything of that kind, knowing I was doing it. I am resolved also, never to leave anything whatsoever undone that I consider to be still more perfect, and more for the honour of our Lord. Cost me what pain it may, I would not leave such an act undone for all the treasures of the world. If I were to do so, I do not think I could have the face to ask anything of God in prayer: and yet, for all that, I have many faults and imperfections remaining in me to this day. (Santa Teresa an Appreciation)

Picture is from the public domain and represents Rubens' All Souls Day'.
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Monday, November 02, 2015

All Souls' Day


'Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light' (Matt 11:30) 

Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom...Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise (Luke 23: 42-43)

'..here we recommended her to the Lord and offered prayers for her soul in all our monasteries'...'it is those who do not recall there is an everlasting life that feel such pain when someone departs from the miseries of this life' (St Teresa letter to Lorenzo de Cepeda, 1570) 
'..you can consider all the nuns of this house to be your servants and capellanas (Carmelites devoted to pray for specific souls) (St Teresa letter to Diego de San Pedro de Palma, 1570)
'...why we should feel sorry about those who depart for a safe heaven, whom God draws out of this world with its dangers and instability'.  (St Teresa letter to Dona Luisa de la Cerda, 1571).
'I feel it, we must go to heaven by the same route, the one of suffering united with love. When I reach the harbour, I will teach you...how to navigate on the stormy sea of the world, with the abandon and love of a child who knows that his Father cherished him and would not leave him alone in a time of danger'. ( St Therese Letters)

'...I cannot bring myself to fear Purgatory; I know that I am not worthy to enter that place of expiation with the Holy Souls, but I also know that the fire of love is more sanctifying that that of Purgatory, that Our Lord does not want us to suffer needlesly, and that He would never inspire me with desires that He does not intend to fulfill'. (St Therese Story of a soul)

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Sunday, November 01, 2015

All Saints Day


I am He who made all the saints; I gave them grace; I have brought them to glory. I know the first and the last; I embrace them all with an inestimable love.  I am to be praise in all my Saints; I am to be blessed above all things, and to be honoured in every one of them, whom I have thus gloriously magnified and eternally chosen, without any foregoing merits of their own. The Imitation of Christ, 3, 58.

Today is the vigil of All Saints. All Souls Day is the anniversary of my receiving the habit. Ask God to make me a genuine Carmelite nun, for better late than never. Your unworthy servant and loyal subject. Blessed be God, for I will always be so, come what may. Teresa of Jesus. Collected Letters, vol 1.


Previous posts HERE
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