Saturday, March 18, 2023


                            "LAETARE"         "REJOICE"

St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face was responding to one of God's children who had written to reveal to her all of his failures, all that he had done poorly in his own efforts to love God. Therese responds to him... and to us.....Look instead, not at what we have been doing but at what God has been doing during our Lenten journeying into Him. 

Her advice must cause us pause. 

We remember our heartfelt promises on Ash Wednesday.

Perhaps we are remembering our effort when on Ash Wednesday, we promised to keep a disciplined prayer time. Perhaps we are deeply discouraged if we have not kept our promise and are faced with the shallowness of our fidelity to Him. 

What has God been doing? In our seeming failure to our promise of prayer, Spirit Lord has been teaching us that He is the One Who graciously inspires and empowers and moves our soul, not just in our power to pray but in our very desire to pray.

What has God been doing? God has been giving us an astonishing grace...  poverty of spirit.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven" (Mt 5).

Where the gift is, so too is the Giver.
                   LAETARE.. "Rejoice, highly favoured one, the Lord is with you" (Lk 1:28).

"The remembrance of my faults humbles me, draws me never to depend on my strength which is only weakness, but this remembrance speaks to me of mercy and love even more" (Letters of Therese of Lisieux).

                LAETARE...."Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Phil 4:4).

God does not shower His merciful love by measure. His is a tsunami of love and tenderness and mercy that He does not calculate. It is a love that is "supremely free and unmerited, yet it is also particular, and personal" and His Gaze penetrates a soul which desires not to ever resist His grace. This is "the humility of love, and it is the nature of love to humble itself." God, Lord, Love, Humility, accommodates Himself "according to our individual nature and our circumstances."

               LAETARE....."Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Perhaps we have been blinded during this Lenten time by distractions that won't be silenced; or spiritual pride that justifies our judgement of others; or burdened by circumstances that cause us to wonder if God has abandoned us; or feeling that He must be displeased with us. St. Therese teaches us something that only Love could have revealed to her as a result of her own dark night of profound physical, spiritual and emotional suffering which God permitted her to endure all at the same time: "Rest assured, he (the Lord) has all the perfections that one could desire, but, if I may say so, he has one great weakness: he is blind! And there is one branch of knowledge that he is ignorant of --- mathematics. If he were able to see clearly and keep proper accounts, the sights of our sins would make him annihilate us. But no! His love for us makes him positively blind!"

This Laetare Sunday, perhaps we may stand in awe as we witness that astonishing moment in John 9:1-41 when Jesus Lord causes the blind man to see. Our Savior is making clear exactly what He means when He proclaims His Kingdom that "the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor" (Luke 7:22).

We stand, blinded to His Presence in our Lenten purification, and like the blind man, our seeking and directionless and frantic arms are outstretched, our groping fingers are trying to touch Him. If our spiritual eyes were opened, we would be staring into His own, filled with loving compassion because He has never not been Present to us.

 LAETARE....Rejoice....."The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior Who saves.
                                         He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer

                                        rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing" (Zeph. 3:17).

And so, we can stand alongside our Beloved Mother, Mary. She will grasp our stiff fingers, pull our directionless arms high above our heads, bowed in sorrowful repentance, and she will invite us to join her in singing her own glorious song of rejoicing:


We become one of those generations who will call her blessed. And we will give God, Father, Son, Spirit deep delight.

              LAETARE           REJOICE.

Anna Rae-Kelly OCDS

Sunday, March 12, 2023

The Lenten Fire that Purifies

                                   The Lenten Fire that Purifies is the Living Flame of Love.

This Flame is God Himself. It is a Flame that cauterizes and heals at the same time. 

In the novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, a discussion arises. There are as many interpretations hidden within this discussion as there are those who are reading. For some, the story may reveal the Source of mercy. The author proposes that to truly understand someone, it is necessary to crawl inside the skin of the other person and walk around with them. 

This is what Jesus does. He adorns Himself with our skin, our flesh, walks around with us, looks at other through our eyes, loves with our heart, thinks with our minds, feels with our emotions. 

When our souls are deeply purified, denuded of self, united with God, we can proclaim with St. Paul, “No longer I, but Christ who lives within me” (Galatian 2:20).

This is where Spirit Lord desires to take us through our Lenten purification. His mystical tool is His cauterizing Flame of Love. His desire... Nothing less than union with God Himself.

Our Lenten journey is continuing and we have chosen to keep moving toward Him, into Himself. We have said Yes to Spirit Lord's actions in our souls. He, Personally, is taking us on the road to perfection and union with God. This is the first step toward intimacy with the Trinity. 

At this stage of our journey, He gives us the graces to work with Him, to actively remove any attachments that incite our appetites in our desires for worldly things. Spirit Lord is calling us to a deeper knowledge of God so our worldly pleasures which root us in selfishness and self-love must be purged if we are to enter more deeply into union with the indwelling God. 

St. John of the Cross reveals that our worldly pleasures and attachments, while not mortally wounding to the soul, can become habitual appetites which “proceed from habitual imperfection" and must be conquered. Habitual imperfections include "being very talkative; a small attachment one never really desires to conquer, for example to a person, to clothing, to a book , or to the way food is prepared, or to other trifling conversations and little satisfactions in tasting, knowing and hearing.” These are deceptive pleasures and unhealthy desires that can become sinful if they are not purified. If we cling to the belief, for example, that money gives us security or if we crave particular foods, we become enslaved to these and other such disordered desires and deceptive pleasures. 

God desires that our souls be freed from the slavery of our senses and through our Lenten purgation, we will come to know the beauty and dignity of our soul which He longs to reveal to us.  Spirit Lord needs our permission to continue to transform our soul and when we say Yes, Fiat, He gives us the grace to help us to let go of disordered attachments which silence the voice of God within.

Our attachments and desires reveal where we live, spiritually.
Our Lenten journey right now may be filled with such moments of painful self-knowledge. We remember that without the grace of deep self-knowledge, we can't know the depths of God's love and mercy. 

                              But the One Who has us firmly by the hand does....

"For God has revealed this to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, even the depths of God"   (1 Corinthians 2:10).

                           The Spirit of the Living God is the Living Flame of Love.