Wednesday, September 20, 2023

                                          OUT OF CHAOS

This year marks the centenary year of the beatification of St Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. 

For 100 years, she has been loved by millions . This causes many to wonder why a young cloistered nun would have such a profound impact on the hearts and lives of these millions from all over the world. We may ask, what does her life and our own have in common? How could she, who lived a secluded life within her safe cloistered walls, how could she possibly have  suffered the trials and sorrows and sufferings as we do in the chaos of our daily secular lives? 

Therese was the target of bullying behaviour, gossip, exclusions, humiliations, all within those convent walls. These were some of her emotional trials. At the same time, she suffered physically from the extreme cold with little or no warmth offered in a threadbare habit and in thin bed covers in the colds of winter. She was deprived of nutritious food. In the final 2 years of her young life, she suffered excruciating pain from pulmonary tuberculosis, pulmonary haemoptysis. This advanced into intestinal gangrene.

Therese responded to all of these sufferings by welcoming them, making them integral to her spirituality. In her spiritual maturity, they became the context of her sanctity. She united all of her extreme sufferings with Christ's Passion so that she might join Him, becoming  His victim of Love to win the souls for whom He thirsted and suffered and died. 

Many of us who endure spiritual, emotional and physical trials, all concurrently, may feel as though our days are subject to a compressed and dominating chaos. To confront the lie that ties us into our chaos, a little 5 Day Retreat will be posted online in this blog, one reflection each day, beginning September 26.

Our Retreat will conclude on September 30, the day before the feast Day of Therese. We will unite in prayer, all across the world, to give her honor. Her wisdom will guide us as Spirit Lord transforms our wounds and our sufferings making them the Context of our Holiness and so to lead us …

                                                                        OUT OF CHAOS. 

Saturday, August 26, 2023


                                         WHAT IS REALLY HAPPENING?

                                                       We go to prayer. 
                                                             We pray.
                  We must always recognize what Christ is doing when we are going to pray.
                                He asks this of us....."Let us look at reality together". 
The best way to be by the Side of Christ Jesus in our prayer is on the Cross where He hangs.
                                              Look at reality with Him.
                                                 What do you see.

Anna Rae-Kelly OCDS

Tuesday, August 15, 2023



       - St Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face

Anna Rae-Kelly OCDS

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

                                                 From the spiritual writings of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Ave Crux, spes unica!

We greet you, Holy Cross, our only hope! The church puts these words on our lips during the time of the passion, which is dedicated to the contemplation of the bitter sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world is in flames. The struggle between Christ and antichrist rages openly, and so if you decide for Christ you can even be asked to sacrifice your life.

Contemplate the Lord who hangs before you on the wood, because he was obedient even to the death of the cross. He came into the world not to do his own will but that of the Father. And if you wish to be the spouse of the Crucified, you must renounce completely your own will and have no other aspiration than to do the will of God.

Before you, the Redeemer hangs on the cross stripped and naked, because he chose poverty. Those who would follow him must renounce every earthly possession.

Stand before the Lord who hangs from the cross with his heart torn open. He poured out the blood of his heart in order to win your heart. In order to follow him in holy chastity, your heart must be free from every earthly aspiration. Jesus Crucified must be the object of your every longing, of your every desire, of your every thought.

The world is in flames: the fire can spread even to our house, but above all the flames the cross stands on high, and it cannot be burnt. The cross is the way which leads from earth to heaven. Those who embrace it with faith, love, and hope are taken up, right into the heart of the Trinity.

The world is in flames: do you wish to put them out? Contemplate the cross: from his open heart, the blood of the Redeemer pours, blood which can put out even the flames of hell. Through the faithful observance of the vows, you make your heart open; and then the floods of that divine love will be able to flow into it, making it overflow and bear fruit to the furthest reaches of the earth.

Through the power of the cross, you can be present wherever there is pain, carried there by your compassionate charity, by that very charity which you draw from the divine heart. That charity enables you to spread everywhere the most precious blood in order to ease pain, save and redeem.

Anna Rae-Kelly OCDS

Thursday, July 13, 2023


                                                 כַּרְמֶל         KARMEL
Karmel (Carmel) means "garden", "orchard", "vineyards of God". In each of these places, a mystical Beauty lives and thrives and transforms. Carmel is God's Garden, a place of Encounter. Carmel is God's space where He chooses to dwell. God's Space: His Garden which He tends, His Orchard where He brings forth the sweetest of fruits, His Vineyard where His oils and aromas of Himself make holy every branch that He encounters on His Way.  Carmel is the spiritual room gloriously decorated with every sign of God's Presence within and in this Garden of God, His "Word is a spring which never runs dry" (St Ephrem). 

Our soul is His Garden, His place of Encounter, His Vineyard where His inexhaustible spring of love never runs dry.


              Queen and beauty of Mount Carmel, Virgin of the solitude,
              In the wilderness of Carmel lies the world's eternal good.
              Draw us into deep seclusion And make God alone our goal,
              In the mystical Mount Carmel That lies hidden in the soul.

                                                   (Sr Miriam of the Holy Spirit OCD,1905–1988).

Our soul is God's chosen dwelling house, the space where He longs to meet us. 

              SOLITUDE      WILDERNESS         SECLUSION              HIDDENNESS.

We need a Mother's touch to guide us into such unknown and often untrod places.

God allures us to desire Him in the depths of our soul where He waits within the scars of our life-wounds, silently, longing for even a glance from us in our busy-ness. His deepest desire is for us to give Him permission to inhabit our raw memories, our still-festering spiritual and emotional sores, to allow Him to give us sight to see how every hurt can become the context of our holiness* as He heals and transforms us into Himself: 

"Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness and speak comfortably unto her."  (Hosea 2:14)

And our Beloved Mother, ordained to "reveal the thoughts of many", gently helps us to recognize His Voice. 

When her Sacred Spouse, Spirit Lord draws us to pray the Rosary, we remember the words of St Louis de Montford: "When we say Mary, she says God." As we pray the Rosary, and at every utterance of her name "Mary", she turns our weary thoughts to Jesus, Lord, God. 

She is the stainless Window through which the Sun shines in His glory.

She is the Virgin of solitude, and, as she taught Therese of Lisieux, when we love someone, we want to be alone with them. 

Our Mother of Carmel directs our soul to yearn for her solitude where she is endlessly adoring God. She walks us silently and gently into our interior wilderness where our spiritual courage is under fire, yet, it's in that very fire, "with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning" (Joel 2:12), that we find Him again, His arms open, waiting for us to come back to Him with all our heart. 

Mary, our Queen of Carmel, whose Heart was Immaculate, still was human. St Therese reminds us that Mary was more a Mother than a Queen, she was one of us, not someone above us. Therese used to ask, what kind of a Mother would Mary be if her children could not imitate her? Mary "walked the ordinary days we all must travel. She was preserved from sin, but she was not spared the suffering which is its consequence. Just like us, she was often puzzled by the Will of God... She suffered pain as we all do, from privation and the cold, from misunderstanding, from anxiety and care... and yet she said... "LET IT BE DONE."** 

When this Woman draws us "into deep make God alone our Goal/In the mystical Mount Carmel That lies hidden in our soul" we can follow her there without fear, knowing that she has trodden that path of solitude and seclusion and hiddenness before us. In the Carmel of our soul, our Mother will lead us into purity, simplicity, holy poverty, to become completely open to God's wishes. She will give to us 'all that she gave to her Son.... her steadfast Mother's love'**.

In the Carmel of our soul, we will indeed hold the spiritual room gloriously decorated with every sign of God's Presence within, and in this Garden of God, His Word will be a "spring which never runs dry." 

                                                                               Flos Carmeli

 O beautiful Flower of Carmel, most fruitful vine, Splendour of Heaven, holy and singular,
 who brought forth the Son of God while still remaining a Pure Virgin, assist me in this necessity.
 O Star of the Sea, help and protect me! Show me that Thou art my Mother.

* Mark Foley OCD
** Bishop Patrick Ahern

Anna Rae-Kelly OCDS

Thursday, April 27, 2023


On April 29, 1923 Pope Pius XI beatified St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. Her pathway to Canonization was underway.

One hundred years have gone by and the deep love for her held by millions has never stopped. We might ask, why? She did not write a compendium outlining specific intellectual argument, nor an encyclopedia of thoughts to excite a century of brilliant minds, nor tomes which outlined scientific breakthroughs in nuclear fusion.

When we enter into dialogue with St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, we do not do so to engage in an intellectual discourse. Therese's soul was the "tillage field" (1 Cor. 3:9) of God. In every moment of her life we see a living theology where God Himself is "concealed in the storm cloud" of her suffering (Psalm 81) and it is there that, not an intellectual, but a profound theological discourse begins, there, where God is tilling the soil of her soul.

"Jesus needs neither books nor Doctors of Divinity in order to instruct souls; He, the Doctor of doctors, He teaches without noise of words."

When we read the story of her soul, which she wrote in an act of obedience, we gradually begin to recognize that the depths and heights of her suffering reveal glorious mysteries of God and His actions in her soul as well as in our own. Her life, so brief in years, could have provided us with equivalent numbers of compendia, encyclopedias, tomes which fill libraries to capacity with such books giving voice to our limited human knowledge.

"Our Beloved needs neither our brilliant deeds nor our beautiful thoughts. Were He in search of lofty ideas, has He not His Angels, whose knowledge infinitely surpasses that of the greatest genius of earth?"

We turn instead the pages of her Story of a Soul, authored at times with a hand that was too weak to hold her pen. We read of her lived sufferings and in each suffering that she endured we find the Word of the God, speaking His Living Suffering in her soul. The depths of her immersion into His Suffering Love causes our own soul to soar beyond every human thought and yet descends into spiritual depths which require a holy knowledge that spans far beyond the intellect. The splendor and the power of Suffering Love dwelling in Therese will never be fully known because she was held in the Mind of God and "Who has known the Mind of the Lord?" (Romans 11:14)

Therese did not love suffering. She loved our Lord. And Our Lord suffered. For us.

"Pain, lifted up to Him, is pain no more: Joy casts aside the weeds that sorrow wore."

He ordained that Therese would be drawn into His Suffering Love and so we might say that she, sharing in His Suffering, becomes our theological discourse, our dialogue. We see her life through the Lens of God's Eye.

It is an interior journey and Spirit Lord's inspirations as we travel cause the intellect to become the footstool of the soul, where Divine Silence quiets every brilliant thought that is not of Himself and a miracle of fusion, union, gradually happens.

"God alone can sound the heart."

When we enter into dialogue with St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, we find solace for our soul . We find this hidden in the depths of her love for Suffering Love. Her words can cause our soul to soar, to touch eternity, and then return and in our daily moments, to try to live how she loved. The spirituality of her "little way" is our door of entry.

When one feels drawn to walk Therese's way of "littleness”, one learns very quickly that there is nothing "little" about the journey into spiritual littleness. From Therese's own profound sufferings we learn that when we approach God "...weakness is not a liability. It is in fact an asset."

We learn that her "little doctrine" is the "essence of her spirituality" and it involves sacrifice and love. These hold painful lessons in humility through humiliations, lessons in self-forgetfulness, self-emptiness, self-denial, self-abandonment to make interior space so that the soul becomes totally available for the arrival of the Divine, the Trinitarian Presence.

"How few there are who accept failure and weakness, who are content to see themselves on the ground and to be found there by others."

Jesus, Divine Humility whose Name is Love, gratefully accepts whatever limited space that we measure out to Him. And His Presence makes holy our littleness.

Therese teaches us her "Way" to hasten our steps on this spiritual and interior journey. When we follow her own steps into spiritual "littleness", we learn that love and suffering are inseparable, that if we are not prepared to suffer, then we cannot love.

"My penance consisted in breaking my will, always so ready to impose itself on others, in holding back a reply, in rendering little services without recognition."

The Greek word for wound is trauma. Therese was deeply traumatized and suffered from life-long emotional wounds which gave shape to her "shadow self". These shapes were formed from the devastating effects of maternal separation and other events which profoundly impacted her emotional development.


He gave her His grace to understand that her emotional wounds were not obstacles to spiritual growth but rather were the context of her growing in holiness. Therese chose to battle to find Jesus Christ within her permitted suffering, within the wounds of her shadow-self until she died.

"It is God's Will that I fight right up until death."

In our emotional wounds, our daily sorrows, trials, long-held memories that still hurt, Therese teaches us that, if we ask for God's grace, these become THE CONTEXT FOR OUR HOLINESS, OUR SANCTITY.

Her early years show us that woundedness dominated her emotions and for us, they may also silence God's Voice in our soul. She helps us to see that it is within our very wounds that God's gifts of courage, humility, fortitude give us victory over our hurts, past and present. From her terminal illness, we find wisdom about her abandonment into God's Will. We meditate on her "way" of embracing His love WITHIN our suffering and with God's grace, we try to emulate her in our own trials of faith.

With Therese, we will "enjoy the reward promised to those who fight courageously..."

"Always keep lifting your foot to climb the ladder of holiness, and do not imagine that you can mount even the first step... 

All God asks of you is good will."

(Referenced: Sacred Scripture; Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face; Mark Foley OCD, Aloysius Rego OCD)

Saturday, April 8, 2023



We have searched for His Presence, hidden in His gifts. We have stumbled along interior pathways in our souls where perhaps we'd maybe rather not have gone. We've been instructed by St. Therese, St. Teresa, St. John of the Cross and through them, we've learned that it has been Christ Himself Who has been the Giver of priceless gifts, among them, self-knowledge, humility, courage, perseverance. We have borrowed them all from Himself. The Living Flame of Love will teach us how to return them to the Giver, with interest. 
God desires to make us His equal. He desires to lavishly and without measure pour Himself into our brokenness, our solitude, our woundedness, our finite being which is so limited in its ability to love. His Being is a burning Furnace of Love that desires to be one with us. How could such intimate contact with the Divine Word ever be possible in the depths of my sinful soul, to be with me, every moment of my days when I neglect Him, offend Him, ignore Him, to stay with me, always, yes, even until the end of my age?

In 2003, St. Pope John Paul II gave us ECCLESIA DE EUCHARISTIA, his last and mystical encyclical. In one particular paragraph, our dear saint offers us an astonishing reply to that question. He wrote that when the Church was born at Pentecost, 

  "...a decisive moment in her taking shape was certainly THE INSTITUTION OF THE EUCHARIST IN THE UPPER this Gift, Jesus Christ entrusted to His Church THE PERENNIAL MAKING PRESENT OF THE PASCHAL MYSTERY. With it, He brought about a mysterious ONENESS IN TIME BETWEEN THE TRIDUUM AND THE PASSAGE OF THE CENTURIES."

Through the wisdom of our Pope, Jesus Lord is telling us, clearly and without possibility of misinterpretation,


When He instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper , Jesus Lord embraced His Passion and His Resurrection. Oneness in time...when He made His Suffering and Death and Rising perennially Present down through the centuries, at every Mass, on every altar for all time. Yes, even until the end of the age. Every soul who has ever lived, all who are living now, all who are yet to be born: all held in the Being Who is Love, Who desires to be one with our soul, Who desires to make us His equal. 

Through, with and in Him, the Christ, the Eucharistic Presence, we can thank our great great grandparents for praying us into our faith; we can plead to His Sacred Heart for all those whom we love today but who have separated themselves from God; we can offer every life's trial from this day forward that we may endure for all those whom God is holding until He can no longer wait to breathe them into life, those who will only ever see photographs of us - those who are yet to be born.

St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face reminds us that every single prayer and sacrifice offered in Love soars beyond place and time. No walls or time can imprison our prayer.  Through our Savior, all of our loved ones who were, who are and who are yet to be born, are touched by the prayer we pray today. We all become one in Him. And in His staggering love and generosity, Christ draws us into His mighty and eternal act of Redemption so that He can reward us for doing what He gave us the power to do in the first place. Oneness in time. 

"I am in them and you are in me, so that they may be made completely one." (John 17:2)
The Triduum, made Present, down through the centuries, in, with and through Christ Savior, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the Eucharist.


Friday, March 31, 2023


HOLY WEEK : Christ is preparing to offer Himself as an oblation to His Father. Jesus was created for sacrifice. The Sacrifice of Calvary  begins. On the hill of Calvary, Jesus is Priest and Victim, and the Redemption is taking place (Pere Marie-Eugene OCD). Our Redemption.

                               His reward?         Our souls.          Our Reward?      Himself.

He wants to make us His Equal. On this Lenten journey into deeper transformation into Himself, He has sent us, personally and intimately, the Holy Spirit, Spirit of Father and Son, the Fire of purifying Love that is God Himself. We've learned that It is a Flame that cauterizes and heals at the same time. 

And as we enter into Holy Week, we may ponder...when was the Fire most intense in my Lenten days? When was my self-love cauterized? How was I healed during the infliction of those Holy Wounds?

We look to St. John of the Cross to locate ourselves and our wounds and our spiritual healing in his mystical wisdom. John asks us to look around our family, our circle of friends, our community, our social gatherings. Is there someone among these who people our days who is especially difficult to deal with or accept or maybe even to meet? St. John teaches us that God Himself has placed that person before us to make saints of our souls. His Fire singes our hard hearts with His love. We are wounded, but a spark of Love is ignited, turning our self-love to ashes (adapted from Sayings of Light and Love).

The garment of patience is usually scratchy to wear. 

So we may have had strong reactions in trying to live that teaching from St. John. This self-knowledge causes us to confront our impatience or intolerance and a disquiet begins in our souls. The Living Flame is at work. Sometimes we may wonder if there is anyone who will describe for us what that transformation into Love feels like. We turn to the price paid by St. Therese of Lisieux.

In "Story of a Soul", we read:

"For a long time my place at meditation was near a sister who fidgeted continually, either with her rosary, or something else....I cannot tell you how much it tried me. I should have liked to turn around, and by looking at the offender, make her stop the noise; but in my heart I knew that I ought to bear it tranquilly, both for the love of God and to avoid giving pain. So, I kept quiet, but the effort cost me so much that sometimes I was bathed in perspiration, and my meditation consisted merely in suffering with patience."
It is the desire of God to make us His equal. This is the effect the Living Flame wants to produce in us. 

And so we approach Holy Week. The Fire of the Flame may wound more fiercely this week as our features are being transformed into the beautiful Countenance of the Suffering Savior. 

We seek the wisdom of the woman who was known to levitate during prayer, was transfixed in visions, who experienced ecstasy during Transverberation, yet with deep humility, she laid all of her life struggles and mystical events before all of us for the rest of time to criticize or to emulate. She is sometimes known as Teresa of Avila. She is always known as Teresa of Jesus. Madre. 

We learn that the Loving Flame of purification uses distractions and dryness in prayer to enlighten our soul. When St. Teresa was pestered by distractions during prayer, which tormented her most especially during Holy Week, she teaches us that "... the fruits of the Passion and Death of Christ cannot penetrate deeply within a soul unless the soul shares in His redemptive suffering and death." 

The sufferings that we endure as we abandon ourselves to God deepen our self-knowledge and establish us in humility. By offering ourselves to Him without ceasing, with all of our sins as a continuing challenge to Divine Mercy, our soul breathes Love in and yearns for it, still further. His Love is reciprocated...we give ourselves to Him more deeply in Holy Week. He pours Himself lavishly into our souls, without limit, always.

In our trials and purifications, St. Teresa tells us that:

"it is the Lord's will to give us these tortures order to test His lovers and to discover if they can drink of the chalice and help Him to bear the Cross before He trusts them with His greatest treasures".  

                     HE DESIRES TO MAKE US HIS EQUAL. 


And so, we set our faces like flint and head into Holy Week to join the Master on Good Friday and enter His Glory with Him: 

“For the Lord God helps me, therefore, I am not disgraced; therefore, I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.” (Isaiah 50: 7)

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 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.

Thursday, March 2, 2023


It has been one week since our foreheads accepted the ashes of a humility that was the chosen garment enfleshing the Savior. We may already have met Him in one circumstance or even in many moments when He hid Himself, the Holy One Who is our Lenten Gift. In the particular difficulty that we faced, He was offering His cloak to us but instead of enshrouding ourselves in it and embracing Him in His proffered gift of humility, maybe we denied Him. Already. As did Peter (Luke 22:24-62).

We may be feeling that we have failed Him.

Sorrow and discouragement lurk.

In this too, He is with us, speaking to us with loving tenderness. We spend time with St. Peter and we listen to St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face who offers us spiritual encouragement in our fog of regret: 

"If you can bear in peace the trial of being displeasing to yourself, you offer a sweet shelter to Jesus... fear not, the poorer you become, the more Jesus will love you...

And suppose God wishes to have you as feeble and powerless as a child? Do you think that would be less worthy in God's eyes? Consent to stumble, or even to fall at every step, to bear your cross feebly. Love your weakness. Your soul will draw more profit from that than if, sustained by grace, you vigorously performed heroic deeds which would fill your soul with self-satisfaction and pride." (St Therese: Story of a Soul)

We join her in bold confidence that the Savior, like Simon of Cyrene, will lift us up again after our fall (Mark 15:21).

"Then my sorrow is not what cuts me off, but becomes rather a bridge to the agony of the Holy One..."

Anna Rae-Kelly OCDS

Tuesday, February 21, 2023


         GOD IS NOW PRESENTING HIS GIFT TO US: THE HOLY GIFT                                                                                                 OF LENT. 
       THE WRAPPING PAPER OF HIS GIFT MAY DISGUISE THE ETERNAL                                                                             TREASURES INSIDE.
      ON ASH WEDNESDAY, WE STAND AT HIS ALTAR AND ADORN OUR                                       
                 THE GARMENT THAT THEY CAST LOTS FOR (MT 27:35)...
                               THE  GARMENT OF HIS HUMILITY. 
                       HE SEES THE ONE TO WHOM HIS SON GAVE, NOT 
                                      JUST HIS SHIRT, BUT HIS COAT AS WELL (MATTHEW 5:40).

     HIS NAKED BODY ON THE CROSS REVEALS SOMETHING OF THE MYSTERY                                                              OF THE TOTALITY OF HIS GIFT.

                                             HE WANTS TO GIVE US 
                                                  HIS ALL, TO EMPTY 
                                                     HIMSELF INTO
                                                       US,TO MAKE
                                                      US HIS EQUAL.
                                           HOW CAN WE FIND HIM? 
 WE BEGIN OUR JOURNEY OF LENT BY JOINING ST ANSELM IN HIS CALL TO                                                                         INTERIOR SILENCE.

                       "Longing to see God"                 "Proslogion" of St Anselm -  

                                    "Flee your preoccupations for a little while. Hide
yourself for a time from your turbulent thoughts. Cast aside, now,
your heavy responsibilities and put off your burdensome burden.
Make a little space free for God; and rest for a little time in him.

Enter the inner chamber of your mind; shut out all thoughts. Keep
only thought of God, and thoughts that can aid you in seeking Him.
Close your door and seek him. Speak now, my whole heart! 
Speak now to God, saying, I seek your face; your face, Lord, will I seek.

And come you now, O Lord my God, teach my heart where and how
it may seek you, where and how it may find you.

Lord, you are my God, and you are my Lord, and never have I see
you. You have made me and renewed me, you have given me all the
good things that I have, and I have not yet met you. I was created to
see you, and I have not yet done the thing for which I was made.

When will you enlighten my eyes, and show me your face?

When will you restore yourself to me?

Teach me to seek you, and reveal yourself to me when I seek you, for
I cannot seek you unless you teach me, nor find you unless you reveal
yourself. Let me seek you in longing, let me long for you in seeking;
let me find you by loving you and love you in the act of finding you."

Anna Rae-Kelly OCDS

Friday, February 10, 2023

God's Gift of Lent Draws Closer

St. John of the Cross reminds us that God loves us so deeply that He gives Himself to us as completely or as little as we allow. He desires to empty Himself into our soul, God, Creator, Redeemer, Healer, Teacher, Glorious Lord because He wants to make us His equal. 

Each one of us is so unique, from our eye color to our height, to our odd little personality quirks. And God adapts Himself to our uniqueness, works with loving tenderness and gratitude and begins to transform us. If we will it, our behavior, our countenance begins to reflect the Owner of all souls, the Giver of all life, the All in all. 
We grow to be spiritually DNA one with Him. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon you."

But it's an even deeper awe, an awe that stuns us, that fills us when we receive Him in Holy Communion. In accepting and receiving the Sacred Host, we become physically DNA One With Him. His Flesh has become our flesh, His Blood courses through our veins, His Soul lifts ours to untold heights and depths, His Divinity is ours.

All time, God's human time and Divine Time, is ours. Our great great grandparents, our great grandchildren not yet born, our suffering loved ones who have separated themselves from us, all held in God's great and loving Heart, all now ours too. All sinners of all time are ours, the Mother of God is ours, Christ is ours and He is for us. 

Through Him, in this most mystical and holy Sacrament of Union, we pray for them all... 

we say Thank You to God for the grandparents who prayed us into this moment of Union; 

we offer to accept every discomfort and trial that He may permit us to suffer and we offer them lovingly for the souls of our great grandchildren who will never meet us in person; 

we give Him our separated loved ones and promise to do all we can to reconcile them; 

we offer to pray every day and every night for all those who don't pray and won't do penance; and 

we raise our spiritual arms in utter joy as we silently sing our gratitude for our Savior Lord Who is All in all and invites us to be for All in all with Him in the Father as we sup at the Spirit's ocean of love.

                    And we have not yet managed to return to our pew.
In this most Holy Sacrament of Communion, God makes us His equal. Angels prostrate themselves before us as we try to return to our seat, carrying the Divine. We have become His living Tabernacle. Within our being, the Father communes with Son Who has poured Himself into us. Therefore, Father is dialoguing with us. Spirit Lord calls us to sip at Their waterfall of mercy. 

We are in the Trinity and They in us, for a brief time after we have received Holy Communion.

      Our Lenten gift of ourselves will allow our spiritual ears to be refined to hear them speak.

If we are stumbling along toward Ash Wednesday on our Lenten journey, we may be wondering if our sacrifices of self-giving are worth the discomfort, wondering if we should stop praying because we seem to be becoming more impatient when we thought we'd be becoming more saintly, if we're growing in a self-knowledge that is showing a pretty ugly side of self and all our dross seems to be rising to the surface....if all of this and much more is beginning to happen, we are being deeply blessed because Spirit Lord is drawing us inward where God dwells in our hurting soul. And His Light is piercing our darkness and our spiritual eyes are seeing some dark and cobwebbed corners of our soul. God, the Divine Surgeon is at work within us. He is lovingly wounding us with His scalpel which cauterizes and heals, both at the same time.  He is drawing us closer to Himself. Our prayer holds our permission for him to enter. He Himself is our setting out, our journey, our Companion at every step on our journey, our destination, our Goal.. He will never leave us in our Lenten  purification. He cannot abandon Himself. 
                           "God wants to make us His equal."

His Desire becomes our own. How can we meet our Maker, see Him, hear, find Him in our silent, hidden moments with Him? 

"Listen! My beloved approaches. Look! Here he comes, leaping across the mountains, bounding over the hills..."(Song of Solomon 2:8)

If we feel like this is a journey that's far beyond us, that we can barely get through the struggles of our days and nights, that our ability to love is less than an ocean droplet, St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face encourages us beyond our feelings...

                   "O, what a miracle. My feeble love enthralls You."

So we continue on our journey toward our Lenten transformation into Himself. We sit with Him at His worst times. 

                    "... behold Him on the way to the garden... or behold Him bound to the column... 
                      or behold Him burdened with the cross... He will look at you with those eyes 
                      so beautiful and compassionate... merely because you turn your head to look 
                      at Him” (Teresa of Jesus).

                      And we discover that in His worst times He is holding our own.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

The Gift of Lent

Many of us may be hearing our shepherds, our priests, recalling to our minds that the door to a wonderful journey is soon to open before us. There are mysteries ahead for us, holy joys, glories which may be hidden to our human eyes but graces from Spirit Lord flooding into our souls in such abundance that our spiritual shortsightedness will not dim their splendor.  

We are looking ahead to a powerful and mystical Gift from God: Lent. 

Lent holds the invitation from our Savior to draw close to Him. He wants to prepare our soul to meet the Father, to give meaning to His ocean of suffering on the Cross so that on Easter Sunday morning, He can present our souls to the Father in whatever measure we have allotted to Him. He gratefully takes that measure with great joy and gives us to the Father. 

Lent is a time when God blesses us so that we can recognize our sinfulness. It's a time when we grow in self-knowledge so it is a journey inward. This can only happen in prayer, prayer when it's difficult, prayer when its silence presses in, prayer when we'd rather find a thousand tasks that are suddenly all categorized as emergencies so that we can explain to God that we'll come back in a bit when things are calmer so that we can sit in solitude with Him. And the Lord waits, lovingly grateful for the small measure of time that we eventually give Him because He sees the brilliant beauty that was ordained for us in our glorified state. In His staggering love, we are worth the wait.

Solitary prayer brings us face to face with ourselves and that can bring shame, embarrassment, sorrow, pain. Christ Jesus is in every second of that pain and woundedness, waiting to heal, transform. Meeting Christ where we are is never inconsequential.

He has a mighty purpose in setting out to seek us. He desires to love us into Himself. He desires to make us His equal (St. John of the Cross OCD). Even while we live here on earth. Our Eternity begins today, wherever we are, whomever we're with, whatever we're doing. 

He needs our sins. He longs to absorb them into His wounds so that we no longer bear any scar of sin. He will bear our scars for all eternity for us.

When we feel intimidated at the thought of solitary time in prayer, St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face OCD  reminds us that Jesus Lord "sees our anguish, the weight that is oppressing us... He is not far, He is there, very close. He is looking at us and He is begging to take this sorrow, this agony we carry. He needs it for souls, and for our souls" (General Correspondence Vol.1).

In the weeks ahead, Holy Spirit will whisper to us, often. He graciously invites us to stop for even a moment, bend the knee wherever we are, tell Him we love Him even if it's only a loving "glance toward Heaven" (Therese). This small token of our attention and our love gives Him permission to begin to till the soil of our soul, soften it, and when the great journey of Lent begins, our soil will be ready to receive the Lord, to hear Him speak to us, teach us, leave His Fragrance that will entice us to follow wherever He leads us, dialogue with us, transform us. Our Eternity is in progress (St. Elizabeth of the Trinity OCD).

                                                             Our Holy Lent beckons.

Monday, January 2, 2023


150 years ago today, January 2, 1873, God gave Thérèse Martin to the world. She was to become  known as His Little Flower, Saint and Doctor of the Church. This day heralds the beginning of this centenary year celebrating the  beatification of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, Order of Carmel Discalced.

"Who is this Little Flower of God? How could she possibly touch my daily challenges, my relationship with God, my prayer life, my fears, my family hurts, my memories, my joys, my

How could she, a French nun who lived over 100 years ago, give meaning to my sufferings today?

We set out together in this short week ahead and we seek to silently observe some aspects of her life and allow her words to draw us into astonishing answers to those seemingly impossible questions we have posed. And we begin with her name which holds mystical depths.

Therese is often called simply, St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus. In this abbreviated form of her name, we recognize her deep love for the innocence, vulnerability, total dependence of our
Savior as Child of Mary. And we are led by St. Thérèse to curl into the arms of Our Mother to allow her to teach us humility, smallness, hiddenness, abandonment. 

Thérèse lived these.

But, as Father John Clarke OCD reminds us, a mutilation of her name leads necessarily to "a mutilation of her message, her entire life... her devotion to the Passion of Christ and her desire to use the merits of Christ to bring salvation to others." 

And so we begin our walk of 7 days, one Petal each day with Thérèse.

On this, our first day of meditation, we ask..."What's in a name? What about your name?"

(Extract from SEVEN PETALS, a seven day retreat into the mysticism and profound spirituality that filled the soul of St Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.)

She pleaded with Our Lord Jesus to call many to win souls for Him until time ends and so to give Our Father delight: