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