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:
"MY SOUL PROCLAIMS THE GREATNESS OF THE LORD AND MY SPIRIT REJOICES IN GOD MY SAVIOUR, FOR HE HAS LOOKED WITH FAVOUR ON MY LOWLINESS."
We become one of those generations who will call her blessed. And we will give God, Father, Son, Spirit deep delight.