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.
What must strike us is that GOD DID NOT REMOVE THESE TRAUMAS, THESE WOUNDS, FROM THERESE.
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)
Greetings and many, many blessings be upon you, dear Sister Anna, on this anniversary of the Beatification of our Little Flower. Always, always, your reflections bring greater depth of meaning to her life and Spiritual pathway for us. Every word of your reflection is a treasure to our souls. Your sure footedness on the ladder of holiness is beyond appreciated, it is essential to our growth in holiness and you make it all so concrete and profound when you take us into her suffering and the many traumatic life events she faced from a young age. Your tenderness in allowing our Saint to take us to Our Precious Lord through her littleness, through her selflessness, through her unceasing prayer in the dark night, and through her wounds. Oh Anna, thank you and bless you for taking this work forward on behalf of our Carmelite community. With love and prayers, as always, your Sister in Carmel, Clare.ReplyDelete
Dear Sister Clare, your words always take me back into Scripture. "Draw me, and we shall run after you in the odourDelete
of your ointments." Song of Songs, 1:3-4. I thank God to be running alongside of both Therese and you toward Him.
In Christ Jesus.
Such a beautiful testimony to the life of our great Saint and Doctor of Carmel. Thank you, Sister Anna, for these deep and inspiring reflections. Every Carmelite's soul must soar at the majesty and humble obedience of St. Therese when her life is explained in the ways you have here and how she saves souls by humbly accepting years of real and deep suffering on behalf of others. I have shared this post with our OCD group here in Dublin and our President has sent it to neighbouring communities too. We are enriched by your personal zeal and inspiring love for our Carmelite community. May Our Lady of Mount Carmel bless and protect you and yours in this great work for His Kingdom.ReplyDelete
Dear Irene, thank you. It's holy joy to be united in prayer with OCDS, Dublin. I will meet you in the Holy Eucharist.ReplyDelete