Happy Feast Day of St. Therese to all Carmelites!!
From Morning Prayer:
God our Father,
you have promised your kingdom to those who are willing to become like little children. Help us to follow the way of St. Therese with confidence so that by her prayers we may come to know your eternal glory. Grant this through our Lord. Amen.
CHILD OF GOD
Last Sunday we heard the words of the Gospel from St. Mark:
...They returned to Capernaum and Jesus, once inside the house, began to ask them, "What were you discussing on the way home?" At this they fell silent, for on the way they had been arguing about who was the most important. So he sat down and called the Twelve around him and said, "If anyone wishes to rank first, he must remain the last one of all and the servant of all." Then he took a little child, stood him in their midst, and putting his arms around him, said to them, "Whoever welcomes a child such as this for my sake welcomes me...
This teaching for Carmelites should immediately bring to mind St. Therese's teaching on spiritual childhood. Her life in the monastery was not an effort to become the superior of the community. She wanted to remain hidden, even among her sisters. This charism of doing small sacrifices with great love and hidden from the eyes of others is in stark contrast to those who are always trying to draw attention to themselves, even in community life. They don't get it. They don't get that we must be the lowly foot-washers in life, and be joyful about it!
The Gospel passage from last Sunday also brings to mind another teaching of Our Lord:
..."I assure you, unless you change and become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of God."
In the life of Carmel, through our gift of contemplative prayer, we are seeking the purity of heart that belongs to the children of God, the children of the Kingdom. The children of God do not have room in their heart for ambition, envy, jealousy, revenge, etc. If we want to go straight to heaven when we die, we must be nothing less than saints-children with pure hearts. Otherwise, we will live with the church suffering in Purgatory until we are purified. Let us be open to being purified now-as Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity teaches us, heaven begins now, not when we die.
How can we obtain the purity of heart that St. Therese and all the saints possess?
|St. Therese of the Child Jesus|
When opportunities arise that test our humility and patience, do we immediately fall into the same pattern of responding unkindly. Or do we make a sincere effort to overcome our faults?
2. We must protect the door of our heart.
We have a choice with our free will as to what we let enter into our interior castle--the dwelling place of God. We can murmur and criticize people from deep within if we do not guard ourselves well.
3. We need the help of the Holy Spirit.
We cannot live a life of virtue and holiness without the help and gifts of the Holy Spirit. We need his help to strengthen us with courage and fortitude to do battle against our ego.
4. We need the help and support of our brothers and sisters in Carmel. It's not easy to travel the path of spirtuality alone, we need the help of others who are like-minded, people who have the same goal: heaven.
5. We need the help and prayers of Our Blessed Mother. Our Lady, Queen and Beauty of Mt. Carmel knows our needs and our desire for union with her Son. St. Louis de Montfort wrote that the quickest way to Jesus is through Mary. Truer words were never spoken. If we want to be children in the Kingdom, let us love our Mother, who loves each member of the Body of Christ as her own.
6. We need the help and prayers of our Carmelite Saints. The lives and teachings of the Carmelite Saints help us to climb the rocky and dangerous road of Mt. Carmel. They have gone before us, they know the dangers and can help us to prepare for them.
7. We must remain faithful to a life of prayer. Prayer is the way that leads to virtue. Without prayer we become like the living dead that the Lord speaks about. Prayer helps us to see who we really are before God. Prayer helps us to remain humble. Prayer gives us self-knowledge about our faults and failings. Prayer leads to purity of heart.
Let us pray for each other. Yes, sometimes the journey is easy, the Lord sends help and consolation and an occasional downpour of graces, to help us. But let's face it. Life on earth is sorrow but mixed with joy. We can be joyful as Catholic Christians because God remains with us! He remains with us in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar! Let us run to him like children, eager to be with him for all eternity in the Kingdom of God.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus, pray for us!
Peace be with you!