from The Ascent of Mount Carmel Book II Chapter 22 St. John of the Cross
In giving us, as He has done, His Son, who is his only Word, He has spoken to us once and for all by His own and only Word, and has nothing further to reveal.
Loving God: October 2003 Archives
From The Autobiography (XXV: 22)
O my Lord, how true a friend art Thou! how powerful! Thou showest Thy power when Thou wilt; and Thou dost will it always, if only we will it also. Let the whole creation praise Thee, O Thou Lord of the world! Oh, that a voice might go forth over all the earth, proclaiming Thy faithfulness to those who love Thee! All things fail; but Thou, Lord of all, never failest! They who love Thee, oh, how little they have to suffer! oh, how gently, how tenderly, how sweetly Thou, O my Lord, dealest with them! Oh, that no one had ever been occupied with any other love than Thine! It seems as if Thou didst subject those who love Thee to a severe trial: but it is in order that they may learn, in the depths of that trial, the depths of Thy love. O my God, oh, that I had understanding and learning, and a new language, in order to magnify Thy works, according to the knowledge of them which my soul possesses! Everything fails me, O my Lord; but if Thou wilt not abandon me, I will never fail Thee. Let all the learned rise up against me,--let the whole creation persecute me,--let the evil spirits torment me,--but do Thou, O Lord, fail me not; for I know by experience now the blessedness of that deliverance which Thou dost effect for those who trust only in Thee. In this distress,--for then I had never had a single vision,--these Thy words alone were enough to remove it, and give me perfect peace: "Be not afraid, my daughter: it is I; and I will not abandon thee. Fear not."
And in a sense, this may be another response to Mr. O'Rama (see below)--that perhaps the ennui that sets in is a trial of sorts--bear up under it, offer it as a small sacrifice to God and make progress in the Little Way. All of our choices have echoes in eternity.
I didn't want to leave so important a discussion in the comments box below, so I pull it out:
Comment from T.S. O'Rama
I'll have to think about it some more. I certainly am not implying a minimalist or Puritan philosophy! Not in the least. I guess my issue is how to live on a Wednesday afternoon - as Walker Percy put it so beautifully. Living in Central Ohio - mecca of civilization that it is - tends to make life a little dry sometimes. I know you won't believe it, but it's not exactly Florence, Italy. There's a part of me that believes/wants to believe that life is gloriously interesting in Central Ohio if I'd only see the spiritual war more clearly. But perhaps this comment is what I should've said on my blog (I can fix that)...
And my response
I understand what you're saying. I lived there for 10 years. And yet. . . there are places where things are even less exciting. I live in the entertainment capital of much of the East Coast and a Hub for most of the world, but after you've tasted of that spring the water begins to run a bit flat. Not to say that it isn't a wonderful place to be or that there is anything wrong with the wonders that surround me--but, believe it or not, there are aspects of life in Central Ohio that I do miss--to wit--
(1) The summer film series at the downtown theatre
(2) The Shekinah Glory festival with quilt auction out in Plain City
(3) The Bucyrus Bratwurst Festival, The Waynesville Sauerkraut festival, and the Circleville pumpkin festival.
(4) Ready accessibility of the Mounds at Newark, the Chilicothe Mounds and Governor's House, the not too distant Serpent Mound, and the place down near the Golden Lion -- ?Fort Ancient?
(5) The libraries and the booksales for various libaries
So there are delights in Central Ohio or Nearby. (Polka Barns up near Cleveland, for example). It isn't a hopping place--but on the other hand it is no worse than a great many. And life is exciting if one views it daily with the gratitude for the gift that it is.
My greatest anecdote about life in Central Ohio comes from a fieldtrip a friend of mine led when a graduate student there. They had a group of kids from inner city New York in a big bus--they're about twenty or thirty miles WEST of Columbus--you know how that gets, when suddenly there's a huge commotion from the back of the bus and the driver is told to "Stop the Bus, Stop the Bus!" Fearing the worst, he did so, and from the back three kids pile out of the bus. My friend got out with the other counselor to break up whatever is going on and they see the three kids with cameras taking pictures of one of those vast fields between Columbus and Dayton. One of the kids says, 'What's that?" pointing to the crop growing at the side of the road, and my friend answers "Corn." And they said, "Ain't no way that's corn--corn comes in a can." My friend says, "That's what it looks like before it goes in the can."
The point is merely to say that one of Thérèse's chief teachings is that we must become like little children to whom all things are new again. We need to teach ourselves to see that corn as though we had never seen it before--to marvel at its growth , and yes, its beauty. We need to accept what comes to us and rejoice in the great generosity with which it is given. THAT is what gives life savor and interest and THAT is what comes of loving Jesus as a little child--nothing can every be ordinary again.
I read something earlier this evening that I've always known, but which hasn't really meant much of anything to me. We are, in the words of Psalm 149:4, "made for God's pleasure."
Why is this so remarkable? What is so astounding about this revelation? God delights in us--in each one of us. Parents--think about the delight you experience when one of your young ones does anything at all cute. We are God's young ones. When we were born, He was there, grinning like a donkey eating briars. He takes real pleasure in us. Yes, we can be aggravating. It is possible for us to be downright infuriating. But He nevertheless delights in each one of us.
We were made for God's pleasure, at His pleasure, in His pleasure, by His pleasure. We were made to be pleasing and God is pleased with us. We focus on how much we get wrong, but by His grace we do get some things right.
Every day start the day by remembering that God made us for His pleasure, and start the day living to give God cause to rejoice.
Today is simply a day for poetry.
A Child My Choice
St. Robert Southwell
Let folly praise that fancy loves, I praise and love that Child
Whose heart no thought, whose tongue no word, whose hand no deed defiled.
I praise Him most, I love Him best, all praise and love is His;
While Him I love, in Him I live, and cannot live amiss.
Love's sweetest mark, laud's highest theme, man's most desired light,
To love Him life, to leave Him death, to live in Him delight.
He mine by gift, I His by debt, thus each to other due;
First friend He was, best friend He is, all times will try Him true.
Though young, yet wise; though small, yet strong; though man, yet God He is:
As wise, He knows; as strong, He can; as God, He loves to bless.
His knowledge rules, His strength defends, His love doth cherish all;
His birth our joy, His life our light, His death our end of thrall.
Alas! He weeps, He sighs, He pants, yet do His angels sing;
Out of His tears, His sighs and throbs, doth bud a joyful spring.
Almighty Babe, whose tender arms can force all foes to fly,
Correct my faults, protect my life, direct me when I die!
You all know by now that Thérèse is a doctor of the Church. As such the Church has declared that she has taught valuable doctrine concerning core church teachings. In particular, her "little way" is seen as a valuable contribution to the understanding of the Church.
However, the definition is that of a doctor of philosophy and the original meaning of Doctor. Thérèse is also a doctor in the modern sense. Through her deep understanding she corrects certain ailments in the church that come through exposure to the secular world.
from Spiritual Childhood: The Spirituality of St. Thérèse of Lisieux
Msgr. Vernon Johnson
The word "love" is so often used for something merely emotional or sentimental that we hesitate to use it in connection with our religion. St. Thérèse rescues us from this false reserve and puts the word "love" again upon our lips in its true meaning.
In the midst of us cold and grown-up lovers, with our love hardened by the difficulty of life, dulled by its dreary routine, stilted by convention, and fettered by human respect, God has placed St. Thérèse to rescue us from all that is false in our concept of love and lead us back to that simple, direct, spontaneous love which, in the depths of our souls, we really long for.
As we enter the crypt of the basilica at Lisieux, we find ourselves beneath the great arch which spans the entrance to the nave. At the base of one side of the arch are written these words of scripture: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighour as thyself. On the other side are the words of St. Thérèse: "There is but one thing to be done here below: to love Jesus and to save souls for Him that He may be more loved." Thus does she make the words of Scripture live again, words which we have known from childhood, but whose meaning for that very reason has lost much of its significance.
It may be urged that a love of such simple directness as St. Thérèse's is possible only for special souls, gifted with extraordinary supernatural graces, and that therefore it is not within the compass of the ordinary person. But St. Thérèse's life was not distinguished by anything spectacular. Her way, as she used to say, was very ordinary, fashioned through the normal means of grace common to us all. The extraordinary thing in her life was her simple fidelity to those means of grace.
Thérèse is a gift to us from God. Through her, as through St. Bernadette, He once again showed us that ordinary people can achieve extraordinary sanctity through perfectly ordinary means. In short, He showed us that once again “His Grace is sufficient.”
Of ourselves we can do nothing but sin. But with God we are, each of us, a saint and a source of hope for the people we meet every day. Thérèse has pulled us out of a sense of love that grasps and seeks to fill a great emptiness and shown us a love that comes from a fullness and reaches out to others. More, because she was not extraordinarily gifted—she did not have the mind of a St. Thomas Aquinas, or the high teaching of St. Francis de Sales, St. Alphonsus, or St. John of the Cross—she is accessible to us. Moreover, she promised to make herself accessible. Her heaven would be spent doing good on Earth. The good she does begins with our choice to follow the little way and to show to all around us the loved she showed while on Earth. We will each do this in our own way; however, our best tribute to her today would be one small action, one little sacrifice that takes us away from ourselves and puts us squarely with God and with our neighbor. Thus we can spend our Earth building the Kingdom of Heaven through God’s grace.
St. Thérèse, Doctor and Daughter of the Most Holy Catholic Church, pray for us that we all burn with the fire that you had for God and for the salvation of souls.