“I thank You, O my God! for all the graces You have granted me, especially the grace of making me pass through the crucible of suffering.” (Saint Therese of Lisieux)
Saint Therese knew it was all God. She knew her life was nothing else but the flowering forth of the Divine Mercy. She knew that when she suffered a nervous breakdown early in her life it was God who healed her. She knew that despite her charm and attractive qualities it was God who had preserved her from worldliness and the deceptions of a superficial life. She knew that when she entered into the dark night – and seemingly had lost faith – it was God who carried her through to the Eternal Light. She knew she was writing a spiritual diary that would touch the hearts of countless souls, not by her own power, but because of the Divine Mercy. She knew everything in her life was due to the Divine Mercy. In the very first paragraph of her famous autobiography, Saint Therese gives praise to the Divine Mercy, saying:
[The] story of my soul…involves me in only one thing: to start extolling now the mercies of the Lord – which I shall go on doing throughout eternity.” (Image, p.19).
The core of Saint Therese’s message, says Saint John Paul II, is the merciful love of God. In his Apostolic Letter Proclaiming Saint Therese of Lisieux a Doctor of the Church, Pope John Paul II made the following observation regarding the core of Saint Therese’s message:
“The core of her message is actually the mystery itself of God-Love, of the triune God infinitely perfect in himself. If genuine Christian spiritual experience should conform to the revealed truths in which God communicates himself and the mystery of his will (cf. Dei Verbum, 2), it must be said that Therese experienced divine revelation, going so far as to contemplate the fundamental truths of our faith united in the mystery of Trinitarian life. At the summit, as the source and goal, is the merciful love of the three divine Persons, as she expresses it, especially in her “Act of Oblation to Merciful Love.” At the root, on the subject’s part, is the experience of being the Father’s adoptive children in Jesus; this is the most authentic meaning of spiritual childhood, that is, the experience of divine filiation, under the movement of the Holy Spirit. At the root again, and standing before us, is our neighbor, others for whose salvation we must collaborate with and in Jesus, with the same merciful love as his.” (no. 8)
In the person of Jesus Christ we have received a hope and a gift we never deserved. And yet, through the Merciful Love of God, Jesus belongs to us. In a path marked by the incredible mercy of God, Saint Therese communicates this message to us.
Tom Mulcahy, M.A.
Ref. Father Faber mentions in Growth and Holiness “a love born of forgiveness.” It is also Faber who says in All for Jesus that “Jesus belongs to us.” The Newsboys have a song where the lyric about Jesus says that he “is a hope I never deserved.”
Image: Picture of Saint Therese, Public Domain, U.S.A.
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