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Monthly Archives: February 2013

“LOVING JESUS IN OUR WEAKNESS” – THE LIFE OF ST THERESE

ST THERESE OF LISIEUX (1873-1897): HER LIFE AND MESSAGE

Therese Martin was born in Alencon, in Normandy, the ninth of her parents’ nine children, of whom four died in infancy. In 1925, a mere fifty-two years after her birth, Therese was declared a Saint by Pope Pius XI. Since the she has also been proclaimed a Doctor of the Church, that is someone whose life and writings are a source of profound treasure for those seeking to love God with all their heart.

THERESE’S EARLY LIFE

Therese only lived in the house where she was born, on Alencon’s rue Saint Blaise, until she was four and a half years old; this is excluding a period of roughly twelve months when she lived at the home of Rose Taille, a wet nurse in Semalle. Family life in Alencon was happy for a while, but this was not to last as Therese’s mother, Zelie, died from breast cancer in November 1877. Less than three months after Zelie’s death, Louis Martin, now fifty-four years of age, and with five daughters to raise, moved his family to Lisieux.

Their new home, Les Buissonnets, has been visited by countless pilgrims to Lisieux over the years, and it was much loved by Louis Martin and his daughters. When she was eight and a half, Therese became a pupil at the school run by Benedictine Sisters, and she later described this period, which lasted until she was thirteen, as the unhappiest in her life. Perhaps the teasing of some of her classmates and the loss of her sisters, Pauline and Marie, who had joined the Lisieux Carmel, combined with the absence of her mother did cause Therese much inner pain. She made her first Holy Communion and was confirmed during this time, and her spiritual life began to deepen.

On 10 May 1883, when she was ten, Therese was healed of a very serious illness, which she always believed had much to do with the devil.

THERESE LEAVES CHILDHOOD BEHIND

On Christmas Eve 1886, Therese was liberated from the oversensitivity of her nature, and she began to forget herself; concerning herself only with God and with other people, she discovered true happiness. She writes: “On that night of light began the third period of my life, the most beautiful, and the most filled with graces from heaven… I experienced a great desire to work for the conversion of sinners, a desire I hadn’t felt so intensely before.”

THERESE BECOMES A CARMELITE

By Christmas 1887 Therese was certain that she wished, like her sisters Pauline and Marie, to become a Carmelite Sister. Her father gave his permission and the Carmelite community in Lisieux was strongly in favour; however, the diocesan authorities were not sympathetic, given Therese’s young age. Still, Therese did enter Carmel on 9 April 1888, aged just fifteen years and three months. The community which she joined on that day consisted of twenty-six religious, their convent approaching the fiftieth anniversary of its founding.

One month after entering Carmel, Therese wrote to her sister, Celine: “A day passed by a Carmelite without suffering is a day lost.” St Teresa of Avila had laid down a balanced way of life for her communities of Sisters, composed mainly of work and prayer, with love absolutely taking precedence over all else, and mortification being merely a means of deepening love for God and for others.

In Carmel Therese spent the last nine years of her life and it is here that she composed, in rare free moments, what came to be seen as her spiritual autobiography, The Story of a Soul. For the last eighteen months of her life Therese suffered very much from the tuberculosis that was to cause her death. By April 1897 she suffered vomiting, acute chest pains and frequent coughing up of blood. By July, she was confined to bed and suffered fever, suffocation, constipation, insomnia, bedsores and gangrene of the intestines. At the same time she endured great spiritual torments, but, despite all this, she lived out to the full her way of love and complete confidence in God. Therese died on 30 September 1897, her last words being: “My God, I love you”.

A wooden cross was placed over her grave, in the Carmel plot in Lisieux cemetery. It bore the name of Soeur Therese de l’Enfant Jesus and the mysterious words: “Je Veux Passer Mon Ciel a Faire du Bien Sur La Terre. (I wish to spend my heaven doing good upon earth).

In 1898 The Story of a Soul was published and, in the next fifteen years, the Lisieux Carmel sent out more than two hundred thousand copies. Translations were made into various languages, including English, and, as early as 1907, St Pius X stated that Therese was “the greatest Saint of modern times.” The diocesan beatification process began in the summer of 1910 and Therese was canonised by Pope Pius XI in 1925. He kept her picture on his desk at all times and prayed to her before making any important decision. In 1927 he proclaimed Therese Patroness of the Missions, alongside St Francis Xavier.

THERESE’S “LITTLE WAY” OF LOVE AND CONFIDENCE

In 1896 Therese wrote of her “little Way” in a letter to her sister, Marie: “…to love Jesus, to be His victim of love, the weaker one is, without desires or virtues, the more apt one is for the operations of that consuming and transforming love… It is trust and nothing but trust that must bring us to love.” Therese described her little way as a way of spiritual childhood, trust and total surrender, similar to a child’s total dependence upon its mother or father. It is a way which calls for us to practise the virtues at all times, and to realise that we are always, in Scriptural terms, “unprofitable servants”, totally dependent upon our Master’s love and care. Therese’s little way is suitable for everyone and, if we wish, we can all share her vocation, to be love in the heart of the Church. Therese helps us to realise that God loves us in spite of our weakness and sins and that He is nothing but love and mercy.
– This article by Andrew J. Wilson was published in “Helping the Missions side by side with St Therese, issue no 79, to commemorate the visit of St Therese’s relics”, by The Little Way Association. Contact the Association for more information, donations etc. at: Sacred Heart House, 119 Cedars Road, Clapham Common, London SW4 0PR.

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FAITH OF OUR FATHERS (HYMN)

Faith of our fathers
Faith of our fathers!
Living still in spite of dungeon, fire and sword;
Oh, how our hearts beat high with joy
When’er we hear that glorious word!

Refrain:
Faith of our fathers! Holy Faith
We will be true to thee till death,
We will be true to thee till death.

Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
Were still in heart and conscience free;
How sweet would be their children’s fate,
If they, like them could die for thee.

Faith of our fathers, Mary’s prayers,
Shall win our country back to thee.
And though the truth that comes from God
Our Land shall then indeed be free.

Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strive,
And preach thee too, as love knows how,
By kindly words and virtuous life.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2013 in Inspirational Hymns

 

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TO IMITATE MARY MEANS TO KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS OF JESUS

“Devotion to the Blessed Virgin is firmly rooted in the revealed Word and has solid dogmatic foundations. It is based on the singular dignity of Mary, Mother of the Son of God, and therefore beloved daughter of the Father and Temple of the Holy Spirit – Mary who, because of this extraordinary grace, is far greater than any other creature on earth or in heaven” (Paul VI).

“When Mary is honoured, her Son is duly acknowledged, loved and glorified, and His commandments are observed. To venerate Mary correctly means to acknowledge her Son, for she is the Mother of God. To love her means to love Jesus, for she is always the Mother of Jesus.

“To pray to our Lady means not to substitute her for Christ, but to glorify her Son who desires us to have loving confidence in His Saints, especially in His Mother. To imitate the ‘faithful Virgin’ means to keep her Son’s commandments.” (U.S. Bishops: Behold Your Mother, No.82)

 
 

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PRAYER FOR ST COLUMBAN’S INTERCESSION

O Blessed Columban,
who in your zeal to follow Christ
left your homeland as a wanderer
and spent your life in suffering and exile,
help and protect, we humbly ask you,
the missionaries of our day
who have devoted their lives
to preaching the Gospel
throughout the world.

Obtain for them, we ask you,
that same wisdom and fortitude
by which you overcame the dangers
which beset your path,
and that firm faith and ardent love
which enabled you to endure gladly
the privations of this life
for the love of Christ.

Assist and protect us, also,
dear Saint Columban,
so to live for God’s glory
that when our pilgrimage
through this life is over,
we may share with you
in the joy of our heavenly home,
through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 
 

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TODAY’S GOSPEL READING (LUKE 16:19-31)

GOOD THINGS CAME YOUR WAY, JUST AS BAD THINGS CAME THE WAY OF LAZARUS. NOW HE IS BEING COMFORTED HERE WHILE YOU ARE IN AGONY.

Jesus said to the Pharisees: “There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently every day. And at his gate there lay a poor man called Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to fill himself with the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even came and licked his sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried.

“In his torment in Hades he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off with Lazarus in his bosom. So he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, pity me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames.’ ‘My son,’ Abraham replied, ‘remember that during your life good things came your way, just as bad things came the way of Lazarus. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony. But that is not all: between us and you a great gulf has been fixed, to stop anyone, if he wanted to, crossing from our side to yours, and to stop any crossing from your side to ours.’

“The rich man replied, ‘Father, I beg you then to send Lazarus to my father’s house, since I have five brothers, to give them warning so that they do not come to this place of torment too.’ ‘They have Moses and the prophets,’ said Abraham, ‘let them listen to them.’ ‘Ah no, father Abraham,’ said the rich man, ‘but if someone comes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ Then Abraham said to him, ‘If they will not listen either to Moses or the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead.'”

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 
 

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TODAY’S RESPONSORIAL PSALM (PSALM 1)

R. Happy the man who has placed his trust in the Lord.

1. Happy indeed is the man
who follows not the counsel of the wicked;
nor lingers in the way of sinners
nor sits in the company of scorners,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord
and who ponders his law day and night. (R.)

2. He is like a tree that is planted
beside the flowing waters,
that yields its fruit in due season
and whose leaves shall never fade;
and all that he does shall prosper. (R.)

3. No so are the wicked, not so!
For they like winnowed chaff
shall be driven away by the wind.
For the Lord guards the way of the just
but the way of the wicked leads to doom. (R.)

ACCLAMATION

I will leave this place and go to my father and say:
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.”

 
 

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TODAY’S BIBLE READING (JEREMIAH 17:5-10)

A CURSE ON THE MAN WHO PUTS HIS TRUST IN MAN,
A BLESSING ON THE MAN WHO PUTS HIS TRUST IN THE LORD.

The Lord says this: “A curse on the man who puts his trust in man, who relies on things of flesh, whose heart turns from the Lord. He is like dry scrub in the wastelands: if good comes, he has no eyes for it, he settles in the parched places of the wilderness, a salt land, uninhabited.

“A blessing on the man who puts his trust in the Lord, with the Lord for his hope. He is like a tree by the waterside that thrusts its roots to the stream: when the heat comes it feels no alarm, its foliage stays green; it has no worries in a year of drought, and never ceases to bear fruit.

“The heart is more devious than any other thing, perverse too: who can pierce its secrets? I, the Lord, search to the heart, I probe the loins to give each man what his conduct and his actions deserve.”

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 
 

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