125 Years of Love, and counting!
"I'm not breaking my head over the writing of my 'little' life; it's as though I were fishing with a line: I write whatever comes to the end of my pen." - Therese, June 11, 1897
Those words were spoken by St. Therese a few months before she died, and they provide inspiration to me today as I search for words to offer on this very special June 11, 2020.
Why is today so very special? I used to celebrate June 11 as the Feast of St. Barnabas, Apostle (as it is, and so shall we still celebrate it), and then later, I loved to celebrate it as the birthday of the Saints of Leon Bloy. He was a French writer at the turn of the 19th to 20th centuries (a little more than a hundred years ago) who befriended and then god-fathered Jacques and Raissa Maritain when they, along with Raissa's sister Vera, were baptized on this day in 1906. Hooray for the Maritains and Leon Bloy! God rest their souls in His infinitely tender and merciful Love that makes Saints from such varied and sundry material!
But this year I am quite pre-occupied with a different feast, and anniversary, for at long last (it's taken a century and a quarter!) it is the 125th anniversary of our dear sister St. Therese and her own sister (and thus ours too) Celine: the 125th anniversary of their Act of Oblation to Merciful Love!
On this day 125 years ago, Therese and Celine knelt before the statue of the Virgin of the Smile, a statue which had been the instrument of great graces for their family (including Therese's miraculous healing 12 years before), and together Celine and Therese prayed the Act of Oblation to Merciful Love that Therese had written out after her own initial offering of herself on Trinity Sunday, June 9, two days before.
So yes, if you're paying super close attention to the dates here, you might notice (but don't worry if you're skimming because I'll tell you what you might have noticed but perhaps didn't!): Today is the third 125th anniversary of the Offering to Merciful Love that we're celebrating this week!
First was on Trinity Sunday, which we celebrated a few days ago, and which was the feast on which Therese first felt her inspiration to offer herself to Merciful Love and so promptly and spontaneously did.
Second was this past Tuesday, June 9, the actual calendar date of Therese's first offering.
But finally, today is the day I've decided we ought to celebrate most wonderfully because this was the day on which Therese had her first follower on this little way of oblation.
Right after Mass on Trinity Sunday, right after she'd made her own offering, Therese grabbed Celine's hand as they were leaving the chapel of the Carmel, and went to their sister Pauline, their mother superior. Therese asked for herself and Celine that Mother Agnes (Pauline) give permission for them to offer themselves formally as Victims to Merciful Love. Mother Agnes said yes, leaving Therese the task of explaining to Celine what in the world she had in mind this time!
And then, so simply and marvelously, by her mere cooperation (tantamount to allowing her younger sister to lead her where she would, as usual), Celine paved the way for the legion of little souls who came after, and among whom we count ourselves, poor and weak and (if you don't mind my saying so) pathetic as we are.
Like our hero and brother Marcel Van, and like Celine before him (not to mention their other sisters Pauline, Marie, and Leonie, their cousin Marie Guerin, and Therese's novice Marie of the Trinity, et cetera), we too need only allow Therese to drag us (or push us) hither and yon, and we too will become other little great saints! And how? You might as well say, "And how!" for the road is long, with many a winding turn, but believe me - or better yet, believe Therese! - we'll get there, and she knows exactly where! To the Heart of Love, the very Merciful Love of God to which we abandon ourselves without reserve.
Sounds good, surely, but if you wonder how in the world it might work, well let's just follow Marcel and Celine following Therese. I'm going to insert a picture of the lovely Virgin of the Smile, and the text of the Act of Oblation to the Merciful Love of the Good God. Without a lot of explanation, because as Fr. Thomas Dubay used to frequently acknowledge, we have a time pressure problem. Let's hurry, then, and not allow anything to stop God from pouring out His infinitely tender love into our hearts, quickly, before we get distracted or bored, before we forget what we're doing, before we fall asleep at out prayers.
Okay, maybe not that last. If you're reading this late at night, and you nod off in the middle, no worries! Therese will assist and make the Act in your name, as she assisted Celine, and later Marie of the Trinity, and later still our little Marcel.
Marcel is a darling guide to this offering as well, because he had no idea what it meant, and yet I do think the whole of his book Conversations (with Jesus, Mary, and St. Therese) is an extended commentary on this Act of Oblation. He even asked Jesus straight out to explain it, quite a while after Therese had made the Act for him since, little as he was, he entrusted himself to her clear and sure guidance as do we. Marcel asked, "So, little Jesus, tell me what 'Victim of Love' means." Jesus responded:
"They are victims who, through love, offer themselves to Love. These victims leave to Love complete liberty to accomplish His desires in them but of themselves, they do nothing to expend themselves; it is Love, that is to say the Holy Spirit who acts spontaneously in them."
There you have it then, and so let's waste no more time in chit chat. I offer to you below (in order to help Therese offer you to God) our patroness the Virgin of the Smile, our dear Mama Mary, and the Act of Offering which Therese and Celine recited before her on this day 125 years ago.
But before I do, I almost forgot - we are in the middle (or toward the end) of a sweet novena culminating in St. Anthony's Day on Saturday. We commend to him the health of many of our loved ones and all who are ill, asking his powerful intercession to heal them, as well as to fulfill the many other needs and desires - including our thanks to God for miracles already granted - as mentioned in the previous post. Here then, is a little novena prayer to dear St. Anthony, and then we'll proceed with our Offering. Thank You Jesus, for all these irresistible Saints you give us to help us on our little way!
UNFAILING PRAYER TO ST. ANTHONY
Holy St. Anthony, gentlest of Saints, your love for God and charity for all God's creatures made you worthy when on earth to possess miraculous powers. Miracles followed your word, which you were ever ready to speak for those in trouble or need.
Encouraged by this thought, I implore you to obtain for me also my requests . . .
The answer to my prayer may require a miracle' even so, you are the Saint of Miracles!
O gentle and loving St. Anthony, whose heart was always full of human sympathy, whisper my petition into the adorable ears of the Holy Infant Jesus, who loved to be held in your arms, and the gratitude of my heart will always be yours. Amen.
ACT OF OBLATION TO THE MERCIFUL LOVE OF THE GOOD GOD
O My God! Most Blessed Trinity, I desire to Love You and make you Loved, to work for the glory of Holy Church by saving souls on earth and liberating those suffering in purgatory. I desire to accomplish Your will perfectly and to reach the degree of glory You have prepared for me in Your Kingdom. I desire, in a word, to be saint, but I feel my helplessness and I beg You, O my God! to be Yourself my Sanctity!
Since You loved me so much as to give me Your only Son as my Savior and my Spouse, the infinite treasures of His merits are mine. I offer them to You with gladness, begging You to look upon me only in the Face of Jesus and in His heart burning with Love.
I offer You, too, all the merits of the saints (in heaven and on earth), their acts of Love, and those of the holy angels. Finally, I offer You, O Blessed Trinity! the Love and merits of the Blessed Virgin, my Dear Mother. It is to her I abandon my offering, begging her to present it to You.
Her Divine Son, my Beloved Spouse, told us in the says of His mortal life: "Whatsoever you ask the Father in my name he will give it to you!" I am certain, then, that You will grant my desires; I know, O my God! that the more You want to give, the more You make us desire. I feel in my heart immense desires and it is with confidence I ask You to come and take possession of my soul. Ah! I cannot receive Holy Communion as often as I desire, but, Lord, are You not all-powerful? Remain in me as in a tabernacle and never separate Yourself from Your little victim.
I want to console You for the ingratitude of the wicked, and I beg of you to take away my freedom to displease You. If through weakness I sometimes fall, may Your Divine Glance cleanse my soul immediately, consuming all my imperfections like the fire that transforms everything into itself.
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. It is with joy I shall contemplate You on the Last Day carrying the scepter of Your Cross. Since You deigned to give me a share in this very precious Cross, I hope in heaven to resemble You and to see shining in my glorified body the sacred stigmata of Your Passion.
After earth's Exile, I hope to go and enjoy You in the Fatherland, but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for Your Love Alone with the one purpose of pleasing You, consoling Your Sacred Heart, and saving souls who will love You eternally.
In the evening of this life, I shall appear before You with empty hands, for I do not ask You, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is stained in Your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in Your own Justice and to receive from Your Love the eternal possession of Yourself. I want no other Throne, no other Crown but You, my Beloved!
Time is nothing in Your eyes, and a single day is like a thousand years. You can, then, in one instant prepare me to appear before You.
In order to live in one single act of perfect Love, I OFFER MYSELF AS A VICTIM OF HOLOCAUST TO YOUR MERCIFUL LOVE, asking You to consume me incessantly, allowing the waves of infinite tenderness shut up within You to overflow into my soul, and that thus I may become a martyr of Your Love, O my God!
May this martyrdom, after having prepared me to appear before You, finally cause me to die and may my soul take its flight without any delay into the eternal embrace of Your Merciful Love.
I want, O my Beloved, at each beat of my heart to renew this offering to You an infinite number of times, until the shadows having disappeared I may be able to tell You of my Love in an Eternal Face to Face!
Draw me, we will run!!!
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