"Most of all I imitate the conduct of Magdalene; her astonishing or rather her loving audacity which charms the Heart of Jesus also attracts my own. Yes, I feel it; even though I had on my conscience all the sins that can be committed, I would go, my heart broken with sorrow, and throw myself into Jesus' arms, for I know how much He loves the prodigal child who returns to Him." --our sister St. Therese, Story of a Soul
"If Magdalene at the time when she was listening to Me had written down what I was saying to her, what words of love would have been shown to the world. My child, it is for this that I have said to your holy sister: 'It is not all at once that all My love reveals itself, but little by little.'" --Jesus speaking with our little brother, Marcel Van, Conversations (86)
"My dear child, your role is to be the apostle of My love. For that you must not be happy simply to hear My words but you must also write them down for the good of souls." --Jesus to Marcel (and me)
Just this morning, on this glorious feast of St. Mary Magdalene, I found myself complaining to Jesus that I had been mission-less lately. There is nothing more likely to induce a case of ennui, I find, than missionlessness. Ennui is a great French word similar to (in my use of it, anyhow) degout. The only problem is that degout is French too! We can see, I think, why Jesus loves France so much (as comes out in Marcel's Conversations quite often) - it has all the best words!
Suffice it to say that ennui is the opposite of cheerful busyness, and degout is translated as disgust. I suppose the former (ennui) is the state of a soul who has lived long and partied hard without discovering the meaning of life (JESUS!) whereas the second state (degout) is that of the soul who has known very well life's meaning, but then keeps tending to forget it! And so one feels frustrated - with oneself, most of all, but with one's state (and feelings) as well.
But the best reason for knowing these words is not to be able to minutely describe their meanings, but rather so we know what we want to avoid! And if, like with quicksand when we happen to be walking through a jungle in an old movie (or something worse than quicksand in The Princess Bride), we come upon it unawares and find ourselves slipping down into it (if not sucked in almost instantaneously), well let's use all our little energy to reach toward that overhanging branch or at least cry out to our angels and Jesus for help!
Impossible though it seems, it's amazing how quickly - much more quickly than disaster - good things can happen. Take this morning, for instance. Here I was, finally acknowledging the ennui and degout into which I've been sinking lately, and crying out, "Wait! You forgot me! I'm feeling missionless!" when suddenly several missions just fell from the sky into my upreaching hand. No, not my u-preaching hand! My up-reaching hand!
Missions have wings, and so I was lifted out of my ennui and degout as fast as you can say, "Login" (that's Log In, not a shortened version of Logging, which goes on much farther north than my place here on the West Coast of the U.S.), or in other words just exactly as quickly as I started writing this post. Thank Heaven!
I knew I needed to think about Mary Magdalene today, it being her glorious feast, and I knew there was a passage where Jesus talks about her to Marcel in their Conversations. Talk about an overhanging branch! I need only grab onto it - and my angel knows by now to hold it constantly within reach no matter how short my arm is extending above the quicksand - to feel the salvation that Jesus has won for us long ago. (Not to harp on the subject, but if you don't yet have a copy of Convos, they are easily and quickly available HERE, in case you, too, want a ready way out of ennui and degout.)
Well, joy and rapture! Here is Jesus telling Marcel that it is just as we suspected. When He spoke to Magdalene, He had plenty to tell her, and it was just as consoling and uplifting as anything we might imagine, and more! Jesus uses this truth (of His words of love to MM, but that they were not written down by her) to explain to Marcel why his own words - or rather the words Jesus dictates to him, alongside his own words - are of crucial importance. Our Lord, God's "one Word," as St. John of the Cross likes to remind us, has much to say that He can only say little by little, bit by bit, for our minds and hearts are too small to receive His Love all at once.
Enter Marcel, with his book of Conversations. And enter our little blog, inspired by Marcel's book. For lo and behold, as often as I open our little brother's pages, I'm filled with a desire to share Jesus' and Mary's words (and Therese's and Marcel's) with the whole world!
This morning I also remembered that our sister Therese has not only great love for Magdalene, but great words on her at the end of Story of a Soul (in certain editions these words are more in the middle, but in all editions, they shine out like the beacon leading us to shore).
Looking up Therese's passage to quote for you, what a delight to find that the Little Flower whom we can't help but imitate, since we are such very tiny flowers too, is herself imitating the quintessential lover of Jesus (after His and our Mother Mary), that second Mary whose second life was spent in adoration of Him who pulled her out of her own ennui and degout. What love fills the Gospel and the universe! And how important these feasts are for reminding us of our missions!
My mission is to write, but it only finds its fulfillment by your reading and learning of your mission. Do you know (or remember) what that mission is?
It is, in a word, to love. Or better yet, to let yourself be loved.
Quite a tall order for a new day which you may have already filled with plans for all sorts of activities and passivities, work and play, not to mention eating, drinking, and sleeping!
Happily, to let yourself be loved is like drinking cool, fresh water when you're parched, or (at other times) like finding that you do have room for dessert - it will go into the interstices that remain despite the nourishing meal you've been blessed with already!
Whether you find your day full or empty (and even when our days are full of activity, we can be running on empty, while on other rarer days of sweet retreat, we're being filled to the brim despite appearances of emptiness), I'm glad you've found yourself here. Let's thank Jesus for loving us and ask Him to convert us like He converted Magdalene. Can you imagine? Just a look from Him and she gave up everything!
I've learned from reading Marcel that Jesus most likely doesn't ask us to give up much more than our sadness, our ennui, our degout. Can we do that for Him today? Certainly not without His divine assistance!!!
Dear Jesus, please reveal to us Your infinite tenderness and compassion, so that wherever You take us today, we will not find ourselves alone. Let Magdalene teach us to be bold with You! Send Marcel as an angelic apostle to show us how to open our hearts to You as Magdalene did and Therese did in imitation of her. Give us loving audacity which turns to You in every need, every joy and sorrow, and inspires us to commend all those we love to Your care - with every confidence that You are caring for them too!
Draw me, darling Jesus; we will run!
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