This is a picture of one of the roses St. Therese had me deliver for her feast. A new friend took the photo because she was the recipient of the rose and was in awe of its beauty and heavenly fragrance. I was too, and I'm grateful she captured its loveliness so we could share it with you.
How was your St. Therese day? Or perhaps I should ask, how were they? Because thanks to the two calendars of the Church (the one we use with the Novus Ordo or "New Mass" and the one that preceded it but is again in use with the Extraordinary Form of the Mass), not only was it little Therese's feast on October 1st, but again on October 3rd! I can only thank the good Lord who knew that for little souls, one Little Flower feast is not enough! And until Marcel, the second Little Flower, gets his own feast, he's super happy to share with his big sister Therese.
My guardian angel was such an angel on the second Therese feast that he woke me and my husband early. This meant we could go to the early Mass in the extraordinary form and thus celebrate Therese's feast all over again!
The Mass was said by the same good priest who said Mass mid-day on her first feast two days before, and again, after Mass, he blessed us with a relic of St. Therese and invited us to come to the altar rail to honor our little sister. For the second time in three days, then, I knelt and had the joy of kissing dear Therese on her feast! I wondered if the priest would remember that I had done this recently . . . but then so had he, and I couldn't imagine he would recall every upturned face.
To my delight, after I kissed the relic Father stopped (rather than moving on to the next upturned face), looked straight at me, and said as if reading my mind, "That's twice now!" I had a hard time not laughing, but I avoided Marcel's gaze and made it back to my pew. Really, just when you least expect it, a kiss, a glance, a smile!
I feel like “That’s twice now” might be my motto lately.
Two lovely little Miss Marcels in Michigan sent me the most beautiful rosary I’ve ever seen – for keeps! – and it arrived just in time for her first feast. Being me, I immediately loved it and rejoiced in it, and then lost it! (I bet you two dear Miss M’s are reading this! But don’t give up on me – I have friends in high places and I promise it all turns out all right!) Several prayers, and friends praying too, to St. Anthony later, and voila! It was once more in my appreciative possession. It was, actually, another kind of “That’s twice, now!” Nothing like losing something, if only for a few hours, to help one appreciate it more!
Another very dear friend gave me a French holy card on the second Therese feast day - it would take a long time to tell how much this holy card means to me (and why), but the amazing "That's twice now!" miracle comes in when I found the same holy card - only in English - in a library book (still at the library!) of St. Therese's Letters. I was putting a post it note into the book to mark Letter 197 (which I'll say more about below), when I found - marking Letter 197!! - the double of the holy card I'd been given. Wow! I realized later that this was a sign from the previous owner of the holy card - not my friend who gave it to me, but a dear friend of us both who is now in Heaven, if you ask me, and conspiring with Therese and Marcel to get us all to look at and love Letter 197!!!
And then there’s the “That’s twice now!” that I somehow thought I could avoid, but alas and alack, we’re in October already (else how could we have so much fun feasting over Therese) and I might as well admit this is twice now that I've missed our Marcel Book Club meeting in its proper month!
We are plodding along, however and thankfully, the Little Way. And we are approaching, late though we are, the chapter that is hands down my favorite in Story of a Soul. What a gift in this week of feasts! What a conclusion to our unfailing triple novena of love!
There remains, then, nothing to do but take a look, at long last, at Chapter 9 of Story of a Soul (Manuscript B), which is Therese's letter to her sister Marie of the Sacred Heart, written in answer to Marie's request that she recount her dream and her little doctrine.
Have you ever had the experience of wanting to tell someone the funny thing you read, or the clever thing a friend wrote to you, and found yourself saying, "Wait, wait," and pulling out their words to read exactly so you won't mess up the well-said original you’re trying to convey?
I feel like that now.
For while Marcel preferred the early chapters of Story of a Soul - and I get that because he was a child when he read our sister's memoirs, and he found so much in her childhood that matched his own and encouraged him – I myself find in Therese's letter to Marie (which ended up as Chapter 9), and her “Letter 197,” which we'll glean from too, the sublime expression of Therese’s teaching on spiritual childhood. I hope you get a chance to read the whole thing soon (this Chapter 9, and you can find Letter 197 on the internet if you don't have it handy), but meanwhile, let's Book Club it. And I hope you don’t mind if I do that quoting thing, since I could never express this half as good, even though I’d surely use twice as many words. As in, “That’s twice now!” So here we go! And forgive whatever is lacking in my commentary - I want to get this meeting going so we can try to fit in MBC 10 in October too! (But hey, no promises! We'll just say "God willing!")
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Marcel's Book Club - 9.0 - Chapter 9 of Story of a Soul – in the words of our sister St. Therese:
"Without showing Himself, without making His voice heard, Jesus teaches me in secret; it is not by means of books, for I do not understand what I am reading. Sometimes a word comes to console me, such as this one which I received at the end of prayer (after having remained in science and aridity): "Here is the teacher whom I am giving you; he will teach you everything that you must do. I want to make you read in the book of life, wherein is contained the science of LOVE." [From a book on St. Margaret Mary and Jesus’ words to her.] The science of Love, ah, yes this word resounds sweetly in the ear of my soul, and I desire only this science. Having given all my riches for it, I esteem it as having given nothing as did the bride in the sacred Canticles. I understand well that it is only love that makes us acceptable to God, that this love is the only good I ambition. Jesus deigned to show me the road that leads to this Divine Furnace, and this road is the surrender of the little child who sleeps without fear in its Father's arms. "Whoever is a little one, let him come to me." So speaks the Holy Spirit through the mouth of Solomon. This same Spirit of Love also says, "For to him that is little, mercy will be shown." The Prophet Isaiah reveals in His name that on the last day: "God shall feed His flock like a shepherd; He shall gather together the lambs with His arm, and shall take them up in His bosom." As though these promises were not sufficient, this same prophet whose gaze was already plunged into the eternal depths cried out in the Lord's name: "As one whom a mother caresses, so will I comfort you; you shall be carried at the breasts and upon the knees they will caress you."
"After having listened to words such as these, there is nothing to do but to be silent and to weep with gratitude and love. Ah! if all weak and imperfect souls felt what the least of souls feels, that is, the soul of your little Therese, not one would despair of reaching the summit of the mount of love. Jesus does not demand great actions from us but simply surrender and gratitude." . . . .
"See then all that Jesus lays claim to from us: He has no need of our works but only of our love, for the same God who declares He has no need to tell us when He is hungry did not fear to beg a little water from the Samaritan woman. He was thirsty. But when He said, "Give me to drink," it was the love of His poor creature the Creator of the universe was seeking. He was thirsty for love. Ah! I feel it more than ever before, Jesus is parched, for He meets only the ungrateful and indifferent among His disciples in the world, and among His own disciples, alas, He finds few hearts who surrender to Him without reservations, who understand the real tenderness of His infinite Love."
I (Miss Marcel) must interject here. What I love about this last sentence - this last part of this last sentence, to be more specific - is the reality that underlies our sister's words. She says, "He finds few hearts who surrender to Him without reservation," and we may think, "Oh no! This is me! I do not surrender to Him without reservation!" But wait! There's more! She immediately adds that there are few hearts who understand the real tenderness of His infinite Love.
The beauty of Conversations is that in it Jesus, through His little secretary Marcel, expresses the real tenderness of His infinite Love so that more hearts (namely ours) can then surrender to Him without reservation.
Think about it. You don't need to blame yourself for not surrendering entirely to God. You don't yet understand the real tenderness of His infinite Love, so you are scared to trust Him completely! But that is what Marcel and Therese were sent on this earth to do - to show us how very trustworthy He is, to lead us by the hand to meet the real Jesus who so gladly shows us, through their words (and His to Marcel), the real tenderness of His infinite Love.
If you haven't yet fully surrendered to Him without reservations, I say it's because you haven't yet understood the real tenderness of His infinite Love. And I have a prescription for you! Read Conversations tonight, and tomorrow, and the next day! Read it from front to back, or back to front! Read it with one sentence following another, or skip around and dip in here and there. What will you find? The real tenderness of Jesus' infinite Love!
Therese says, not much further on, this other bit which thrills me to the core. She says, "I feel how powerless I am to express in human language the secrets of heaven, and after writing page upon page I find that I have not yet begun. There are so many different horizons, so many nuances of infinite variety that only the palette of the Celestial Painter will be able to furnish me after the night of this life with the colors capable of depicting the marvels He reveals to the eye of my soul."
This means that she looked forward to now! Now she can begin to show us the marvels she has to revealed to her, and she does that with a double feast, a double holy card, and roses galore! She does it with the scent of a rose - did I tell you that our rose at the top had a heavenly scent? Well I forgot to tell you that it, out of the dozen I bought together, was the one that exuded a fragrance that filled the kitchen of my new friend, while its mates at my house sat and just looked pretty! That was Therese letting us know she is alive and well and ready to reveal much more of His love than ever before!
Marie wanted Therese to tell her of a dream Therese had . . . you must read about this dream, but suffice it to say Therese learned from it that THE SAINTS LOVE US SO MUCH!!!
She goes on to tell of the martyrdom of her desires to be all things in the Church, and the Holy Spirit's solution for her that she will be Love in the Heart of the Church . . .
Ah, and then Therese says to Jesus, "O luminous Beacon of Love, I know how to reach You, I have found the secret of possessing Your flame. I am only a child, powerless and weak, and yet it is my weakness that gives me the boldness of offering myself as victim of Your Love, O Jesus! In times past, victims, pure and spotless, were the only ones accepted by the Strong and Powerful God. To satisfy Divine Justice, perfect victims were necessary, but the law of Love has succeeded to the law of fear, and Love has chosen me as a holocaust, me, a weak and imperfect creature. Is not this choice worthy of Love? Yes, in order that Love be fully satisfied, it is necessary that It lower Itself, and that it lower Itself to nothingness and transform this nothingness into fire."
Do you know what? There is way, way more in this chapter! But here is how Therese ends, my favorite part of all, and also loved by Pope Pius XI so much (he who called her his guiding star!) that he quoted it to end his homily at her canonization:
"O Jesus! why can't I tell all little souls how unspeakable is Your condescension? I feel that if You found a soul weaker and littler than mine, which is impossible, You would be pleased to grant it still greater favors, provided it abandoned itself with total confidence to Your infinite Mercy. But why do I desire to communicate Your secrets of Love, O Jesus, for was it not You alone who taught them to me, and can You not reveal them to others? Yes, I know it, and I beg You to do it. I beg You to cast Your Divine Glance upon a great number of little souls. I beg You to choose a legion of little Victims worthy of Your LOVE!"
But then here's where things get really good. Marie (Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart, St. Therese's eldest blood sister and her godmother) received what she requested - this letter from Therese to her - and promptly felt . . . . something kind of akin to despair! She was thrilled that her sister was so amazing, sad that her sister was likely going to be snatched up to Heaven by God (and away from those who loved her on earth - or so they thought, though Therese reassured them later that she would "come down" and did find ways, still finds ways, to do so), but most of all somewhat discouraged that she would never be like this little victim of love with such great desires and passion.
So Marie wrote back to Therese expressing her gratitude, her joy and sorrow, and her last question: "I would like you to tell your little godmother, in writing, if she can love Jesus as you do."
Therese wrote back in the letter now identified as Letter (LT) i97, and here is what she said:
I am not embarrassed in answering you. How can you ask me if it is possible for you to love God as I love Him? . . . My desires for martyrdom are nothing, they are not what give me the unlimited confidence that I feel in my heart. They are, to tell the truth, the spiritual riches that render one unjust, when one rests in them with complacence and when one believes they are something great...These desires are a consolation that Jesus grants at times to weak souls like mine (and these souls are numerous), but when He does not give this consolation, it is a grace of privilege. Recall those words of Father: "The martyrs suffered with joy, and the King of Martyrs suffered with sadness." Yes Jesus said: "Father, let this chalice pass away from me." Dear Sister, how can you say after this that my desires are the sign of my love? ...Ah! I really feel that it is not this at all that pleases God in my little soul; what pleases Him is that He sees me loving my littleness and my poverty, the blind hope that I have in His mercy...That is my only treasure, dear Godmother, why would this treasure not be yours?...
....."O dear Sister I beg you understand your little girl, understand that to love Jesus, to be His victim of love, the weaker one is, without desires or virtues, the more suited one is for the workings of this consuming and transforming Love...The desire alone to be a victim suffices, but we must consent to remain always poor and without strength, and this is the difficulty, for "The truly poor in spirit, where do we find him? You must look for him from afar," said the psalmist. He does not say that you must look for him among great souls, but from afar, that is to say in lowliness, in nothingness....Ah! Let us remain then very far from all that sparkles, let us love our littleness, let us love to feel nothing, then we shall be poor in spirit, and Jesus will come to look for us, and however far we may be, He will transform us in flames of love....Oh! How I would like to be able to make you understand what I feel! ....It is confidence and nothing but confidence that must lead us to Love....Since we see the way, let us run together. Yes, I feel it, Jesus wills to give us the same graces, He wills to give us His heaven gratuitously."
Therese says, "Nine o'clock is ringing, and I am obliged to leave you. Ah, how I would like to tell you things, but Jesus is going to make you feel all that I cannot write."
Me too! Eight o'clock is ringing, and I am obliged to leave you, but I am confident with the confidence of Therese that Jesus is going to make you feel all that we cannot write.
As for Marcel, he has written a lot more than Therese and I - or perhaps I should say he's written a lot more of Jesus' words, which we highly recommend! As always we suggest you start with Conversations. And enjoy!
I'm so grateful to have been able to share some of Therese's feast(s) with you, and now, one last "That's twice now" before we adjourn . . .
I've been hearing from a lot of people who enjoyed the triple novena. So... Let's do it again! Details coming soon since it starts tomorrow on Faustina's day, October 5 (but join in any time!)..If anyone wonders why we're doing another triple novena, well there are lots of reasons - as many reasons as prayer requests that still need answering! Sure, I know that God always answers prayers, and that sometimes He just says "maybe" or "later" or even (gasp) "no." Or so they say! But I'm taking Jesus at His word. Call Him the unjust judge (haha - it was His parable, not mine!) but I think if we keep pestering Him, poor widows that we are, He will have to keep His word and say YES to everything!
And now, before I get into trouble (or laugh to hard to finish), let's pray together and trust Jesus for everything!
Draw me, we will run!!!
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