THERESE IS THERE

celine's painting of therese

At times I feel lost,
and I don’t know where to turn
I gaze upward towards Heaven
For some solace I do yearn
And yet feeling all alone
at facing the unknown, I know Therese is there.
It’s clear as day to me, she sees our needs
with tears streaming down my face,
my heart so filled with weeds
A crown of thorns starts pressing in
and just when I feel I can’t go on
Therese is there with roses red
and my doubts seem to be gone.
There she is in front of me,
so close that it was hard to see
that she had been there all along
My saddened heart breaks, out into song.
Therese is there, she comes once more
To answer prayers, that I implore.
Therese, my friend with rose petals falling
I see her presence, hear her calling.
She says to me “Dear soul, it will all be okay.”
So trusting once more, I follow the “Little Way”

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Walking the Trail with St. Thérèse – Part 4: Thérèse shows us how to discover the flower bed of beauty in our own lives

SJST

Walking the Trail with St. Thérèse is a series of reflections on The Story of a Soul.

New for Le Royaume website Verite 3

While still meditating and reminiscing over her childhood years, those before her mother passed away, years of charm, warmth, and being surrounded by love, Thérèse makes a startling connection to the Kingdom of God. This connection is a realization of how Our Lord used a natural gift He had bestowed on her to magnify it and transform it into a powerful grace.

495This is how it works in the Kingdom. It is often heard in relationship to Thomas Aquinas’ teachings that: “grace does not destroy but builds upon nature” (Fr. John A. Hardon). Once again, Thérèse, with no formal theological training, puts forth the same concept in a simple, clear, charming manner. Once again, we see that she has a spiritual mind like that of the great medieval scholastic but explains herself in common, simple terms that we all can understand and with which we can identify. She uses a humorous childhood incident to make one of the most profound points in her entire manuscript.

First she gives us the anecdote:

“One day Léonie, thinking she was now too big to play with dolls, came and found us both with a basket full of dresses and pretty little pieces of cloth intended to make others; on top was sitting her doll. ‘Here, little sisters,’ she said, ‘you choose, I am giving you all this.’ Céline stuck out her hand and took a little ball of yarn that she liked. After thinking about it for a moment, I in turn stuck out my hand and said, ‘I choose all!’ And I took the basket without further ceremony. Those who were watching the scene thought it was quite fair – Céline herself didn’t think to complain.” (The Story of a Soul, 2006, p. 19)

Therese as a young childThis all sounds quite humorous and cute. How are we to derive a stupendous Thomist-type scholastic insight from this? Thérèse does, though. She does derive a deep insight into what this all means for her. It is her life, her story, and her natural demeanor. And since it is so, Our Lord’s enlightenment for Thérèse is not only deeply spiritual but deeply personal. The Lord draws her close to Him through the use of her memory and her own very personal experience. He does so by “building on her nature” as opposed to destroying it:

“This childhood trait sums up my whole life. Later, when perfection made its appearance to me, I understood that in order to become a saint you have to suffer a lot, always be in search of what is the most perfect, and forget yourself. I understood that there are many degrees of perfection, and that each soul is free to respond to Our Lord’s advances, to do little or much for him – in a word, to choose among the sacrifices that he requires. Then, just as in the days of my childhood, I cried out, “Dear God, I choose all. I don’t want to be a halfway saint. It doesn’t scare me to suffer for You; I’m afraid of only one thing, and that is to hold onto my will. Take it, because ‘I choose all,’ all that You want!…” (The Story of a Soul, 2006, pp. 19-20)

It is stunning to see her move so suddenly and with such ease to maturity. She has been telling us about herself up to the age of four! Somehow, in the middle of all that, she manages the insight above, which is most sublime.

Therese 4 refinedWe see through Thérèse how intimately Our Lord Jesus Christ works in our souls. Our lives are filled with meaning! Everything we do has meaning in the eyes of God. Our most mundane acts might be just the seed of enlightenment we need somewhere down the road. Our Lord knows when that seed is ready to die and break forth into new life. At the right moment, He too will draw us close to Him in an embrace of love and in a way most personal and intimate.

Red_roseFor Thérèse, a simple childhood story “summed up her whole life.” How did she sense that? God enlightened her intellect through the use of her memory in a way that was intimately hers and hers alone. Understanding her life through a seemingly unimportant childhood memory became an embrace from Her Spouse by way of enlightenment.

tumblr_nbt8uy3nJe1qcazdmo1_500Our Lord embraces us and creates a flower bed of beauty and delight in His Kingdom out of our lives. However, we need the spiritual insights from Faith, Hope, and Love while using our intellect and memory in deep contemplation. The flower bed of beauty is before us, the flower bed arrayed in the colors of our very own lives as created by Our Lord, who is He through Whom all things are created. He created the natural world. He also created the Heavens. He has created us for Heaven, by building on our nature rather than destroying it.

We are learning already to discover for ourselves just how He does this as we Walk the Trail with St. Thérèse.

Contemplate with website

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Walking the Trail with St. Thérèse – Part 3: Thérèse shares the gifts of family with us

SJST

Walking the Trail with St. Thérèse is a series of reflections on The Story of a Soul.

New for Le Royaume website Verite 3We are off.

Thérèse is now walking us through the gardens, meadows, and pristine hills of her youth. I do not exaggerate. The story of her youngest days is filled, quite literally, with gardens, meadows, and pristine hills. She had a very happy childhood, and, by her own admission, came across no real spiritual storms before her mother died when Thérèse was only four and a half years old.

“All my life it pleased the Good Lord to surround me with love. My earliest memories are imprinted with smiles and the most tender of embraces!” (The Story of a Soul, 2006, p. 7)

Le Reve de l'Enfant Jesus painting by St. ThereseI find am fascinated by Thérèse’s cheerful youth. The specific aspect that fascinates me is how much she depended on, and looked up to, her older sisters and what that meant for her spiritually. Thérèse’s older sisters: Pauline (who is Mother Agnes of Jesus in the Carmelite convent and the one who ordered Thérèse to write these memoires), Léonie, Marie, and Céline all played significant roles in her life but in different ways.

“I loved my dear godmother (my oldest sister, Marie) very much. Without looking like it, I paid a lot of attention to everything that was being done and said around me. It seems to me that I had as much judgment about things as I do now. I used to listen attentively to what Marie was teaching Céline so I could do as she did… I was quite proud of my two big sisters (Marie and Pauline), but the one who was my ideal as a child was Pauline… When I started to talk and Mama asked me, “What are you thinking about?” The answer was an invariable, “Pauline!…” Another time, I was tracing my little finger over the floor tiles, and I said, “I’m writing ‘Pauline’!…” (The Story of a Soul, 2006, p. 10)

PaulineThérèse was also close to her sister Léonie:

“Dear little Léonie (my middle sister, nine years older than I) also held a big place in my heart. She loved me a lot. In the evening she was the one who watched me when the whole family used to go for a walk…” (The Story of a Soul, 2006, p. 11)

LeonieHowever, of all her sisters. Thérèse seemed particularly close to Céline who was closer to her own age:

“Now it remains to me to talk about my dear Céline, my little childhood friend, but I have such an abundance of memories that I don’t know which ones to choose.” (The Story of a Soul, 2006, p. 11)

CelineThérèse sums up her feelings of affection and gratitude to her sisters as follows:

“I am pleased to see in Mama’s letters that as I grew up I gave her more consolation. Since all I had around me were good examples, I naturally wanted to follow them.” (The Story of a Soul, 2006, p. 16)

Thérèse quotes in detail several of her mother’s letters that describe how deeply devoted Thérèse was to her sisters. Each sister was a particular shining light in Thérèse’s life. She was surrounded by loving sisters with whom she could trust to lead her in the ways that would please her parents whom she also loved with all her might. Her sisters guided Thérèse, watched over her, corrected her, played with her, and loved her. Each one was a point of special inspiration.

st. therese with her siblingsNot only did Thérèse’s parents appreciate this, they found it a great comfort to know that their youngest was well cared for. Her mother wrote:

“The two little ones don’t worry me, they both get along so well. They are chosen natures; certainly they will be good. Marie and you will be perfectly able to raise them. Céline never commits the slightest voluntary fault. The little one will be good, too. She would never lie for all the gold in the world. She has a mind and a spirit like I’ve never seen in the rest of you.” (The Story of a Soul, 2006, p. 21)

What does all this mean? I know in my own life of devotion to St. Thérèse, I find her sharing this great gift of family love with me. Thérèse is in Heaven where now she can be our “big sister” who guides, watches over, corrects, and loves us. As Our Lord blessed His future Carmelite spouse with an abundance of family love, she now shares that with us.

Thérèse has long been a sister in Heaven for me. I often refer to her as my “little mother” in the same way that she saw her older sister Pauline as her “mother” after her natural mother passed away. Thérèse gifts us through her care and intercession in Heaven with family, that is, brothers and sisters. She certainly has with me. It was St. Thérèse who introduced me to St. Joan of Arc and who inflamed my soul with love and devotion for St. Joan. Thérèse gave me a part of herself by giving me a part of her own devotion to St. Joan and in doing so gave me a family as well.

blog-background-bigger-jpeg.jpgI have two very good examples in Heaven to follow, just as Thérèse had very good examples on earth. Thérèse, like all the saints, shares her gifts of grace from the Lord with us. The Lord and Our Lady are happy to see us in such good care! They are happy in the same way Thérèse’s parents were happy to see her in such good care. Being part of a large family of faith is a spiritually rich gift of grace!

“Jesus answering, said: Amen I say to you, there is no man who hath left house or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or children, or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who shall not receive an hundred times as much, now in this time; houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions: and in the world to come life everlasting.” (Mark 10: 29-30; Douay Rheims)

Now, that is something to rejoice over, that we shall have a hundred times as much love and family and community and life everlasting in Heaven!

Our own sister and “little mother” is leading us on our way to the Kingdom and already is sharing these heavenly gifts of family and community with us.

SaintTherese10

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New blog! CatholicMonarchy.net!

CatholicMonarchy.net will be the blog supporting CatholicMonarchy.com

This blog will speak specifically to the counterrevolution and the Monarchy.

CRAA Blog

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Walking the Trail with St. Thérèse – Part 2: Not knowing, but knowing everything

SJST

Walking the Trail with St. Thérèse is a series of reflections on The Story of a Soul.

Jeanne and Therese Twitter

We have not traveled far with St. Thérèse before she slows us again to offer more of her graceful contemplative insights. It’s as if preparation were everything. She wants us to travel the trail with her in such a way that we will be most edified. This is something we must get used to with Thérèse. We must prepare ourselves to be led by her at different tempos and along beautiful, narrow winding pathways rather than in a dead rush along a straight and wide highway.

Of course, we want to travel quickly to the Kingdom! However, Thérèse will teach us by her own example how that wide highway is a detraction on our journey. Actually, we will not arrive to the Kingdom that way. Spiritual understanding and the strengthening of our will take time and preparation. In order for Our Lord to prepare us to be fit subjects of the Kingdom, we must make the journey itself as important as the final destination. We are formed along the journey. Walking the trail with St. Thérèse is not something we do to merely bide time. It is by walking the trail with her that we grow in understanding and strength. When we arrive to any exciting destination, we inevitably come to understand that our experiences along the way only add to the glory and triumph of our arrival. So it is on our journey with Thérèse. She will slow down or stop us to point, speak, instruct, and guide. We will walk one way to look out over canyons and another way to admire distant meadows. She warns us about this characteristic very early on in her manuscript:

“Doubtless, dear Mother, you were wondering with surprise where I’m going with all this, because until now I haven’t said anything that looks like the story of my life. Yet you’ve asked me to write without holding back anything that might come to my thoughts. But it isn’t about my life, properly speaking, that I’m going to write, it’s about my thoughts concerning the graces that God has consented to grant me… so I’m going to talk without restraint, without worrying about the style or the many digressions that I’m going to make.” (The Story of a Soul, 2006, p. 4)

Already our young saint raises her hand to stop us. She is peering out over a beautiful panorama of meadows, lakes, rivers, and distant mountains. We look to see what she sees and are deeply moved. She has not told us her story; yet, by simply showing us the surrounding landscape on the trail, we sense she has, quite conversely, told us almost everything. She has said nothing. However, she has said everything. The story of her life has not begun, but the story of her life has unfolded before us. This is the adventure that is Walking the Trail with St. Thérèse.

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“I find myself at a point in my life when I can take a look back at the past. My soul has matured in the crucible of outward and inward trials. Now, like a flower strengthened by the storm, I lift my head, and I see that the words of the 23rd Psalm are coming true in me. (‘The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul… Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.’)” (The Story of a Soul, 2006, p. 4)

Our sister Thérèse shows us here why our walk with her must be slow, purposeful, and meditative. We must take our time winding through the valleys and over the hills. We must stop from time to time with her to ponder as we look out over the horizon. By doing this we are able to “look back at the past” to see and appreciate what Our Lord has done for us. We are able to put the pieces together to see who it is that we are becoming. We even understand how it is that God is doing such marvelous work in our lives in the midst of darkness and evil, for He is truly our “Good Shepherd” who leads us to green pastures and still waters no matter what evil threatens us.

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In other words, we must contemplate. We must devote ourselves to contemplating the goodness of the Lord in the whole of our lives. Where did we come from? Who have we become? Where are we going? This is one of the first lessons Thérèse teaches us through her saintly example.

Thérèse also continues to teach us the absolute necessity of humility, which we might define through her example as, “being that which God wills,” no more and no less. Again, she shows us the way by describing herself with a metaphoric descriptor that will echo through the ages as a delightful nickname reserved for and inseparable from her:

“So, Mother, it is with happiness that I come to sing near you of the mercies of the Lord… It is for you alone that I’m going to write the story of the little flower picked by Jesus.” (The Story of a Soul, 2006, p. 4)

Thérèse knows who she is becoming. She is not only content with being a little flower, she delights in it and recognizes that this is precisely what pleases Jesus about her.

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She presses on by pointing out toward the horizon again. We are contemplating. We are not moving, as she has yet to begin her story! But we are, in fact, moving through eternity, or so it seems. Not moving, but walking into eternity. Not knowing, but knowing everything. That is Walking the Trail with St. Thérèse!

What does she see out there? We look. The sun has been rising and now the shadows are removed from the meadows below. We see what she sees. We understand. It is Joy. It is Thanksgiving. We are no more than Our Lord has made us, but we are also no less! Thérèse is free to be enraptured with joy and a sense of thanksgiving. She is free because she understands. We have no need to hold back our own beautiful petals. We are free to open up to the sunlight such that our essence shouts the greatness of our being as we are in Jesus, not with words, but through our very substance – who we truly are in Christ. We are not afraid to show the world what the Lord has done for us, the beautiful colors He has painted across our souls, the beautiful flowers that He has created us to be.

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Why? Because they are His gifts; they do not derive from ourselves. If we create something grand ourselves, we often try not to show it off for fear of appearing immodest or conceited. However, if a very important person gives us a gift, we delight in showing it to others. The gift points to the grandeur of the giver not the receiver; therefore, we are not hesitant to show it. Thérèse understood that her graces and spiritual gifts were from Our Lord and that showing the world the “little flower” of her soul would serve only to bring Him glory.

“It seems to me that if a little flower could talk, it would tell simply what God has done for it, without trying to hide its blessings. Under the pretext of a false humility it wouldn’t say that it is unsightly and lacking in perfume, that the sun has taken away its beauty and its stem has been broken, while it recognizes just the opposite in itself… The flower that is going to tell its story rejoices in having to publish abroad the completely undeserved kindness of Jesus. It recognizes that nothing in itself was capable of attracting His divine glance, and that His mercy alone has made everything that there is of good in it…” (The Story of a Soul, 2006, p. 5)

Ah, “the flower that is going to tell its story”! We are reminded that she still has not begun! Well, Thérèse IS going to tell us her story. But has she not already told it? She has not begun, but she has told us everything. We do not know her story, but we DO, in fact, know her!

Prepare to be amazed everyone. You are not simply walking a trail. You are Walking the Trail with St. Thérèse!

Therese  clarity

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Walking the Trail with St. Thérèse – Part 1: The opening paragraphs of The Story of a Soul

SJST

Walking the Trail with St. Thérèse is a series of reflections on The Story of a Soul.

Jeanne and Therese Twitter

The opening paragraphs to St. Thérèse’s manuscript A of “The Story of a Soul,” represent the most profound influence on my Catholic spirituality. The “Story of a Soul,” later so named by a good friend of the Lisieux Carmel after Thérèse’s death, was written under obedience to Thérèse’s sister Pauline who was at that time the Prioress of the monastery.

Story of a SoulAt times I find it difficult to come to terms with just whose influence on me is greatest: Ste. Jehanne d’Arc or Ste. Thérèse de l’Enfant Jésus. When I feel that way, I know that I am not framing the situation correctly. The truth, the real truth in that matter, is that they have a mysterious and powerful combined impact on me. It was St. Thérèse Who introduced me to St. Joan of Arc, and it was St. Thérèse who brought about my deep devotion to St. Joan. St. Thérèse is my heavenly sister and “little mother” as I like to call her. I carry her spiritual DNA. Therefore, it must be no surprise that I would be nurtured in her own gifts, including foremost, her unyielding devotion to St. Joan. Thérèse “…felt illuminated, filled with enthusiasm; the discovery of Joan affected her deeply: ‘a grace which I have always looked upon as one of the greatest in my life,’ she would recall in 1895.” (The Plays of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, 2008, p. 62). I feel exactly the same way, and that is no coincidence.

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The opening paragraphs to manuscript A are a concise summary of my own writings which are themselves no more than my interpretations of Thérèse and Joan’s influence on me. These paragraphs are the pool, the reservoir, of spirituality from which I constantly draw the waters of grace in my own life. They are astonishingly profound in that they are essentially metaphorical interpretations of the sophisticated, scholastic writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, though I am not at all sure that St. Thérèse had Thomas in mind when she wrote them. She was writing about what Jesus had taught her. Nevertheless, I find them to be magnificent interpretations of Thomas’ more difficult writings.

Thérèse begins, however, by revealing first and foremost her deep Marian devotion:

“Before taking my pen in hand, I knelt before the statue of Mary (the one that gave us so many proofs of the Queen of Heaven’s motherly partiality for our family), and I begged her to guide my hand so that I might not write a single line that would not be pleasing to her.” (The Story of a Soul, 2006, pp. 1-2)

In these words we see her deeply rooted devotion to Mary, a devotion with which Thérèse gifted me when I was converted on her Feast Day in 1984. There, in my first yearnings of Marian devotion, Thérèse was beginning her influence on my soul. Rather, we should say the Holy Spirit was working through Thérèse’s motherly and sisterly patronage.

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We also see in those opening lines a reference to a key concept on which her following thoughts will turn in a most profound way: heavenly ordained “partiality” in the midst of “equal love for all souls.” Our little sister goes on to write:

“Then, opening the Gospels, my eyes fell on these words: ‘Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to Him those He wanted, and they came to Him’ (Mark 3:13). Now this is the mystery of my calling, of my Whole life, and above all the mystery of Jesus’ privileges over my soul. He doesn’t call those who are worthy, but those He wants, or, as St. Paul puts it; ‘I will have mercy on Whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy (Romans 9:15 – 16).” (The Story of a Soul, 2006, p. 2)

Here, I can see God’s grace in my own life. The gift of a “calling” through Faith is a great grace and one that is not merited by being “good enough.” This was, and is still, very applicable to me. Thérèse understood this through reading scripture. Through loftier medieval scholasticism, St. Thomas points us to the same general idea:

“I answer that, the gift of grace may be considered in two ways: first in the nature of a gratuitous gift, and thus it is manifest that all merit is repugnant to grace, since as the Apostle says (Romans 11:6), ‘if by grace, it is not now by works.’ Secondly, it may be considered as regards the nature of the thing given, and thus, also, it cannot come under the merit of Him Who has not grace, both because it exceeds the proportion of nature, and because previous to grace a man in the state of sin has an obstacle to His meriting grace, viz. sin. But when anyone has grace, the grace already possessed cannot come under merit, since reward is the term of the work, but grace is the principle of all our good works, as stated above (109). But if anyone merits a further gratuitous gift by virtue of the preceding grace, it would not be the first grace. Hence it is manifest that no one can merit for Himself the first grace.” (Aquinas, Summa Theologica, First Part of the Second Part, Question 114, Article 5)

We begin to understand now how Thérèse’s “Little Way” of simplicity and trust is anything but shallow spirituality! It is as if God were pouring the same insight into Thérèse as He did in Thomas Aquinas, though reflected uniquely in each person. This theme of a single principle revealed through a variety of unique particulars will develop before us as we continue our study of these lines in Thérèse’s story and as we get to the hinge-point dealing with “heavenly ordained partiality amidst equal love for all souls.” Thérèse’s way of “simplicity” is more a process of distilling the essence of our great Catholic truths than it is emotionalism or mere sentimentality. We cannot misinterpret her ability to get to the essence of things as shallowness. Thérèse had a powerful intellect and a deeply mature spirituality.

Therese 4 refined

Next, Thérèse demonstrates an unusually powerful capability for insight and an admirable, courageous demand for intellectual honesty. While accepting that Jesus calls “those He wants,” she pondered the most logical next question that is so sublimely hidden in the Mark 3:13 scripture passage. Most of us would walk right past without even noticing it. That question is: Why? Why does God, Who loves everyone, show partiality? Is there not a contradiction between love and partiality?

“For a long time I wondered why God showed partiality, why all souls don’t receive the same amount of graces. I was astounded to see Him lavish extraordinary favors on the Saints Who had offended Him, such as St. Paul and St. Augustine, and Whom He so to speak forced to receive His graces. Or when I read the life of saints Whom our Lord was pleased to embrace from the cradle to the grave, without leaving in their path any obstacles that might hinder them from rising toward Him, and granting these souls such favors that they were unable to tarnish the immaculate brightness of their baptismal robes, I wondered why poor primitive people, for example, were dying in great numbers without even having heard the name of God pronounced…” (The Story of a Soul, 2006, p. 2)

The teaching that Thérèse gives us in response is, without exaggeration, the seed from which my entire spiritual vision of Le Royaume developed. This vision of devotion to the mystical Kingdom of Catholic France as an expression of my True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary prescribed by St. Louis de Montfort took root in Thérèse’s own mystical insights. She, as my “little mother,” proffered this gift of grace she received from Jesus to me in such a way as to found my own spirituality on the premise of “To Jesus through Mary in the friendship and sisterly care of Sts. Joan and Thérèse!”

“Jesus consented to teach me this mystery. He placed before my eyes the book of nature; I understood that all the flowers that He created are beautiful. The brilliance of the rose and the whiteness of the lily don’t take away the perfume of the lowly violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy… I understood that if all the little flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose its springtime adornment, and the fields would no longer be sprinkled with little flowers…

So it is in the world of souls, which is Jesus’s garden. He wanted to create great Saints Who could be compared to lilies and roses. But He also created little ones, and these ought to be content to be daisies or violets destined to gladden God’s eyes when He glances down at His feet. Perfection consists in doing His will, and being what He wants us to be…” (The Story of a Soul, 2006, pp. 2-3)

How often have I written in my own spiritual journals of this metaphorical landscape where everything and everyone retains its own magnificent uniqueness while at the same time all coming together in the Divine Order toward one Principle End, Who is God, to create a masterpiece of life giving beauty. The landscape is perfectly oriented through the beauty and majesty of the particular flowers, trees, meadows, and distant mountains. Everything is as it should be, and, in being so, creates perfection in the Divine Order. The Holy Spirit, through Thérèse, brought all of this to my spiritual senses that I might begin to discover it for myself.

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Thérèse’s profound insights on the desire of God to create with distinction and inequality, that is, with “partiality,” fit precisely into the explanation given by St. Thomas:

“Therefore it must be said that as the wisdom of God is the cause of the distinction of things, so the same wisdom is the cause of their inequality.” (Aquinas, Summa Theologica, First Part, Question 47, Article 2)

Not yet finished with her sublime contemplative outpouring, Thérèse refuses to yield until she has fully connected the metaphor to her developing “Little Way” of simplicity, trust, and love:

“I understood that our Lord’s love is revealed as well in the simplest soul who doesn’t resist His grace in anything, as in the most sublime of souls. In fact, since the essence of love is to bring oneself low, if every soul were like the souls of the holy Doctors Who have shed light on the Church through the clarity of their doctrine, it seems that God wouldn’t come down low enough by coming only as far as their great hearts. But He created the child Who doesn’t know anything and only cries weakly, He created poor primitive persons Who only have natural law as a guide – and it is to their hearts that He consents to come down: Here are wildflowers Whose simplicity delights Him…” (The Story of a Soul, 2006, p. 3)

What insight from our heavenly sister and little mother! Note that she does not imply that those who are weak should excuse their weakness as might an unrepentant sinner. No, we must all become what we are intended to be, whether that be a small daisy or a beautiful rose. We cannot play our part in completing the landscape without becoming who we are. To remain unrepentant is to remain incomplete.

Her point is, though, that those Who are weakest in their sincere desire for the Kingdom where this landscape subsists, can look to the goodness and love of our Lord Jesus Christ to draw them with His own strength to be Who they are in that landscape. One need not be discouraged by the large, beautiful roses (those who appear to have mighty graces working wonderful deeds for God) when one feels like nothing more than a dried up daisy. Our Lord shows even more magnificently His love and power when He raises the little dried up daisy to its proper substance in the Kingdom of God.

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Yet, finally, does God, Who shows partiality in His distribution of graces in order that the landscape might be created just right, therefore love each flower in that landscape differently? Does He, then, love the roses more than the daisies? Here, Thérèse closes the loop on her beautiful imagery which exposes the error in the false dichotomy of the “partiality in graces versus loving all creatures equally” paradigm and does so with more Aquinas-type sublimity:

“By bringing Himself low in this way, God shows His infinite greatness. Just as the sun shines at the same time on the tall cedars and on each little flour as if it were the only one on earth, in the same way our Lord is concerned particularly for every soul as if there were no other like it. And just as in nature all the seasons are arranged in such a way as to cause the humblest Daisy to open on the appointed day, in the same way all things correspond to the good of each soul.” (The Story of a Soul, 2006, pp. 3-4)

St. Thomas says something similar:

“I answer that, since to love a thing is to will it good, in a twofold way anything may be loved more, or less. In one way on the part of the act of the will itself, which is more or less intense. In this way God does not love some things more than others, because He loves all things by an act of the will that is one, simple, and always the same. In another way on the part of the good itself that a person wills for the beloved. In this way we are said to love that one more than another, for whom we will a greater good, though our will is not more intense. In this way we must needs say that God loves some things more than others. For since God’s love is the cause of goodness in things, as has been said (2), no one thing would be better than another, if God did not will greater good for one than for another.” (Aquinas, Summa Theologica, First part, Question 20, Article 3)

St. Thérèse understood all of the above with astonishing clarity, even though her sister Carmelites considered her to be merely a simple girl Who became a good nun. (The Story of a Soul, 2006) All of this she places before us to contemplate, and she has not even begun her actual task at hand, which is to tell us the “story of her soul”!

We have many miles yet to travel with this young saint! Let us walk continually, faithfully, and devotedly with St. Thérèse on the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed as we read her manuscripts. She has much, much more to tell us as we journey toward that beautiful landscape in the Kingdom of God. We might even meet Joan of Arc along the way…

Therese frost

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CatholicMonarchy.com – American but not Democratic Republican

SJST

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