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Heavenly Lights

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July 11: LIGHT II – Saint Thérèse, Saint John of the Cross and inner light

Thérèse is writing about her early experiences of the light of her vocation bursting forth in her heart, and refers to another Carmelite, Saint John of the Cross. See http://www.livres-mystiques.com/partieTEXTES/Lisieux/Histoire/fol36a53.html

The path I was walking along was so straight, so luminous, that I needed no other guide but Jesus.

When a gardener takes great care of a fruit that he wants to ripen before its season, it is never to leave it hanging on the tree, but in order to bring it to the table, beautifully served. It was something like that that Jesus had in mind when he multiplied his graces in his little flower – he who cried out during his mortal life ‘I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.’ (Luke 10: 21)

mercylogoHe wanted to make his mercy erupt in me; because I was little he came down to me and in secret taught me about his love.  Ah! If any scholars who had passed their lives in studies had come to interrogate me, doubtless they would have been astounded to find a fourteen year old child understanding the secrets of perfection, secrets that all their science could not reveal to them because to possess them one must be poor in spirit. (Matthew 5:3)

As St John of the Cross said in his Canticle: ‘I had neither guide nor light, except the one shining in my heart. This light guided me, more surely than the light of midday, to the place where He who knew me perfectly was waiting for me.’ That place was Carmel.

(For each of them!)

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Playing on the Emotions

It’s a Carmelite week. We entertained a Tertiary and his wife last night; a wide-ranging conversation. We didn’t say much about Thérèse but I found another passage about her as a toddler:

I’ll go back to Maman’s letters where she wrote about Céline and me; it’s the best way to help you understand my character. Here’s a passage where my faults shine out: ‘Céline is playing at building blocks with the little one, they quarrel from time to time. Céline gives in to earn a pearl in her crown. I have to correct the poor baby who throws herself into almighty tantrums; when things don’t go her way she rolls on the ground like one in despair, believing all is lost. Sometimes it is too much for her, it suffocates her.

She’s a nervous child, but cute and very intelligent, she remembers everything.’

I’m not convinced that tantrums need be more than a stage we go through. I’ve watched them in my own children and in teenagers I’ve worked with. Thérèse is hard on her infant self, but her tantrums are one with the stubbornness that opened the door of Carmel to her when she was officially under age, the determination that saw her live the cloistered life to the end. Some fault, Thérèse! Or an echo of Paul (2Cor 12:9)

‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’

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