Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: St. Thérèse of Lisieux 6

by Raul Berzosa raulberzosa.com

Editor’s note: Those of you who want to learn more about Saint Thérèse can also visit Maureen O’Riordan’s blog, “Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: A Gateway,” at http://www.thereseoflisieux.org/.   She is a friend of Father James Geoghegan of the San Jose Monastery, CA.

The Santa Clara OCDS will be sponsoring A Day of Recollection with St.Thérèse, with Maureen as our guest speaker on Saturday, November 11, 2017 at Santa Clara Monastery (1000 Lincoln Street). To register, please go to thespeakroom DONATE tab. ($20 donation suggested, but any amount is appreciated!)

Saint Thérese then transitions and talks about transcendent image of the eagle. “Why do you not reserve these great aspiration for great souls, for the eagles that soar in the heights? I look upon myself as a weak little bird. I’m not an eagle. I have only an eagle’s eyes and heart.

In spite of my extreme littleness, my heart feels within it all the aspirations of an eagle, climbing up toward the divine furnace of the Holy Trinity. But to fly is not within my little power. What will then become of it? Will it die of sorrow at seeing itself so weak? No way. The little bird will not even be troubled. With bold surrender, it wishes to remain gazing at its divine sun. Nothing will frighten it. Neither will wind nor rain, and if dark clouds come and hide the sorrow of love, the little bird will not change its place because it knows that beyond the clouds, its bright sun still shines on, and its brightness is not eclipsed for a single instance.”

Here, we hear the boldness of St. Thérèse ’s spirit. Though she is the little flower, she was truly larger than life. She continues to say, “At times, that little bird’s heart is assailed by the storm, and it seems it should believe in the existence of no other thing except the cloud surrounding it.” Notice how raw and human she is. She expresses that ‘Sometimes, my soul is in such suffering. My soul is so darkened, not by sin of course, but darkened by the sense that God is very far away. I am tempted to believe that God doesn’t even exist because He feels so distant.’

Though Thérèse is being tempted by her suffering and purification, notice her greatness. She is just like Jesus in the agony of the garden when His humanity says, ‘Lord, let this cup pass.’ But in His divinity, He rises above His humanity and says, “Yet not my will but Your will be done.” Similarly, Thérèse says, “This is the moment of perfect joy for the poor, little weak creature. And what joy it experiences when remaining there, just the same and gazing at the invisible light which remains hidden from its faith. While remaining in its place under the rays of the sun, at times, the little bird finds itself somewhat distracted from its sole occupation.”

Thérèse then admits how imperfect she is. Her faith, will, and intention is to give herself completely to God, even if she doesn’t feel God. Nevertheless, she says, ‘ I don’t get it right. I’m not flawless. I’m not a perfectionist.’

She writes, “Being distracted from its soul occupation, it picks up a piece of grain on the right or on the left. It chases after a little worm, then coming upon a little pool of water it wets its feathers, still hardly formed. It sees an attractive flower and its little mind is occupied with this flower. In a word, being unable to soar like the eagles, the poor little bird is taken up with the trifles of earth.”

She speaks in metaphor and imagery to express that like us, distractions and trifles of earth derail her from her sole focus, her one love. Yet instead of hiding away in a corner and feeling sorry for itself, to weep over its misery, to die of sorrow, to lick ones wounds after all these misdeeds and imperfections, “the little bird turns toward its beloved sun, presenting its wet wings to its beneficent rays. It cries like a swallow and in its sweet song, it recounts in detail all its infidelities, thinking in the boldness of its full trust, that it will acquire in ever greater fullness the love of Him who came to call not the just, but sinners.”

Rather than allowing her faults and failures to be a source of discouragement, St. Thérèse turned them around and allowed them to be a source of strength, in light of the truth that Jesus came to save the lost and the sinners, not the righteous and virtuous who are not in need of conversion. She uses her weaknesses, faults, and her imperfections as a source of strength. She says, ‘You came for people like me, the needy. And I clearly need you because look what happens when I’m left to my own devices. I make a mess of things. I make a mess of myself. But You came for the black sheep, for people like me.’

She takes God by the heart, based on the truth of the heart He reveals to us in the gospels. She says, ‘Look, I’m putting myself in their shoes. I’m just like the prodigal son. I’m no better. And because I am so poor, I have rights to Your riches. I have rights to Your redemptive love because I need You, and You came for people like me.’

This faith is part of her daring audacity. “Oh Jesus, your little bird is happy to be weak and little.” Part of the genius and the revolution of St. Thérese is her happiness in being weak and little. She asks, “What would become of [the bird] if it were big?”

In other words, ‘If God were to leave me to all of my imagined strengths, left to myself, my pride would take over, and I would distance myself from God, thinking that I don’t need Him anymore. If were big and full of myself, and I didn’t experience my vulnerabilities, my own need for Him, my own poverty, then left to myself, I would distance myself and probably get in trouble. I would make choices that aren’t for my own good. I would be blinded by my own pride.

Therefore, to be little and aware of my poverty is the biggest blessing I have because it keeps me closer to You. This understanding is a cause for rejoicing then, and not discouragement.

Finally, she writes that the little bird “calls upon the angels and saints who rise like eagles before the consuming fire. And since this is the object of the little bird’s desire, the eagles take pity on it, protecting and defending it, and putting to flight at the same time the vultures who want to devour it. These vultures are the demons whom the little bird does not fear. For it is not destined to be their prey, but the prey of the eagle who contemplates at the center of the sun of love.”

She who knew so well afflictions and temptations by the devil, knew that he would not prevail over her. She knew that she was meant for Jesus alone, the divine eagle, and Jesus would bring light over every darkness. The greatest light she points to is in the white Host. The eternal eagle desires to nourish us with His divine substance. She says, “Though I am nothingness itself, I am nourished by the bread of heaven.”

We are all nourished with the substance of the eternal eagle, Jesus, the Word of God, so that we may soar to the heights of heaven. May Saint Thérèse ’s teaching be contagious. May we catch the fire that she expresses and allow our faith to help us to overcome all discouragement, that Christ may conquer all that needs conquering in us, that we may share more vigorously in His victory.

Saint Thérèse, pray for us.

(SOURCE: Cristo Rey Retreat, San Francisco, September 2015)

Copyright 2016, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All rights reserved

Feast Day Novena Prayer

(This prayer is used by the Carmelites during the Feast Day Novena)

St. Therese, Flower of fervor and love, please intercede for us. Fill our hearts with your pure love of God. As we approach and celebrate your feast day, make us more aware of the goodness of God and how well He tends His garden. Instill in us your little way of doing ordinary things with extra-ordinary love.

Give us the heart of a child who wonders at life and embraces everything with loving enthusiasm. Teach us your delight in God’s ways so that divine charity may blossom in our hearts. Little Flower of Jesus, bring our petitions (mention in silence here) before God, our Father.

With your confidence, we come before Jesus as God’s children, because you are our heavenly friend. As we celebrate the Feast Day of your homecoming in heaven, continue to shower roses and grace upon us.

Amen

 

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: St. Thérèse of Lisieux 5

She continues, “Practically speaking, in this life, astounding works are forbidden me. This is how my life is going to be consumed.” She begins to define The Little Way that Jesus had inspired in her. She didn’t call it by that name, but her blood sisters did. “My little way, how I will allow my life to be consumed is by not allowing one little sacrifice to escape.” She realized that she could love Jesus in the small matters, so that the small things would become really big, important, and “astounding.”

How small did she mean when she says, “not allowing one little sacrifice to escape”? She would not allow one look, not one word to escape, and profit by doing the smallest actions, by doing everything through love.

Jesus said, ‘Even if you give a little glass of water to one of my little ones, that will not be unnoticed and you will be blessed.’ When something as insignificant as a glass of water is given, and ‘When that’s done out of love,’ Jesus says, ‘It captures my attention and it charms my heart. I notice. It matters. It means a lot to me.’

We all know that in our own lives, you could be having a down – or worst – a miserable day. A phone call or a smile, or just one little gesture of kindness could make all the difference, though that person could be completely oblivious to how important it was to you. Yet that made the difference in your day. That woke up something in your heart that was dormant or buried. One small act can resurrect so much. We know that, as human beings, so St. Thérese applies this to the divine level in relationship to God. If those small acts are important to us, how much more important are they to the Lord? He Himself said so.

She continues, “Oh my Jesus, I love You. I love the Church, my Mother. I recall the smallest act of pure love is of more value to her than all other works together.” She is quoting St. John of the Cross, one of her greatest inspirations after the sacred scriptures. In the beginning, her great source of inspiration was The Imitation of Christ, but toward the end of her life the only thing she drew inspiration from were the New Testament and St. John of the Cross. That was enough for her.

“But is pure love in my heart?” she asks. “Are my measureless desires only but a dream?…If this be so, Jesus, enlighten me for You know I am seeking only the truth.” That is humility. To only seek truth and want transparency, to have no speck of falsehood in life, to be in touch with reality is true humility. “If my desires are rash, then make them disappear for these desires are the greatest martyrdom to me.”

In other words, ‘my desires are killing me because I want them so deeply, and yet I can’t actualize them. I can’t incarnate them. I can’t make them concrete.’ Yet she aspired to the most lofty heights of love. She was so little and yet she aspired to the highest summit of union with God, the greatest union possible – mystical marriage, with Almighty God.

She asks, “How can a soul as imperfect as mine aspire to the possession of the plenitude of love. Oh Jesus, explain this mystery to me.” She wrestles inside with these stark contrasts. The Psalm says, ‘deep calls to deep’ and similarly, St. Thérese cries out, ‘the depths of my poverty calls to the depths of your beauty, greatness, and richness. There’s a chasm between us, but I feel that I am inseparably connected and meant to be with You. How is that going to happen?’ (to be continued).

Saint Thérèse, pray for us.

(SOURCE: Cristo Rey Retreat, San Francisco, September 2015)

Copyright 2016, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All rights reserved

Feast Day Novena Prayer

(This prayer is used by the Carmelites during the Feast Day Novena)

St. Therese, Flower of fervor and love, please intercede for us. Fill our hearts with your pure love of God. As we approach and celebrate your feast day, make us more aware of the goodness of God and how well He tends His garden. Instill in us your little way of doing ordinary things with extra-ordinary love.

Give us the heart of a child who wonders at life and embraces everything with loving enthusiasm. Teach us your delight in God’s ways so that divine charity may blossom in our hearts. Little Flower of Jesus, bring our petitions (mention in silence here) before God, our Father.

With your confidence, we come before Jesus as God’s children, because you are our heavenly friend. As we celebrate the Feast Day of your homecoming in heaven, continue to shower roses and grace upon us.

Amen

Editor’s note: Those of you who want to learn more about Saint Thérèse can also visit Maureen O’Riordan’s blog, “Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: A Gateway,” at http://www.thereseoflisieux.org/.   She is a dear friend of Father James Geoghegan of the San Jose Monastery, CA.

The Santa Clara OCDS will be sponsoring A Day of Recollection with St.Thérèse, with Maureen as our guest speaker on Saturday, November 11, 2017 at Santa Clara Monastery (1000 Lincoln Street). To register, please go to thespeakroom DONATE tab. ($20 donation suggested, but any amount is appreciated!)

 

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: St. Thérèse of Lisieux 4

 

By Raul Berzosa raulberzosa.com

Editor’s note: Those of you who want to learn more about Saint Thérèse can also visit Maureen O’Riordan’s blog, “Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: A Gateway,” at http://www.thereseoflisieux.org/.

The Santa Clara OCDS will be sponsoring A Day of Recollection with St.Thérèse, with Maureen as our guest speaker on Saturday, November 11, 2017 at Santa Clara Monastery (1000 Lincoln Street). To register, please go to thespeakroom DONATE tab. ($20 donation suggested, but any amount is appreciated!)

Even though St. Thérèse didn’t much fulfilled in this life, all that God had inspired in her was fulfilled a hundred fold in heaven. We see the concrete proof of that in all that happened after she passed from this world to the next. You have probably heard of the storm of glory that took place after her death. There are many books that outline what St. Thérèse accomplished through her intercessions. Just a few of those highlights will give us an idea of how active the spiritual life is, and how real these desires that God had inspired in her were.

St. Thérèse died in 1897. A year later, already two-thousand copies of A Story of A Soul were made available and disseminated. This wasn’t necessarily foreseen by the rest of the community, and Thérèse thought she was just writing her autobiography for her sister, Pauline. By 1899, two-years later, already the first favors, cures, and miracles started being recorded.

By 1909, twelve years after her death, the cause of her canonization was introduced. The momentum begins to build. Just one year later, 1910, her Carmel received 9741 letters from people in France and foreign countries expressing graces received through her intercession. By 1914, her Carmel received an average of two hundred letters a day. Also on that year, Pope Pius X told a missionary bishop in a private conversation that St. Thérèse was to him, the greatest saint of modern times.

The fruits that are produced in the world show that St. Thérèse had already received the double portion of the spirit of all the angels and saints. She had the intuition and perceived this truth in advance. That is what is so marvelous when you read the last conversations at the end of The Story of A Soul, Manuscript C. In all of her humility, she says, ‘I want to be loved. You have no idea. I am going to spend heaven doing good on earth, and you better keep this book, you better keep this napkin where I coughed up blood, because they’re all going to be priceless someday.’ She knew it, even though there was no physical evidence. She knew the reality of God’s vocation for her in her heart of hearts.

By 1923, St. Thérèse was beautified and Pope Pius XI called her the star of his pontificate. Already the highest person in the Church was referring to this little child, who would’ve been considered perhaps the least of all, as the greatest. Also in 1923, the Carmel where she lived in Lisieux received 800 to 1000 letters daily, not simply asking for intercessions, but expressing gifts that had already been granted. By December 14th, which would later become the Feast of Saint John of the Cross, Pope Pius XI proclaims St. Thérèse the principal patroness, equal to St. Francis Xavier, of all missionaries, of all the missions in the whole world.

‘I want to be a missionary, but just for a few years is not good enough. I want to be a missionary to preach the gospel on all continents of the world, simultaneously from the beginning of time until the end,’ St. Thérese expressed.

That desire could’ve been interpreted as being ludicrous. ‘Come on, you’re getting over-exaggerated, here,’ anyone would’ve thought. She wasn’t over-exaggerating. She would mystically become a missionary and God would grant her a share in His own redemptive mission in an amazing way that continues to be difficult to comprehend, but it is something very, very real.

By 1929, a basilica was constructed in her honor at Lisieux. A basilica was built for this Little Flower, this twenty-four year old girl, who did nothing of what Saint Teresa of Calcutta did, who had never preached a single sermon in her life, and who never did any of the kind of works that might seem to be a cause for success or greatness in worldly standards.

She was totally hidden and seemingly insignificant. Yet barely thirty years after her death, a basilica was made in her honor. That basilica is an outward sign of the greatness of her little soul. Her dream was realized after she passed from this life.

St. Thérèse is a prophetess of the reality of the spiritual world and of the kingdom of God. She confirms that the truth of the interior life of faith, hope, and love is more real than the external world of the temporal life that is passing away. The kingdom of God is eternal (to be continued).

Saint Thérèse, pray for us.

(SOURCE: Cristo Rey Retreat, San Francisco, September 2015)

Copyright 2016, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All rights reserved

Feast Day Novena Prayer

(This prayer is used by the Carmelites during the Feast Day Novena)

St. Therese, Flower of fervor and love, please intercede for us. Fill our hearts with your pure love of God. As we approach and celebrate your feast day, make us more aware of the goodness of God and how well He tends His garden. Instill in us your little way of doing ordinary things with extra-ordinary love.

Give us the heart of a child who wonders at life and embraces everything with loving enthusiasm. Teach us your delight in God’s ways so that divine charity may blossom in our hearts. Little Flower of Jesus, bring our petitions (mention in silence here) before God, our Father.

With your confidence, we come before Jesus as God’s children, because you are our heavenly friend. As we celebrate the Feast Day of your homecoming in heaven, continue to shower roses and grace upon us.

Amen

 

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: St. Thérèse of Lisieux 3

By Raul Berzosa raulberzosa.com

Editor’s note: Those of you who want to learn more about Saint Thérèse can also visit Maureen O’Riordan’s blog, “Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: A Gateway,” at http://www.thereseoflisieux.org/.

The Santa Clara OCDS will be sponsoring A Day of Recollection with St.Thérèse, with Maureen as our guest speaker on Saturday, November 11, 2017 at Santa Clara Monastery (1000 Lincoln Street). To register, please go to thespeakroom DONATE tab. ($20 donation suggested, but any amount is appreciated!)

In her Autobiography, St. Therése expresses the heavens being opened in her heart. Experiencing this inspired her desires to want to be everything in what builds up the body of Christ, wanting to be everything in what gives glory to God. She wanted to embrace all vocations, and it was God who inspired her to have these desires.

She realized that her longings were way bigger than herself and that she needed back up. She remembers the great story of prophet Elijah and Elisha. She says she remembers, “the prayer of Elisha to his father Elijah, when he dared to ask him for his double spirit.” Now Elijah was a giant of a prophet, the greatest after Moses and before John the Baptist. He was a real magnanimous man, larger than life. To ask a double portion of this man, was a huge request.

St. Therése continues, “I presented myself before the angels and saints” – all of them, not just one or two. She presents herself before the whole heavenly court and says to them, ‘I am the smallest of creatures. I know my misery and my feebleness.’ Be mindful, that her statements are not just pious, flowery, sentimental language; from the depths of her being, she knows her nothingness. She is in touch with the truth and reality of who she is when left to herself.

However, she recognizes and knows, “how much noble and generous hearts love to do good. I beg you then, oh blessed inhabitants of heaven, I beg you to adopt me as your child. To you alone will be the glory which you will make me merit, but deign to answer my prayer. It is bold, I know. However, I dare to ask you to obtain for me your two-fold love.”

That request is reminiscent of when the Lord God in our midst commands to the prophet Isaiah, before he prophesied the coming of Emmanuel, “Ask for a sign. Let it be bigger than the heavens and wider than the sky and forest that you could possibly imagine. Ask for a sign.” In other words, through the prophet Isaiah, God asks His people, ‘Expand your heart. Have great hopes and expectations of who God is and how much of Himself He wants to give. Don’t have little hopes. Let your heart be widened.’

Thérese widens her heart as much as can be imaginably conceived, and she says to all the angels and saints, “Give me a double portion of your spirit!” All of them!

To prove that this was not just a fantasy and a part of her imagination, after her life, her posthumous mission, the mission that came about after she left this world and went to heaven, all of the desires that the Lord planted in her like seeds, produced a harvest on this earth. God fulfilled in her life all the desires that He planted in her in this world. As a prophetess, St. Thérese speaks so loudly to us of the truth, the reality of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, the reality of the spiritual world. She also points us to the very tangible, substantial, real world of the interior life. Even though we might not necessarily always have the external signs the interior experiences, nevertheless, that is more real than what we can perceive with our senses because it’s eternal (to be continued).

Saint Thérèse, pray for us.

(SOURCE: Cristo Rey Retreat, San Francisco, September 2015)

Copyright 2016, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All rights reserved

Feast Day Novena Prayer

(This prayer is used by the Carmelites during the Feast Day Novena)

St. Therese, Flower of fervor and love, please intercede for us. Fill our hearts with your pure love of God. As we approach and celebrate your feast day, make us more aware of the goodness of God and how well He tends His garden. Instill in us your little way of doing ordinary things with extra-ordinary love.

Give us the heart of a child who wonders at life and embraces everything with loving enthusiasm. Teach us your delight in God’s ways so that divine charity may blossom in our hearts. Little Flower of Jesus, bring our petitions (mention in silence here) before God, our Father.

With your confidence, we come before Jesus as God’s children, because you are our heavenly friend. As we celebrate the Feast Day of your homecoming in heaven, continue to shower roses and grace upon us.

Amen

 

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: St. Thérèse of Lisieux, 2

IMG_0857 (1)
Photo credit: thespeakroom.org

Saint Thérèse explains how her radical revolution of trust, daring, and holy audacity, her limitless confidence in the love of God, began to take shape, and was strengthened and crystallized within her.

She shares her story with her beloved sister, Pauline – not only her blood sister, but her sister in the convent. Saint Thérèse writes that during a private retreat, and under obedience, she is asked to share the secrets of divine intimacy, of what Jesus had been doing and how He had been sweetly guiding her soul in tenderness.

Disclosing herself and laying her heart bare, St. Thérèse writes this account a little over a year after she has written The Act of Oblation to Merciful Love, a little over a year before she actually dies. She shares the awakening and discovery of her identity, and her journey of being able to make sense and understand the daring desires that God was inspiring in her.

It is important to know that when Thérèse wrote her autobiography, she had already begun her dark night of faith. She was not reveling in consolations and enjoying them in her life. She was going through a terrible storm in her soul. Previously, she had described that the experience was as if the sun had been hidden by the clouds of a great storm. She didn’t experience and feel the warmth of God’s rays of love in her life in any sensible way. Yet behind all of that – deep, deep down in her spirit – Jesus was still teaching her, coaching her, and leading her to the summit of this perfect marriage and total union with His love.

The context of her discovery of vocation was love, and it was Jesus who prepared the way for this discovery in her soul. This awakening and awareness didn’t just happen all at once; through other graces, Jesus led her through the mystery of what He was doing in her.

Our spiritual life often progresses and unfolds in the same way, through all these different seeds of how God is present to us, making Himself known and available. Little by little, we begin to grow in our own self-understanding. We realize that who we are is part of God’s grace, and that who we are is also a part of who He is. One grace at a time, God allows us to grow in the understanding of this mystery of love that we have been all wrapped into. We don’t understand it all at once. The knowledge and love of Him gradually begins to make sense to us as we trust and proceed with patience.

The particular grace that preceded Saint Thérèse’s vocation was a dream about Blessed Anne of Jesus; she was the first Carmelite nun and prioress who established the first foundation in France. Thérèse had no personal devotion to Anne of Jesus at all. She admits herself that she was practically indifferent to Anne of Jesus. She hardly thought about her or asked for her prayers.

But on the eve of the anniversary of the Blessed Mother appearing to Saint Thérèse and smiling, she dreamt about Anne of Jesus. When Saint Thérèse was a little child of about twelve, Our Blessed Mother appeared to her. At that time, she was going through the traumatic effects of the accumulation of suffering in her life, and was being tormented by attacks and affliction by the devil. She was going through a spiritual storm. Fortunately, Our Blessed Mother of Victory appeared, and through the radiance of her smile, granted Saint Thérèse this supernatural healing that brought rest to her heart and soul, and freed her from her affliction. This vision was a monumental moment in Saint Thérèse’s life.

Several years later, on the anniversary of that first dream, Saint Thérèse has another memorable dream. She found herself in a gallery among many people, sitting next to the Mother Prioress. Suddenly, she saw three nuns walking in, and she became very aware that they were three Carmelite nuns, with their white mantles and their long black veils. She also knew, without a doubt, that they were from heaven.

As they walked towards her, she was captivated by their beauty and she thought, ‘I would be so happy if I could see their faces.’ The tallest one of the three understood her intentions and knew what she desired. She lifted up her veil, put it around Thérese, and in that secret glance that Thérèse alone could see, an inner radiance glowed from her face and exuded a beauty that was out of this world. Anne looked upon her with so much affection. In that exhilarating joy and confidence brought on by the tenderness of Anne of Jesus’s glance upon her, Thérèse had the courage to ask, ‘Will Jesus take me soon from this life?’

She had this intuition because she had already started her final agony of suffering from the physical sickness that would eventually take her life. She felt that the end was near. With total tenderness, Anne of Jesus says, ‘Yes, soon and very soon, Jesus will come for you.’ In the audacity and spontaneity of a child, Thérèse asks, ‘Is Jesus content with all my actions? Are the little things I have to give Him enough?’

In other words, she was asking, ‘Am I deceiving myself? I have these huge desires, but I only have these little works and sacrifices that I offer to Him. Is He pleased with that? Am I on the right track?’ Blessed Anne of Jesus’s face transfigured with even more affection, love and divine compassion. With a look of supernatural approval and total joy, in response to this one question, ‘Is Jesus content with all that I feel He has been inspiring in me,’ Anne of Jesus replies, ‘Yes, He is very content.’

Saint Thérèse writes,

‘”Mother, tell me further if God is not asking something more of me than my poor little actions and desires. Is He content with me?’ The saint’s face took on an expression, and incomparably more tender than the first time she spoke to me. Her look and her caresses were the sweetest of answers. However, she said to me, ‘God asks no other thing from you. He is content. Very content.’”

She wakes up, but this dream leaves an indelible mark, a strong imprint in her soul, for she knew with certainty that the vision was supernatural and that it came from heaven.

This dream was very prophetic, because not only did it foresee and confirm her intuition that she would die at a young age, in the prime of her life, but that all the desires Jesus had inspired in her soul were not just for herself. The wisdom, the science of love that Jesus was teaching her about the little way was going to be for a legion of other people, other disciples, who would learn what it meant to make Jesus loved (to be continued).

Saint Thérèse, pray for us.

(SOURCE: Cristo Rey Retreat, San Francisco, September 2015)

Copyright 2016, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All rights reserved

Feast Day Novena Prayer

(This prayer is used by the Carmelites during the Feast Day Novena)

St. Therese, Flower of fervor and love, please intercede for us. Fill our hearts with your pure love of God. As we approach and celebrate your feast day, make us more aware of the goodness of God and how well He tends His garden. Instill in us your little way of doing ordinary things with extra-ordinary love.

Give us the heart of a child who wonders at life and embraces everything with loving enthusiasm. Teach us your delight in God’s ways so that divine charity may blossom in our hearts. Little Flower of Jesus, bring our petitions (mention in silence here) before God, our Father.

With your confidence, we come before Jesus as God’s children, because you are our heavenly friend. As we celebrate the Feast Day of your homecoming in heaven, continue to shower roses and grace upon us.

Amen

Editor’s note: Those of you who want to learn more about Saint Thérèse can also visit Maureen O’Riordan’s blog, “Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: A Gateway,” at http://www.thereseoflisieux.org/.  

The Santa Clara OCDS will be sponsoring A Day of Recollection with St.Thérèse, with Maureen as our guest speaker on Saturday, November 11, 2017 at Santa Clara Monastery (1000 Lincoln Street). To register, please go to thespeakroom DONATE tab. ($20 donation suggested, but any amount is appreciated!)

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: St. Thérèse of Lisieux, 1

Photo credit: thespeakroom.org
Photo credit: thespeakroom.org

Luke 9: 46-49:  46 An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest. 47Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side 48and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.”

We see the apostles arguing among themselves about who is the greatest. It clearly shows that their motivations and intentions were not pure. In the midst of their wanting to do great things for God, they were seeking themselves in many ways. Their motivations still had to be purified. And yet Jesus did not take back His choice, acceptance, and love for them. Instead of chastising the disciples for their egoism, He takes a child, puts him in the midst of them and says, ‘This child who is considered to be the least and most insignificant is actually the greatest among you.’

Jesus does the same to us in the Church today. In the early part of the century, Pope Pius X referred to Saint Thérèse as one of the greatest saints of modern times. Thérèse had only lived twenty-four years, and in worldly standards, had not accomplished any major works of mercy that would have been a sign of success. Her greatness was hidden inside the simplicity of her soul. Yet Pope Pius took that young child and put her in the midst of all the Church’s saints in modern times, and said, ‘This child is the greatest.’

Thérèse herself recognized that she was small, and that she was little. In that very littleness and her acceptance of her littleness, she found her potential for greatness. She writes, “I am a child, powerless and weak, yet it is my weakness that gives me the boldness of offering myself as a victim of Your love, dear Jesus. Love has chosen me.” We can all apply that teaching to ourselves. We have to recognize our identity and realize that Love has chosen each of us to be here.

We are here because God has somehow already been active in our lives. There’s a direction, a momentum to this action. There’s a summit, an accomplishment, a perfection, that this love is leading us toward. “The heart of a child,” writes Saint Thérèse, “does not seek riches and glory, not even the glory of heaven. What this child asks for is love and she knows only one thing, to love You, Jesus.”

In the beginning of Manuscript B, Saint Thérèse talks about the science of love as being the only thing she wants to be able to understand. Her only ambition is love, and to love Jesus more than ever before. She writes,

It is love that makes us acceptable to God. Jesus deigned to show me the road which leads to this divine furnace and this road is the surrender of the little child, who sleeps without fear in its father’s arms. If all weak and imperfect souls felt what the least of souls feels,”[that is, her own soul, the soul of little Thérèse], “not one would despair of reaching the summit of the mountain of love.”

We see throughout her writings, especially in this manuscript, a contrast. With one eye, she sees her total weakness, poverty and littleness. With the other eye, she gazes on the greatness of God. She has limitless confidence in what He is able and capable of accomplishing in her. Rather than being a stumbling block, her littleness and poverty are actually the fuel, the building blocks that will allow her to be transformed by the love of God (to be continued).

Saint Thérèse, pray for us.

(SOURCE: Cristo Rey, San Francisco Retreat, September 2015)

Copyright 2016, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All rights reserved

Feast Day Novena Prayer

(This prayer is used by the Carmelites during the Feast Day Novena)

St. Therese, Flower of fervor and love, please intercede for us. Fill our hearts with your pure love of God. As we approach and celebrate your feast day, make us more aware of the goodness of God and how well He tends His garden. Instill in us your little way of doing ordinary things with extra-ordinary love.

Give us the heart of a child who wonders at life and embraces everything with loving enthusiasm. Teach us your delight in God’s ways so that divine charity may blossom in our hearts. Little Flower of Jesus, bring our petitions (mention in silence here) before God, our Father.

With your confidence, we come before Jesus as God’s children, because you are our heavenly friend. As we celebrate the Feast Day of your homecoming in heaven, continue to shower roses and grace upon us.

Amen

Editor’s note: Those of you who want to learn more about Saint Thérèse can also visit Maureen O’Riordan’s blog at http://www.thereseoflisieux.org/.

The Santa Clara OCDS will be sponsoring A Day of Recollection with St.Thérèse, with Maureen as our guest speaker on Saturday, November 11, 2017 at Santa Clara Monastery (1000 Lincoln Street). To register, please go to thespeakroom DONATE tab. ($20 donation suggested, but any amount is appreciated!)

TODAY: Mass with Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC (Pittsburg, CA)

If you are in the Bay Area, please check out this special event — an evening on heaven’s messages for our times.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2017

Mass 7PM followed by presentation.
Prayer with the Divine Mercy Chaplet
Blessing with a 1st class relic of St. Faustina

Church of the Good Shepherd
3200 Harbor Street
Pittsburg, CA 94565

Celebrant and Featured Speaker: Father Seraphim Michalenko, MIC.
For over 20 years, Fr. Seraphim served as Vice-Postulator for North America in the Canonization Cause of St. M. Faustina. He was directly instrumental in the publication of the very first edition in the original Polish language of her now world-famous Diary. He also was a first-hand witness of the miracle attributed to Sister Faustina’s intercession that opened the way for her being declared “Blessed” in 1993, and he coordinated the efforts that served to verify that miracle as well as a second one that led her to be declared a “Saint” in 2000. In October 1995, Fr. Seraphim was assigned to full-time promotion of The Divine Mercy message and devotion, participating in Divine Mercy retreats, conferences, and symposia. He is also a familiar face on EWTN.

Download the event flyer here (PDF):  Father Seraphim Michalenko event flyer

Father James Geoghegan, OCD: a brief history of Carmel

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Philadelphia Carmelite Monastery Photo credit: thespeakroom.org

In honor of yesterday’s Feast of Saint Albert of Jerusalem, Bishop and Lawgiver of Carmel, it is fitting for us to listen to Father James Geoghegan’s discussion of the origins of the Carmelite Order, and Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s relationship to those who love her as mother and queen. (Hoping the link works this time!)

SOURCE: Homily by Father James Geoghegan, OCD.  Our Lady of Mount Carmel Novena Mass, July 2017.

Copyright 2017, Father James Geoghegan, OCD. All rights reserved.

 

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: immaculate communion, divine life in Christ

The one whom we seek, the living God, has a face and a personhood. Jesus of Nazareth is not simply a godly man but God made man. Not simply someone who is so good, but the author of All Good. He is not just one great figure or hero of history, but He is the One who is the center of the cosmos, the source, the summit, the beginning, and the end of everything.

And yet, He entered into our human experience in everything, except of course, for that which would compromise our destiny. He didn’t embrace sin. But He embraced everything else. He embraced our weaknesses, our vulnerability. He embraced all of our limitations and fought against them. He fought against temptations.

He had to really fight to do what was right. It wasn’t always easy for Him. During the Agony, He said, ‘Father, please, please let this pass from me!’ That was His sacred humanity, but also, His perfect faith. Theologians describe it so profoundly – in His spirit, He knew not to allow the weakness of the humanity that He had temporarily assumed. In that moment of time, He didn’t allow human weakness to have the last word. His faith in the Father’s will had the last word.

There are times when we’re wrestling inside of ourselves; we can experience a conflict, a combat, a warfare within. We experience a warfare for our own welfare between the flesh and the spirit, between fulfilling our destiny in the Lord, and all the spiritual forces and wickedness that would want to interfere with that fulfillment in our life.

There are times when our human nature will resist, our human nature will be intimidated, will want to run away, will want to make excuses, and that resistance might always be there. That’s okay.

But the point is that our faith always prevails. Our faith allows our prayer to tap into the living God, to give us a supernatural grace that doesn’t come from ourselves; our faith allows us to tap into ourselves within the deepest part of our person, that we may find a potential of God’s power to prevail over the problems, and to overcome them in such a way that what was once over our head – can be placed beneath our feet.

What tried to defeat us becomes the source of new victory for us because of Him who is on our side and who fights the battles on our behalf. All He asks is that we have the faith to continue to say yes, to pick up our cross and to keep moving forward and not turn back. He does the rest. That means He ends us doing more in us, with us and through us, more than we were ever thought we were capable of, more than we ever thought was possible for our lives.

He ends up doing more in us, with us and through us, more than we were ever knew we could do because the power and strength is no longer ours. It’s Him doing the work. He can take over right when you least expect it. Right when you thought you have nothing left to give, He takes over. We’re not left to ourselves to do it all on our own. He is Emmanuel.

Let us immerse ourselves in the presence of Emmanuel through the holiness of God present in the Mass, which is the mission of Jesus brought back to life in the world, the mission of His mercy to embrace everything in Himself; His life, His death, His resurrection re-presented, presented again, brought back to life – that His life may become new and operative in each of us. May the Lord prepare us to celebrate the sacred mysteries of who God is and what God is doing in me, and in you, right here and right now, in Jesus’s name, Amen.

SOURCE: Danville Retreat, 2014. Copyright 2017, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All Rights Reserved

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: immaculate communion, divine life in Christ

The call of Christ to freedom and wholeness is a call from where we are now. It’s a call to become more of Him in us, which will bring about more of us, than we are today. In other words, we’re being opened to an inflowing, an outpouring of God’s presence in such a way that everything God’s presence touches, changes where it moves. Like fire and water, whatever God touches no longer remains the same, despite the pain. Or rather, not despite the pain, but especially because of the pain, something has changed. I am no longer the same and what remains is better than what was before.

But we need faith to get to the other side, to see the fruit and the effect. We need faith to get to the other side, to allow God to fulfill His promise amidst the problems; we need faith to allow a dawn to scatter our darkness without giving up on the way there. It takes faith to get there. Sometimes, that act of faith, that yes will take everything that you’ve got.

As a result, you’ll receive God in a way you’ve never known Him before. As big as the battle was to get there, the beauty of Christ, newly experienced, eclipses the darkness. We will easily forget about the blood, the sweat, and the tears when you experience the new birth that was meant to serve.

Scripture, of course, expresses this through the image of a mother giving birth to her child. In the Gospel of John, the apostle talks about when a woman is in labor, the labor pangs are ferocious, excruciating. Maybe for some women the third, the fourth, the fifth child, it got a little bit easier, but the labor pains with the first one is never that easy.

The labor pangs of childbearing is what scripture refers to as analogous to the spiritual purifications that we have to pass through in walking by faith and not by sight; it is the faith that transforms in the fire of love.

I was there when my mother was giving birth to my awesome brother. It looked like she wasn’t going to make it. She was 38 years old at the time and it didn’t look like she was going to make it. In the middle of labor, she was ready to give up. It was scary.

And yet, after getting to a point of acute suffering, there is a breakthrough and the childbirth takes place. Our faith life is similar. Right at the place when it feels like we can take no more, something breaks loose. After the breakthrough, finally you’re able to take a breath and to recollect yourself and the pieces fall into place. And you have the child that’s put in your lap and in your arms. How easy it is to forget, to forget the pain and the cost of the sacrifice because a child is so worth it.

So too in our lives, Saint Therese says, suffering is required to save souls. If we want to save souls, we can’t expect to be exempt from the cross.

Ouch, I know it hurts. It hurts for all of us, but it’s the truth. It’s the reality. Yeah, it’s painful. Sometimes, you can feel the nails in your hands and in your feet, can’t you? You’re walking around with pierced hands and feet. Nobody sees it but you and God. It’s all part of seeking communion in an immaculate way with God Almighty in His perfect love. It’s all part of it.

But how can we be renewed when we’ve been wiped out by it? You know, when you’re just tired and sometimes, maybe even bored, not by God but by the other things that can misrepresent God or get in His way.

We’re called to reach out to Him anew, to seek His face, not so much in the marvelous, the extraordinary, or even the charismatic, but rather, in the presence of God that burns within us, who gives and reveals divine life, the life of the Trinity. We must allow ourselves to be caught up in that embrace (to be continued).

SOURCE: Danville Retreat, 2014. Copyright 2017, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All Rights Reserved