“The mystery of the Immaculate Conception allows us to understand how Mary is surrounded by the Father with greater tenderness and love than the love surrounding Eve before her sin. Through this mercy, Mary is able to enter into a unique intimacy with the Father; she is the beloved little child, the smallest, the ‘Benjamin.’ Is one not tiny when enveloped in mercy? Only mercy makes us small.” (Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe)
The wonder of God’s mercy is that this love which He has shown to Mary–his greater tenderness and love–is bequeathed to us as well through her as our Mother. St. Thérèse confirms this: “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.” And that is the key that Mary found: abandonment with total confidence to His Infinite Mercy. Mary, sweet Mother, help us to do the same.
This is why I love Thérèse . . . when I come across these kinds of things she said: “Agree to stumble at every step, even fall, to carry your crosses weakly; love your helplessness, your soul will benefit more from it than if sustained by grace you accomplished with enthusiasm heroic actions which would fill your soul with personal satisfaction and pride.” I find such hope in her words. How very often I feel my helplessness and am aware of my stumbling. It is such a comfort to be in her company . . .
I’m wrestling with my poverty today, and that says a lot because what I really should be doing is just acknowledging that that is my human condition. Which just goes to show you how poor I am! So, what do I do? “Every day I begin again.”
“If I were to live to eighty, I would still be as poor as I am now.” (Thérèse)
I always find this quote from St. Thérèse so encouraging: “If I were to live to eighty, I would still be as poor as I am now.” Encouraging because she is referring to her spiritual poverty and so we need not worry if we are feeling spiritually poor. . . and refocusing as well if I am experiencing a “striving” moment which is leading nowhere. “Every day I begin again.”
Thérèse scratched on the wall of her cell: “Jesus is my only love.”
Amy Carmichael wrote in 1893: “In my room in Japan I had two words written on my wall: Yes, Lord.”
What words would you write on your wall?
As you prayerfully consider Lent, pay close attention to these two pieces of sage advice from St. Jose Maria Escriva:
Choose mortifications that don’t mortify others.
A smile is often the best mortification.
And I urge you again to look first to those things that impede your knowledge of God’s incredible love for you. Perhaps your Lenten resolution should simply be to stand vulnerable in prayer before His love for five minutes a day or to read a Scripture verse that encourages you in the hope of His love.
Sanctity does not consist in this or that practice, it consists in a disposition of heart which makes us humble and little in the eyes of God, conscious of our weakness but boldly confident in his goodness as Father. (Therese)
I have a little flip chart of quotes from St. Thérèse. It has been open to the quote below for weeks (and I’m still not ready to flip it). I hope your reading it will increase your confidence in the greatness of God’s personal love for you.
Just as the sun shines simultaneously on the tall cedars and on each little flower as though it were alone on the earth, so our Lord is occupied with each soul as though there were no others like it.
“With each soul . . .” That means you.
Do you remember the first time you ever picked up a kaleidoscope and looked through it, the sheer delight you experienced? Here’s St. Thérèse’s thoughts on her experience:
This toy . . . intrigued me, and for a long time I kept wondering just what could produce so delightful a phenomenon. One day a careful examination revealed that the unusual effect was merely the result of a combination of tiny scraps of paper and wool scattered about inside. When on further scrutiny I discovered three looking-glasses inside the tube, the puzzle was solved. And this simple toy became for me the image of a great mystery . . .. So long as our actions, even the most trivial, remain within love’s kaleidoscope, the Blessed Trinity (which the three converging glasses represent) imparts to them a marvelous brightness and beauty . . . . The eye-piece of the spy-glass symbolizes the good God, who looking from the outside (but through Himself, as it were) into the kaleidoscope finds everything quite beautiful, even our miserable straws of effort and our most insignificant actions.
God, give us the ability to see ourselves–and others–as you see us.
Try this link for fun! And, if you want to try making your own, go here!