Monday, 14 September 2009

Day of Recollection - St Therese

On Sunday we had a beautiful reflection from Canon John Udris of Northampton Cathedral, a priest who trained here at Oscott in the 80's. He has a great love of St Therese of Liseux, being part of the committe that organised her relics coming here, and so he gave us a day of recollection about her in preparation for the relics arriving at St Chad's cathedral on Saturday. He spoke of three themes which run throughout her 'Story of a Soul' and which can be of immense help for us. Firstly, she recognised and embraced her own weakness, realising that it was in her nothingness that God loved her. In this way she was happy to see herself imperfect, and encouraged those around her to be the same. Secondly, she had immense trust in God. The French priest Fr Jean Lafrance says that her confidence is the way to Love, and Fr John Udris said that her trust worked miracles (rather like Our Lord saying that if we only had faith the size of a mustard seed, we could move mountains). Having no trust in her own nothingness, she put it all in the God on whom she depended for Everything. Lastly, Fr John talked of her great love. Similarly perhaps to Mother Theresa of Calcutta, St Therese came to discover in her own life a 'call within a call' - more than simply being a Carmelite nun, she felt that she was called to be Love in the heart of the Church, and she burned with a desire to make God loved by others as much as she loved Him.

When she was a little girl, she and her elder sister Celine were offered a toy from a box of assorted things. Celine thought for a while and then picked something, but when it came to St Therese, she said, 'I take it all.' That is her attitude to God. She takes all the grace and mercy He has to offer, even if her way is the Little Way, unnoticed and humble. She wanted likewise to give all to God, strewing the petals of her life before him. How fitting it is that this saint, who wanted so dearly to be a missionary and a doctor of the Church, is now able to be both, so many years after her death! Let's hope and pray that the visit of her relics will awaken our hearts and the hearts of our nation to the vast ocean of love that the Father means to pour into us.

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