I’ve read numerous books on our dear Little Flower, St. Therese of Lisieux. This particular one, Therese, the Little Child of God’s Mercy, by Angel de les Gavarres, uncovered depths and details of her life and spirituality that I had not yet known. Two years ago, Mother Iliana, a nun of Christ the Bridegroom Monastery, lent me this gem of a book. It had rested on my shelf contentedly and patiently. I knew one day it would beckon. Last month came the gentle invitation and ravenous desire to dive in. It has been like opening a daily gift of splendid and profound Little Flower discoveries, perfectly wrapped and handmade for the heart.
Author Gavarres writes: “The fact is that, for her, suffering was the tool which dug out the void that was destined to receive the Mercy of God. How could the waves of infinite tenderness have been able to overflow in her, if they had not found a real misery, that is to say, a pressing need to be saved at every moment? The immense nature of her sufferings should not cause astonishment for, since her soul was to be proportioned to the Divine Tenderness which wished to be poured out in her, it required an immeasurable emptiness.”
We have all experienced suffering, miseries, emptying out of some kind. I know for me, I can tend to think that my sufferings are an alarm that signifies something is terribly wrong. Something needs to be corrected. Therese shows us another way. Our miseries are the very means by which Christ fills us with His immense mercy, His gushing tenderness. Pity into our pit, peace in place of bitterness, streams in the wastelands, and highways in the desert!
“You have given me health and restored my life! Peace in place of bitterness! You have preserved my life from the pit of destruction . . . In the wilderness I make a way, in the wasteland, rivers.” – Psalm 38 & 43
If we ever find ourselves in a place in life that leaves us feeling desperate every moment, clinging every second with utter need, we can rejoice! This is Jesus’ invitation to deeply personal and vivid Salvation! It is His way into our hearts, His inroad to rescue us with His fullness of redemption! Thank You, God, for showing me my need for You!
“In my distress, I cried unto the Lord, and He heard me.” – Psalm 120
Look upon me, have pity on me, for I am alone and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart; bring me out of my distress. Look upon my affliction and suffering.” – Psalm 25
He is coming! He is here! He is intimately married to us in our misery, with His mercy.
And the good news goes on! Our offering of ourselves in these moments, is not just for us, but for the good of all our loved ones, for the salvation of all souls! A sweet invitation to a total immolation, a giving of ourselves with Jesus on the Marriage Bed – the Altar – of the Cross, for the life of the world. One with Him, in Him, and through Him. In Love. Total, Faithful, Free, Fruitful. Therese, in her own words: “Never would I have believed it was possible to suffer so
much! never! never! I cannot explain this except by the ardent desires I have had to save souls.”
Gavarres elaborates: “In this way, the saint of Lisieux saw her life’s dream fulfilled: to give God the joy of pouring out His Mercy, to become a martyr of His Love.”
Therese spins it all around for us! When the world tells us to despair, she tells us: rejoice! This emptiness you feel is the very means of your being filled up with all the fullness of God! And to become an instrument of Redemption for others! In our littleness and lowliness, we can often feel so unpleasing, so at our worst, so scooped out to nothing. How it pleases Christ our Bridegroom to come to us in this state, and find a cavern He can fill up with His aching tenderness, kindness, and passionate love for us, as we are, and to pour through us, given in Love for others as they are. Then we can sing with the Blessed Mother our Magnificat of thanksgiving:
“My spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked with favor on His lowly servant…
He has lifted up the lowly and filled the hungry with good things…” – Luke 1
Come, Lord Jesus, Christ the Bridegroom of our souls, fill us with Your compassion, Your saving grace, Your streams of mercy and infinite waves of tenderness. We
need You. We offer You our very beings, for our own sanctification, for all of our loved ones, for all souls. We are all Yours. Thank You for transforming our miseries into Love vessels of Your ever-flowing Fount of Mercy. Totus Tuus! Fiat!
Copyright 2021, Marian West Veilleux