To Do Them All for Love

ThérèseO my Beloved, how shall I show my love, since love proves itself by deeds? I have no other means of proving my love than to strew flowers, and these flowers will be each word and look, each little daily sacrifice. I wish to make profit out of the smallest actions and to do them all for Love. For Love’s sake I wish to suffer and to rejoice: so shall I strew my flowers… Should my roses be gathered from amid thorns, I will nevertheless sing; and the longer and sharper the thorns, the sweeter will grow my song.
Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face

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A Saint Today

Blessed Elizabeth of the TrinityToday in Rome Pope Francis has canonized Elizabeth Catez, also known as Elizabeth of the Trinity, a discalced Carmelite nun who lived in Dijon almost contemporaneously with Thérèse in Lisieux. Of course, Elizabeth, who is a favourite of myself and I’m sure many others on this blog, has been a saint for a long time now. The papal action only confirms to us that which God and all the blessed already know: this young girl from Côte-d’Or, so firm and steely in her resolutions and so gradually overcome by a gentle transfiguration of her determined eyes, sees “her Three” face to face and is a model of virtue and learning. But it is nice to have the confirmation. Today Elizabeth is a saint.

But perhaps more importantly, she wants us to be, or become, saints today also. This young woman was so determined in all that she did, she wishes to bind us, too, to the determination of love which Christ and her beloved Saint Paul taught us. So I want to make a post about this.

In her Last Retreat, the new saint comments on a great passage of the apostle (Eph 4:2224):

You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

She writes:

Voilà the path traced out. All that is needed is to dispossess oneself to walk thereon as God intends.

That is it. Only one thing is necessary (cf. Lk 10:42). But what a thing it is! If we are detached and dispossessed (in the will, not just materially), God will take those chasms in our will and knowledge and fill them with himself – that is, fill them with faith, hope, and charity. That is the “new and living way” (Heb 10:20), “the way” (Jn 14:6), who is Christ Jesus, the Crucified One who nonetheless saw the Father face to face.

How little we have to put in practice – but yet, also how much. In just a few words, the new saint captures the heart of the Christian religion.

Today’s is the most significant canonization for me, personally, since I became Catholic. I am so pleased and so ready to celebrate it. But at the same time, the country that I live in has entered a deep and prolonged period of mourning (due to the recent passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, whom Thais regard perhaps more as a father than a king). So even when God gives, he also asks us to suffer (sometimes together, in compassion, with our neighbours). Suffering exists abundantly in this life, though it takes on new meaning in faith. It is a truth that, I think, Saint Elizabeth Catez would not mind us being reminded of.

Sorrows Borne with Joy

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy FaceWhen I think that, for a sorrow borne with joy, I shall be able to love You more for all eternity, I understand clearly that if You gave me the entire universe, with all its treasures, it would be nothing in comparison to the slightest suffering. Each new suffering, each pang of the heart, is a gentle wind to bear to You the perfume of the soul that loves You. Then You smile lovingly. You immediately make ready a new grief and fill the cup to the brim, thinking the more the soul grows in love, the more in must grow in suffering, too.
Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face