Saturday, December 24, 2011

The grace of Christmas...

Little Therese,
Pray for us.

Or the Christmas conversion of St. Therese.

Many good people and scholars have treated of the so-called conversion of the little Therese on Christmas, and she herself attributed great significance to it, writing:
"It was December 25, 1886, that I received the grace of leaving my childhood, in a word, the grace of my complete conversion . . . I felt charity enter into my soul, the need to forget myself and to please others; since then I've been happy!"   
St. Therese is referring to something that happened one Christmas Eve after Midnight Mass:
The one event in her life which Thérèse explicitly designated as a "conversion" fulfills the criteria of a moral conversion. Many years after the event, Thérèse recalled that on returning from Midnight Mass on Christmas, 1886, she overheard her father express annoyance that at age thirteen Thérèse was still planning to be the center of Christmas customs typical of small children. Thérèse's sister, aware of how unusually sensitive Thérèse was and knowing Thérèse heard their father's remarks, was amazed to see Thérèse joyfully carry on as though she had heard nothing.

Thérèse calls this "my complete conversion" because a dramatic change happened, she says, "in an instant." The permanent change in direction is from being a girl who "was really unbearable because of [her] extreme touchiness" to a "strong and courageous" young woman whose "source of tears was dried up and has since reopened rarely and with great difficulty." She who "wasn't accustomed to doing things for [herself)" now experienced "the need to forget [herself] and to please others." She now had a great desire to work for "the conversion of sinners".

Thérèse gives this conversion a religious interpretation, but it is more accurately understood as a moral conversion. This is not to deny genuine religious aspects and implications to the event. Rather, it is to affirm that the basic change of direction Thérèse describes corresponds more closely, in three ways, to that of a moral conversion.

The primary characteristic of moral conversion is the shift from concern for self-satisfaction to a desire for a life devoted to value. Thérèse speaks principally of this event as marking a change in her criterion of decision from self-pity to concern for others. Second, moral conversion is an experience of more adult decisionmaking. A movement out of childhood is precisely the process that Thérèse identifies as most characteristic of this event; it marked her "growing up." Third, the qualities of strength and freedom of decision -- characteristics of moral conversion -- are singled out in Thérèse's later interpretations of this conversion. - Source
I think that is a rather good analysis of what happened to St. Therese - but as with everything concerning Therese - for me it misses something - the intangible, the ineffable exchange that took place between her heart and the heart of the little Jesus.  Such spiritual transactions cannot be contained or limited by words, though she herself wrote about its effects... that writing being her Story of A Soul, and doctrine of the 'Little Way'.  May she obtain such grace for you and for me this Holy Night.

+ Prayer +

Convert us O Lord.

O Little King, attraction of all hearts, we hail that blessed hour and moment in which you were born of the most pure Virgin Mary in the poverty of Bethlehem.  You did not need earthly pomp or riches, for they could add nothing to your Infinite Majesty.  Teach us that true riches are within and that it is not what we have but what we are* that counts. Amen

O Jesus, sweetest child, born in poverty at Bethlehem of Mary ever Virgin, wrapped in swaddling clothes, laid amongst the animals in a manger, announced by angels, visited first by simple shepherds; have mercy on us.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

*22. The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. [...] He Who is "the image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15),(21) is Himself the perfect man. To the sons of Adam He restores the divine likeness which had been disfigured from the first sin onward. Since human nature as He assumed it was not annulled,(22) by that very fact it has been raised up to a divine dignity in our respect too. For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man. - GAUDIUM ET SPES


  1. Merry Christmas, Terry!

  2. Happy Christmas to you to too Terry,
    enjoy yourself!
    Love and prayers,

  3. I appreciate your reflection and prayer, Terry, and I wish the same for you. Merry Christmas

  4. Amen
    A blessed Christmas to you Terry. May the peace that can only come from Christ be yours now and always.

  5. Mercury,

    Give thanks to the infant Jesus for the suffering he has allowed your family.

    Believe onto Him, and He shall raise you all to salvation.


  6. Maligayang Pasko Terry!(Pilipino for Merry Christmas)

  7. Have a blessed Christmas, Terry!

  8. Que la luz de Cristo, nos ayude a llevarle a todos los rincones del mundo. Un fuerte abrazo


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