Saturday, September 30, 2017

The last day of the novena: "Go on with courage - I shall be with you."

Ninth day of the novena to St. Therese.

"On this evening of her death, therefore, as I placed a small piece of ice upon Therese's parched lips, I received in turn a beautiful smile.  As she fixed a tender gaze upon me, it seemed she was looking into the future, with all that it held for me.  Her superhuman expression was full of encouragement and promise as though she were saying to me: 'Va, va, ma Celine, je serais avec toi'"* - My Sister St. Therese

*"Go on with courage, my Celine; I shall be with you."

Therese died at seven twenty in the evening of September 30, 1897.

In thanksgiving for the continual companionship of my patroness and little mother, St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.

Fr. Martin's dissent.

Makes me sad.

It really does.  I've been loath to admit it it.  I found it hard to believe Fr. Martin was actually dissenting from Catholic teaching.  I still grapple with that.  For me Dr. Janet Smith's recent article in Catholic World Report, Overcoming Fr. Martin's dissent ... is more convincing for me than anything else written to date.  Dr. Smith expresses it beautifully and with great charity. 

I'll share a couple excerpts which resonated with me, and you can read the rest at CWR.  It's stuff I might have, could have said myself.

For Catholics who have some background in theology and philosophy it is deeply disappointing when a highly educated priest uses specious arguments to advance his cause; for those whose every fiber of their Catholic being leads them to want to trust priests, bishops, and religious superiors, such instances of untrustworthiness are scandalous; for those of us who have been fighting dissent for nearly 40 years, seeing a dissenter get ecclesial support and public acclaim is demoralizing. But, mostly, it is sad in the extreme that souls could well be lost.
I find myself, as an aging Catholic warrior, experiencing déjà vu all over again. The faithful of my generation spent a lot of our lives countering the equally specious (though more sophisticated) arguments of Father Charles Curran and his ilk—those who dissented from Humanae Vitae and for decades dominated virtually every Catholic institution. We fought a fight that has enjoyed a lot of success. Because of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Saint John Paul II’s Veritatis Splendor, the appointment of good bishops, the reform of seminaries and many Catholic colleges and universities, the proliferation of the “movements,” and the development of nearly countless good resources and programs, it seemed dissent was almost a thing of the past. Indeed, the younger generation, in general, is unaware of it. Thus they are even more scandalized by dissent when it does emerge.
But it is back and, to be sure, I am despondent to some extent. Though undoubtedly the damage will still be great, it helps that we are much better equipped to respond to it this time. We must not let this crisis go to waste. - Finish reading here.

As she said, "for those whose every fiber of their Catholic being leads them to want to trust priests, bishops, and religious superiors, such instances of untrustworthiness are scandalous."  I want, with every fiber of my Catholic being to trust.  I can't tell you how often that trust has been betrayed - but I keep on.  Jesus, I trust in you!

We got through it before, we will get through it again.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Seventh Day of the Novena: The Hidden Face ...

"I am resigned to being always imperfect, and I even find happiness in it.  
I keep an eye on myself to see if I can discover any new imperfections." *
- Therese to Mother Agnes of Jesus

Who is St. Therese?

Many years ago a Carmelite told me that The Hidden Face by Ida Gorres was not especially representative of the life of St. Therese because it was more a psychoanalytical biography and somehow missed the authentic spirituality of Little Therese.  I believed what I was told, in spite of myself - liking very much the insights Gorres provided into the personality of Therese.  Over the years I disagreed with my Carmelite critic, and consider the book a valuable resource for getting to know Therese.

Although I have to say I think St. Therese, always the novice master, helps little souls understand her doctrine quite well all on her own.  One doesn't have to make a study of her, because little ones are immediately attracted to her little way - often just by looking at a photo or statue of the saint.  We come to understand her 'doctrine' best in and through our clumsy falls and pretentious play-acting that we are adults, wise enough to know all spiritual mysteries.  Like little kids when they pretend or play act.  It is precisely in our weakness, our failures, our insignificance wherein we grasp the meaning of the doctrine of St. Therese, her little way of confidence and love.

At least that's what I think.  

You don't have to be good for St. Therese to help you, or even be conscious of her at a given moment, or making a novena of elaborate prayers and meditations for her to do something to show her patronage.  Though it is very good to make a proper novena, Therese sometimes just shows up - with a little sign of her love, and God's great love for you.  You may still be caught in your sins, or not believe in this or that, or just think you know everything and are just fine - then she will show up with rose petals or some other thing to cause you to recognize her presence and that God is there - that he's been there all the time - and so has she.  Therese has done that for me, so that's how I know she does it for others.  I'm convinced she still does it. 

I used to think looking for signs like roses and stuff like that was not good - or at least a huge imperfection.  St. Therese changed my mind on that, as did her little Pope Francis, who, just like us often hopes to receive an assurance from her when he asks for something special.  That's what I meant by little kids pretending to be grown up - I pretended that I didn't need expressions of love and friendship - but I do.  St. Therese helped me understand that.

Making a novena isn't the only time she's listening or praying for us.  She's always doing that - she's always aware of us and our needs.  So let us thank her for that.  Thanks St. Therese.

O Lord, Who has said: Unless you become as little children you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven; grant us, we beseech Thee, so to follow in humility and simplicity of heart the footsteps of St. Therese, the virgin, that we may obtain everlasting rewards. Who lives and reigns forever. Amen.

*St. Therese actually asked to be placed near Celine for this photo, since they were rarely in photos together.  It almost seems like an imperfection to some degree, since she never did her own will, and never ask for special treatment.  No wonder she rejoiced! :) 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Sixth day: Surrender and abandonment.

I want to use Fr. Dolindo Ruotolo's prayer for today's novena prayer.

And when I must lead you on a path different from the one you see, I will prepare you; I will carry you in my arms; I will let you find yourself, like children who have fallen asleep in their mother’s arms, on the other bank of the river. What troubles you and hurts you immensely are your reason, your thoughts and worry, and your desire at all costs to deal with what afflicts you.
O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! (10 times) - Source

St. Therese, pray for us. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Fifth Day of the Novena.

THE SCIENCE OF DIVINE LOVE, which the Father of mercies pours out through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit, is a gift granted to the little and the humble so that they may know and proclaim the secrets of the kingdom, hidden from the learned and the wise; for this reason Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, praising the Father who graciously willed it so.
Even though Thérèse does not have a true and proper doctrinal corpus, nevertheless a particular radiance of doctrine shines forth from her writings which, as if by a charism of the Holy Spirit, grasp the very heart of the message of Revelation in a fresh and original vision, presenting a teaching of eminent quality. SAINT THÉRÈSE OF THE CHILD JESUS AND THE HOLY FACE IS PROCLAIMED A DOCTOR OF THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH

The wise and the learned claim Therese now that she is 'Doctor of the Church', but I like to say she doesn't esteem such titles, preferring to remain little.  Because of this she continues to be the greatest saint of modern times, one from whom theologians and scholars can learn.  I believe she embodies the sensus fidelium of today: “... You have hidden these things from the wise and the learned and revealed them to the little ones”.   I'm thinking of Pope Francis and his 'little way' of exercising the Petrine ministry.

So today, I pray St. Therese comes to the aid of our Holy Father Pope Francis and assists him with an abundance of grace, consoling him with her presence.  I understand Pope Francis likes the following prayer:
O Little Therese of the Child Jesus
Please pick for Pope Francis a rose
from the heavenly garden
and send it to him
as a message of love.
O Little Flower of Jesus,
ask God to grant Francis the favors
we now place with confidence
in your hands
( mention your special prayer request here )
St. Therese, help us to always believe
as you did, in God's great love for us,
so that we may imitate your "Little Way" each day.

The fourth day of the novena to St. Therese.

"Jesus, repair what I have done badly!"

Thank God Christ came to save sinners.

One day Therese counseled her sister Celine: "Your programme of life seems to be this: 'I will be kind to those who are kind, and be amiable with those who are amiable.'  Then naturally you become agitated as soon as someone disagrees with you.  In this you are like the pagans in the Gospel who our Lord tells us not to be like.  Rather he tells us, 'love your enemies, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who persecute you.'" -My Sister St. Therese, Sr. Genevieve of the Holy Face

"Jesus, repair what I have done badly!"

"A notion which is not widespread and which, nevertheless, is very important is that Jesus, when we ask him with confidence, repairs not only the evil we have done in ourselves, but also the evil we have done around us.

Indeed, he has made all things right in me, but what about the evil I have done to others?  The bad example I have set, the scandal I have given, the good I would have been able to do and did not do, the injustice I committed?  I am set aright myself, but what about the others?

Say then, 'Jesus, from this evil also which I have wrought around me, draw forth good.  Even, I dare to ask you, draw a greater good from it than if I had not done the evil... Jesus, make reparation in me and around me.'" - I Believe In Love, Pere Jean du Coeur de Jesus D'Elbee

Jesus, repair what I have done badly! St. Therese pray for us!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Skepticism and the critical spirit.

You can't go to communion if ...

The toxic atmosphere.

I always accuse myself of being afflicted by a skeptical spirit, pretty much because I'm always dismissing locutionists and seers and their prophecies of doom and gloom as nothing more than fantasy based upon their personal meditations and the influence of earlier mystics and their prophecies of catastrophic events.  Which they seem to recycle and repeat.

Today the very, very, very devout Catholics online have, through their own critical spirit and fault finding, created a toxic atmosphere in the Church.  Talk about the smoke of Satan entering through some fissure ... the negative critical skepticism which pervades our culture and political system has been set up in the sanctuary.  Under the cover of being concerned for the salvation of souls, the very devout condemn just about everyone they disagree with or suspect of harboring a liberal thought or progressive idea.

Yesterday I went to a different church for Mass again.  I was disturbed by temptation throughout the Mass, making it hard to pray.  Wondering about the priest, the music, and so on.  Is he a good priest?  Is he all about promoting himself?  Is the music too loud, too secular - not conducive to recollection and prayer?  Is the priest ambitious for promotion?  Does he institute programs in the parish to impress the archbishop?  I was able to pray, because thoughts like these - which indeed are temptations, come and go like leaves in the wind.  Yet at bedtime they all returned and I wasn't able to sleep well.

No longer just whispers in the loggia.

Thoughts, temptations like these seem to arise from the chatter and gossip in the Church - no longer 'court gossip' and intrigue, the gossip is now spread online by social media, prompting dubia and corrections of bishops, priests, religious, and even the pope.  'They' claim to be working for the salvation of souls, but they are fueling skepticism and the critical spirit, making matters worse.  (I fault myself for reading their stuff, and going to their sites.)  Of course they will object and say that is not the case, once again claiming to be working for the salvation of souls - by sowing doubt and deeper suspicions that the Church is filled with heresy and demons.  They are blind guides.
Yes, I hear the whisperings of many: "Terror on every side! Denounce! let us denounce him!" All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine. "Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail, and take our vengeance on him." - Jeremiah 20:10
Their rancor seems to indicate a deeper spiritual malaise, perhaps acedia?  In 'community' it can be infectious and contagious.  It leads to malice, rancor, pusillanimity, discouragement, sluggishness, and dissipation of spirit - as Garrigou-Lagrange explains it.  Almost certainly by those preoccupied with the spiritual and moral life of others - even in matters of conscience - especially when they offer public corrections, and in some cases, unauthorized 'canonical' judgments.  I'm no expert of course, but if indeed that be the case, in the mix is a great spiritual pride which causes a certain type of blindness, or tunnel vision.  Then a man abandons meekness and humility, boasts of his perfection, judges others severely, sets himself up as a master, to ask questions to entrap another, and to condemn by offering fraternal corrections  - which show how learned and holy and righteous the judge is, making himself the highest authority, in drawing souls to oneself or to the group to which one belongs instead of leading them to our Lord.

When confronted by a rebuke or counter criticism their rancor and critical spirit feigns humility, insisting their harsh rebukes are charity - the truth in charity, and their purpose is for the salvation of souls.  Again, I'm tempted to skepticism.

I see my experience, or these temptations, as a call to deeper repentance, of detachment, and to remain in the solitude of recollection, putting no trust in princes or men, but in God alone.  I'm not discouraged, but understand better what distress doubters feel and how these things distract from the one thing necessary.

Christ walked in peace through the midst of them.

Pretty much for my own edification, I'll reprint some pious thoughts which help me return to recollection and prayer - not at all an escape into some false security of the 'Benedict option' - which is another delusion many seem to opt for these days.

"Realize that your soul is the temple of God - it is St. Paul who teaches this. At every moment of the day and night the three Divine Persons are living within you." - Elizabeth of the Trinity

Therefore, if the mountains fall into the sea, the earth quakes and every structure collapses - nothing can separate us from the love of God that comes to us in Christ. It is Christ who begs us, "Remain in me": "It is the Word of God who gives this order, expresses this wish. Remain in me, not for a few moments, a few hours which must pass away, but 'remain' - permanently, habitually. Remain in me, pray in me, adore in me, love in me, suffer in me, work and act in me." - Elizabeth of the Trinity

So. It is not by careful watching, judging the orthodoxy of others, questioning every report and searching every word to see if it indicates this or that, is true or false, or may open the door to error, and so on. None of that is necessary for simple souls ... not even for ordinary people.

"I wish I could tell all souls what sources of strength, of peace, and of happiness they would find if they would only consent to live in this intimacy." (Prayer of recollection) - Elizabeth of the Trinity

One mystic I was always inclined to trust was Sr. Mary of the Holy Trinity, a Poor Clare of Jerusalem.  I like this:
“I passed through the world doing good-I brought peace, order, kindness, an easy kindness. I healed the sick; I forgave sins; I gave joy, true joy, tranquil joy. I brought the Beatitudes. I revealed God. It is because men do not know Him that they do not love God. You must reveal God. That is charity.” - Our Lord to Sr. Mary of the Holy Trinity, Poor Clare of Jerusalem
Every good thing I read echoes the Holy Father, and I am once again encouraged - because he too follows Christ and reveals God to the poor.

Let nothing disturb your peace. It is heaven on earth. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

"I am resigned to being always imperfect." - St. Therese

Third day of the novena to St. Therese.

"Therese believed that God frequently allows us to experience in ourselves the same weaknesses which we deplore in others,,,  [Thus] when we see ourselves fallen into those faults we are then more prompt to excuse them in others." - My Sister St. Therese, Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face
"'Sometimes it happens,' she went on, 'that despite their best efforts, some souls remain imperfect because it would be to their spiritual detriment to believe they are virtuous or to have others agree that they are.'" - Ibid
"I am resigned to being always imperfect, and I even find happiness in it.  I keep an eye on myself to see if I can discover any new imperfections." - Therese to Mother Agnes of Jesus