Aloha Friday message – August 13, 2010 – Aloha Friday with St. Thérèse of Lisieux

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Happy Aloha Friday!

Proverbs 3:5-6
NIV 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
KJV 5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

How blessed are they who can trust in the LORD!! When I think of people who put their complete trust in God, I always think of Abraham (see 1009AFC022610). We heard about him again this past Sunday. He reasoned that if God was Omnipotent Abraham would be able to sacrifice Isaac and God would still keep his promise to Abraham that he would generate a huge family – so vast that it would outnumber all the stars. I guess I’m a little harder to convince that Abraham was.

Another shining example of trust is St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Take this passage from chapter six of The Story of a Soul – her autobiography:

Our Lord made me understand that the only true glory is that which lasts
for ever; and that to attain it there is no necessity to do brilliant deeds, but rather to hide from the eyes of others, and even from oneself, so that “the left hand knows not what the right hand does.”[1] Then, as I reflected that I was born for great things, and sought the means to attain them, it was made known to me interiorly that my personal glory would never reveal itself before the eyes of men, but that it would consist in becoming a Saint.

This aspiration may very well appear rash, seeing how imperfect I was, and am, even now, after so many years of religious life; yet I still feel the same daring confidence that one day I shall become a great Saint. I am not trusting in my own merits, for I have none; but I trust in Him Who is Virtue and Holiness itself. It is He alone Who, pleased with my feeble efforts, will raise me to Himself, and, by clothing me with His merits, make me a Saint. At that time I did not realize that to become one it is necessary to suffer a great deal; but God soon disclosed this secret to me by means of the trials I have related.

A little farther on, she mentions part of Job’s argument (see Job 13) concerning his right to defend himself: 14 Why do I put myself in jeopardy and take my life in my hands? 15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face. 16 Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance, for no godless man would dare come before him!

To Thérèse, trusting in God meant that even if He should require that she die, she would trust Him that such was best for her soul and her service. And for her, service was suffering – suffering the desire for virtues without seeing the fruits of holiness:

“Offer to God the sacrifice of never gathering any fruit. If He wills that throughout your whole life you should feel a repugnance to suffering and humiliation–if He permits that all the flowers of your desires and of your good will should fall to the ground without any fruit appearing, do not worry. At the hour of death, in the twinkling of an eye, He will cause fair fruits to ripen on the tree of your soul.”

She cites a passage in Sirach, one of the Wisdom Books in the Catholic canon, to express how she feels about he circumstances:

Sirach 11:22-28 You should not spend time in the works of sinners. Instead, trust in God and remain in your own place. 23 For it is easy, in the eyes of God, to make a pauper suddenly rich. 24 The blessing of God hurries to reward the just man, and in a fleeting hour his advancement bears fruit. 25 You should not say: “What do I need?” or, “What good will there be for me in this?” 26 You should not say: “I have enough for myself,” or, “What could be worse than this?” 27 In a day of good things, you should not be forgetful of misfortunes. And in a day of misfortunes, you should not be forgetful of good things. 28 For it is easy, in the sight of God, on the day of one’s passing, to repay each one according to his ways. [emphasis added]

Thérèse died of tuberculosis at age 24, but when her autobiography was compiled by her sister Pauline and published a year after her death, the world caught the holy fragrance of this Little Flower and embraced her story as an inspiration to humbly wait on God’s benevolence and to glory only in the totality of blessings he pours as a deluge of grace into every moment of our lives. What I often forget is that not all thorns have roses. Some blessings are painful, even confusing. Thérèse once compared the blessing Jesus offered to a basket full of odds and ends of clothes and such:

One day Léonie, thinking no doubt that she was too big to play with dolls, brought us a basket filled with clothes, pretty pieces of stuff, and other trifles on which her doll was laid: “Here, dears,” she said, “choose whatever you like.” Céline looked at it, and took a woolen ball. After thinking about it for a minute, I put out my hand saying: “I choose everything,” and I carried off both doll and basket without more ado.

Thérèse reminds us that when we ask God to bless us, we should be prepared to accept all his blessings, not just the ones we prefer, not just the ones that comfort us, but instead take even the blessing that are painful or burdensome because they are gifts from God and all gifts from him are good gifts.

I do not think she means that I should merely resign my self to pain and sit sighing in the corner feeling sorry for myself because I suffer so. Thérèse took each little moment of adversity and sought in it the inspiration to turn it inside-out, upside-down, and backwards so that it worked only as something that glorified God. My moments of adversity are excuses for taking more pain-killers, angry shouting with temper-tantrums, complaining and whining about my pitiful state, and telling God off for putting me through all this. Silly me! He is working so hard to sanctify my life by handing me a basket overflowing will all sorts of blessings both common and uncommon, some pleasant and some difficult, and I keep throwing that basket to the ground and telling him, “No! You didn’t get it right again! That’s not supposed to be there!”

But good God that he is, he ignores my blasphemy, sacrilege, ingratitude, and indifference to the greatness of his grace and keeps on blessing me in so many ways I cannot begin to imagine how he thinks of them all. And ever so quietly he reminds me, “You are leaning on a rubber crutch – your own understanding.” That’s not funny as a rubber crutch. That is real LOVE.

Ah, beloved … don’t lean on a rubber crutch. Lean on the Everlasting Arms and know that Fellowship, that Joy Divine found only in trusting God to give you only good gifts. It’s all good.

Thank you for your prompt and efficacious prayers. That willingness to be an intercessor is one of those gifts that is a rose with thorns. The flower and fragrance are amazing, but the pain of carrying them can sometimes be lasting as well.

Please continue with last week’s prayer list, and to it add continued prayers for the people in Pakistan. If you can provide any additional physical or monetary assistance for these folks, please do so. Also dear in my heart are the needs of Fr. Edwin and St. Joseph’s parish in the Philippines – the whole locale has suffered greatly because of floods and mudslides there earlier that destroyed the church and many, many other buildings and dwellings. Do not forget Haiti and China and Chile as well. Please, Beloved, pray for and serve one another. Take the whole basket – a cornucopia of incredible value.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved
Chick

For more of The Story of a Soul, see http://manybooks.net/titles/martint16771677216772-8.html

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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