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I strongly recommend the book, “The Story of a Soul”, the autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux. I have only just begun reading it… no savoring it, would be a more appropriate phrase. There are many statements in it that force us to put the book down and THINK. If you wish to call it meditation, fine, but associate her life style with that of our own. On page 19, she states, “I was sure that I was born to be great and began to wonder how I should set about winning my glory…” She continues, “This aspiration may seem presumptuous, considering how imperfect I was and still am…yet I am daringly confident that one day I shall become a great Saint.” Then she says the key phrase, the secret if you will, “I am not relying on my own merits, because I haven’t any. I hope in Him who is Virtue and Sanctity itself. He alone, content with my frail efforts, will lift me up to Himself, clothe me with His own merits and make me a Saint.”

Think of our self, now. If someone were to ask us, “Are you going to be a saint?” What would our answer be? I believe all of us would respond with, “ME?? You must be joking. I barely pray”. Or, we might say something similar. But our response would be looking squarely at ourselves, our life style, at our faults. Then we think about this person (us) being a saint. If it weren’t so disappointing, so depressing, it would be laughable.

Isaiah, one of the major prophets of the Old Testament, speaking of the Lord, says, “If your sins be as scarlet, they will be made as white as snow.” -Isaiah (1, 18) Jesus said, “Which of you is without sin?” Who can stand up to this accusation? No one can. So sainthood is not based on our merits, our life style. Because the truth is, we are fallen creatures….ALL OF US!! Oh, yes we do acts of charity. Yes, we do pray sometimes during the day. But the source of our goodness is not from within our bodily frame. It is bestowed on us, by Christ. Why does He do that? Why doesn’t He do it to everyone? With the snap of His fingers, Goodness could reign throughout the world. Wars and crime and evil would cease. God, a loving God, gave us a gift called Free Will. He will not, EVER, take that from us. He will not, EVER, force something on us. We are free to act. We are free to do. We are free to choose. We are free to accept His Will.

Re-read the key phrase at the end of the first paragraph, and then come back to the next sentence…..…. St. Therese is not relying on herself, her own merits. She quite accurately states, “…I haven’t any.” This isn’t false modesty. This is a fact. Not one of us merits eternal life. But what we can do, must do, is to hope in Him, trust in Him. Hope and Trust are one-syllable words that can be easily said and spelled, but oh so difficult to do, to accomplish. We say in the prayer Jesus taught us, “Thy will be done”. Don’t we silently add on something like, “…if it goes along with what I want?” Do we really accept WHATEVER God allows? Are we always happy with what God sends our way at times? If you can really do that, add two letters in front of your name…”S” and “T.”.

The point is that each of us, with our problems and faults, our worries and sins, our failures and our pride, with all of these we must still accept our self, and love our self. This doesn’t mean we can gleefully continue on our way to destruction. To accept ourselves, as unpleasant as we are; to accept Christ’s love for us and realize that He wants us to love Him back, truly love Him; these are what make the Christian’s relationship with his/her God the Divine Bond.

So before you think that St. Therese is presuming on God’s Goodness, realize that God’s love is there for all of us. He loves us to the extent we are capable of receiving it. To accept His gift of love presumes not on His goodness, but on our own willingness to love Him back. “Oh, that is easy”, you say. Tell me how easy it is, when you see your loved one dying in front of you. Tell me how easy it is, when your child is diagnosed with a disease that is life threatening. Isn’t the first thing that is uttered is, “Why God?” St. Therese didn’t utter these words. No, she thanked Him for her life and everything in it: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

She never questioned Him. She trusted Him. She knew that in Him was the hope of everlasting life. This was her quest. But strangely, not for herself did she want eternal life, but so that she could give her love to her God, forever. This is what makes her a great saint. Oh, that all of us could love our God that fiercely, that completely. Strive for it. Adapt your life to accomplish that. Recognize your failings. Accept His love, with all its implications.

 

The 5 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming:

1) Here And Now
2) Hope And Trust
3) One Of You Will Betray Me
4) Thou Art Peter- Upon This Rock
5) The Kernel of Christianity

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