Tuesday, October 01, 2013

St. Therese and the Vocation to be Love

St. Therese strikes again.

I have to admit that in many ways I have more of a personal affinity for St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross as I relate to her intellectual nature more than to St. Therese's sweetness. However that does not stop God from using the Little Flower in my life in consistent ways all her own. Today is her feast day, and this morning I was once again blown away by her. I am not a huge novena-prayer, but I have now prayed several novenas for her intercession. Not once have I been left without a surprising answer.

This morning in the Office of Readings I read this famous passage from St. Therese:

Then, nearly ecstatic with the supreme joy of my soul, I proclaimed: O Jesus, my love, at last I have found my calling: my call is love. Certainly I have found my proper place in the Church, and you gave me that very place, my God. In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love, and thus I will be all things, as my desire finds its direction.

When I read those words "I will be love," something went kablam inside me. My soul staggered to be able to stand upright and catch its breath. That's it.

It is hard to explain how God communicates to a soul, but it isn't as hard to say that it happens.

At Mass as well I was overwhelmingly walloped with this realization -- I have found my call, too, where God has placed me: to be love. Oh, I'm not the same as St. Therese by any means, nor are my life, vocation, or circumstances like hers. But the call is the same. My path to realizing this has been my own, too. I've written a lot about the struggle of the last two years, the dark and hard path when it seemed that God had ripped my interior life into confusing shreds and made everything nonsensical. Now I see. It has all been for this: to teach me to be love. So I could know better what love is and what it isn't, what it costs, how it is designed to withstand and endure suffering, how it is to shape everything. How it is of God. Mostly this.

At Mass, I realized that I am giving what I have received. I have known great natural obstacles to love, but they are not too much for God. And I realize that not even I can destroy love in my own heart, as long as I'm willing to keep putting my hand back in the Lord's hand, even when I think perhaps He only wants to destroy something that I thought is good.

God is Love, and He simply desires our hearts to so belong to Him that He can be Himself and be at home in us.

As the Psalm response said today so simply, "God is with us."

I have struggled with doubt about this call because deep down I have thought I was only capable of that which is shameful. "Love," was for me as I was growing up always a dirty word, subconsciously. The word was not spoken in my home. I learned its meaning from TV and from music, so it was always connected to shame. So when God started His tutoring of me in recent years, He had some interesting obstacles to undo. But He does all things well. What can I say but may God be praised. Here I am, Lord. I am all Yours. Love through me, and I will love as you will.

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