A Carmelite is called to be part of a praying community of women, living at the heart of the Church and the world, carrying before God the needs and the hopes of every person.
We will spend this week under the patronage of St Therese of the Child Jesus, probably the best-known and best-loved of the Carmelite saints. Her Little Way of Spiritual Childhood is an inspiration and encouragement to many. Less well-known, perhaps, is her ardent desire that her hidden life in Carmel should be fruitful for others.
There is one ONLY THING to do here below: to love Jesus, to win souls for Him so that He may be loved. Let us seize with jealous care every least opportunity of self sacrifice. Let us refuse Him nothing – He does so want our love! (VI letter to her sister Celine)
Read and Reflect
Meditating on the mystical Body of Holy Church, I could not recognise myself among any of its members as described by St. Paul, or was it not rather that I wished to recognise myself in all? Charity provided me with the key to my vocation. I understood that since the Church is a body composed of different members, the noblest and most important of all the organs would not be wanting. I knew that the Church has a heart, that this heart burns with love, and that it is love alone which gives life to its members. I knew that if this love were extinguished, the Apostles would no longer preach the Gospel, and the Martyrs would refuse to shed their blood. I understood that love embraces all vocations, that it is all things, and that it reaches out through all the ages, and to the uttermost limits of the earth, because it is eternal.
Then, beside myself with joy, I cried out: “O Jesus, my Love, at last I have found my vocation. My vocation is love! Yes, I have found my place in the bosom of the Church, and this place, O my God, Thou hast Thyself given to me: in the heart of the Church, my Mother, I will be LOVE! . . . Thus I shall be all things: thus will my dream be realised. . . . (Story of a Soul. chapter 11)
A little of this pure love is more precious to God and the soul and more beneficial to the Church, even though it seems one is doing nothing, than all other works put together. (St John of the Cross. Spiritual Canticle 29:2)
If contemplative souls are lacking, if their life weakens or wearies, a lessening of the energies of the whole Mystical Body will automatically take place. (Pope Paul VI)
Does anything in the above texts especially resonate with you or offer an answer to your own desires?
What is your present level of involvement in the Church?
Would you willing to make the sacrifices involved in following God’s further call?
What do you think you would appreciate about living in a small (10-20) community of women, of different ages and backgrounds, dedicated to a life of prayer?
Is there anything you think might be difficult for you in such a situation?
1 Cor 12: 27-31 & 13: 1-13)
Obtain and read the autobiography of St Therese, The Story of a Soul or any of the many excellent books about St Therese
O my God, Most Blessed Trinity, I desire to love Thee and to make Thee loved, to labor for the glory of holy Church by saving souls still on earth and by delivering those who suffer in Purgatory. I desire to accomplish Thy Will perfectly, and to attain to the degree of glory which Thou hast prepared for me in Thy Kingdom; in one word, I desire to be a saint, but I know that I am powerless, and I implore Thee, O my God, to be Thyself my sanctity.
Since Thou hast so loved me as to give me Thine only Son to be my Saviour and my Spouse, the infinite treasures of His merits are mine; to Thee I offer them with joy, beseeching Thee to see me only as in the Face of Jesus and in His Heart burning with Love.
…My God, I know it, the more Thou willest to give, the more dost Thou make us desire. Immense are the desires that I feel within my heart, and it is with confidence that I call upon Thee to come and take possession of my soul.
After exile on earth I hope to enjoy the possession of Thee in our eternal Fatherland, but I have no wish to amass merits for Heaven; I will work for Thy Love alone, my sole aim being to give Thee pleasure, to console Thy Sacred Heart, and to save souls who will love Thee forever. (from St Therese’s Act of Oblation to Merciful Love)