Monday, January 08, 2007

Full to the brim...

Full to the Brim…

Towards the end of Therese’s life, when her suffering was at its worst, it was an expression that she used… “The cup is full to the brim.” The modern term that might be applied is to be at the end of one’s rope.

When Therese was young, as we all know, she went to Italy to speak to the pope himself to get permission to enter Carmel at the age of fifteen. The impression is sometimes that she never had any doubts. Yet, long before she knew here life was ending, she did have doubts. She had what St. John of the Cross called a “dark night of the soul.” For myself, there have been times in my life when I thought I heard the voice of God, calling me to His service. There have also been times when I was certain that God “had the wrong woman for the job.” It is easy for us to reach this point in our own lives; and not necessarily for religious reasons.

What do you do when you feel you have had enough?

I don’t mean when you are just “fed up” with things and go home and take a long hot bath, have a beer, watch a movie – whatever you do to “get away from it all.” I mean when you have gone way past that, for whatever reason, to the absolute and proverbial “it” the ultimate end. I mean something to make you feel, as Woody Allen once said, that his only regret in life was not having been born someone else.

What do you do?

I can tell you what Therese did and said.

What she did, was continue to have faith, even in her darkest moments. She realized that times like this are when she needed her faith the most. Marie of the Trinity tells us of some of these moments in Therese’s life:

“Three days before she died, I saw her in such pain that I was heartbroken. When I drew near to her bed, she tried to smile, and, in a strangled sort of voice, she said: ‘If I didn’t have faith, I could never bear such suffering.’”

Earlier in her life, Therese gave us these words as a solution:

“The more our heart is in Heaven, the less we feel pinpricks…for then our life is a martyrdom, and one day Jesus will give us the palm. To suffer and be despised…what bitterness but what glory.”

Therese new what it was like to be despised. In fact, even when it was known that she was dieing, even when she had reached the point where she was coughing up blood, there were still some sister in the convent that didn’t believe she was even sick. Still she had faith. What allowed her to have faith is one of the cornerstones of the Little Way – absolute trust. Therese had originally intended for the Little Way to be known as the Little Way of Trust. Why trust? Simple. In the words of Therese herself:

“It is trust and only trust that must lead us to Love.”

St. Paul put it this way:

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love”
- 1 Corinthians 13:13
God bless you all,

Sister Julie

No comments: