"I feel I shall be more useful to you in heaven than on earth…I really count on not being inactive in Heaven. My desire is to work still for the Church and for souls.” -St. Therese to Fr. Adolphe Roulland
St. Therese and the Priesthood Reflection, Part I
Today marks the anniversary of the death of St. Therese in 1897. Tomorrow we celebrate her Feast Day. Here at Our Lady of Solitude she is among our most beloved friends. Reflecting on the life and love of St. Therese leads one to reflect on her life and love for priests. In her honor, I want to offer a little reflection on what it means to be a true intercessor for our priests. Throughout the month of October, I hope to offer other reflections on St. Therese, as well as some thoughts on Our Holy Father Francis. But let's start here for now...
Love Expands the Heart
Expanding and contracting: 2 divergent terms. Love expands. Sin contracts. Love sets the world on fire. Sin snuffs out the wavering flame. Each day we face a spiritual battle between love and sin. In a unique way, the priest – an altar Christus – is at the forefront of this battle. In Persona Christi, he forgives sin and plants love anew in the soul. But such an uprooting and planting does not come without a cost.
As intercessors for our priests, it is our job to fight our sometimes small and insignificant battles faithfully – all for love. Our Blessed Lord takes the spoils of such battles and uses them as armor for his Priests.
Such selfless love expands our hearts. Such selfless love sees in every moment an opportunity to draw closer to Christ. St. Therese teaches us that “the most trivial work, the least action when inspired by love, is often of greater merit than the most outstanding achievement. It is not on our face value that God judges our deeds, even when they bear the stamp of apparent holiness, but solely on the measure of love that we put into them.”
She goes on to say: “I am glad to recognize that when we love God our heart expands, and we can give incomparably more tender love to those who are dear to us than when our love is selfish and barren… Love is fed by and develops from sacrifice. The more we deprive ourselves of natural satisfaction, the stronger and the more disinterested our love becomes."
There are several stories of Therese using seemingly insignificant daily occurrences. In the convent garden, she would walk with energy and vigor, saying that she was “walking for a missionary.” Such an attentive love pleases the Heart of Jesus. Such an Other-centered existence expands the heart and makes it capable to pure love. And as St. John of the Cross says: “The smallest movement of pure love is more useful to the Church than all other works put together.”
Let us resolve anew to offer sacrifices for priests – selflessly offering the big and small things in life for the fruitfulness of their priestly ministry and their personal sanctification. This will not only expand their hearts, but ours as well.
St. Therese, Pray for Us...