Accept the offering of my will, for I choose all that Thou willest.” (Saint Therese of the Child Jesus).
There is a prayer of blessing that priests can pray when they are blessing a vehicle or mode of transportation and the prayer ends with the words… “Whether they travel for business or for pleasure, let them travel with the companionship of Christ on their journey.”
I have been reflecting on this blessing over the last few weeks. For we are all of us mere wayfarers, we are all of us on a journey.
And we are so lucky, for we receive Grace on our journey. Grace is a gift freely given to us, but though it is free its application in our lives is not effortless. We need to work with that Grace – we need to sweat with it. Because having Grace is like being born with an athletic physique – it means nothing if we never exercise. And in fact, if we do not exercise, all of our natural athletic good looks will disappear under our terrible physical routines.
The other day while we were firmly locked down during the school holidays, my youngest child – a sweet little seven (nearly eight) year-old girl – wrote a note for her father and me, and left it on my work desk, where I had been running classes online during the lockdown.
In her note, she wrote, “I love you with all my life, even though sometimes it might not look like that.”
It was a genuinely sweet and innocent little letter to us, and one that I have packed away safely to look at when the teenage years hit us and perhaps we really cannot tell that our child still loves us.
And I have been reflecting on this note ever since – or perhaps I have been reflecting on a part of the note that seemed to strike me most directly when I read it, “…even though sometimes it might not look like that…”.
Saint Therese of the Child Jesus wrote in her beautiful autobiography “A Story of a Soul” along a recurring theme. In the text the reader is constantly reminded of the Saint’s ambition to make herself a small child of God. She continually sought to make herself at ease as a child is at ease asleep on their parents’ breast. Saint Therese said, “It is wrong to pass one’s time in fretting, instead of sleeping on the Heart of Jesus.”
For there are many times in life when we are called to struggle. And as nobody knows the inner workings of another’s heart, and nobody could ever truly understand another’s grief, we could never know what terrible suffering another is enduring – even if their life seems so beautifully wonderful from the outside.
Saint Faustina in her Diary 511 wrote, “When my intentions are not recognised, but rather condemned, I am not too much surprised, for I know that it is only God who scrutinises my heart. Truth will not die; the wounded heart will regain peace in due time, and my spirit is strengthened through adversities.”
Saint Faustina could understand the importance of this inner truth – the confidence that God lived inside her. I causes me to reflect on its purpose inside me too…
Saint Therese of the Child Jesus wrote, “I understand and I know from experience that: 'The kingdom of God is within you.' Jesus has no need of books or teachers to instruct souls; He teaches without the noise of words. Never have I heard Him speak, but I feel that He is within me at each moment; He is guiding and inspiring me with what I must say and do.”
And there is such power in having such a guide on our journey. How I pray for those who try to walk through this life alone – without God beside them…
For, I think of how wrong this world has become… Right is called wrong and wrong called right. Think about it. There are parades to celebrate PRIDE – which is a vice. After the fall of humanity, Adam and Eve looked for leaves and skins to cover their nakedness – today eons later, we throw off those coverings, revealing in our nudity and selling our sexiness.
Saint Maria Goretti, was a thirteen year old girl, who was stabbed to death by her attacker in 1902, after refusing his sexual advances on her, both berated and then forgave him for his attack, prior to her death. Saint Maria’s attacker, Alessandro Serenelli, attended her beatification. In his open letter to the world – prior to his death at almost 80 years old – Alessandro Serenelli, who had converted and become a priest following his lengthy prison sentence, wrote of Saint Maria as his “light” and “protectress”. He attributed the miracle of his conversion to the prayers of that saint.
And in considering the work of Grace within my life here on earth, I have the courage to pray using the words of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, “My God, I choose everything, I will not be a Saint by halves, I am not afraid of suffering for Thee, I only fear one thing, and that is to do my own will. Accept the offering of my will, for I choose all that Thou willest.”
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.