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Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Experience of God's Love Expressed in Communion and Service

"St. Therese Doing the Dishes," by Brother Mickey McGrath, OSFS for Trinity Stores. Purchases through this link support the Web site.Saint Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Experience of God's Love Expressed in Communion and Service

18. Experience is the key in a technical and scientific world. Everything must be experienced, seen in some way. Christian spirituality is no exception to this trend. Experience and testimony are fundamental in the Christian life, being particularly important today when we see a reaction against an exaggerated intellectualism in matters of faith and religion. Despite the danger of subjectivity and a certain spiritual infantilism, this search for experiences cannot be rejected out of hand. Spiritual experiences are a source of knowledge and of a deeper revelation of God.

Thérèse of Lisieux is a teacher of an authentic experience of God that contains within itself a commitment to following Jesus. She teaches us about the experience of contact with the Word of God, the meaning of the community that Christ communicates to us and the necessity of giving a real response guided by love.

19. Spirituality in the church today tends to stress the communion of all in Christ and in the Spirit. We need to place all the gifts we have at the service of the community of believers. The main lines of the experience and doctrine of St. Thérèse can be clearly seen in this dimension of today's spirituality of evangelization. She lived for the Church, the Body of Christ. She desired to live all possible vocations in the Church so that she could bear witness to the Gospel and proclaim it to the most distant places on earth until, while meditating on chapters 12 and 13 of the first letter to the Corinthians, she discovered her vocation and mission in the church: "Jesus, my Love …my vocation, at last I have found it. …My vocation is love! Yes, I have found my place in the Church and it is You, O my God, who have given me this place; in the heart of the Church, my Mother, I shall be Love. Thus I shall be everything, and thus my dream will be realized."12

20. Thérèse strongly centered her life on God as the only absolute. She conversed with him in prayer that took into account the needs of her brothers and sisters. Inspired by this encounter, she devoted herself to others and lived her vocation for the salvation of the world. In Manuscript C, Therese gives a precious direction for an authentic spirituality committed to the new evangelization:

    Just as a torrent, throwing itself with impetuosity into the ocean, drags after it everything it encounters in its passage, in the same way, O Jesus, the soul who plunges into the shoreless ocean of Your Love, draws with her all the treasures she possesses. Lord, You know it, I have no other treasures than the souls it has pleased You to unite to mine.13

Thérèse was convinced that the authenticity of our love for God is demonstrated in the quality of our love for others. This conviction has truly influenced the spirituality of our century, particularly in the area of commitment to evangelization. Her experience and doctrine have taught Christians that the dimension of fraternal love opens us to ever new and wider horizons, like the concentric ripples in a pond set in motion by the impact of the love of God. The first circle reaches those nearest us. The wider circles embrace the whole of humanity. Confidence and surrender to God, our Father-Mother, are in Therese of Lisieux the source of fraternal charity and the apostolate. They give love expression by the way they seek to share with all the good news of salvation.

Thérèse of Lisieux translated into life the Gospel's demand for service to those of least importance in the world's eyes and those who are poorest. In them we discover the face of Christ (cf. Mt 25:31-45). God reveals himself to them in a special way (cf. Mt 11:25-27). We must be ready to give our lives for others in the service of God, like Christ, who asked the Father to take away, if possible, the chalice of suffering, but who nevertheless clearly accepted his Father's will and desired to fulfill it. 

 - excerpted from Therese, A Doctor for the Third Millennium, the joint pastoral letter written by the Carmelite superiors general,  Fr. Camilo Maccise, O.C.D. and Fr. Joseph Chalmers, O. Carm., when Therese was named a doctor in 1997.  For the footnotes, please follow the link to the complete document. 

Posted on Saturday, September 23, 2017 at 09:49PM by Registered CommenterMaureen O'Riordan | CommentsPost a Comment

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