Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Note on Therese, with a word from Benedict Groeschel

I have been sharing passages at this blog from Therese's memoirs, which I think is generally a good thing, especially for those who are new to her. I am struck by the thought, however, that when one attempts any sort of introduction to a topic, such as my introducing, or presenting, Therese of Lisieux here by means of these selected excerpts, there is an inherent danger, namely that the subject matter will be cheated, or unjustly treated, by an incomplete picture. I don't mean that an introduction should be exhaustive; that would be oxymoronic. When giving a snapshot, the nagging question is whether you took just the right shot, or with the right light, etc.

So let me urge the reader right now to be aware that with Therese, her life, and her reflections that often seem so childishly simple, we have a very rich spiritual treasure, which deserves repeated meditation. I will have more to say of her down the road, especially of the suffering she underwent in the last year and a half of her life. Let me, this afternoon, share with you a wise word from Father Benedict Groeschel. This is from his introduction to Guy Gaucher's book, The Passion of Therese of Lisieux.

There are so many aspects to the message of Therese of Lisieux. Perhaps each one who gets to know her writings learns something a little different, something very personally suited to one's own needs. To me, Therese is a most powerful witness to the relevance and necessity of personal devotion for the Christian of our age. We need to hear an intelligent, cultured, informed person say to Christ, "I love you." We are so preoccupied with historical reconstructions, with the scholar's view of Jesus of Nazareth, that we no longer speak in deep personal ways to our Savior, who is present in our lives. This personal devotion made Therese willing to endure trials, to be faithful and generous, to be globally concerned about the human race from her little Carmel. Her last words, "My God, I love you," are exactly the profound expression of devotion that our psychologically jaded and selfist world needs to hear.

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