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Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus – Her desire to love God

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus – Her desire to love God

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Published by nat
There is nothing new about the Little Way of Saint Thérèse; it is the way of the saints, it is the way of Our Lady, it is the way of the Gospels.
There is nothing new about the Little Way of Saint Thérèse; it is the way of the saints, it is the way of Our Lady, it is the way of the Gospels.

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Published by: nat on Aug 09, 2013
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05/14/2014

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My Catholic Faith 
OnSaint Thérèseof the Child JesusTHE DESIRE TO LOVE
nat
 
THE DESIRE TO LOVE
“Let us therefore love God, because God bath first loved us.”
(
 John iv, 29.)
The inevitable effect of faith in the Compassionate Love of God is to arouse within us, if we are sincere, the desire to love God in return. We will therefore consider the desire tolove, which, after her faith in love, is the essential element in Thérèse’s spirituality anddoctrine.When a soul sincerely believes itself loved, infinitely, compassionately loved by God, inspite of nay, because of, its very wretchedness; when it believes this with deep, unfalteringfaith and feels, too, its powerlessness to return that love, what will its response be but adesire to surrender its wretchedness to that Love, that He may do in it His work of compassion and love? It is love beginning to awaken in the human soul, which is createdfor love, and it awakens in the form of desire, the desire to love, though the soul isconscious of being unable to do so. Is it not, in fact, the whole purpose of the Gospel toawaken just this desire in fallen man?We recall Our Lord’s words to the Samaritan woman: “If thou didst know the gift of God… thou wouldst have asked it of Him.” Compassionate Love, made man, here excites thatsinful soul to ask for Love; our Divine Saviour seeks to awaken in her the desire to love.And He succeeds: “Lord, give me this water.”‘ It sums up the whole Gospel. The miracle of the Gospel is in having aroused, and so simply, the confidence to love, the desire to love, in poor fallen man. The Gospel life consists in the realization of the words of Saint Augustine :“ Deus sitit sitiri,” “God thirsts to be thirsted for.”When Thérèse read this conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman, she did notmiss its meaning. “God who says: If I should be hungry, I would not tell thee’ (Psalm 49,12), does not hesitate to beg the Samaritan woman for a little water. He was thirsty. Butwhen He said: ‘Give me to drink,’ it was then His poor creature’s love He sought; He wasathirst for love.” And the little Saint reveals her inmost soul when she says: “The cry of thedying Jesus ‘I thirst’ goes on echoing in the depths of my heart, kindling within it new firesof zeal. I would give my Beloved to drink. ...”The part that this desire to love plays in the understanding of the spiritual life of St.Thérèse can be reduced, I think, to two very simple propositions.1. This desire is the beginning of the spiritual life, that is to say, of the way of  perfection.2. It is the term of the spiritual life, of sanctity.
 
IThere are two conceptions, two schools of the spiritual life. The one puts love at the end,and the other at the very beginning. Thérèse is definitely of the second school, so definitelythat, at first, holders of the opposite opinion were scandalized. Love, for her, is the lever, theinitial force, which lifts up the soul and strengthens it in the path of self-denial. It is in thissense that it can be said that she was “an ascetic because a mystic”; her asceticism is fromthe very first of a mystical character In principle, all spiritual writers and every school of thought put the “desire of perfection,”the desire to live wholly for God, at the beginning of the spiritual life, but many of themhesitate to call this desire of perfection by its right name. They hesitate to call it love. We areleft with the impression that love is possible only at the end, as a kind of reward for servicesrendered. Meanwhile the soul is made to walk by hard and painful ways; progress is slowand often sorrowful, because it is so dry and arid, and the soul easily falls intodiscouragement.It is quite otherwise with Thérèse. She enlarges the soul from the very first by confidenceand the desire to love; she inspires the soul with the courage to love at once, and in this wayshe lifts the soul up, fills it with joy and courage, and makes it valiant and strong, in the verymidst of its misery. She reveals her thoughts clearly in a letter to her cousin, Maria Guerin’:“You want me to tell you a means to become perfect. I know only one, Love.” There is nodoubt what she thought; Love is the means, the only means. We are no bolder than she is.She tells us herself how, on her journey to perfection, she puts this unique means into practice: “My one desire is to please Jesus.” But this desire to please God is the desire tolove, and that, I think, is the whole of Thérèse’s secret, the humble and confident desire tolove God. Humble, that is, in full view of our wretchedness; confident, counting on God, because He is Compassionate Love, to implant into our wretchedness the love which is notthere.Here, more clearly than ever, we see how necessary is faith in Compassionate Love. Wesee its necessity and, at the same time, its supreme efficacy, because it makes our verywretchedness a motive for believing ourself capable of love, and it enlarges the soul, castdown by the feeling of her wretchedness, by turning it towards this God of such unboundedgoodness and compassion. To believe in the love of God and to look to God Himself for thegift of love—that is the great glory which our God is eager for us to give Him.And once again, this is the Gospel. There Love calls to love those who have no love, theProdigal Son, the woman taken in adultery, the woman of Samaria, Mary Magdalen. Everyword of the Holy Gospel, if we read aright, is but Love calling for love, for the love of thewretched, the needy, the helpless, of fallen creatures like ourselves, calling them and at thesame time giving them the confident joy of once again being able to love; the joy of surrendering their wretchedness to Compassionate Love so that He may cause love to gushforth; granting them the healing and strengthening desire to love, while they are yetconscious of their wretchedness. The “Come to me, all you that labour, and are burdened,and I will refresh you” has no other meaning.

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