Therese of Lisieux (1873 – 1897), “The Little Flower of Jesus,” entered a Carmelite convent at the age of fifteen. Pope John Paul II declared her a Doctor of the Church in 1997. Therese is one of the four saints I count on as friends when I pray. My petition to God was granted because of her intercession. The following is from her book, Poetry.
Living on Love is not setting up one’s tent
At the top of Tabor.
It’s climbing Calvary with Jesus,
It’s looking at the Cross as a treasure!…
In Heaven I am to live on joy.
Then trials would have fled forever.
But in exile, in suffering I want
To live on Love.
“Living on Love, what strange folly!”
The world says to me, “Ah! stop your singing,
Don’t waste your perfumes, your life.
Learn to use them well…”
Loving you, Jesus, is such a fruitful loss!…
All my perfumes are yours forever.
I want to sing on leaving this world:
“I’m dying of Love!”
Dying of Love is what I hope for,
When I shall see my bonds broken,
My God will be my Great Reward.
I don’t desire to possess other goods.
I want to be on fire with his Love.
I want to see Him, to unite myself to Him forever.
That is my Heaven… that is my destiny:
Living on Love!
The author of the following essay is Wendy Cichanski Caduff. She is a pastoral candidate and a campus minister at Christ Church Newman Center in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
[quote]A stroll through a cemetery always reminds me how fleeting this life is. I read the names of those who have gone before me that have been etched in stone and then do the math to figure out how long they lived. I marvel at some of the markers going back to the 1800s, feel sadness at the short lives of others, and quietly hope they all knew some measure of happiness. I wonder: What was their life like? What did they live for?
[quote]In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks us what we could give in exchange for our lives. There are some words of warning: we must take care not to trade our lives for the things of this world or live our lives being ashamed of Christ. But there are also words of advice here, with Jesus teaching us clearly that discipleship involves denying of the self, taking up the cross, and following him.
[quote]With Lent looming just ahead, we will begin our annual journey toward the cross. Honestly, I’m not always sure what it means for me to take up my cross. I think the expression can be misused whenever something difficult comes into our life. But I am learning more about the process of denying the self. It seems that the whole of the spiritual journey involves a giving away of the self. Day by day, in almost every situation, we have the opportunity to put others before ourselves. My selfish self resists that. But in the slow process of maturing and growing toward wholeness, I am learning to give my life away. How are you giving away yours?
The following is an excerpt from Monika Hellwig’s The Eucharist and the Hunger of the World. Monika Hellwig (1929-2005) was a professor at Georgetown University for many years and the mother of three adopted children.
[quote]Good news is created by what we are and how we relate to others. It is communicated by our total lifestyle and our concerns. It is communicated by the real difference that we make in the situation. The words that may be spoken have very little to do with the communication of the good news. To say, “Cheer up, Jesus loves you,” is very different from listening to someone with interest who has not often before been taken seriously. To say “God will provide” is sheer nonsense when spoken by a well-fed person to those who are hungry and watch their children go hungry without being able to do anything about it.
To preach that the salvation of God has come into the world in the person of Jesus, the one and only thing that is necessary is that a community lives the new life of the Resurrection should touch the lives of the hungry of the world with authentic and generous compassion, drawing on the bread of life that is Jesus, to become themselves bread of life for the needy with their whole heart and their whole mind and their whole substance. Such a community need not even go to the ends of the earth, for in our times the ends of the earth come to us all the time in our newspapers, our mailboxes, our television screens….
To identify with the oppressed concretely in even one respect and follow through with effective action requires all the resources of a generous and selfless community because it leads into involvement with the whole highly resistant network of sin and selfishness. But where there is action of creative love, there the good news is preached that salvation has come into the world, and that there is an alternative to desperate self-assertion and self-defense at the expense of others — that there is possibility of human community.[/quote]
Father Richard M. Gula, SS, has been involved with ministerial formation and seminary education for many years, and is a popular lecturer and workshop presenter for pastoral ministers.
[quote]”Expect a miracle” read the bumper sticker on the car in front of me as I made my way through the tollbooth at the Golden Gate Bridge. I wondered, “Would the owner of that car even recognize a miracle if it fell on his lap?” I reached out with my toll, ready for the toll-taker to take it. “Go on through,” she said, “the driver in front of you paid your fare.” Miracles happen to those who have eyes to see.
In today’s Gospel the disciples are still coming to faith. They cannot see the Giver of life in and through the five loaves that fed five thousand or the seven that fed four thousand. For them, bread is bread, nothing more. In his exasperation Jesus says, in effect, “Cannot bread be more than it seems? You have eyes. Can’t you look into the moments of grace and see the hand of God?”
The greatest obstacle to faith is a flat imagination., believing that what you see is what you get and nothing more. Seeing in one dimension is not seeing in the eyes of faith. God’s activity is not one more instance alongside others. God’s action is in the depths of whatever fills our day. Every moment, if given a chance, can speak to us of God. We live in an enchanted world where grace is everywhere.
When we see every event of our lives against the divine horizon of a world drenched with grace, we can expect a miracle.[/quote]