Friday, March 20, 2015

How St. Thérèse of Lisieux can bring peace to your soul

From the desk of John Barger,
Publisher Emeritus

"Do you reject Satan?"

"I do," I answered.
But trembled at the
mention of that Name.

"And all His works?"

"I do," I said again,
looking the bishop in the eye
and praying fervently that I would.

"And all His
empty promises?"

"I do!"
(But my soul cried out,
No! I don't! I'll never be
able to reject them!)

It was the fall of 1974.
I was the only grownup in a pew
filled with teenaged Confirmation
candidates reciting their nervous "I do's."

As a recent convert, ex-druggie,
long-time drunk, and former soldier,
I was acquainted with the night. Memories
of past sins danced in my mind.

Nonetheless, that evening
— and with all my strength —
I chose goodness.

*     *     *

Confirmation didn't banish temptation,
didn't drive out despair. Weeks later,
troubled by my continued sinfulness and
seeking distraction, I happened on the Confirmation
gift my sponsor had given me . . .

. . . Fr. Jean D'Elbée's beloved book
on the spirituality of St. Thérèse of Lisieux,
who spent most of her life in a cloistered convent.

What could such
an innocent teach me?

My eyes fell on this passage:

"I ask that from now on, you never let your past sins be an obstacle between you and Jesus. It's a ruse of the devil to keep putting our sins before our eyes in order to make them like a screen between the Savior and us."

A ruse of the devil?

"Think of your past sins to persuade yourself of your weakness; think of them to confirm your resolution not to fall again — that's necessary — but think of them mainly to bless Jesus for having pardoned you, for having purified you, for having cast all your sins to the bottom of the sea."

"Do not go looking for them at the bottom of the sea! He has wiped them out; He has forgotten them."

But I haven't forgotten them
— and I continue to fall.

"I'm not saying that you believe too much in your own wretchedness. I'm telling you that you don't believe enough in merciful love."

God's greatest pleasure is to pardon us. The good Lord is more eager to pardon a repentant sinner than a mother to rescue her child from the fire."


This makes sense of Our Lord's
words to a holy soul:

"Not a single soul
falls into Hell that has not
torn itself out of my arms."


No wonder St. Thérèse was
able to say, just before her death:

"Even if I had committed all possible crimes, I would still have the same confidence; I would feel that this multitude of offenses would be like a drop of water thrown into the flaming furnace of God's love."

"This classic beautifully reveals God's
deep love for each of us and awakens
in us a burning love for him. If you want
to grow in love of God, this book is a must."
Fr. Benedict Groeschel

*   *   *  

Are you troubled by your sins?
Afraid you don't love enough?

"In the same way that Jesus said to St. Augustine, 'You would not seek me if you had not already found me,' He will say to you, 'You would not have this great desire to love me if you did not love me already.' He cannot fail to fulfill, beyond even our greatest hopes, a desire that He himself has inspired."

In just a few hours, this singular book,
aptly entitled I Believe in Love, showed me
I had to quit relying on my own efforts,
and even had to cease judging myself.

Certainly, as I had promised that day
so long ago, I still had to reject Satan,
all his works, and all his empty promises.

But that was only the beginning.

From Fr. D'Elbée and St. Thérèse I
learned I must embrace my own
littleness, my poverty, my nakedness,
and powerlessness, and seek but a single
treasure: abandonment to God's mercy.

In three decades now as a Catholic
convert, that's the only program for the
interior life I've found to be within my reach.

Today, it's within your reach, too.

John Barger
Publisher Emeritus, Sophia Institute Press

I Believe in Love:
A Personal Retreat Based on
the Teachings of St. Thérèse of Lisieux
by Fr. Jean C.J. D'Elbée
$18.95 — 304 pages

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I Believe in Love
Study Guide

This study guide will help you explore the teachers of St. Therese of Lisieux more deeply while inspiring you to integrate them into your daily life.

Although this guide is published primarily for book clubs and small group discussions, individuals will find it to be an important resource for deepening your spiritual life.

By using this guide and reading I Believe in Love, you will embark on the way to the Father and learn how to focus on Him throughout each day, rest in him amid your troubles, and live joyful with Him at every moment.
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