Friday, October 01, 2021

Therese of Lisieux

 Today is the feast of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Doctor of the Church. From her work, The Story of a Soul (Chapter IX):

Let me suppose that I had been born in a land of thick fogs, and had never seen the beauties of nature, or a single ray of sunshine, although I had heard of these wonders from my early youth, and knew that the country wherein I dwelt was not my real home -- there was another land, unto which I should always look forward. Now this is not a fable, invented by an inhabitant of the land of fogs, it is the solemn truth, for the King of that sunlit country dwelt for three and thirty years in the land of darkness, and alas! -- the darkness did not understand that He was the Light of the World.

 But, dear Lord, Thy child has understood Thou art the Light Divine; she asks Thy pardon for her unbelieving brethren, and is willing to eat the bread of sorrow as long as Thou mayest wish. For love of Thee she will sit at that table of bitterness where these poor sinners take their food, and she will not stir from it until Thou givest the sign. But may she not say in her own name, and the name of her guilty brethren: "O God, be merciful to us sinners!" Send us away justified. May all those on whom Faith does not shine see the light at last! O my God, if that table which they profane can be purified by one that loves Thee, I am willing to remain there alone to eat the bread of tears, until it shall please Thee to bring me to Thy Kingdom of Light: the only favour I ask is, that I may never give Thee cause for offence.

 From the time of my childhood I felt that one day I should be set free from this land of darkness. I believed it, not only because I had been told so by others, but my heart's most secret and deepest longings assured me that there was in store for me another and more beautiful country -- an abiding dwelling-place.

This is far from being a pleasant sentimentalism, though, since she is discussing her dark night of the soul; she goes on to note that wishing and hoping that there is light outside the darkness does not of itself bring any joy or certainty in the darkness. What it does is provide means for not being dragged down by that darkness. She sits at the table of bitterness willingly until the appropriate time, even though not with ease.