Our OCDS community had a special celebration for St. Therese on her feast day, Oct. 1st. We had a guest do a presentation on St. Therese. This podcast is that presentation given at St. Peter’s Church in Dayton, OH. Many people have a stereotypical idea that St. Therese, the Little Flower, had it easy growing up and then living in the Carmelite Convent. This presentation clearly lays out many ways that St. Therese suffering and how she dealt with suffering. One ends feeling hopeful that our own suffering offered to God is worthwhile and will aid in saving souls.
This conversation is with Michael Vanderburgh, the Executive Director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Dayton, Ohio. This may immediately raise the question as to what the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has to do with Carmelite Spirituality. Well, honestly, as the Scripture verse below indicates, we are all called to practice charity to some degree. However, in addition, it turns out that St. Therese of Lisieux's Father, Louis Martin, was a very active member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. No doubt, young Therese was exposed, at a young age, to her father's commitment to the poor. This likely contributed to her own early desire to become a missionary and travel to foreign lands to both save souls and serve the poor. Again, this affinity to the poor is something we are all called to, whether members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Carmelites or any baptized Christian.
(Matthew 25:35-40) For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you took care of Me; I was in prison and you visited Me. “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You? “And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’
It is with this thought in mind that we chose to speak with Michael about the great work being done by one of the many St. Vincent de Paul Society districts. We also wanted to hear Michael's own vision for the building on the success of the spiritual charism that is so central to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and how it is, in fact, the central theme for the foundation of the Society.
In this conversation you will hear about the more traditional work of the Society, including food pantries and clothing and housing goods that are distributed and sold, at significantly reduced prices, in the societies retail stores. But you will also hear about the significant number of people who are provided both short- and long-term shelter and housing in the City in Dayton. Finally, Mark and Michael discuss the Society's recent and significant and on-going support to survivors of the tornados that devastated the Dayton area over Memorial Day weekend in 2019. Finally, and most importantly, Michael shares his vision for the spiritual growth of the Society in Dayton, which will be built on the foundation of a new chapel within the Administrative Building in Dayton, and the beginning of Eucharistic Adoration. This is a very good program if you are looking for an opportunity to both better understand, and perhaps participate in one of the most prominent charitable ministries in the history of the Church.
St. Therese’s famous prayer, “The Act of Oblation to Merciful Love” is rich with spiritual concepts for us to ponder, especially the recognition of our poverty and weakness, yet pulsating desire to console Jesus in every way. Knowing souls were rejecting His love, St. Therese offers herself as a victim of his merciful love so that the love others souls rejected would come to her. She vehemently desires to be a saint but is not the great eagle that they are…so she implores God Himself to be her sanctity!! She displays her great confidence in God’s transforming fire of love. How may we imitate her? How may we make her prayer our own? This program carefully considers the duties of a victim of love, the obstacles to be overcome, the soul’s attitude toward suffering, and in what a “death of love” involves. Let us remember that St. Therese prayed for a “legion of little victims worthy of His love” to be raised up. Are you willing to be one?
If you read St. Therese's Act of Oblation to Merciful Love, you will no doubt discover some terminology that might sound a little harsh to the modern ear. Terms like victim, holocaust, and martyr are not words that are cast about lightheartedly these days. But in order to fully appreciate St. Therese's use of these terms in her personal prayer to Jesus Christ, we must also understand what St. Therese is sacrificing or, to use a more familiar term, consecrating herself to. Therese understands that what God wishes to do in her soul, and indeed in each of our souls, is to both ignite the internal fire of love that will consume everything that is inconsistent with His Love, while, at the same time, God wishes to consume the very soul that is burning with this interior love for Him. This is not possible, Therese well knows, unless she make the ultimate sacrifice of herself to God, to His merciful love. In this program, Mark goes through each of these terms, and others, and he describes the context in which St. Therese is using them. He also explains how each of these terms is a perfectly appropriate description of the very action of the Holy Spirit within the soul. He then goes on to explain both some of the cautions related to a soul's adoption of the mindset of oblation to God, and he also describes the remarkable benefits that can accrue from a soul making and living such a sacrifice. Finally, Mark goes on to explain the remarkable benefit such a committed soul can have on the Church as a whole. This is a very valuable presentation for anyone who desire to gain a deeper understanding of just what the Lord is inviting each of us to, what is required of us to respond, and what eternal benefits are available for ourselves and the Church, if we only respond with great fidelity.
If you are looking for a deeper understanding of the nature of the Lord's call to all baptized souls, and you want to discover the depth of commitment and devotion to which a soul can be carried, then you will want to listen to this series. Mark and Frances present here a Catechism on St. Therese of Lisieux's Act of Oblation to Merciful Love. It is the Saint's formal written expression and promise of abandonment to Jesus Christ. The conversation begins by laying the groundwork for the benefits St. Therese received by drafting and continually praying this Act of Oblation. It then presents the significant events, over the course of about five years, that led up to Therese's decision to put into words what she was experiencing in her heart. The Act itself is filled with the language and sentiments that St. Therese wanted to communicate in what is essentially her Love Letter to the Lord. Having read the entire Act, Mark and Frances then begin to analyze some of the more challenging terms for the modern ear. They explore and explain phrases like victim, oblation, holocaust and even martyrdom. These are striking terms to be found in a love letter, but what soon becomes clear, as one reads and prays St. Therese's document, is that her Act is less an offering and more an acceptance of what she understands the Lord wishes to offer her, which is nothing other than His complete self. It is her acceptance of the Lord's offer of merciful love that allows the Lord to complete His work in this well-known Saint. St. Therese's Act is also an invitation to each one of us, not to simply adopt her words, but rather, and more importantly, to open ourselves to the transforming work of sanctification that the Lord wishes to complete in all of us. If you want to truly understand the language of love, then this is a wonderful series for you.
St. Therese of Lisieux is a Giant Soul among the Saints being one of the Doctors of the Church. On this her birthday (Jan 2), Guest Marika Zimmerman and Host Frances Harry talk about her famous Christmas Conversion. We go into a great deal of in-depth discussion about this moment. What was the conversion all about? When did it occur? How did St. Therese describe this event about the “magic shoes” at Christmas? In what way can we peer into her mindset at this pivotal time? What were some of the results of the graces given? What are some of the lessons learned? How was the one-hour old Jesus magnified in the rest of her life? How may we imitate her trust and abandonment to the Lord?
“The Story of a Soul” by St. Therese of Lisieux, Translated by John Clarke, OCD and Study Edition Prepared by Marc Foley, OCD; ICS Publications.
“Therese, the Little Child of God’s Mercy: Her Spiritual Itinerary in the Light of Her Autobiographical Manuscripts” by Angel de les Gavarres; ICS Publications.
“Everything is Grace: the Life and Way of Therese of Lisieux” by Joseph F. Schmidt, FSC; The Word Among Us Press.
As we approach All Saints Day and All Souls Day, our thoughts turn to the topic of “Death & Dying.” Many people try to avoid thinking about that topic, as it brings on feelings of anxiety…or gloom…or fear. The fact of the matter is, we gain much wisdom by pondering death during our life. As the old saying goes: “The art of living well is in knowing how to die well.” What is death? How does one prepare for death? How do we confront our fear of death? St. Therese of Lisieux was confronted with death early in her life, from hearing about and seeing death all around her and especially in the death of her own mother when she was only 4 ½ years old. These occasions, rather than causing her to flee from the subject, enticed her throughout her life to ponder them deeply and seek the treasures of wisdom hidden therein. Yes, St. Therese had her own fears to confront. She confronted the meaning of death. She grasped the seed of faith in her belief in Heaven, beyond even her feelings. God allowed her to be purified especially in the last 18 months of her life. Her faith and embrace of God’s will and plan for her life surged forward in an ever- deeper surrender and abandonment to God. St. Therese shares her wisdom with us on this all-important topic which will help us today to prepare for that final day of this exile.
Scripture: 1 Thes. 5:2; 1 Cor 2:9; Ps. 23:4;
Catechism of the Catholic Church: #1016
“The Most Insightful St. Therese of Lisieux Quotes on Death” by Catherine Birri, http://www.coraevans.com/blog/article/the-most-insightful-st.-therese-of-lisieux-quotes-on-death
Books:“Story of a Soul: the Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux,” Study Edition, Trans. by John Clarke, OCD; Prepared by Marc Foley, OCD; ICS Publications.
“Living on Love!...” and “What I’ll Soon See for the First Time!...” found in “The Poetry of St. Therese of Lisieux,” Trans. by Donald Kenney, OCD; ICS Publications.
“The Letters of St. Therese of Lisieux and Those Who Knew Her: General Correspondence, Vol. 2,” Trans. from the critical edition by John Clarke, OCD; ICS Publications.
“St. Therese of Lisieux: Her Last Conversations,” Trans. from the critical edition by John Clarke, OCD; ICS Publications.
In this program, Mark and Frances will begin a series on the “Last Conversations” of St Therese of Lisieux. This is a collection of the statements and brief writings from her last months on earth. These reflections are very rich in spiritual depth and insight. St Therese seemed to want to impart the most important elements of her understanding of how God works with us, and how each and every soul might respond in order to pursue a genuine life of holiness. It is always so important to read the writings of the Saints, but perhaps never as important as reading and reflecting on what they have to share in the months and days before they are raised to Glory.
This program covers St Therese’s profound teaching on Purgatory. Beginning with a brief explanation of the Church’s teaching on Purgatory, in this program we discuss how St Therese taught that we do not necessarily need to go to Purgatory. She argues there is a way to avoid it, and that is simply to have trust in our loving Father. Further, she argues, the real path is to simply become love throughout our life. Then, she says, there is nothing that the flames of purgatory, which are nothing other than the flame of God’s Love, can do to us. For we will have become that very flame of love.
This program explores the details of the earlthly life of St Therese. Through Mark and Frances’ discussion with someone who has actully visited Lisieux and the childhood home of Therese and the convent where she lived the last stages of her young life, this conversation explores the real person of Therese. It discusses how the experiences of her life formed and shaped her into the future Saint who still teaches us so much today.