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Archive for the ‘poetry’ Category

Lent is such a good time of God’s grace. St. Therese of Lisieux expresses this well in this stanza:

Living on Love is keeping within oneself

A great treasure in an earthen vase.

My Beloved, my weakness is extreme.

Ah, I’m far from being an angel from heaven!…

But if I fall with each passing hour,

You come to my aid, lifting me up.

At each moment you give me your grace:

I live on Love.

(Poem 17, p. 91 The Poetry of Saint Therese of Lisieux, trans. Fr. Donald Kinney, OCD, ICS Publications)

Isn’t this just what we are all doing?!?! Keep on living on love faithful readers!

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kneelingatthecross-jpg-w300h225

I come before you
with empty hands…
all the secret store of grace
I fling into needy hearts,
crying in the bitter night
of fear and loneliness…..
Spendthrift of your Love
I keep before me
your empty Hands – 
empty and riven 
with the great nails 
hollowing out 
rivers of mercy…..
until all your substance 
was poured out…..
So, I, my Jesus,
with hands emptied 
for your love 
stand confident 
before your Cross,
love’s crimson emblem. 
It is the empty 
who are filled:
those who have made 
themselves spendthrifts 
for You alone,
fill the least 
of your brethren 
while they themselves 
are nourished by your Love…
more and more emptied 
that they may be filled 
with You.

– St. Therese

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My Song of Today
Text based on the original poem
‘Mon Chant d’Aujourd’hui by St Therese of Lisieux adapted from the translation by C L Emery

 

Happy Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux.

My Song for Today

My life is but an instant, a passing hour.
My life is but a day that escapes and flies away.
O my God ! You know that to love you on earth
I only have today !…

Oh, I love you, Jesus ! My soul yearns for you.
For just one day remain my sweet support.
Come reign in my heart, give me your smile
Just for today !

Lord, what does it matter if the future is gloomy ?
To pray for tomorrow, oh no, I cannot !…
Keep my heart pure, cover me with your shadow
Just for today.

If I think about tomorrow, I fear my fickleness.
I feel sadness and worry rising up in my heart.
But I’m willing, my God, to accept trial and suffering
Just for today.

O Divine Pilot ! whose hand guides me,
I’m soon to see you on the eternal shore.
Guide my little boat over the stormy waves in peace
Just for today.

Ah ! Lord, let me hide in your Face.
There I’ll no longer hear the word’s vain noise.
Give me your love, keep me in your grace
Just for today.

Near your divine Heart, I forget all passing things.
I no longer dread the fears of the night.
Ah ! Jesus, give me a place in your Heart
Just for today.

Living Bread, Bread of Heaven, divine Eucharist,
O sacred Mystery ! that Love has brought forth…
Come live in my heart, Jesus, my white Host,
Just for today.

Deign to unite me to you, Holy and sacred Vine,
And my weak branch will give you its fruit,
And I’ll be able to offer you a cluster of golden grapes
Lord, from today on.

I’ve just this fleeting day to form
This cluster of love, whose seeds are souls.
Ah ! give me, Jesus, the fire of an Apostle
Just for today.

O Immaculate Virgin ! You are my Sweet Star
Giving Jesus to me and uniting me to Him.
O Mother ! Let me rest under your veil
Just for today.

My Holy Guardian Angel, cover me with your wing.
With your fire light the road that I’m taking.
Come direct my steps… help me, I call upon you
Just for today.

Lord, I want to see you without veils, without clouds,
But still exiled, far from you, I languish ?
May your lovable face not be hidden from me
Just for today.

Soon I’ll fly away to speak your praises
When the day without sunset will dawn on my soul.
Then I’ll sing on the Angels’lyre
The Eternal Today !…

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St. Therese of Lisieux’s “little way” was one of confidence and love. In her autobiography she wrote often of her feebleness and how she came to discover her vocation which was to be “love in the heart of the Church”. She came to this confidence because of the capacity of God’s heart and the love He had for her. She was certain that the Lord loved her and that this was not due to her own efforts in loving Him.

Our saint wrote a beautiful poem to the Sacred Heart in 1895. In it she expressed the following:

A heart I need, to soothe me and to bless, —

A strong support that can not pass away, —

To love me wholly, e’en my feebleness,

And never leave me through the night or day.

There is not one created thing below,

Can love me truly, and can never die.

God become man — none else my needs can know;

He, He alone, can understand my cry.

May we too have a confident heart one that loves because we are loved by God for He alone truly knows us and knows what we need.

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Mary is the Mother of God, and today we celebrate her under this title. She is also our Mother. The Carmelite Doctors of the Church: St. Teresa of Jesus, St. Therese of Lisieux, and St. John of the Cross, each had a unique devotion to the Mother of God.

St. Teresa of Jesus.

“I remember that when my mother died I was twelve years old or a little less. When I began to understand what I had lost, I went, afflicted, before an image of our Lady and besought her with many tears to be my mother. It seems to me that although I did this in simplicity it helped me. For I have found favor with this sovereign Virgin in everything I have asked of her, and in the end she has drawn me to herself.” (Book of Her Life, chapter 1)

St. Teresa was very pleased to be a member of the Order of Carmel that claims to be Mary’s Order. Members of the Carmelite Order consecrate themselves to Mary and see her as a model of prayer and contemplation. “All of us who wear this holy habit of Carmel are called to prayer and contemplation.” (Interior Castle, V:1, 2) They also strive to imitate her virtues, “Let us imitate the Virgin’s great humility.” (Way of Perfection, 13: 3)

St. Teresa, in a mystical experience, noted that in response to her service to the Mother of God, Christ thanked her for “what she had done for his Mother,” and she saw Mary “in great glory, wearing a white mantel with which she seemed to enfold us all.” (Book of Her Life, 36: 24)

Read more here about St. Teresa of Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

St. Therese of Lisieux.

St. Therese also had a strong devotion to the Mother of God and was heard to exclaim, “How I love the Blessed Virgin! If I had been a priest, how I should have spoken of her. She is sometimes described as unapproachable, whereas she should be represented as easy of imitation. She is more Mother than Queen. I have heard it said that her splendor eclipses that of all the saints as the rising sun makes all the stars disappear. It sounds so strange. That a Mother should take away the glory of her children! I think quite the reverse. I believe that she will greatly increase the splendor of the elect….Our Mother Mary….How simple her life must have been.” (Story of a Soul)

St. Therese wanted to follow Mary’s example and not to only live and work under the Blessed Mother’s watchful eyes. She wanted to follow in the footsteps of her Mother and to learn from her “how to remain little”. The one virtue above all others that the Blessed Mother possessed that impressed St. Therese the most was her simplicity. Mary taught her in simplicity the practice that characterized this saint as her “little way”. The Mother of God also taught her that suffering out of love – is joy.

When St. Therese made her First Communion at Lisieux following a three day retreat, she expressed her reception as “fusion” with Jesus. It was her Heavenly Mother, in the absence of her real earthly mother, who accompanied her to the altar to receive the Lord in the Eucharist for the first time. St. Therese states, “it was she herself who on that morning of the 8th of May placed her Jesus into my soul.” (Story of a Soul)

The great love St. Therese had for Mary is beautifully illustrated in a poem she wrote shortly before she died:

Why I Love Thee, Mary

Oh ! I would like to sing, Mary, why I love you,
Why your sweet name thrills my heart,
And why the thought of your supreme greatness
Could not bring fear to my soul.
If I gazed on you in your sublime glory,
Surpassing the splendor of all the blessed,
I could not believe that I am your child.
O Mary, before you I would lower my eyes !…   (read the rest of the poem here)

St. John of the Cross.

St. John of the Cross also was devoted to the Mother of God. He did not write much about the Mother of God, but she was significant in his life. From St. John we learn about her role for Carmelites in the passive receptivity that Mary teaches us. Read more about Our Lady and St. John of Cross here.

St. John of the Cross does mentions the Blessed Mother in one of his Sayings of Light and Love. This saying expresses that all things are the soul’s when it seeks and finds God. The Mother of God, then, is our mother, too:

“Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine, and mine the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; and God himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me.” (Sayings of Light and Love, 27)

mary mother of god

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St. John of the Cross was a wonderful poet, probably the best poet Spain has ever known. One set of his poems titled, “The Romances”, expounds on themes of salvation history. Below is part of this poetry that expresses his thought on the Incarnation.

7. The Incarnation
Now that the time had come
when it would be good
to ransom the bride
serving under the hard yoke
of that law
which Moses had given her,
the Father, with tender love,
spoke in this way:
“Now you see, Son, that your bride
was made in your image,
and so far as she is like you
she will suit you well;
yet she is different, in her flesh,
which your simple being does not have.
In perfect love
this law holds:
that the lover become
like the one he loves;
for the greater their likeness
the greater their delight.
Surely your bride’s delight
would greatly increase
were she to see you like her,
in her own flesh”.
“My will is yours,”
the Son replied,
“and my glory is
that your will be mine.
This is fitting, Father,
what you, the Most High, say;
for in this way
your goodness will be more evident,
your great power will be seen
and your justice and wisdom.
I will go and tell the world,
spreading the word
of your beauty and sweetness
and of your sovereignty.
I will go seek my bride
and take upon myself
her weariness and labors
in which she suffers so;
and that she may have life,
I will die for her,
and lifting her out of that deep,
I will restore her to you”.
8. Continues
Then he called
the archangel Gabriel
and sent him to
the virgin Mary,
at whose consent
the mystery was wrought,
in whom the Trinity
clothed the Word with flesh
and though Three work this,
it is wrought in the One;
and the Word lived incarnate
in the womb of Mary.
And he who had only a Father
now had a Mother too,
but she was not like others
who conceive by man.
From her own flesh
he received his flesh,
so he is called
Son of God and of man.
9. The Birth
When the time had come
for him to be born,
he went forth like the
bridegroom
from his bridal chamber,
embracing his bride,
holding her in his arms,
whom the gracious Mother
laid in a manger
among some animals
that were there at that time.
Men sang songs
and angels melodies
celebrating the marriage
of Two such as these.
But God there in the manger
cried and moaned;
and these tears were jewels
the bride brought to the
wedding.
The Mother gazed in sheer wonder
on such an exchange:
in God, man’s weeping,
and in man, gladness,
to the one and the other
things usually so strange.

20 days old baby sleeping in a christmas nativity crib

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I live without living in myself,

and in such a way I hope,

I die because I do not die.

Since I die of love,

Living apart from love,

I live now in the Lord,

Who has desired me for Himself.

He inscribed on my heart

When I gave it to Him:

I die because I do not die.

Within this divine prison,

Of love in which I live,

My God my captive is.

My heart is free

To behold my prisoner-God,

Passion welling in my heart,

I die because I do not die.

Ah, how weary this life!

These exiles so hard!

This jail and these shackles

By which the soul is fettered!

Longing only to go forth

Brings such terrible sorrow,

I die because I do not die.

Ah, how bitter a life

When the Lord is not enjoyed!

While love is sweet,

Long awaiting is not.

O God, take away this burden

Heavier than steel,

I die because I do not die.

Only with that surety

I will die do I live,

Because in dying

My hope in living is assured.

Death, bringing life,

Do not tarry; I await you,

I die because I do not die.

See how love is strong.

Life, do not trouble me.

See how all that remains

Is in losing you to gain.

Come now, sweet death,

Come, dying, swiftly.

I die because I do not die.

That life from above,

That is true life,

Until this life dies,

Life is not enjoyed.

Death, be not aloof;

In dying first, may life be,

I die because I do not die.

Life, what can I give

To my God living in me,

If not to lose you,

thus to merit Him?

In dying I want to reach

Him alone whom I seek:

I die because I do not die.

Poetry of St. Teresa of Jesus “Aspirations toward Eternal Life” trans. by Adrian J. Cooney, OCD (ICS Publications The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, Volume 3)

 

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