“Suffering, pain, sorrow, humiliation, feelings of loneliness, are nothing but the kiss of Jesus, a sign that you have come so close that he can kiss you.“-St Teresa of Calcutta
Advent Is A Season Of Waiting
The word Advent means coming. We wait for Christ’s coming at the end of time. We celebrate his coming every day in the Eucharist. And we remember the Israelites waiting for their Messiah before Jesus’s birth. One of my favorite ways to enter into this waiting is to consider Mary awaiting the nativity.
Anyone who has been pregnant can tell you the last month is actually 17 months long. You can’t get around. Everything hurts. Mary had to ride on a donkey like that! Yes, you are huge and uncomfortable, but there’s also a very deep longing to finally meet this new person.
Longing is a love. If you didn’t care then it wouldn’t hurt. Unfortunately, we have lost appreciation for pain for suffering.
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I haven’t been on the blog lately. In the world of Catholic-mom-blogging, that usually means the author is pregnant. Unfortunately, I’m still infertile myrtle. But I have been busy with a similarly anticipatory process.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been immersed in work for Advent: the ancient season of expectant waiting. It doesn’t begin until December 3rd, but I had to get a jump on it for a top-secret project.
St. Thérèse was the youngest child in a large, devout, French family. In 1888, she entered the cloistered convent of the Discalced Carmelites at only 15 years old. After many years as de facto novice mistress, in charge of the formation of the entering novices, St. Thérèse died of tuberculosis at age 24. Her canonization came less than 30 years later, and she is only one of four female Doctors of the Church.
St. Thérèse is the only female Doctor who is not a mystic. Perhaps that is one of the deciding factors in her popularity today. We find her story, her spirituality more accessible. She never experienced stigmata or levitation. She did not subscribe to lengthy methods of corporal mortification or purgation. Her way was a Little Way. A way of complete trust in the benevolence of God.
On her deathbed, St. Thérèse made a solemn promise. “After my death, I will let fall a shower of roses. I will spend my heaven doing good upon earth.” Many have sought her aid and been answered. Not only with a resolution of their trial, but also with a literal rose!
Read on for more ways St. Thérèse can help you.
I do a lot of driving for the kiddo. My favorite podcasts are less active in the summer, so I’ve been looking for other things to fill the gap. While browsing Spotify, I stumbled across the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. Lately, I’ve been praying the rosary with them. I know there are assigned days for each set of mysteries, but this newbie has just been listening to the joyful mysteries over and over.
The second joyful mystery is called the visitation. Like all of the mysteries, the Sisters introduce it by reading scripture and making a short prayer. Part of which includes:
We pray for the virtue of charity. Mary’s charity in visiting her cousin Elizabeth enabled their sons to meet mystically in their mothers’ wombs.
Charity is always realized by unity.
Charity is always realized by unity.
Those words have been running around in my head for weeks.
Charity isn’t a one-way street of “haves” giving to “have-nots.” This is something I have to repent of. I can pipe up with the verse re: give in secret. But when I give remotely, anonymously, furtively, then I’m supporting an idea, not a person. A cause, not my brother.
The poverty of loneliness
I’m reminded of what Mother Teresa said. “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty.”
Have you noticed how frequently homeless persons have dogs? Even though shelters and halfway houses do not accept pets. Why would they adopt these animals then?
Because our human need for connection, to give and receive love, our need for unity is even greater than our need for shelter and security.
Even for introverts?
I’m an introvert. I’d rather eat my shoes than approach a stranger for conversation. Passing a drink out of my car window seemed much easier. Pressing a five-spot into a woman’s hand then hustling away was safer. I could check “corporal act of mercy (1)” off my list and move on.
But there comes a point when we have to admit that “It is/isn’t in my nature” is not a justification.
We inherited our sin nature from our first parents: Adam and Eve. Our inclinations against unity are not something to embrace, but to repent of. To rise above.
We must remember our other inheritance. We are image bearers of God. Not only to have but bear. To carry to others in unity. The glow of a lonely person’s face when you ask “What’s your dog’s name?” is the brightest light this side of Heaven.
May is the month of Mary, and Mother’s day is right around the corner. Now is the perfect time to start a book on the Blessed Mother. Here are 7 excellent reads about Mary. Check out the other Seven Quick Takes on This Ain’t The Lyceum.