One of the highlights of my recent holiday in France was a drive to Lisieux and to discover something of the life and witness of Saint Therese. Therese was born on 2 January 1873 – she like all of her sisters entered the religious life.Therese entered the Carmelite convent at Liseux on 9 April 1888 and died at the convent some 9 years later just three months short of her 25th birthday. It was a joy to discover that very soon after her death the Church recognised the remarkable faith of this young woman, her first writings called the ‘Story of a Soul’ were published just one year after her death. She was proclaimed a Saint of the Catholic Church on 17 May 1925.
Why is she so popular? I have to admit to a little cynicism as I journeyed to this place of pilgrimage. What would I find, how would it affect me? Nineteenth Century Saints can seem a little gaudy and Anglicans can be a little dismissive of such piety. Yet, once there and following her story, I encountered a deeply faithful young woman, trying to make sense of herself, her illness, God and her fellow human beings. Yes, she had a crisis of faith during the last months of her life, but rather than abandoning God she began to understand more deeply how life apart from God felt and this led her to assert more passionately her confidence in the merciful love of God. In the end she is a saint because she had the confidence to assert the love of God made visible in Jesus and she had a passion for proclaiming this love
“It is enough to love, to put lots of love into the most ordinary activities of life…Jesus doesn’t look so much at the greatness of our actions nor their level of difficulty but rather at the love that we have to carry out these actions…Everyday life is made up of a thousand small gestures, difficulties, small sacrifices: all opportunities of showing our love for the Lord and for those around us, at home, at work and in the neighbourhood.”
Therese is a brilliant antidote to those who think that our life is meaningless once we are consumed by serious or terminal illness. ‘Enclosed in Carmel and weakened by her sickness she discovered the missionary value of the little things offered up with love.’ At the end and close to death she proclaimed “I feel that my mission is about to begin, my mission of making God loved as I love him.”
Truly a Saint for our times.
Last week we had some fantastic news from Viridor, the environmental company that supports local projects. They have decided to award us a grant of £43,790 (the full amount for which we asked) in support of the WC and kitchen development. Many thanks and congratulations to Malcolm Smith and Rosemary Kinghorn who together put in an enormous amount of work in order to support our application. As you will probably be aware, the building work in church is due to start on Monday 3rd October – how exciting! So this coming weekend we’re having a big clearing-out and storage exercise to prepare the church for this major project. It will be a case of ‘all hands to the pump’ – please let the office know whether you are able to come and lend a hand.
While this building work is underway we shall be continuing with our fundraising towards the next major stage of the project, namely the external stonework repair and restoration. I hope your endeavours for the Talents fundraising challenge are progressing well! I’m looking forward to hearing about all your imaginative activities…. I’m looking forward especially to the supper organised by Janet Lucy and Margo Jales for this Friday. If you haven’t already got your tickets I’m told there might be a few left – don’t delay any longer.
With every blessing