St. Thérèse and the fulcrum to move the world

St. Thérèse and the fulcrum to move the world

“There is the confirmation and renewal of the most basic and most universal truth. What truth of the Gospel message is really more basic and more universal than this: God is our Father and we are his children?”  Blessed

Conrad de Meester (With Empty Hands: The Message of St Therese of Lisieux) summarizes the teaching of St. Therese as follows:

(1) Our love is required to allow God’s greater love to triumph. It must gradually elicit the truth that God loves us freely, first and mercifully.
(2) We must accept ourselves in light of truth; what we are and what we can become, no more and no less; and we must acknowledge our real and inevitable insufficiency. Humility is a basic aspect of Therese’s way.
(3) Of itself, love will never reach its desired goal; even if it never failed, it could never return God’s love in kind. We shall always be God’s debtors, and that is why hope is so important an element in the development of our spirituality. All that remains is the prayer: “Lord, let your love grow in me. Provide me with what is lacking in my love for you. Fill my empty hands. Give me your own heart.”

I was struck by a comparison between St Therese and Descartes, on their interpretation of Archimedes. Archimedes famously bragged that he could move the earth, given the proper fulcrum and lever. Descartes, in his Discourse on Method, claimed to have found such a fulcrum and lever in the new philosophy of mathematical physics, technology, and the thinking self. We shall become as masters and owners of nature. C S Lewis, among others, has shown where the boast of mastery of nature has got us: atomic bombs, birth control pills, and mind controlling technology. 

Another French writer uses the Archimedean claim more aptly, namely St Therese. She said, “What Archimedes was not able to obtain, for his request was not directed by God and was only made by a material viewpoint, the have obtained in all its fullness. The Almighty has given them as fulcrum: HIMSELF ALONE; as lever: PRAYER which burns with the fire of love. And it is in this way they have lifted the world; it is in this way that the saints still militant lift it, and that, until the end of time, the saints to come will lift it.” Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of ST. Therese of Lisieux (3rd edition, by John Clarke, O.C.D.), p. 258. Blessed John Paul II is a saint still militant; we should pray for a double portion of his blessing. See  2 Kings 2:14ff on Elijah’s mantle falling on Elisha. Elisha dared to ask Elijah for “a double portion” of his spirit. He receives his mantle. So Therese, as a little one and a feeble one, begs of the saints  to receive a two-fold inheritance, (Mnscpt B, c. 9 p. 195), i.e., to be clothed in their love. The little ones can be clothed from on high.

Therese prayed: “Remembering the prayer of Elisha to his Father Elijah when he dared to ask him for HIS DOUBLE SPIRIT, I presented myself before the angels and saints and I said to them: ‘I am the smallest of creatures: I know my misery and my feebleness, but I know also how much noble and generous hearts love to do good. I beg you then, O Blessed Inhabitants of heaven, I beg you to adopt me as your child. To you alone will be the glory which you will make me merit, but deign to answer my prayer. It is bold, I know; however, I dare to ask you to obtain for me YOUR TWOFOLD LOVE.”

Unless you become like a child . . .


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