MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS
HART AT THE CARMELITE CONVENT, KEW, FOR THE FEAST OF SAINT TERESA OF THE
CHILD JESUS ON WEDNESDAY, 1ST OCTOBER 2014 AT
As you know Thérèse Martin was born in
Alençon in Normandy on 2nd January 1873 and died on 13th
September 1897. We know too that she was
barely five years old when the family moved to Lisieux after the death of her
mother and at the age of fifteen she entered the Carmel of Lisieux. For her profession she declared that she
entered the Carmel, “to save souls and especially to pray for priests”.
Her dream of going to the missions was
realised in her lifetime through the two missionary priests who were given to
her as spiritual brothers. In her
letters to them she explained the way of spiritual childhood, which God made
her live in depth during the last years of her life; she drew them to walk by
the same way.
During the life of each of us here and
especially since her nomination as Doctor of the Church in 1997 we have been
challenged to see her own little way as being inspired.
We know her particular inspiration and
that of every Carmelite 'is ever seeking to find Jesus, to taste his
presence, to enjoy his blessed gifts and also to entertain him, to offer him a
loving welcome in the midst of a cold, disdainful world, engrossed in its own
material affairs. But
the Carmelite contemplative is not merely hungering for spiritual ease or
enjoyment in her seclusion, she is seeking Jesus and his gifts in order to
communicate them to others. Charity and
zeal for souls are the very breath of her life.' (Albert Power, S.J.,
The Maid of Lisieux, Pustet, NY, 1932)
As the basis of her own spiritual life
Saint Thérèse expressed publicly that the Eucharist was an encounter with
Jesus. To Thérèse Jesus was not only the
Lord to whom one owed the most solemn reverence, but a living person inviting
an intimate union. The Eucharist was her
opportunity for the most direct encounter with him.
Four years before she entered Carmel
Thérèse had already experienced the Eucharist as a bonding and she wrote these
words of her first Communion: 'I felt
that I was loved and I said, "I love you and I give myself to you forever." There were no demands made, no struggles no
sacrifice, for a long time now Jesus and Thérèse looked at and understood each
other. That day it was no longer simply
a look, it was a fusion; they were no longer two. Thérèse had vanished, as a drop of water lost
in the immensity of the ocean. Jesus
alone remained.' (A
Story of a Soul, page 77)
Indeed, Thérèse’s relationship with
Jesus was human and personal and it is because of this that she has been so
attractive to many people searching for perfection and holiness. To develop that personal relationship with
the Lord, in whom we live and are, is a gift that Thérèse has given to the
Church. Her simplicity, her embracing of
God’s way for her, self-effacing, self-abasing, has led to an attractiveness
and wonder that have inspired many people to follow her.
I recall with great delight some years
ago the visit of the relics of Saint Thérèse here and to the Cathedral and to
many other places in Australia. In her
life Thérèse longed to go to the missions, but entered Carmel to save souls. Her prayer for priests, her inspiration of
simplicity and oneness with Jesus are a telling gift, which in her death have
invited many souls to know the ever-greater intimacy that Jesus offers us in
My dear friends, I urge you to
continue that intimacy, to make of our chapels and churches places of holiness
and prayer, to encourage others to do so because the same Jesus to whom Thérèse
spoke and whom she loved is present right throughout the day.
May the inspiration of Saint Thérèse
to be absorbed into Jesus prompt us to spend time in adoration, that like
Thérèse our mind and heart will be one with Jesus, our deeds will then reflect
him and we will draw others to him like a magnet.
May this great saint, who invites us
to simple, profound, all- absorbing love, make us more one with him that we,
each in our own small way, may be like our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, who
described himself as a simple labourer in the Lord’s vineyard, instruments of
God’s designs for ourselves and those whom we meet.
+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.