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4 Ways to Grow in Holiness from St. Thérèse

I found this post here and thought it was worth re-blogging it.

Until I did that, I always thought of her as one of those saints who’s way beyond me. She’s a Doctor of the Church, for Pete’s sake. I could never measure up. What I learned in reading Story of a Soul was that she’s more relatable than I thought – and is especially relatable for our time.

Why is St. Thérèse so relatable?

St. Thérèse described herself as a little soul. Most of us are little souls too. Why? In our modern age, we’re used to a comfortable life. Our Mother Teresa’s and Karol Wojtyla’s are few and far between. I think most of us would agree that we’re too weak and little to become a saint. And still, we’re all called to do just that.

St. Thérèse knew she was too weak to become a great saint. In other words, she’s just like us. (She even struggled with praying the Rosary!) Yet, she became one of the greatest saints. Ever. St. Thérèse shows us how to achieve sainthood by taking baby steps. The key is a childlike trust in God, while having great love for God and others.

In honor of her feast day today (Oct. 1st), here are 4 tips for growing in holiness inspired by St. Thérèse:

1. Just keep trying to become a saint.

“The good God does not demand more from you than good will…Soon, won over by your useless efforts, He will come down Himself and, taking you in His arms, He will carry you up.”

The key to growing in holiness is that we continue to try. Even if we never see progress in ourselves, if we get up every time we fall and begin again, God is pleased with that. If we saw our progress, we might think it’s because of our own efforts that we grow in virtue. The inability to see our growth keeps us depending on God.


2. Don’t know how to love people? Begin by loving.

“I must seek out…the company of sisters who are the least agreeable to me…I want to be friendly to everybody to give joy to Jesus.”

Few of us know how to truly love people. If we don’t know how, we can start by doing little things: smiling at a passerby, doing the dishes for your roommate, refraining from complaining. We can start with little acts of love, especially toward those whom we don’t get along with, to teach us how. We learn to love by loving.


3. Prayer doesn’t have to be complicated.

“For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”

God is simple. He’s just happy that we show up to spend time with Him. We don’t have to do x, y and z for it to be good prayer. If it’s difficult or you get distracted – keep refocusing yourself and trust that it’s still good, even if you didn’t get the warm-fuzzies.


4. Focus on loving God, not on your faults.

“We have merely to love Him, without looking at ourselves, without examining our faults too much.”

God isn’t this judgmental figure waiting for us to mess up. He looks on us with love as His children. Children try to please their parents, but sometimes they make messes and spills. If we’re trying to become holy, God doesn’t reject us over our messes and spills. If we focus on God’s love and goodness, it’ll be harder for us to be discouraged.

St. Thérèse showed me that, while becoming a saint not easy, it is so simple. We don’t have to be discouraged about anything — weakness, failure, sin, or suffering. We can trust that God will make us a saint if we take one small step forward, every day.


Is St. Thérèse special to you? How has she impacted your life in what she did or said? We’d love to hear from you!

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I got this prayer from a friend of mine: In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. May the angels of heaven be sent forth to protect us as we go forth as God’s servants to do His wil…

Source: A Prayer to Bind Evil Spirits and Make Them Leave Your Home

Today we commemorate Holy Saturday, the quiet, somber interlude between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Instead of sharing my own reflections I’d like to share this ancient homily, composed by an anonymous source. It brings to life that stirring line in the Apostle’s Creed: “He descended into hell.”

he-descended
What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.

Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam’s son.

The Lord goes into them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: “My Lord be with you all.” And Christ in reply says to Adam: “And with your spirit.” And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying:

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.

I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.

I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.

For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you, I who am above the heavens came on earth and under the earth; for you, man, I became as a man without help, free among the dead; for you, who left a garden, I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden.

Look at the spittle on my face, which I received because of you, in order to restore you to that first divine inbreathing at creation. See the blows on my cheeks, which I accepted in order to refashion your distorted form to my own image.

See the scourging of my back, which I accepted in order to disperse the load of your sins which was laid upon your back. See my hands nailed to the tree for a good purpose, for you, who stretched out your hand to the tree for an evil one.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side, for you, who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side healed the pain of your side; my sleep will release you from your sleep in Hades; my sword has checked the sword which was turned against you.

But arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God.

The cherubim throne has been prepared, the bearers are ready and waiting, the bridal chamber is in order, the food is provided, the everlasting houses and rooms are in readiness; the treasures of good things have been opened; the kingdom of heaven has been prepared before the ages.”

Friends, on this Easter we should remember that Jesus is not just a soul that’s gone to heaven. The resurrected Christ, as Paul said, is the first fruits of a new life. A whole new human nature has appeared and emerged.

Resurrection can’t simply mean, as many contemporary authors want us to believe, that the cause of Jesus goes on. (As though you listen to the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven and the society of Beethoven lovers says, “Well, the spirit of Beethoven goes on.”) People don’t give their whole lives, don’t go to the end of the world preaching, don’t go to their death in support of a vague metaphor. What galvanized the first Christians was that Jesus – the crucified one who had died-is now alive again.

On this Easter, we Christians must avoid another problem: seeing the Resurrection simply as a return to this life. Lazarus was raised from the dead, only to die again. He still belonged to the realm of death. When Lazarus came forth, he was still wearing his grave clothes. He still belonged, in some way, to the tomb.

That’s not what happens in the Resurrection. When Jesus rises from the dead, He leaves his grave clothes behind. Jesus now lives a new life exalted through the power of the Father. His relationship to space and time is now completely changed. He passes through locked doors. He comes and goes as he pleases.

Jesus is the first fruit of a new way of being, a new life. It’s still a human life, but it is now lived at a higher pitch of intensity. This is such good news for us because this is what God intends for all of us: that we now will share in the risen life of Jesus.

It’s our human life – yes, still bodily – but now lived at a higher level, spiritualized and glorified.

Crucifix at Saint Etienne-du-Mont

Crucifix at Saint Etienne-du-Mont

What is the message that Jesus has for the world? At first he seems to confirm his followers’ hopes: “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified.” Great! Finally, after putting things off for so long, he is ready; the moment has come.

But then he clarifies: “I solemnly assure you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat, but if it dies it produces much fruit.” Believe me, this is not what his followers wanted to hear.

The Jews had had more than enough experience with death. They had lived under oppression for centuries and their glory days were long ago. The Roman boot was pressing down upon them. Those who would endeavour to throw it off were imprisoned or killed. And now this one, upon whom they had pinned their hopes, at the high point of his life, is speaking of falling to the earth and dying.

Then it gets stranger: “The man who loves his life loses it, while the man who hates his life in this world, preserves it to life eternal.” Come again?!

To understand what all this means, we should go back to the great image that Jesus uses, the grain of wheat that falls to the earth. A seed, resting by itself, can exist for a long time. In fact, they have found seeds in the tombs of the Pharaohs and seeds in fossil remains. But unless they fall into the soil and crack open, nothing further comes of them. Their life is inside, yes, but it’s a life that grows by being given away and mixing with the soil around it. It has to crack open and be destroyed. But even after a very long time, a seed can grow into a flourishing plant. The oldest seed that has grown into a viable plant was a 2000-year-old date palm seed from excavations at Herod the Great’s palace on Masada in Israel. It was germinated in 2005.

When you look at a great tree or a plant, you see none of the original seed, and yet you see life. The same is true of the cross. When Christians look at the cross, we no longer see death, but eternal life.

Originally published by Fr. R. Barron

Answer

Jesus was a Jew both ethnically and religiously, he completed the religion by serving as the Christ whom the Scriptures long foretold even though majority of the Jews did not believe in him.

Christianity is the completed form of the Ancient Jewish religion, it is a pity that many of those who were ethnically Jewish did not recognize his role as Messiah, for this many did not accept Christianity, the completed form of Judaism. Instead they remained incomplete with the religion.

It wasn’t long before it was understood through the direction of the Holy Spirit that one did not need to be ethnically Jewish to be a follower of Christ, thus the Apostles began to preach to, and baptise many Gentile converts to the Christian faith. So Paul speaks about ethnical and religious Judaism :

“For he is not a real Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart, spiritual and not literal.” Romans 2:28-29

As time went on, unfortunately some Christians broke away from the Church founded by Christ, so that a name became necessary to distinguish one Church from another. It was later decided that, the Church Jesus founded be called “Universal” from Greek Kataholos which means “according to the whole”, this is how the term “Catholic” was applied to this Church.

So Jesus was a Jew to complete the Jewish religion by creating a Church that would fulfil it and be open to people everywhere irrespective of their tribe and culture.