Posted by: catholicrelics | September 24, 2009

Celebrating St Therese in Liverpool

People waited outside the Cathedral for the arrival of the relics

People waited outside the Cathedral for the arrival of the relics

Fr Godric Timney OSB gave a 5-minute reflection, leading nearly 3000 people in prayer as they filled the Cathedral. His was the first of four reflections which would be given during the evening, prior to the celebration of Mass.

Archbishop Patrick Kelly said that he had requested the printing of an extra 1,000 booklets for the ceremony of the afternoon and evening. Yet still the turnout of people was more than had been expected: Liverpool has a massive Cathedral but only a small population as a result of the city’s many changes in the years since the cathedral was built.

Fr Godric’s reflection follows below:

‘In the days of my first fervour in monastic life I recall one of my more elderly and weathered brethren announcing that he had solved a problem, perplexing adults for generations: How do you stop young children from asking questions when they follow up your every answer by asking, ‘Why’! His definitive response: ‘Because God loves America,’ and no child ever asked him why!

Unfortunately, adults do persist and we live increasingly in a society that feels it necessary to ask questions about everything. I myself have certainly encouraged young and old to question but there are times when we recognize that it is opportune to stand back from the interrogation and to view situations from a different perspective. Today is such a time when we suspend our disbelief.

Let us stand aside from the hustle and bustle of life. We have answered the invitation to gather here in honour of St Therese and to embrace the cloak of ‘The Little Flower’ whose relics lie before us. Let us ask Therese to be our guide, and help open our hearts to the God whose love shone with such intensity in the life and dying of Therese.

We know her story. In childhood she was smothered in love but suffered traumas, struggles and disappointments. We see an overtly pious and scrupulous child, but discover beneath a young person of steel, whose determination to join the Lisieux Carmel never wavered . A meek, sycophantic 14-year-old could never have defied papal protocol, and spoken to the Pope as Therese did!

In religious life she recalls that her ‘path was strewn with thorns rather than with roses’ and the last year of her life was spent in darkness of faith, and in great pain, as her lungs and intestines were eaten up by tuberculosis.

As we sit in the presence of these bones, these relics of Therese.

I am aware that they belonged to a woman who experienced many consolations, but who, struggling through life, just like us, achieved the perfection that we all seek. Today, through this young woman God becomes all the more accessible to us because Therese’s relics have drawn us into the presence of God for this short time and given us these hours of grace so that we may follow on the same ‘little way’ that leads to holiness.

During this first hour, then, let our Little Flower be our guide. Let us put aside our questions, especially the ‘why’ questions, and place our anxieties and disappointments in the hands of God. Let us open our hearts in trust, in hope, in love as St Therese did, living day by day in the presence of God and if ever the Lord was with us, it is now!

May I suggest four points for our meditation:

We can ponder without embarrassment Therese’s words on her First Communion Day: ‘How sweet was the first embrace of Jesus! It was indeed an embrace of love. I felt that I was loved and I said. ‘I love Thee and I give myself to Thee for ever’. That same Jesus embraces us at this very moment and enfolds us in his love so let us give God permission, as it were, to embrace us now.

St Therese was much influenced by one of her elderly and venerable sisters who counselled her: ‘Serve the Lord in peace and in joy. Remember that our God is a God of peace.’ Let us pray for that same transforming peace of mind that helped Therese through all her dark moments.

In the stillness of our hearts we say with Therese: ‘Abba! Father!’ Repeating these words really does bring home to us the Fatherhood of God-my Father, my God.

And a final word of encouragement from Therese herself, if we feel our minds are drifting. In the retreat before her profession she wrote afterwards about her ‘spiritual desolation’ and being ‘seemingly abandoned by God’. Yet in the same breath she recognized that she should not really be distressed when she fell asleep during meditation and thanksgiving after Commuion! ‘Children awake or asleep are equally dear to their parents!’

Enjoy the stillness of this time with Therese.”

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Responses

  1. Thank you for posting that.


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