SUNDAY OF THE FOURTH WEEK OF ADVENT
And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.
And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.
And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.
But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
Wouldn’t you love it if Mary had kept a personal diary and told us details of how she felt being the mother of Jesus? I can’t imagine the richness of her words, of the things she treasured and pondered.
I recently finished an autobiography of another young girl, not the mother of God, but also a God-follower, who did leave behind a diary, Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St.Thérèse of Lisieux.
Born Marie-Françoise-Thérèse Martin, 1873-1897, “The Little Flower of Jesus,” became a French Carmelite nun at 15 years old. At the request of her elders, she wrote down details of her life with Jesus, keeping this diary until she died from tuberculosis at the age of 24.
These writings were then combined with her poetry and letters, along with reminiscences written about her by her fellow nuns. She was beatified by the Catholic Church in 1923, and canonized in 1925.
What captivated me most by this young girl was her humility of self and her love for Jesus.
Below are excerpts from her autobiography. To read the book in its entirety, free downloads are available several places, including here.
One day I expressed surprise that God does not give an equal amount of glory to all the elect in Heaven--I was afraid that they would not all be quite happy.
She sent me to fetch Papa's big tumbler, and put it beside my tiny thimble, then, filling both with water, she asked me which seemed the fuller. I replied that one was as full as the other--it was impossible to pour more water into either of them, for they could not hold it.
In this way Pauline made it clear to me that in Heaven the least of the Blessed does not envy the happiness of the greatest.
Somehow the next day seemed sorrowful. The pretty clothes and the presents I had received could not satisfy me. Henceforth Our Lord alone could fill my heart, and all I longed for was the blissful moment when I should receive Him again.
I had one other great wish; it was to love God only, and to find my joy in Him alone.
Let us suppose that the son of a very clever doctor, stumbling over a stone on the road, falls and breaks his leg. His father hastens to him, lifts him lovingly, and binds up the fractured limb, putting forth all his skill.
The son, when cured, displays the utmost gratitude, and he has excellent reason for doing so.
But let us take another supposition. The father, aware that a dangerous stone lies in his son's path, is beforehand with the danger and removes it, unseen by anyone. The son, thus tenderly cared for, not knowing of the mishap from which his father's hand has saved him, naturally will not show him any gratitude, and will love him less than if he had cured him of a grievous wound.
But suppose he heard the whole truth, would he not in that case love him still more? Well now, I am this child, the object of the foreseeing love of a Father.
In fact, I made troubles out of everything. Now, things are quite different. God in His goodness has given me grace not to be cast down by any passing difficulty. When I think of what I used to be, my heart overflows with gratitude. The graces I have received have changed me so completely, that I am scarcely the same person.
Verily in prayer and sacrifice lies all my strength, they are my invincible arms; experience has taught me that they touch hearts far more easily than words.
Jesus does not ask for great deeds, but only for gratitude and self-surrender.
I desire neither death nor life. Were Our Lord to offer me my choice, I would not choose. I only will what He wills; it is what He does that I love.
On one occasion she found Thérèse with hands joined and eyes raised to Heaven. “What are you doing?” she asked; “you ought to try and go to sleep.”
“I cannot, Sister, I am suffering too much, so I am praying. . . .”
“And what do you say to Jesus?”
“I say nothing--I only love Him!”
“Oh! how good God is!” . . . she sometimes exclaimed. “Truly He must be very good to give me strength to bear all I have to suffer.”* * *
Oh, for such faith! May we understand more of his love for us this Christmas and increase in our love for him.