The train lines at the weekend are being worked upon. The line I need is closed. So every Saturday morning I have to walk down Kensington Church Street from Notting Hill in order to get to where I have got to be. The first time that I ever walked down Kensington Church Street in London, I was brought sharply and startlingly to attention. It was Saturday 1st October. A large banner with the famous sepia tone photo of St Thérese of Lisieux looked down upon me from a huge church. A lady whom I can only presume was not English, was almost hugging a Jesus shrine outside the church doorway, deeply in prayer. The day is Saint Thérese of Lisieux Feast day.
Just the day before, I had spiritual direction and we chatted about the writings of St Thérese, and of how it was just remarkable that these writings (written inside the obscurity of the enclosed Carmelite Order) ever allowed her to become more widely discovered, and lead to her becoming a Saint. That they should be so widely known today is no less than amazing.
So the fact that I had just happened to have ordered her book online, and I just happened to have had a conversation about her writings. And the fact that the very next day, the first ever time I happen ‘to happen’ upon ‘Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church’, of all days, just happens to be the Saints special Feast day, is all pretty numinous. So timing once again led to a numinous experience which left me with that feeling that coincidences are somehow not so coincidental. On my way back past the church after my day’s study, I was drawn in. I told Saint Thérese my deepest prayers and lit a candle. I need all the heavenly Love I can get just now.
Yesterday I just finished reading St Thérese of Lisieux’ autobiography The Story of a Soul, having already last year read the book written by Sister Genevieve My Sister Saint Thérese. Little flower seems a somewhat delicate and insipid name for someone who although physically very poorly at times, I have discovered actually had such a great strength of character. Little ox might have been more fitting.
I was both deeply held and desperately broke, when very close to the end of the book (in the last few pages) page 161, I read this paragraph, “Swept by an ecstatic joy, I cried: ‘Jesus, my love! At last I have found my vocation. My vocation is to love! I have found my place in the bosom of the Church and it is you, Lord, who has given it me. In the heart of the Church who is my Mother, I will be love. So I shall be everything and so my dreams will be fulfilled!'”
‘My vocation is to Love’……… is the last line from one of my 2010 poems
The Kiss of Life
Again and again you kiss me on the mouth
You reverently breathe life into me
You teach me how to breathe
You lovingly impart the word
The word made flesh
You spirit me Holy.
My response is intrinsic
My body arcs towards you
My tender soul surrenders
Your spirit is upon me
Again and again you kiss me on the mouth
Loved more than any other.
I am a vessel overflowing with your promise
I will pour the wine for many.
My vocation is to Love.
But sadly at times, I do not feel as if the Mother Church is my Mother, although the family within are caring. I look to Mary. A Mother nurtures and Loves her child, she holds her child dear and close to her gentle bosom, and does not constantly hold her beloved child in a place of desperately sad separation, segregation and un-reconciliation. A Mother does not break her child’s heart. A Mother does not expect her child to prove her worth, before she is embraced. She Loves unconditionally. Unfailingly. Gracefully.
Maybe that is how Mary Magdalene felt amongst the ‘Church’ of the apostles, whom at times in their maleness, mistrust, judgement and envy, found it difficult to embrace and accept her. It was her Love for Jesus alone, and His Love for her, that bound them intimately in spirit. One heart.
I keep on hearing homilies and writings where we do not seemingly need to worship God in the temple, but in the spirit. In the temple of our own soul.
Gospel John 4: 19-24
“The Samaritan woman said to Jesus: “I see you are a prophet, sir. Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, though you say that Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.” Jesus said: “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know;
we worship what we do know; for salvation comes from the Jews. But the hour is coming — indeed is already here – when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth: that is the kind of worshipper the Father seeks. God is spirit, and those who worship must worship in spirit and truth.”
One wonders on so many occasions, if my beloved Catholic Church (which is where much of my hurting so deeply is upheld) is needed for worship at all.
I shall leave you with the One other line from The Autobiography of Saint Thérese of Lisieux The Story of a Soul, that felt as if it had been taken direct, absolute and pure from my own soul.
“Above all I imitate Mary Magdalene, for her amazing-or rather her loving-audacity which won the heart of Jesus captivates mine.”