Joy in Suffering/Ninth Day
Fruits of St. Therese's Joy in Suffering
(1) For Herself.—Even while on earth St. Therese tasted of the delicious fruits of her life of joyous suffering. It might all be summed up by saying that her "dream" was realized and she attained to oneness with God, was transformed into love, lived the life divine, and exercised all virtues in the highest degree, above all the virtue of love. Being one in mind and heart with her Divine Lover, she also shared in His joy, the joy of God.
"In truth too happy far am I,
Doing always as I will;
Joyous then I well may be,
Nothing ever goeth ill!"
She likewise participated in His own deep peace, a peace which the world cannot give: "Our Lord's will fills my heart to the very brim, and hence, if aught else is added, it cannot penetrate to any depth, but like oil on the surface of limpid waters, glides easily across…. These quick-succeeding changes of the feeling of joy and sadness scarcely ruffle the surface of my soul, and in its depths there reigns a peace that nothing can disturb." It was but an answer to her lifelong prayer: "I desire that Jesus should take possession of my faculties, in such a way that my actions may no longer be human and personal, but wholly divine, inspired and directed by the Spirit of Love."
Her glory on earth after death is astounding. She was given the highest honors of the Church: canonization, long before the usual time; the Vicar of Christ called her "the guiding star" of his pontificate, declared her the special patroness of all the missions, and bestowed many other marks of honor upon her. Beautiful basilicas and churches have everywhere been erected to her name. Her image looks down upon us from the walls of nearly every Catholic home, and her statue is found in almost every church and chapel throughout the world, even in the most remote and distant mission lands. Never has the like been seen. Her words are being realized: "Everyone will love me!" Rich and poor, high and low, all look to her with confidence in all their needs of soul and body, since she had assured them that God would refuse her nothing.
But who shall attempt to conceive the glory that is hers in heaven, where "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard…"? Is she not exalted above the very Seraphim—she who said that the places denied to the Apostles themselves would be given to "little children"? What glorious fruits she gathered for time and eternity! It was all by joy in suffering. Will I do likewise…?
(2) For Souls.—St. Therese once wrote to one of her missionary brothers: "If in heaven I could no longer work for God's glory, I should prefer exile to home…. I trust fully that I shall not remain idle in heaven; my desire is to continue my work for the Church and for souls. I have asked this of God and am convinced that He will hear my prayer. You see that if I quit the battlefield so soon, it is not from a selfish desire of repose." On her bed of pain, as her last days drew near, the veil of the future seemed to be momentarily lifted, and she exclaimed: "Verily the Lord will work wonders for me, and they will infinitely surpass my boundless desires." And again, in prophetic tones: "I will spend my heaven in doing good on earth. After my death I will let fall a shower of roses."
Her words have been more than fulfilled, in fact, there is no longer question of a mere "shower," but it has become a veritable torrent, an unprecedented deluge, both of material and spiritual roses. Who will venture even to begin to number them—the many miracles of body and soul that have been wrought through her intercession during the thirty-six years that have passed since she winged her flight to the realms of heaven? How much good she has accomplished—and how much she is still doing—through her autobiography, letters, and poems! How many sinners she has led back to God, how many pagans have received the grace of Baptism through her, how many children have been privileged to receive their First Holy Communion at an early age, and how many souls have been fired with an ardent love of their Eucharistic Lord! Only the very slightest portion of what she is accomplishing is visible to mortal eyes; we shall be dumbfounded when, on entering heaven, we shall see how much of all the good now being done, is to be laid to her credit. Was there ever such a wonder-worker in the history of the Church?
And this her glorious task is far from ended; according to her own words, it is to continue until the end of time: "Only when the angel shall have said: 'Time is no more!' then I shall be able to rejoice, because the number of the elect will be complete." Only then will the shower of roses cease to fall, because there will be none left upon whom they may fall. What motives for trust in her intercession! Would I be of genuine service to souls? Then I must be willing to pay the same price which St. Therese paid, in order to purchase the precious fruits she now so lavishly scatters abroad—joy in suffering. Am I willing, or, better, is my love of souls for the sake of God's love strong enough?
(3) For God.—"The glory of God, this is my sole ambition!" Thus wrote St. Therese, and God's love was in very truth her one and only aim. She longed for heaven, but not to be free from suffering, or to enjoy eternal bliss; it was something else that attracted her: "Oh, it is love! To love, to be loved, and to return to earth to win love for our Love…. One hope alone makes my heart beat fast: the love that I shall receive and the love that I shall be able to give." And again: "What draws me to my heavenly home is the summons of my Lord, together with the hope that at last I shall love Him as my heart desires, and shall be able to make Him loved by a multitude of souls, who will bless Him throughout eternity." So ardent was this desire that she composed a little prayer and sent it to her missionary brother with the request: "Please say this little prayer for me each day; it sums up all my desires: Merciful Father, in the name of Thy sweet Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin, and of all the saints, I beg Thee to consume my sister with Thy Spirit of Love, and to grant her the grace to make Thee greatly loved!" To this she added: "If our Lord takes me to Himself soon, I ask you to continue this prayer, because my longing will be the same in heaven as upon earth: to love Jesus and to make Him loved."
But as her end drew nearer, she realized more and more clearly that this was not only her desire, but also her God-given mission to the end of time: "I feel that my mission is soon to begin—my mission to make others love God as I love Him…." She closed her autobiography with that burning prayer: "I entreat Thee to let Thy divine eyes rest upon a vast number of little souls, I entreat Thee to choose in this world a legion of little victims of Thy merciful love!" From heaven she is still recruiting heroic lovers for her "legion of little victims" of joy in suffering for the love of God. She also extends the invitation to me. And my answer…?
Dear St. Therese, little victim of God's merciful love, how rich is the harvest, how beautiful the fruits you have gathered for God and souls, as also for yourself, through your generosity in proving your love by the divine test, suffering. Indeed, the roses with which you so tenderly covered the