BKL227 – St. Therese, the Little Flower – Building a Kingdom of Love with Msgr. John Esseff

Msgr. Esseff reflects on the life and prayer of St. Therese, the Little Flower.  He speaks of her simplicity of heart and great humility in her “little way”.  He shares his experience of his own mother’s prayer and that of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who both loved and prayed with the “Little Flower”.   The key is her “hiddenness”  and the beauty of a child.  She has a special message for women the world over, especially for our culture in the United States.

He would encourage all of us to ask in petition you may have need of, an educational issue, a job decision, a health issue, whatever it might be, turn to  St. Therese in prayer, especially today and tomorrow (the feast of the Guardian Angels).  He shares the story of his cousin Jimmy, his accident and a stranger who came to his aid, and why the angels and the saints and the power of prayer have such an influence on our lives.

Msgr. John A. Esseff is a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Scranton.  He was ordained on May 30, 1953, by the late Bishop William J. Hafey, D.D. at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Scranton, PA.  Msgr. Esseff served a retreat director and confessor to St. Mother Teresa.    He continues to offer direction and retreats for the sisters of the missionaries of charity around the world.  Msgr. Esseff encountered St.  Padre Pio,  who would become a spiritual father to him.  He has lived in areas around the world,  serving in the Pontifical missions, a Catholic organization established by St. Pope John Paul II to bring the Good News to the world especially to the poor.  Msgr. Esseff assisted the founders of the Institute for Priestly Formation and continues to serve as a spiritual director for the Institute.  He continues to serve as a retreat leader and director to bishops, priests and sisters and seminarians and other religious leaders around the world.   

“In the heart of the church I will be love” – Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus from the Office of Readings

From the autobiography of St Theresa of the Child Jesus, virgin

(Manuscrits autobiographiques, Lisieux 1957, 227-229)

In the heart of the church I will be love

Since my longing for martyrdom was powerful and unsettling, I turned to the epistles of St. Paul in the hope of finally finding an answer. By chance the 12th and 13th chapters of the 1st epistle to the Corinthians caught my attention, and in the first section I read that not everyone can be an apostle, prophet or teacher, that the Church is composed of a variety of members, and that the eye cannot be the hand. Even with such an answer revealed before me, I was not satisfied and did not find peace.

I persevered in the reading and did not let my mind wander until I found this encouraging theme: “Set your desires on the greater gifts. And I will show you the way which surpasses all others.” For the Apostle insists that the greater gifts are nothing at all without love and that this same love is surely the best path leading directly to God. At length I had found peace of mind.

When I had looked upon the mystical body of the Church, I recognised myself in none of the members which St. Paul described, and what is more, I desired to distinguish myself more favourably within the whole body. Love appeared to me to be the hinge for my vocation. Indeed I knew that the Church had a body composed of various members, but in this body the necessary and more noble member was not lacking; I knew that the Church had a heart and that such a heart appeared to be aflame with love. I knew that one love drove the members of the Church to action, that if this love were extinguished, the apostles would have proclaimed the Gospel no longer, the martyrs would have shed their blood no more. I saw and realised that love sets off the bounds of all vocations, that love is everything, that this same love embraces every time and every place. In one word, that love is everlasting.

Then, nearly ecstatic with the supreme joy in my soul, I proclaimed: O Jesus, my love, at last I have found my calling: my call is love. Certainly I have found my place in the Church, and you gave me that very place, my God. In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love, and thus I will be all things, as my desire finds its direction.

Excerpts from the English translation of The Liturgy of the Hours (Four Volumes) © 1974, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.

 

 

FG#13 The Way of Trust and Love episode 2 – Fountains of Grace with Donna Garrett

Join host Donna Garrett, with Fr. James Perez, LC, as they discuss the spiritual classic “The Way of Trust and Love: A Retreat Guided By St. Therese of Lisieux” by Fr. Jacques Philippe.

Discussed in this episode, among other topics, from “The Way of Trust and Love”

The fact that we can’t save ourselves is something we acknowledge in words, but in fact we find it very hard to accept. We’d all like to be saved by our own efforts, to be strong and robust, to boast about our successes, to shine in other people’s eyes, even on the spiritual level. Worldly people want to be highly regarded because they have luxurious cars, expensive watches, designer clothes, professional prestige, and go around with beautiful people. As good Christians, we may want to stand out for our virtues, charisms, experience, and sound judgment. Then we consider that we are on the right path. But in fact we’re in danger of ending up with exactly the same mindset as the worldly people described above. Very often, without realizing it, we have a worldly outlook on the spiritual life: self-fulfillment, self-affirmation, expansion of ego, etc. And spiritual pride, we must be aware, is sometimes more destructive than social, worldly pride.

Fr. James Perez, LC, joins Donna for this series

We cannot be saved by what we do; we can only be saved by grace, when God’s freely given love comes, takes hold of us, and transforms us, sometimes gently and progressively, but sometimes in a spectacular way. In general, the transformation is fairly slow and progressive, without our always being able to notice the action of grace.

Philippe, Jacques (2012-06-07). The Way of Trust and Love – A Retreat Guided by St. Therese of Lisieux (Kindle Locations 445-454). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

For other episodes in the this series click hereFountains of Grace w/Donna Garrett

You can find “The Way of Trust and Love” here

Fr. Jacques Philippe

FG#12 The Way of Trust and Love episode 1 – Fountains of Grace with Donna Garrett

FG#12 – The Way of Trust and Love Ep 1 – Fountains of Grace: Reflections on contemporary spiritual classics with Donna GarrettDonna

Join host Donna Garrett, with Fr. James Perez, LC, as they discuss the spiritual classic “The Way of Trust and Love: A Retreat Guided By St. Therese of Lisieux”  by Fr.  Jacques Philippe.

Discussed in this episode, among other topics,  from “The Way of Trust and Love” page 9

This is what Thérèse said:

Fr. James Perez, LC, joins Donna for this series
Fr. James Perez, LC, joins Donna for this series

You know, Mother, that I have always desired to be a saint, but alas, I have always realized, when I compared myself to the saints, that there is between them and me the same difference as exists between a mountain whose summit is lost in the skies, and the obscure grain of sand trodden underfoot by passers-by. Instead of getting discouraged, I said to myself: “God could not inspire us with desires that were unrealizable, so despite my littleness I can aspire to holiness. It is impossible for me to grow up, I must put up with myself as I am , with all my imperfections; but I want to find how to get to Heaven by a little way that is quite straight, quite short: a completely new little way. We are in an age of inventions; now one doesn’t have to make the effort to climb up a stairway in rich people’s houses, because an elevator does the work much better. I too would like to find an elevator to lift me up to Jesus, for I am too little to climb up the steep stairway of perfection.” Then I looked in the holy books for some sign of the elevator that I desired, and I read these words that had come forth from the mouth of Eternal Wisdom: “Whoever is VERY LITTLE let him come to me” [Proverbs 9: 4]. So I came, guessing that I had found what I sought. Wishing to know, O my God, what you would do for a little child who answered your call, I continued my search and this is what I found: “As a mother caresses her baby, so I will comfort you; I will carry you at my breast and rock you in my lap” [Isaiah 66: 13, 12]. Ah! never had such tender, melodious words come to rejoice my soul; the elevator that would lift me up to Heaven is your arms, O Jesus! To reach perfection, I do not need to grow up. On the contrary, I need to stay little, to become more and more little. O my God, you have surpassed my expectations, and I wish to sing of your mercies.For other episodes in the this series click here “Fountains of Grace w/Donna Garrett

The-Way-of-Truth-and-Love
You can find “The Way of Trust and Love” here

 

Fr.-Philippe
Fr. Jacques Philippe

CW1 St. Therese, Suffering, and Prayer – The Great Cloud of Witnesses: Guides for Prayer with Fr. Mark Cyza – Discerning Hearts

CW1 – St. Therese, Suffering, and Prayer  – The Great Cloud of Witnesses: Guides for Prayer with Fr. Mark CyzaCatholic Spiritual Formation - Catholic Spiritual Direction

Fr. Mark Cyza discusses the witness of St. Therese, especially in the light of the suffering she endured during the later years of her short 24 year old life.  He talks about not only her physical challenge, but also that suffering  her “dark night” and how it can actually be transformed into an experience of joy when united to the Cross of Christ with the aid of Our Lady.

From Story of a Soul (l’Histoire d’une Ame): The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux
LETTERS TO HER BROTHER MISSIONARIES
St.-Therese-5 (1)

What attracts me towards our Heavenly Home is the Master’s call—the hope of loving Him at last to the fulfilling of all my desire—the thought that I shall be able to win Him the love of a multitude of souls, who will bless Him through all eternity.

I have never asked God that I might die young—that to me were a cowardly prayer; but from my childhood He has deigned to inspire me with a strong conviction that my life would be a short one.

I feel we must tread the same road to Heaven—the road of suffering and love. When I myself have reached the port, I will teach you how best to sail the world’s tempestuous sea—with the self-abandonment of a child well aware of a father’s love, and of his vigilance in the hour of danger.

I long so much to make you understand the expectant love of the Heart of Jesus. Your last letter has made my own heart thrill sweetly. I learnt how closely your soul is sister to mine, since God calls that soul to mount to Himself by the lift of love, without climbing the steep stairway of fear. I am not surprised you find it hard to be familiar with Jesus—one cannot become so in a day; but this I do know, I shall aid you much more to tread this beautiful path when I lay aside the burden of this perishable body. Ere long you will exclaim with St. Augustine: “Love is my lodestone!”

IP#264 – Elizabeth Ficocelli – “Therese, Faustina, and Bernadette” on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor

Elizabeth-F“Therese, Faustina and Bernadette: Three Saints Who Challenged My Faith, Gave Me Hope, and Taught Me How to Love” ties beautifully together the theological virtues (faith, hope, and love) and shows us how they are particularly lived out in the lives of three of the most beloved saints of our modern era.  Author Elizabeth Ficocelli shares her personal relationship with these beautiful saints and how they helped her to grow in her understanding and trust in Christ.  More than just a biography of each saint, this work is a road map for the spiritual life based on the lives of women who are joyfully showing us the way.


Ttherese-Faustina-Bernade-195x300You can find the book here

“With openness and candor, Elizabeth Ficocelli reveals her personal experiences of living the challenges of her Catholic faith. Her peace and joy come in meeting these challenges by embracing the cross though the grace of prayer and the sacraments, as well as following the example of newfound friends, her favorite saints. This book will help anyone who also experiences challenges in life through the assistance of some wonderful friends!”–Mother Mary Assumpta Long, Prioress General, Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist

“Tender, honest, introspective, and deeply personal, this book provides beautiful witness to the loveliness and wonder of the feminine genius! Elizabeth Ficocelli, writing from the insightful perspective of a convert to Catholicism who seeks to understand and unpack the mysteries of her own spiritual journey, reminds us in this gem of a book that we should all seek to acquire friendship with the saints and grow in the theological virtues. I highly recommend this book!”–Rev. Donald Calloway, M.I.C., Author of Under the Mantle

FG#14 The Way of Trust and Love episode 3 – Fountains of Grace with Donna Garrett

FG#14 – The Way of Trust and Love Ep 3 – Fountains of Grace: reflections on contemporary spiritual classics with Donna GarrettDonna Join host Donna Garrett, with Fr. James Perez, LC, as they discuss the spiritual classic “The Way of Trust and Love: A Retreat Guided By St. Therese of Lisieux” by Fr. Jacques Philippe.

Discussed in this episode, among other topics, from “The Way of Trust and Love”

We began to look more deeply into humility in the previous chapter. I think a good definition of humility may be this: being in the right relation to ourselves, which enables us to be in the right relation to God and to other people; relating to ourselves according to the truth of what and how we are. One of its essential aspects , as we have seen, is peacefully accepting our weakness and inner poverty.

Fr. James Perez, LC, joins Donna for this series
Fr. James Perez, LC, joins Donna for this series

If we accept ourselves as we are, we also accept God’s love for us. But if we reject ourselves, if we despise ourselves, we shut ourselves off from the love God has for us, we deny that love. If we accept ourselves in our weakness, our limitations, it will also be easier for us to accept other people. Often, quite simply, we can’t get along with other people because we can’t get along with ourselves . We have all experienced this at some point. Sometimes we are unhappy with ourselves because we’ve made mistakes or fallen into a fault that humiliates us, so we are really annoyed with ourselves. That makes us bad-tempered and even aggressive with others. What does this mean? Just that we make others pay for our difficulty in accepting our own inner poverty. Not accepting our limitations, we take it out on other people … This reaction is very common, and obviously unfair and contrary to the truth. Most of our conflicts others are nothing more than a projection of the conflicts we are having with ourselves. The opposite is also true. The more we accept ourselves as we are and are reconciled to our own weakness, the more we can accept other people and love them as they are.

For other episodes in the this series click hereFountains of Grace w/Donna Garrett

The-Way-of-Truth-and-Love You can find “The Way of Trust and Love” here

Fr.-Philippe
Fr. Jacques Philippe

FG#15 The Way of Trust and Love episode 4 – Fountains of Grace with Donna Garrett

FG#15 – The Way of Trust and Love Ep4 – Fountains of Grace: reflections on contemporary spiritual classics with Donna GarrettDonna Join host Donna Garrett, with Fr. James Perez, LC, as they discuss the spiritual classic “The Way of Trust and Love: A Retreat Guided By St. Therese of Lisieux” by Fr. Jacques Philippe.

Discussed in this episode, among other topics, from “The Way of Trust and Love”

Whatever our personal limitations and situations, we can all love right where we are: in the kitchen, the bathroom, the office— it makes no difference. What the Church needs most is genuine love. We attach too much importance to externals, actions, and visible effectiveness, whereas all that counts, all that really bears fruit in the Church, is the truth and purity and sincerity of love; that is what we should ask God for most of all and put into practice.

Fr. James Perez, LC, joins Donna for this series
Fr. James Perez, LC, joins Donna for this series

Philippe, Jacques (2012-06-07). The Way of Trust and Love – A Retreat Guided by St. Therese of Lisieux (Kindle Locations 731-734). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

 

 

 

For other episodes in the this series click hereFountains of Grace w/Donna Garrett

The-Way-of-Truth-and-Love You can find “The Way of Trust and Love” here

Fr.-Philippe
Fr. Jacques Philippe

FG#16 The Way of Trust and Love episode 5 – Fountains of Grace with Donna Garrett

FG#16- The Way of Trust and Love Ep4 – Fountains of Grace: reflections on contemporary spiritual classics with Donna GarrettDonna Join host Donna Garrett, with Fr. James Perez, LC, as they discuss the spiritual classic “The Way of Trust and Love: A Retreat Guided By St. Therese of Lisieux” by Fr. Jacques Philippe.

Discussed in this episode, among other topics, from “The Way of Trust and Love”

When a person is faithful to his or her times of prayer, day after day, week after week, it’s like someone with a well in the garden that’s choked with rubbish— branches, leaves, stones, mud— but underneath is water, clean and pure . In spending time in prayer, you’re setting to work patiently to unblock the well. What comes up at the start is the mud and dirt: our wretchedness, worries, fears, guilt, self-blame— the things we normally avoid. Plenty of people run away from themselves. There’s a real fear of silence today! But those who have the courage to go forward into the desert end up finding an oasis.

Fr. James Perez, LC, joins Donna for this series
Fr. James Perez, LC, joins Donna for this series

Let’s stay with the image of the well. We start digging, and at first it’s not very pleasant, because we come face-to-face with our limitations and human deficiencies. But if we persevere, we’ll end by finding the wellspring. We discover, to our joy, that at the bottom of our hearts flows a pure spring of water, the presence of God dwelling within us. Even if we are poor sinners, by going to the depths of our hearts in prayer we find pure, clear water. But only prayer grants us access to the bottom of our hearts.

Philippe, Jacques (2012-06-07). The Way of Trust and Love – A Retreat Guided by St. Therese of Lisieux (Kindle Locations 987-996). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

 

For other episodes in the this series click hereFountains of Grace w/Donna Garrett

The-Way-of-Truth-and-Love You can find “The Way of Trust and Love” here

Fr.-Philippe
Fr. Jacques Philippe

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