I have been trying to find the words to tell you about Jacques Phillipe and the Christ the King Women’s retreat for quite some time now. If you know me at all, you know that I am rarely at a loss for words. So although this is a different feeling, I am enjoying the sense of longing for the interior freedom that Father Jacques spoke of. The retreat was magical because ( together with his French words and sweet Sister Clare as interpretor) Father wasted little time and got right to the core of all human desire: inner peace. How we can accomplish this? It is something that can be obtained, but with much work on our end of accepting our circumstances, and offering our struggles as an act of faith to Jesus. Jesus is the WAY, we already knew that, but what if we had a difficult time in the past, or are currently dealing with a difficult situation? Father Jacques says that hope is the framework for the wings of faith. So if hope is the main thing we need how can we get more hope?
I feel overwhelmed at letting go of my past circumstances. I don’t LIKE to admit this to you, but I often let my past rule my present. I have hurts that I have done a lot of inner work on, but they stick to me like glue sometimes, those negative experiences, and they don’t just wash off with a good soap scrub. It seems like I have gotten through one thing that was previously difficult, to only be confronted with a wound I thought I had dealt with, but that is affecting me differently now that I am at this phase of life. Like it’s a new old pain. It really hurts and it is easy to sometimes feel discouraged and unable to heal again, begin again. Only with Jesus’ healing power am I able to gain footing and start to climb up…Once Father Ed Fride told me that each time I receive the eucharist I can say, “Jesus, heal the parts of me that are hurt.” And He will. He will. I have witnessed this many times, and it gives me strength to know he cares for me so much that He is willing to work out my kinks and enable me to let the heck go of all the damage that has been done.
Acceptance of our poverty is something that is crucial in order to have that inner peace. We have limitations, we have issues, we are not perfect. But if we can somehow admit our imperfections, maybe we can use that ability to be vaunerable to the Holy Spirit as well. Maybe if we can just let Him have us, as we are, as is, we can move forward in trust.
Father Jacques wrote a book called “The Way of Trust and Love,” based on a retreat guided by Therese of Lisieux. It is a beautiful treasure trove of Saint Therese’s amazing awareness of what she was meant for, and the practical advice of Father Jacques looking at her writings and talking to us as if we are his own dear friends. I highly recommend this book, and really everything Father Jacques writes! He is going to tell it like it is, and at the same time be tender and merciful. What a superior blessing to have the opportunity to read this, and to hear Father Jacques in person.
And now to apply it to my life, all of the inspiration, and wonder is seeping through my brain like ice water to drink on a hot day, it feels quenched, I have the knowledge of the freedom in Jesus, and now I just have to ask for it for myself. Jesus, what in me are you able to solve? What puzzles are you willing to take on?
Saint Therese says this, “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 out 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 the 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 came 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.”
You may not have any idea how consoling these words are to me! I feel that, as my Atrium Ladies and I spoke of last night, the chorus of screaming children, the messy floors and the utter chaos is totally worth it when you look at the eternal perspective, but there is even more than that. There is the now, and it disappears before your eyes if you blink.
Having said that, it is important to close your eyes periodically for reflection and for sleep, and as necessary as all the sacrifices are that mothers and fathers often make, it is also worthwhile to let your own guard down, and climb into the arms of our Heavenly Father, tell Him of all your woes, and feel the tender goodness and love that His Heart holds.
He can handle it.