Thursday, April 26, 2012

May we not fear the Climb

Carmel 1893

Dear Leonie,

"We just listened to a beautiful retreat... the good Father spoke especially about union with Jesus... 'Look at the oaks in our countryside... they spread out their branches to the right and left, nothing hinders them, so they never reach a great height.

"On the contrary, look at the oaks of the forest, hemmed in on all sides; they do not see the light except from on high, so their trunks are without all these deformed branches that draw away the sap necessary to go upward.  The oaks see nothing but the sky above, and all their strength is turned in that direction, so soon they attain a prodigious height....

"The soul has light when it looks upon Heaven, there alone it can rest its gaze, never must it fear climbing too much in this direction.'"  (St. Therese of Lisieux)

The priest quoted here was speaking to the Sisters of their Rule, which hemmed them in and, in effect, pressed them "upward."  God obviously considers all people in need of a Rule, for He has given us Scripture and Church teaching to train us in our growth toward Him. 

Oh, but how often are we cautioned not to "climb too much in that direction?"  Told that religion is okay in its place, fine for nuns and priests (and for us too - on Sundays).  Just don't be a fanatic.  Don't be a goody two-shoes, a spoilsport, a prude. 

"All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity.  All are called to holiness: 'Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.' (Matthew 5:48)"  (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2013)

"Christian perfection has but one limit, that of having none."  (St. Gregory of Nyssa, quoted in Catholicism of the Catholic Church #2028)  

Saints, it can be said, have been those without limits.  No limits to their love, no limits to their quest for holiness, no limits as they've allowed God's will and the various circumstances of their lives to press them upward to perfection.

"Follow the saints, because those who follow them will become saints."  (Pope Clement I).  

May we not fear the climb.