St. Teresa of Avila
A letter to a friend considering the consecrated life…
I can understand that feeling of having thrown away one’s life… of having never been what one should have been… or thought one should be.
And yet, how are we to know that this isn’t within God’s plan? That He has permitted our lives to go the course they have so as to give Him much more glory in the end?
How wonderful is it that a woman your age, who normally would be seeking the good life, the baby boomer pleasures, the Oprah dream… is giving up her life to seek God alone. Whew. What a testimony. And it could only have its fullest effect coming now, at the stage you’re at.
Of course, you are only following in the footsteps of your foundress, Teresa of Avila. She did not seriously commit to her faith until mid-life… and now she is a doctor of the Church!
The thing about God, which no doubt confounds Satan, is that He continually makes things work to the good. His intention was to live with us in harmony in the Garden of Eden. Instead, we rebelled. But now through the Cross, we have been given an even greater glory: participation in the very Body of Christ, renewed in His image, divinized by the gift of the Holy Spirit. Which is why the Church prays,
O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!
O felix culpa! Indeed, man’s sin has turned into an even greater blessing.
But this does not mean we keep sinning so as to bring about greater glory. That is a temptation from the dark side—the wages of sin are still death. It is God’s will that we are not only holy, but that we bear fruit (John 15). And let us not forget that it is people—saints—on whom God builds His Church—not programs.
Which begs the question, "What is a saint?" I feel the answer assuredly is this: the one who continually repents, growing in faith, trusting in hope, and living in love. Note, I did not say the one who repents, but the one who continually repents. Is this not the course which you have set your heart upon? Your compass is right, beloved, even though the waves plough your starboard, pushing you wayward for a moment here, or a time there.
You are still young, dear bride of Christ. Young enough that God can do with you what He pleases. And I might say that He seems to be doing just that. As you enter into your nothingness (nada), you are also entering into Everything. Do you see your sin more clearly? Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Why are we surprised that when we enter more deeply into the flaming Sacred Heart of Light, darkness is exposed? It is not revealed to punish, but to purify, and the one who is purified will be blessed to see God (Matt 5:3,8). One who seriously wishes to be a saint should wear Hebrews 12:5, 11 upon his or her brow!
My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor lose courage when you are punished by him.
For the Lord disciplines him who he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives..
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant;
later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness
to those who have been trained by it.
Your life is not wasted. Just as the dunghill provides fertilizer for the garden, so too does our sinful and wretched past provide fertilizer for holiness, so long as we root ourselves in the Garden of Love, and welcome through faith, Christ, to be our perpetual guest (Eph 3:17).
Christ can make you whatever He wishes in an instant. However, He rarely seems to choose this path, probably because our human nature would collapse under pride. Instead, He has mapped for us a winding, steep path through many thorn bushes. Wouldn’t He, the Divine Navigator, know then that our human nature would easily lead us astray from this path? Of course… which is why He has also many hidden paths which not even the angels see until the Light of the Cross shines on them. Let me say everything again in the economy of the Word:
We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him.(Rom 8:28)
You are beloved little one. Precious to Him who has so few to love Him. I wish that I could love Christ as much as you. Please pray for me that I may have the grace to do so, as the weight of my humanity is nearly unbearable these days.
Lift your head high, this night, sister. Your redemption is nearer than it was.
Love in Christ,