Pastoral Message – November 6, 2022
It’s November y’all!
In the Catholic Church world, that means that we start the month thinking about Saints and souls, reminding us of all those who have gone before us. (That’s why we have names of saints, although non-canonized, flowing out from under our Altar. These are the names of the folks for whom we’ve celebrated a funeral Mass on this very Altar in the last year. A little citation from Rev. 6:9-11 should be applied here. We will continue to remember Saints and souls, final things, hope and heaven right up to the First Sunday of Advent – November 27th this year.)
By association, thinking of Saints and souls, a book titled Histoire d’une Ame or Story of a Soul comes to my mind. It is the compiled autobiography of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, who is also known as St. Therese of Lisieux. St. Therese was a Carmelite nun, who lived in 19th Century France. Her book, which relates the story of her life and more importantly tells the story of her soul, gives every reader an insight to her personal theology, which she called the “little way”. This book, now considered a classic work of spirituality – with translations in over 50 languages and more than 500,000,000 copies sold – was a great influence on many other souls.
Maybe you’ve read this book. I’ve read and re-read this book a few times. It is simple, but it ain’t easy. It simply tells one to follow a path of humility. (Humility is simple. But being humble is not easy, nor especially appreciated these days). It also teaches one to trust God alone, even in the midst of suffering. (Not easy, nor well practiced with our control-centered mindsets. And not easily appreciated in our avoidance of any pain, suffering and denial of mortality). It also teaches one to love selflessly, in both devotion and in imitation of Jesus Christ. (Loving selfishly is very easy- but by definition, it’s not possible ‘cuz it’s a lie. To love selflessly is not easy, nor even thought doable in our age of narcissism and broken relationships). So St. Therese’s story can be both a challenge and an antidote to all that ails us spiritually. Simply put, Histoire d’une Ame is also simply a love story between a soul and God who loves, graces and saves.
Therefore, as I continue thinking about Saints and souls this month, I’m going to take the model of St. Therese and apply it to my own relationship with God. Maybe you’d like to join in too. If so, let’s consider how to apply our own personal theology (how we think about, approach, and make sense of our union with God). Whether we acknowledge it or not, we have our own theology – how we think about God. And our theology is shaped by the example of Saints and the Church. So go ahead, define to yourself who God is, what God means to you, and how much you would devote yourself to God. Once you have both a knowledge and experience of God, then let’s let our theology shape our conversions, goals, attitudes, relationships, and worldviews. In other words, like all the Saints who have gone before, our theology will affect our being. It will become the story of our souls.
And as the theology-led story of our souls is playing out through our lives we become influencers and exemplars to other souls in the making around us. That’s how we continue the mission of Jesus Christ and the Church. And as we see the influence of holiness around us take root in simple ways, we’re encouraged to persevere in saintly ways. Cuz’ even if your own personal theology at this point doesn’t recognize the potential of your own soul, God puts His faith in you, and me, and the whole of creation. This then becomes the story of salvation for all through God’s love, grace and salvation.
So it’s November y’all! Let’s live these days writing the story of our souls in God’s love – until we join all the angels and Saints in glory.