Conference 1 Love And Mercy Intertwined

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Conference 1 Love and Mercy IntertwinedTranscriptIn the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. Let us pray as our Savior taught us.Our Father Saint Therese of Lisieux, pray for us. In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the HolySpirit. Amen.Saint Paul in his First letter to the Corinthians, chapter 11 says, “Be an imitator of me in as much that Iam an imitator of Jesus Christ.” So what does that tell us? It tells us that we can look to the Saints, andwe can look at the virtues that really shine forth in their lives. We can imitate those because those aresomehow someway a reflection of Jesus Christ, in which all perfection lies in Jesus Christ. So we can lookat the Saints, we can imitate the particular virtues.The Saint that I bring to you today for 2 conferences is that of Saint Therese of Lisieux, of the ChildJesus. One of the most beloved Saint I believe throughout the world. A saint that I didn’t’ know a lotabout when I was growing up, but a saint that ,in a sense, introduced herself to me as I was following myvocation - I’ll share with you about that in a little bit. Saint Therese was born on January 2nd 1873 andwas baptized just a couple days later. In those days, which is really wise, they didn't wait for baptism.They didn’t put it off. They didn’t wait until everybody could come in and we can have a big party, andall things. Sometimes I’ll baptize a child, and the child would practically walk up to the baptismal font.But we want to do baptism as soon as possible. She did it two days later. She was baptized on the fourthand many times, the parents weren’t present for the baptism. But the people who were, were the Godparents. They would take the child and bring the child in for baptism. Because they understood, as JEsusteaches us, the necessity for baptism. That what truly means to be born again, to be born in waterthrough the Holy Spirit. So she was baptized just 2 days later.She experienced hardship in her life when she was roughly 4 years of age, she lost her mother – Selin,who I will speak about as well. Then she struggled will illness as well, roughly 10 years of age. Her familythought they were going to lose her, but they received a beautiful smie from the image of our Lady. Thatwas a great healing that she experienced in her life. 11 years of age, she received first holy communion.She had a great love for our Lord in the Eucharist, which I will speak more about in the secondconference. She eventually got Confirmed and everything. But, we know about St. Therese, probablybest, in that she entered into the cloistered life. She became a Carmelite nun. She did so at a very youngage. She wanted to do so earlier, but she couldn’t because of her age. She went through great lengths inorder to be welcomed into the community. We know that St. Therese died on September 30, 1897. Thatwould be the day before her feast day, which is October 1st. September 3, 1987 – she died fromsuffering from tuberculosis. And praise God that she was encouraged to tell the story of her life, and weare able to see her story in her autobiography, which is called “The Story of a Soul”. I highly recommendthe book to everyone. It’s an outstanding book, especially during the Lenten season. This would be agreat book to do some good spiritual reading, and in there, you will be able to really see the virtue oflove shine through St. Therese, the Apostle of Love. The title of our talks that we share together.Conference 1 Love and Mercy Intertwined TranscriptPage 1 of 8

If you want to dig your foot in the shallow end before getting into the deep end, which might be a littleintimidating – I recommend this book. “The Little Way of St. Therese: Into the Arms of Love” by JohnNelson. IT’s a great book. It’s a great way to dip your toes in the shallow end before jumping deep intoher autobiography.I didn’t know much about St. Therese growing up. The one thing I did know about St. Therese growingup, is that my younger sister, Kelly, chose her as her confirmation Saint. That’s about all I knew about St.Therese. Then in 1993, the August of 1993, where most of the young Catholics of the United States,were going to Denver Colorado to see the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. I, along with a priest friend ofmine, - this was when I was just entering into the seminary – decided to go to France and make apilgrimage to Ars. We wanted to go to the altar of Saint John Vianney, the patron saint of priests, andpray to him and ask him to intercede on my behalf when I was going to the seminary just a couple weekslater.As we were driving around the French countryside, we see all these beautiful gothic murals. I highlyrecommend this to anyone who is able to do it. I look on the map and I notice the town of Lisieux. And Isay, “Oh, I want to go there. That’s where my sister’s patron saint.” And the priest says, “okay. What agreat idea. Let’s go to Lisieux.” What a great blessing that turned out for me. Because when I wentthere, I cam to understand this beautiful saint. I realized that asking for her prayers as I entered into theseminary, that she was going to be with me in a very very special way. So I went there, made a wholeday, learned about her, her family, her parents and everything. I eventually made my way to Ars andback to the States, and eventually to the seminary in 1993 and ordained in 1998. 1998 I was ordained toserve with the priests in the diocese of Phoenix until 2009. I remember the Bishop at the time called meduring Easter break, I was getting ready for my priestly ordination and my first assignment. He called mein the rectory room to give me my assignment. He said, “You are going to be going to St. ThereseParish.” And I said, “Great!” Now with me, automatically, I wondered which saint is that? When I wassent to the diocese of Gallup in 2009, the first thing I did after overcoming the shock and picking myselfoff the floor, was to find out who the patroness is. The patroness was Our Lady of Guadalupe.The first thing I did, was well, which saint is this? Is it Saint Therese, or Saint Therese of Avila, or Lisieux?When I found out, I was pleasantly surprised and I wasn’t too surprised to find it was Saint Therese ofLisieux. She was making herself known to me in an incredible way. This helped me to foster thisdevotion to her that I started when I first visited Lisieux right before going into the seminary.One of the first gifts I received when I went to the parish was a book of the month club. You mightimage how shocked I was the very first book I received in the book of the month club, was this littlebook that was sent to me. It was just by happenstance that I received this book. It gave me a chance tolearn a little bit about her in the “Story of a Soul”. I recommend this book to anyone.Two years later, so I was ordained in 1998, so two years later, the Holy father, Pope John Paul II, for theJubilee year had World Youth Day. He had it in Rome. So I took 53 young people, high school age andcollege age, from St. Therese Parish in Phoenix, Arizona. I took them to World Youth Day to see the HolyFather. But we decided prior to that we would go first to France, to Lisieux for three and half days. Wewould make a retreat there prior going to World Youth Day. If you’ve ever been to World Youth Day,they could be a bit on the crazy side, unorganized side. They’re powerful spiritual experiences, butConference 1 Love and Mercy Intertwined TranscriptPage 2 of 8

there’s a lot going on. So we wanted to set the tone. We went to Lisieux with our young people and wespend three in half days in retreat. One of the days for the retreat was focused on vocation. We knowthat a vocation is a call from God. It comes from the latin word “vocare” which means “to call”. I askedthe young people to pray , if you already know your vocation, to pray to St. Therese and ask her tostrengthen you in your vocation. Saint Therese said that when she died and went to heaven, she wouldspend her eternity in heaven doing good on earth. That’s what the saints do for us. They are our olderbrothers and sisters in faith. They are the one’s who have gotten it right. They cheer us on with theirprayers. So say “Ask her with your prayers to intercede for you and strengthen you in your vocation.” Iknew my vocation. I was a priest at that time. We had some married people with us, we mostly hadhighschool and college students who haven’t followed their vocation yet. Then I said, “For those whodon’t know your vocation, ask her to intercede for you to help you know the vocation. Not simply toknow the vocation, but also to have the courage to follow it.” Because many times we can know whereGod is calling us to do in our life or in simple decisions that we make throughout the day. Sometimes weneed the courage to make that decision, to follow that decision. So I say “ask her for her help to followthat vocation.”We had a number of people on there, and a few had priesthood written all over them. I think everybodyelse and their brother knew they were called to be priests, but them at the time. Maybe they knew inthe hearts, but they didn’t have the courage yet to follow it. We had one young man on there, and hehad just graduated from college. This was a guy I had been working with for 2 years and talking to himabout his call. He was sitting on the fence a little bit. I noticed about him, especially on that day, hereally gave himself over to prayer. It really was a prayerful day for this young man, recent college grad.So we finished our three in half day retreat, with one of those days focused on vocation. We made ourway pack to Paris, took a train, and made our way to Rome to meet the Holy Father. As we were on thetrain from Paris to Rome, the young man called me. His sister and brother in law were there with us too.He called me and said, “I need to talk to you.” So he called us into one of the cars in the train and closedthe door, and he said, “I need to tell you something.” “Well what is it?” “It’s very very serious.” He said,“I know my vocation.” Now, I would say all three of us knew what it was but, he’s the one that neededto know his vocation. He said, “I’m being called to be a priest.” Much of it had to do with the day hespent in praying to St. Therese, and I think he knew his vocation, but what she did was give him theexample and prayers to have the courage to follow it, to act in love, act in the heart in order to followit. He said, “I’m being called to be a priest.” Now you can imagine how excited we were. This was inAugust, and most colleges, universities, seminaries, get back to the beginning of the semester at thebeginning of September or the end of August. We were still going on to Rome and encounter the HolyFather, Pope Saint John Paul II. But when we got to Rome, somehow, someway, he was connected withhis bishop. And he saw his bishop in Rome, amongst probably 3 million extra people in Rome, and hesaid, “I get it. I’m being called to be a priest.” His bishop already knew that as well. Then the bishop said,“okay.” Essentially, they fast tracked him – this is unheard of - to where he began his seminary studies inthat month. That wonderful young man, today we call him Father. He eventually was ordained forpriesthood. He is a very happy and joyful priest with an incredibly powerful devotion to Saint Therese.He attributed much of his own vocation to the intercession of Saints Therese and helping him to followafter that vocation because that's what Saint Therese said she would do. “I will spend my eternity inheaven doing good on Earth by interceding on behalf of those who who asked for my prayers. “And thatis one of the great ways we are able to see the virtue of Saint Therese, the virtue of love shine forth inthe life of Saint Therese.Conference 1 Love and Mercy Intertwined TranscriptPage 3 of 8

Saint Thomas tells us that love is willing the good of the other. It's desiring the good for another. Whatis the ultimate good for all of us? The ultimate good for all of us is eternal life with God in heaven. Thesaints helping us and they love us in in helping us get to heaven. Where they are, they want us to follow.And that’s what they do, they help us through their prayers.I have countless stories about the life that she had and how she worked in people’s lives. She is referredto as the little flower, Flower is a symbol many times people start a novena to Saint Therese or ask forher intercession. When they see that prayer answered, the favored granted, sometimes out of theordinary, the would find a flower or a rose. It’s one of the symbol that's associated with Saint Therese,the little flower. That's what she said, she was going to spend eternity in heaven doing good on Earth.Saint Therese learned about the virtue of love and how it was modeled for her in the family home. Herparents, Louis and Zelie Martin are unique in that they are the first Catholic saints who are married toone another and canonized on the very same day. The first catholic married saints canonized on thesame day and they that was just not too long ago by our Holy Father Pope Francis. Louis and Zeliealways had a great love for the Lord in their own lives and they desire to follow the Lord as best as theycould, as their daughter eventually would as well. Louis, when he was young, Louis wanted to be areligious. He wanted to go into a religious life and he was attracted to a particular community ofAugustinian cannons who are associated with raising Saint Bernards in the Alps. The Saint Bernards inthe Alps rescue people who found themselves in trouble. We’re all familiar with that story - the image ofa Saint Bernard with the barrel. That’s something he wanted to do and so he attempted to join thatreligious order because he wanted to follow God's will and he believe that this was God's will for him inhis life. He entered it into the community, attempted to enter to community but he had some struggles.His primary struggles were in Latin and other studies. It manifested itself in terms of illness and overallnot good health. So he in the community realize and understood that this wasn’t in his calling. Soeventually he left and he tried to follow the Lord in another way. He became a watchmaker. That washis livelihood. That's where he thought he was first being called and he left and eventually became awatchmaker. But remember, watchmaker is a career, not a vocation.Let’s look at Zelie. Zelie, she too thought she was being called to religious life but she discerned that shewasn't being called to religious life eventually. But she pursued it and she attempted and she tried andshe realize this isn't what God desires for me and so she left. She became a lacemaker. In the stories, shewas just an outstanding and very gifted lacemaker.So as they discerned their vocations wasn't religious life, they went out into the world eventually theywere able to discover one another. They realize that God had set the two of them apart and set themapart to come together for the sacrament of holy matrimony, which they both said yes to and theywere joined in marriage. Married couple sometimes look back and think “oh maybe we shouldn’t havedone that, or we could have done that a little differently, maybe we should have parented the children alittle different in this way.” Louis and Zelie made a really big mistake at the beginning of the theirmarriage and it's a good thing that there was a wise priest that counseled them against this. Theythought that when they got married, they would remain, live as brother and sister and they would notenter into an intimate act. That's not the purpose of marriage. The purpose of marriage is begetting andrearing children. The purpose of marriage is the coming together as one flesh, no longer two but oneflesh. The unitive and the procreative aspect. So thankfully it wise priest cautioned them and said “no,Conference 1 Love and Mercy Intertwined TranscriptPage 4 of 8

that's not how to live.” and so they did live together as husband and wife. They lived together in a in abeautiful way because the Lord blessed them with nine children - seven girls and two boy. But early intheir marriage in their life they both experienced hardship. When they lost four of those children - thetwo boys and two girls. The love lost for those children. And so you can imagine the heartache that theyexperience. That’s the story of Louis and Zelie Martin, but eventually that decision to be married, thatdecision to come together, that decision to be open to gift of life and to rear children gave the worldone of the most beautiful saints of all time.That is Saint Therese of Lisieux, who is the youngest of all the children. We have Marie, she's the oldest,then Pauline, Leonie, Selin, and then finally St. Therese. She was the youngest of all of them. SaintTherese in her own life some of the difficulties and hardships that she experienced when she was young- her mother died. Her mother passed away when she was 4 years of age so she experienced hardship. Ithink that sometimes when we experience hardship, there is one of two ways that we can experience it.We can withdraw and we can flee from things, or we can work move toward something. And SaintTherese did that. It was a good that she did that in that she chose her sister, older sister Pauline. Shetold her that Pauline would be her mother. Pauline served the maternal role in the life of Saint Theresein a beautiful way.Saint Therese eventually entered into religious life and she knew that a very young age that she wascalled to be in religious life. Her older siblings have all entered into religious life and she too felt that shewas being called to enter into religious life and she wanted to join the Carmel in Lisieux. But she wantedto do so at a very young age and so she wasn't given permission in order to do this. But she wanted toand she thought, “okay what am I going to do? How am I going to express my love for Jesus because Iknow that He's calling me to Himself. I know that He wants me to espouse myself to Him andconsecrated life. However I have these barriers that are keeping me back.” One being her age. She lookfor all sorts of different ways to do this and she kept little by little by little by little moving up the ladder.You know sometimes if you go to ask one parent if I can do this, and they say “no”, you might go to askthe other one or one sibling and you just keep moving up the ladder. That's what she did. She did so allthe way to the pope when she met the Holy Father and she made the request of the Holy Father that “Iknow I'm young but I want to enter into religious life. I love Jesus so much. I want Him to be my spouse.”She went all the way to the point of asking the Holy Father. I think that's a great expression to see thelove that Saint Therese had. The lengths that she would go in order to follow the call that God hadgiven her, in order to espouse herself to Jesus Christ. Sometimes that might even mean that we end upmaking a fool out of ourselves, and that was a bit of the story of Saint Therese. She made a bit of a foolof herself. She just clung to the Holy Father saying “please, please, please, please, let me have thepermission to enter into religious life.” We know the end of the story. Eventually she does enter intoreligious life.Saint Therese has what we refer to as “the little way” and to really sum up “the little way”, it’s the littleacts of love in which we show our expression of our love for God and for our neighbor. Pope BenedictXVI in deus caritas est said that if we show love toward our neighbor, we are also expressing our love forGod. So showing our love for a neighbor also expressing our love for God. We're able to see that inMatthew's gospel chapter 25 where our Lord said, “when I was hungry, when I was thirsty, when I washomeless, when you gave me food, when you gave me drink, when you gave me shelter, and when Iwas sick, when I was in prison

Final word on love. St Paul in his treatise on love in 1st Corinthians chapter 13, he said that love is patient, its kind, it’s not self-seeking, rather it’s always other seeking. So love really is directed outwards. Love is directed to love of God and love of neighbor. It’s that movement outwards and I think