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Father Anthony Ho

Communion of saints comforted Therese

Voices May 15, 2018

The venerable Anne of Jesus, who appeared to Therese in a dream.  “The Good God asks no more of you, He is pleased, quite pleased,” she told Therese. (Wikimedia Commons engraving by M. van Lochom)

St. Therese of Lisieux desired to have a brother as a priest. She wrote, “I often used to think that if my little brothers had not gone to Heaven, I should have had the happiness of seeing them at the Altar. I greatly regretted being deprived of this joy. Yet God went beyond my dream; I only asked for one brother who would remember me each day at the Holy Altar, and He has united me in the bonds of spiritual friendship with two of His apostles.”

In 1895, the Prioress called Therese aside and read her a letter from a young seminarian. He wrote that he had been inspired by St. Teresa of Avila to ask for a sister who would devote herself specially to his salvation, and to the salvation of his future flock. He promised always to remember this spiritual sister at Mass. The Prioress told Therese that she had been chosen to be the spiritual sister of that future priest.

Therese supported him daily by prayer and sacrifice. From time to time, she wrote him letters. In 1896, at the end of May, Therese was told to be the spiritual sister of a second priest. Therese prayed and made sacrifices especially for her two spiritual brothers and the novices, whom she considered her little sisters. She also prayed in general for all priests (both local parish priests and missionaries).

For a while, Therese suffered from temptation against faith in the existence of heaven. Therese made many acts of faith and patiently endure spiritual darkness. One day, she was comforted by a dream. In her dream, she saw three Carmelites and she knew they came from heaven. She recognized one of them was Venerable Mother Anne of Jesus, foundress of the Carmel in France. Venerable Mother showed great affection for Therese.

Therese said to her: “Dear Mother, I entreat you, tell me, will Our Lord leave me much longer in this world? Will He not soon come to fetch me?” Venerable Mother smiled sweetly, and answered, “Yes, soon ... very soon ... I promise you.”

Therese asked again, “Dear Mother, tell me if He does not want more from me than these poor little acts and desires that I offer Him. Is He pleased with me?”

Venerable Mother’s face shone with a new splendour, and her expression became still more gracious: “The Good God asks no more of you, He is pleased, quite pleased.” Then, taking Therese’s head between her hands, she kissed her tenderly. This dream left a deep impression on Therese. It helped strengthen her faith in heaven and her devotion towards Venerable Mother Anne of Jesus.

Therese wrote, “On waking, I realized that Heaven does indeed exist, and that this Heaven is peopled with souls who cherish me as their child, and this impression still remains with me – all the sweeter, because, up to that time, I had but little devotion to the Venerable Mother Anne of Jesus. I had never sought her help, and but rarely heard her name. And now I know and understand how constantly I was in her thoughts, and the knowledge adds to my love for her and for all the dear ones in my Father’s Home.”

Therese admired the different vocations in the Church – priests, teachers, missionaries, and martyrs. From the writing of St. Paul, Therese realized that her vocation was love, which embraces all vocations. She prayed, “O Jesus, my Love, at last I have found my vocation. My vocation is love! Yes, I have found my place in the bosom of the Church, and this place, O my God, Thou hast Thyself given to me: in the heart of the Church, my Mother, I will be LOVE! ... Thus I shall be all things: thus will my dream be realized ...”

                                                小德蘭感受諸聖相通

小德蘭原本想有一位作神父的兄弟。「我一向這樣想,」她剖白說:「如果我的小哥哥們沒有早早上了天堂,我猜我們可以很高興地,看到他們在祭台上主持聖祭。我為失去這福樂而感到可惜。然而,天主給我夢想的還要多;我只祈求有一位兄弟在每日在彌撒中記得我,天主卻從祂的宗徒中,給了我兩位神親的兄弟。」

1895年,修院院長把小德蘭叫到一旁,給她讀出一位年輕修生的信,信中表明受聖大德蘭啟發,希望能得到一位神親姊妹特別為他的得救祈禱,也為他將來牧職下的羊群的得救祈禱;他回報以將來每天的彌撒中記得這位姊妹。院長告訴小德蘭,她被揀選作這位未來神父的神親姊妹。

小德蘭每天為這位修生祈禱和作奉獻,亦間中寫信給他。1896年五月下旬,小德蘭被請作另一位神父的神親姊妹。於是,小德蘭每日都為那兩位神親兄弟和自己修院內的初學生(把她們看作自己的妹妹),祈禱和奉獻;同時,她會為所有的堂區神父及傳教士祈禱。

小德蘭曾有一段時期受到懷疑天堂是否存在的誘惑困擾;她在信德中耐心地忍受著這些黑暗時刻。一日,她了一個夢,夢中看到來自天堂的三位加耳默羅修女,其中位她認出是可敬耶穌安納姆姆,她是法國加耳默羅修院的創辦人。耶穌安納姆姆慈愛地對待小德蘭。

小德蘭問耶穌安納姆姆:「親愛的姆姆,懇請你告訴我,吾主是否要把我留在人世間很長久?祂是否不會快來提取我呢?」姆姆微笑著溫柔地回答說:「是,快的….很快的….我許諾你。」

小德蘭又問道:「親愛的姆姆,請告訴我,吾主是否要我作比這些小犧牲及善願更大的東西嗎?祂對我滿意嗎?」姆姆似更充滿燦爛的容光地答說:「萬善的天主不要求你更多,祂喜悅,很喜悅。」姆姆用雙手棒起小德蘭的頭,吻了一下。小德蘭對這個夢印象深刻,加強了對天堂的信德,也增加了對可敬耶穌安納姆姆的敬禮。

小德蘭寫道:「我醒來,確知天堂的存在,那裡有很多聖靈魂珍視我為他們的女兒。那種印象仍留存至今….我其實在此夢前對可敬耶穌安納姆姆的敬禮不深。我沒有尋求她的幫助,並很少聽到她的名字。現在我知道並明白,她常想到我,讓我添加了我對她的愛和對我父天家中親愛聖者的愛。」

小德蘭仰慕教會內不同的聖召 ── 神父、傳教士、教師、殉道者等。從聖保祿宗徒書信中,小德蘭明白她的聖召就是愛 ── 愛,擁抱著所有聖召。她祈禱說:「噢,耶穌,吾愛。我終於找到了我的聖召。我的聖召就是愛!對,我在教會的懷抱中,找到了自己的位置;而這個位置是祢親自給我的。在慈母教會的心內,我將是愛!…..故此,我將包括一切:故此,我的夢想實現了…」