There's a strange phenomenon I've been running up against during my spiritual reading of late, and I'm not entirely sure I like the sound of it. In fact, I'm pretty positive that it repulses me, but my aversion to the concept has done little to deter the concept from pursuing me, haunting me really, every chance it gets.
The mysterious concept of which I speak is no less mysterious when written in plain text. Very simply put, it is abandonment, or a complete and total surrender of my will to His.
I don't like this. I prefer to be in control, but it would seem that my preference for power is incompatible with the holiness evidenced by the lives of the greatest saints. Now I have no illusions of ever approaching even the shallowest depths of sanctity that Therese plunged fearlessly into during her brief earthly tenure, but I do love her, and I trust her little way implicitly. It's the living it that holds me back, not the knowledge that it is a very, very good way to go.
Because I'm noticing a trend. You know the idea that God will never give us more than we can handle? Well that's true, in my experience, but it would also seem that our growth in holiness is directly correlated with, well, shall we say a continuous "upgrade" on what that "more" entails.
He'll never give us more than we can handle. Yes. But we are growing in holiness, (if we are not, then we are backsliding. Unfortunately there are no time outs in this game) and so are constantly increasing our capacity to love like He does. Translation: we can handle more pain.
This is a concept that gets Catholics pegged as sadists by some, but it is essentially the belief that love, real love, is a willingness to sacrifice and to suffer for the good of the other. Suffering, as the world understands it, should be avoided at any cost. It is the only true "evil" that is still recognized as such by the majority, and all manner of evils are perpetuated in the name of its avoidance. Still, a proper understanding of the nature of suffering offers a glimpse into the interior life of the Trinity itself, revealing the essential nature of love as gift.
This is the only lens through which Therese's life, or the lives of any of the saints, make sense. Pain followed by consolation, or maybe not. Heartache. Loss. Darkness. What can we possibly hope to gain from such a miserable existence? What can we learn from their experiences? And how on earth can we explain the joy, that truly filial trust of a child who is so certain of her Father's love that nothing, not even the perceived absence of that love, will shake her confidence.
I don't mean to imply that perfect trust casts out all doubts. That's not the promise. But perfect love, in casting out all fear, assures us that even when our senses fail us (and they inevitably do), even when we are certain that things cannot get any darker, the night can not go on any longer, it is here in the crucible of our earthly tribulations He is most present.
Down in adoration falling,
This great Sacrament we hail;
Over ancient forms of worship
Newer rites of grace prevail;
Faith will tell us Christ is present,
When our human senses fail...