Unique and Precious

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People show love to each other in different ways: words, little sacrifices, signs of affection.

We can show love for God in different ways too. We worship, adore, choose His Will over ours, do works of service.

Yet there always remains something very hidden between God and the soul, something invisible to everyone else. This hidden love for God in the heart is something very intimate and so very special.

It is also completely unique.

This is something I’ve been realizing more lately. No two souls are alike. No one can give Jesus what you can give Him. No one can love Him like you do. The way you look at Him, speak to Him, the way you adore Him – it is something fully known only to God, and something that sets you apart from everyone else who has ever lived or will live.

Never in the history of the world would your soul be repeated. There is only one of you, and Jesus longs to have YOU, specifically. No one can love Him in the same way.

Since God knows us so intimately, even better than we know ourselves, we can trust Him with all our emotions and struggles. He already knows our hearts and understands them perfectly, and He knows the hidden parts of us that we are not able to express.

As Jesus looks into our hearts, let us not turn away in fear, but meet His gaze – so gentle and kind, and give Him any brokenness that needs to be healed. He always looks into the heart with immeasurable tenderness.

No matter how ordinary or insignificant you may feel in the world, there is only one of you for Jesus. He knows your face and your voice from all the others, and He longs for your unique and unrepeatable heart.

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Resting with Jesus

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Sometimes life can get very busy. Besides work, duties, vocal prayers that I need to finish somewhere in between, – it’s so easy to forget to just BE with Jesus.

Yet I think this is something so healing, and something that He really wishes for.

I have been thinking recently, what are the desires of His Heart.. Fears and anxieties can be very paralysing yet God doesn’t intend for us to live that way. Though we have crosses to carry, I believe He wants us to carry them with trust and abandonment to His Will, not stopping at resignation.

Yet sometimes, a mere effort of the will isn’t enough to receive this grace. We need to spend time with Jesus and let Him work in our hearts and help us to open up to Him. Time spent in mental prayer or Adoration can be a chance to just rest with Jesus and let the transforming radiance of His light and love permeate our souls. Is this not the meaning of contemplation – to forget all else except Jesus, look upon Him and love Him. I’m sure if we could see Him with our eyes, we would not ever want to look away!

What does Jesus want?

Often I want to give something beautiful to God. But in certain moments I feel I have nothing really to give. We can give Him that nothing… And one thing I’m beginning to realise is that in that moment, Jesus delights in GIVING to us.

Its a great mercy from God when He receives our little gifts. What must be the Mercy of His Heart when He simply gives to a soul who has nothing? In those times we feel we have only sins, failures and anxieties, but we no longer pretend.

And what’s even more amazing is that Jesus doesn’t only generously give to us, but inexpressibly DELIGHTS in that!

In those moments when He just wants us to forget all things and love Him (is His desire for every moment to be like that?) am I still clinging to my anxieties, attempts at vocal prayers, or trying to prove my worth to Him? Yes there is a time to give to Jesus, to prove our love. Yet even in this, we need Him, we need grace.

Maybe Jesus just wishes I would let go and not escape His embrace any longer. He wants a time of nothing but love between Him and my heart – a time that would allow Him to act freely.

As I consider that this is a time of great consolation and delight to Jesus, I wonder how much have I understood His Heart? How can it be that God would have such joy not just when we give to Him, but when He gives of Himself to our poor little souls? Do I ever delight with Him about my nothingness, or complain about it?

It astounds me to think that Jesus isn’t only the “beggar of love” as some have called Him. His humility is so deep that He begs TO love. It is rest to us, and to Him. And He knows that in our pride, distrust, or fear – we may still say no to this greatest and most free gift.

He desires your heart

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There is a picture of Jesus I have that I really love. As I was looking at it one day, I wondered – what is it in His expression that helps me to pray? As I looked more closely, I saw that there was great longing in His eyes. What does Jesus long for? I believe it is to love us and to be loved in return. As Jesus’ Heart is more loving and thus more sensitive than ours, He suffers greatly when His love is met with rejection or indifference – especially in the Blessed Sacrament; the Sacrament of His love, where He is often left alone.

It is when we begin seeing more of Jesus’ love for us that we begin to really love Him. His thirst to have all of our hearts rather than just a part, satisfies our desire to love as well. Each soul is called to an intimacy with Jesus that is interior, strong, and consuming. How beautiful life becomes when we fall in love with Our Lord. I believe He longs for this too, but how?

How do we turn our faith into such a close relationship? G.K. Chesterton once said something that may sound surprising: “Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair”. If this is what Our Lord wants, how do we get there? I struggled with this question myself. I worried if I was being too bold with Jesus. I wondered – does He even want me to be that close? I am not a saint, far from it.

At first, our faith is something that is more theoretical. I think as we begin to pray and discover God more, we begin to know God by loving Him. Knowledge of Him becomes something deeper and it inflames the soul with love.

When we fear a close relationship with Jesus, perhaps sometimes it’s a fear of presumption, but I think it can often be a lack of trust. At the same time, the soul intensely wants to be loved by Jesus.

While I was wondering if Jesus would love me as much as I longed for, He loved me beyond all understanding. I forgot that Jesus wants to be one with each soul. He is jealous for our hearts and doesn’t want just partial intimacy with Him. Have we understood His Heart?

Have we understood how even little things we do for Him touch Him deeply? How attentive He is to our every thought, every heartbeat! If we only understand His love more, that would transform our relationship into something so beautiful. Each soul is unrepeatable. There will literally never be another like you, and you can give Jesus what no one else can. Your place in His Heart cannot be substituted by another. Let this bring you to total trust and confidence. Jesus already wants to love us more than we want to be loved, – we just need to let Him.

There is a beautiful poem by the Spanish Saint, St. John of the Cross. It is called the Spiritual Canticle and it is a loving dialogue between Christ and the soul as between a Bridegroom and bride. St. John also wrote a book explaining the meaning of his highly mystical poem. Each verse has some sort of hidden and very spiritual meaning. There are some verses in the poem that I believe show the level of closeness Jesus wants with souls:

“In the inner wine cellar / I drank of my Beloved, / and, when I went abroad through all this valley, / I no longer knew anything, / and lost the herd that I was following”.

St John describes this as the goal of spiritual growth, in which the inner wine cellar is the “most intimate degree of love” where Jesus infuses His own love into our souls. The soul forgets everything else, because Jesus becomes everything to it. If this is indeed the goal of holiness, then Jesus must very much want us to discover more of His love.

How do we even begin? Though I’m still learning, there are some ideas that I found helpful. I’m sure there are more.

  •  LET Him love you. Surrender any fear or distrust! Jesus wants your heart.
  •  Spent time with Him. Imagine an engaged couple: do they not rejoice to speak together?
  •  LET Him act. This can be hard. If while speaking to Jesus you find yourself recollected in His presence, just love Him back, open your soul and let Him do what He wishes. Be generous in responding to Him. We can never out-do Him in generosity! What do we get in return for our little efforts? His own Heart, the Heart of God.

One day as I was standing at a bus stop waiting to get home after work, I was struck by how ordinary I am and how extraordinary it is to know Jesus. As women we’re pressured to compare ourselves with others. Maybe by the standards of the world around us we all fall short. I looked at myself as another face in the crowd. Nothing extraordinary. But I realized that I’m happy, because Jesus is in my life. He can fill everything we need with Himself, and He can be who we need Him to be.

For Jesus, we are not a crowd. His gaze centers on each person. He sees YOU – as no one else sees you -and desires your heart. This relationship is not a theory, neither is it a shallow romantic notion. It is love shown through the Cross, stronger than death; a divine love that will not be content with anything but total union with the beloved.

(This article is also posted on the Made4More blog)

Canticle of St Agnes

Simple, Sweet, Modest Bouasse Lebel 1496

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I loved this poem about the Virgin Martyr, St Agnes. This poem was written by St Therese of Lisieux, translated from the original French.

  “My only Love is Christ.”

From the Acts of her Martyrdom

Christ is my Love alone, all life is He for me;

He is my one Betrothed, Who charms my dazzled eyes;

E’en now I hear vibrate the solemn harmony

Of His melodious sighs.

With precious stones and gold He decks my flowing hair,

Already on my hand shines bright His nuptial ring;

And many lustrous stars, magnificently fair,

Are love-gifts from my King.

With pearls, all price beyond, has He adorned my hands;

About my neck He placed a necklace wondrous bright;

Celestial rubies red, from far-off unknown lands,

Bedeck my ears to-night.

Betrothed am I to Him on Whom the angels wait,

Trembling before His throne throughout eternity;

The sun and moon His praise with rapture will relate,

Till time shall cease to be.

Divine His Person is; heaven is His realm of bliss;

He for His Mother chose a Virgin here on earth;

Who no beginning hath, nor end, His Father is, —

Eternal is that birth.

Ah! when this Jesus Christ at times to touch I dare,

More pure becomes my heart; more chaste, dear Lord, am I!

The kisses of His mouth give me the treasure fair

Of blest virginity.

His signet He hath set already on my face,

That so no earthly love may dare draw nigh to me;

Kept thus for Christ alone, by His abiding grace,

His perfect purity.

Cleansed by the precious Blood He shed on Calvary’s cross,

Already here I taste of heaven’s matchless bliss;

The honey and the milk — with joys that know not loss —

Come to me with His kiss.

No thought of fear have I, of either flame or sword:

For naught can now disturb this perfect heavenly peace

A fire of love divine pervades my soul, O Lord:

And never shall it cease.

January21, 1896.

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Jesus only

4_ My beloved to me and I to HIm

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This is a poem written by St Therese of Lisieux for a novice

Oh, how my heart would spend itself, to bless;

It hath such need to prove its tenderness!

And yet what heart can my heart comprehend?

What heart shall always love me without end?

All — all in vain for such return seek I;

Jesus alone my soul can satisfy.

Naught else contents or charms me here below;

Created things no lasting joy bestow.

My peace, my joy, my love, O Christ!

‘Tis Thou alone! Thou hast sufficed.

Thou didst know how to make a mother’s heart;

Tenderest of fathers, Lord! to me Thou art.

My only Love, Jesus, Divinest Word!

More than maternal is Thy heart, dear Lord!

Each moment Thou my way dost guard and guide;

I call — at once I find Thee at my side —

And if, sometimes Thou hid’st Thy face from me,

Thou com’st Thyself to help me seek for Thee.

Thee, Thee, alone I choose: I am Thy bride.

Unto Thy arms I hasten, there to hide.

Thee would I love, as little children love;

For Thee, like warrior bold, my love I’d prove.

Now, like to children, full of joy and glee,

So come I, Lord! to show my love to Thee;

Yet, like a warrior bold with high elation,

Rush I to combats in my blest vocation.

Thy Heart is Guardian of our innocence;

Not once shall it deceive my confidence.

Wholly my hopes are placed in Thee, dear Lord!

After long exile, I Thy Face adored

In heaven shall see. When clouds the skies o’erspread.

To Thee, my Jesus! I lift up my head;

For, in Thy tender glance, these words I see:

“O child! I made My radiant heaven for thee.”

I know it well — my burning tears and sighs

Are full of charm for Thy benignant eyes.

Strong seraphs form in heaven Thy court divine,

Yet Thou dost seek this poor weak heart of mine.

Ah! take my heart! Jesus, tis Thine alone;

All my desires I yield to Thee, my Own!

And all my friends, that are so loved by me,

No longer will I love them, save in Thee!

August 15, 1896.

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Canticle to the Holy Face

HE WHO HAS SEEN ME HAS SEEN THE FATHER

Another beautiful poem by St Therese – this time on the Holy Face of Jesus. (In public domain)

Canticle to the Holy Face.

“Dear Jesus! tis Thy Holy Face
Is here the start that guides my way;
They countenance, so full of grace,
Is heaven on earth, for me, to-day.
And love finds holy charms for me
In Thy sweet eyes with tear-drops wet;
Through mine own tears I smile at Thee,
And in Thy griefs my pains forget.
How gladly would I live unknown,
Thus to console Thy aching heart.
Thy veiled beauty, it is shown
To those who live from earth apart.
I long to fly to Thee alone!
Thy Face is now my fatherland, —
The radiant sunshine of my days, —
My realm of love, my sunlit land,
Where, all life long, I sing Thy praise;
It is the lily of the vale,
Whose mystic perfume, freely given,
Brings comfort, when I faint and fail,
And makes me taste the peace of heaven.
Thy face, in its unearthly grace,
Is like the divinest myrrh to me,
That on my heart I gladly place;
It is my lyre of melody;
My rest — my comfort — is Thy Face.
My only wealth, Lord! is thy Face;
I ask naught else than this from Thee;
Hid in the secret of that Face,
The more I shall resemble Thee!
Oh, leave on me some impress faint
Of Thy sweet, humble, patient Face,
And soon I shall become a saint,
And draw men to Thy saving grace.
So, in the secret of Thy Face,
Oh! hide me, hide me, Jesus blest!
There let me find its hidden grace,
Its holy fires, and, in heaven’s rest,
Its rapturous kiss, in Thy embrace!”
August 12, 1895.

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To live of Love – St Therese of Lisieux

I am the way, the truth and the life - Saintin

I was struck today by the concepts in St Therese’s poem To Live of Love. It is a translation from the original French and it’s one of those times I wish I could read the original.

To love God so ardently! I will quote two stanzas – one of living for Love, and one of dying for Love.

“To live of love, ’tis by Thy life to live,

O glorious King, my chosen, sole Delight!

Hid in the Host, how often Thou dost give

Thyself to those who seek Thy radiant light.

Then hid shall be my life, unmarked, unknown,

That I may have Thee heart to heart with me;

For loving souls desire to be alone,

With love, and Thee!”

“To die of love, O martyrdom most blest!

For this I long, this is my heart’s desire;

My exile ends; I soon will be at rest.

Ye Cherubim, lend, lend to me your lyre!

O dart of Seraphim, O flame of love,

Consume me wholly; hear my ardent cry!

Jesu, make real my dream! Come Holy Dove!

Of love I die!”

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Saying Yes to God like St Clare

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“Fear is not in charity: but perfect charity casteth out fear, because fear hath pain. And he that feareth, is not perfected in charity. Let us therefore love God, because God first hath loved us.” 1 John 4, 18-19 (Douay-Rheims).

Sometimes people ask God for signs, and sometimes we are too afraid to ask anything, but He sends us a sign. I looked at the sign in front of me that was literally a sign – a verse from 1 John 4:18 handwritten on a loose-leaf piece of paper, left by someone at the back of a downtown church. Written in big capital letters, just to make sure it’s not missed.

Who left it there? And why? Maybe I’ll never find out in this life, but God can definitely work through people. I’m sure whoever wrote it had no idea how much I wanted a reassurance of those words that day. Maybe it was meant for me, maybe for someone else, but it was like God was saying “I really DO love you. Will you finally trust Me?” Sadly, my response up to that point went something like: “um… yes.. maybe? Can you tell me it’s safe to trust? Otherwise I don’t know if I can”.

I was trying to figure out some things about my life and everything was uncertain. Any proper decision-making gets lost in all the fear and turmoil. How are we supposed to hear God if we’re too afraid to find out the answer? At least that is what was going through my mind that day.

I thought of St Clare and her courage. She was young and she did something that was very difficult to do – she joined the early Franciscans and started her own religious order. Was she afraid? I don’t know, but she certainly overcame it by God’s grace, so we can too. She didn’t really care about human opinion, or what was popular in her society, she only cared about what God wanted for her and to please Him. Her example is so clear – that is all that life is about!

Imagine that night when she said her unconditional “yes” to Jesus. She came to church on Palm Sunday dressed in her very best gown and all the finery of her position in life. She was the daughter of a noble family and there were plans for her to marry a rich young man. Yet in her heart she had other plans that day. She did the most radical thing – gave up all her possessions, gave her beauty to Christ, cut off her hair, and founded the Poor Clares who are one of the most contemplative orders of the Catholic Church and live simple hidden lives of prayer and sacrifice. At the time, she was 18 years old.

What was going through her mind as St. Clare left her old life? She went secretly through the back door and went to meet St. Francis and his brothers at St. Mary of the Angels. She was faced with a difficult choice – to follow the expectations of everyone in her society, do the safe and easy thing that would be approved, or do something that would make her misunderstood and opposed.

Back to that sign – perfect love casts out fear. When we truly fall in love with Christ, and see that He is worth infinitely more than anything the world offers us, then surrendering to Him becomes a joy and even a necessity. We begin to long for this with all our hearts. Not just for what God offers and His gifts, but for God Himself, even if that means doing what is scary or what is unpopular. The very sacrifice and pain of it turns to joy. Do we search for our happiness here on earth or is Jesus truly our Treasure? You are a treasure to Him, “the pearl of great price” that He ransomed at the price of His Blood. If God is with us, who can be against us, and what is there to fear?

Notice how at the end of the verse, it says “Let us therefore love God, because God first hath loved us”. How reassuring that is! Maybe we feel our love is imperfect, too little to overcome all that fear. Perfect love overcomes fear but it’s not just our love. We don’t have to strive for what is impossible at the moment. God understands we still need to grow. He is standing in front of us with His arms outstretched, loving us first, before we are able to work out our uncertain, incomplete response. HIS love is what casts out fear, and then we are able to let go of everything and love Him more completely, more like the Saints. St. Clare, pray for us!

Also posted at Made4More

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The Story of St Gemma Galgani

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Last spring, one Sunday at Mass, I struggled with a feeling of great emptiness and distance from God. St John of the Cross writes that such things are either purifying trials, or the result of our own negligence in the faith. Though I definitely don’t have St John’s insight into distinguishing or understanding them, I guessed that it might be the second one. At least in my life, various attachments often come out of nowhere and try to compete with my love for God. This time, there were a couple major ones at once.

God’s will, and my will.. the whole point is to submit my will to His. It probably goes without saying that this is very difficult and mostly I fail at this. As I sat there in the pew and remembered all my struggles, my will was not submitted to Jesus and my heart was far away from the reality on the altar. I loved others more than Him. I couldn’t even get myself to open up to Him, that was beyond my power and needed grace. I felt like God is a divine Person that I worship on Sundays but the rest of the time, I live for myself. God showed me incredible mercy and kindness that day in helping me to open up to Him and to surrender my heart to Him once again.

There is one Saint that I often think of as having an undivided heart in her love for Christ. Her name is St. Gemma Galgani. When I first read about her, I was stricken by the beauty and sincerity of her prayers to Jesus – prayers of love. Then, I saw that her life was really very extraordinary – she was a mystic and a ‘victim soul’, she had the stigmata, prayed the Psalms with her Guardian Angel, and regularly experienced ecstasy and spoke with Jesus and the Blessed Mother. She lived in Italy and died in her 20s, after wanting to be a Passionist nun. On the surface, her life doesn’t have much in common with mine, which is quite ordinary. However I saw I had much to learn from her, including humility, and loving Jesus more totally and freely.

St. Gemma lived in the world but her heart was detached from everything except her Beloved, Jesus. It didn’t come automatically and she had to fight many battles to get there. She was detached to a heroic degree, yet extremely humble and thought she loved herself and other creatures more than Him. She practiced mortification during meals, gave away everything that was given to her that wasn’t strictly necessary, and refused any vanity or adornments through the advice of her Guardian Angel. Especially in our time and society that emphasizes personal comfort, her level of detachment might at first seem very extreme. However, such a total dedication to what God asked of her is a further incentive to value Christ’s will over the views of the world. God’s will is unique for each person, and each person’s mission is unrepeatable. St. Gemma was generous in following His will rather than her own, though this must have cost her much. Her detachment was an effort to cooperate with all the graces she was receiving to live according to her state of life. Though my efforts and virtues don’t nearly match those of St. Gemma, she has been a great inspiration to me to seek the virtue of fortitude.

St. Gemma didn’t deny all those things in a prideful way, but because she wanted her heart to be free to love Christ to the degree that He willed. The detachment brought her greater joy. For His love, she was ready for all, to show that Christ can truly be everything to us. She also stayed faithful to what God asked of her, which was consecrated life and a vow of chastity. Though she was very beautiful and many young men might have wanted to marry her, St. Gemma did not change her mind about her vocation. The responses from others that came with all her choices must have been difficult to bear, but she did so with perseverance and charity.

More than anything, St. Gemma’s life shows me that God is worthy of such love. It might not be easily comprehended by the world and at times of distraction, it becomes harder for me to accept. Yet though St. Gemma denied earthly comforts, the joy that Christ gave her was beyond anything that the world could offer. During the night, she eagerly awaited each Communion, when Jesus and her would be united. Especially in her prayers, it’s evident that her love wasn’t something abstract, only intellectual or conceptual – she loved Jesus in her choices and actions, and in all the affections of her heart, which were His alone. She spoke to Him as to her Beloved. St. Gemma was indeed a bride of Christ, because a bride is completely devoted to her Bridegroom and His concerns for souls become hers. She is willing to share in Jesus’ suffering to be like Him, and her prayers reflect His own desires. Though not all have an extraordinary life like St. Gemma, holiness consists in loving submission to God’s will and humility, and she is an amazing example of how God’s love can transform a soul. His love entered her heart so deeply that she gave her heart entirely to Him. Will we let His love be victorious in our hearts?

The world might ask “is it worth it?” Yet Jesus did not measure His love or give us only a part of His Heart. He gave everything for us – all His Blood, all His sufferings, and He gives His Heart entirely to us in the Blessed Sacrament. Day and night, He waits there for us, – waits to come into our little hearts and rest there. When He comes into our hearts – what will He find? Will He find it as a garden of weeds, full of attachments and distractions, will He have to share it with creatures and our self-love? Or, will it be like a garden of roses, filled with acts of love, and a longing for Him above all things? Jesus loves each person with His whole Heart – and desires the gift of an undivided heart. His love is so perfect, that it will not rest until we belong to Him completely.

Also posted at Made4More

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St Philomena: a Princess and a Martyr

“If you stay faithful to Christ, you will lose everything”. This is the fear that can enter our hearts when we go through trials for our faith. The Christians being persecuted in Iraq and Syria have to make this choice daily, and for them the choice is losing their lives. Though my struggles are much less than theirs I think of the time when I first decided to become Catholic, knowing that I might lose friendships and suffer loneliness. This fear added a heavy burden to my conversion. As I continued, I realized that these are not one-time sacrifices, and that God calls us to continually put Him first in our hearts.

So often, the enemy comes in and whispers lies and exaggerations – “see, you will be miserable if you continue… you will be alone and you will never be happy…”. A compromise is suggested – maybe if I don’t do “so much”, I would lose less.. A doubt arises in the mind – where is God? Why is He letting me go through this? We turn to God and sometimes we feel He is silent, and we are left with only an image of the Cross. “..If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For he that will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for My sake, shall find it” (Matthew 16:24, 25, D-R).

God’s thinking is not our thinking, and with Christ, loss is gain. The more we are purified in the fire of tribulation, the more our souls will be like Him, and even if we give up the whole world for Him, He is yet more generous. The life of St Philomena demonstrates this reality in an amazing way. She loved Christ to the point of heroism, and she has been a great encouragement to me to seek greater purity and God’s Will.

I tried to imagine what it must have been like for this Greek princess, the only daughter of Christian parents. Her sacrifice was her life, and what is to the world a successful marriage – a marriage to an Emperor. In her thirteenth year, she was pressured to accept the marriage proposal from Diocletian. Yet for St Philomena, this offer was impossible to accept, as she had vowed her virginity to Christ. She chose her Heavenly Spouse over an earthly spouse. I sometimes wonder what it was like for her… either you become a great Empress, avoid an unjust war with your country, ensure the prosperity of your family, and live surrounded by comforts and riches… or, you choose Christ, and face the wrath of the Emperor, the disappointment of your family, and even death. I can’t imagine the difficulty of her situation as her parents cried for her to take pity on her family, her country, and her kingdom. Are we ready to choose Christ above all? Trust becomes the only remedy.

As young women, we are often pressured to give in to worldly standards and face ridicule for the degree of purity asked for by Christ. This can be ridicule for the virtue of purity or modesty for married or unmarried women, or the choice of celibacy for consecrated women. Whether it’s from friends or even the media, this pressure often tries to get us to lessen our purity by degrees – a little here, a little there… and then our hearts forget the love of Christ and become distracted and confused. St Philomena rejected the Emperor’s invitation right from the start, and said, – no, I have another Love. For her, virginity was worth more than the gold and jewels of an Empress, because it is the priceless adornment of the soul. Our purity is more valuable than the world’s promises or even requests from those we love, as painful as the sacrifice may be. Through joyful purity we imitate Jesus, and show Him to be our greatest love.

As nothing moved St Philomena’s resolution, the Emperor moved to threats and then ordered her to be thrown into the dungeon. As she was tortured, she received strength from God by recommending herself continually to Jesus and to the Blessed Mother, who appeared to her and gave her courage. St Philomena underwent more tortures at the age of 13 than I could imagine enduring. She was scourged, tied to an anchor and thrown into the Tiber, and pierced with arrows. Each time, she was rescued by Angels and miraculously healed, and many were converted through her example. In the end, the Emperor ordered to have her beheaded.

St Philomena’s story was unknown when her relics were discovered in 1802. We know her story because it was miraculously revealed to three people, unknown to each other. We can read it in her words. After her relics were discovered, she became known as the “Wonder Worker” because of the amount of miracles and healings that occurred with her intercession. Her story does not end, but continues with the words: “My soul, glorious and triumphant, ascended into heaven, there to receive the crown of virginity which I had merited by so many victories.” Then, she gives the date when this happened – August 10th.

Most of us are not faced with the choice to give our lives for Christ. Some are called to vow chastity to Him like St Philomena, and all are called to purity and holiness. Yet St Philomena’s story shows us that God gives us strength to overcome all things for Him. There is nothing to fear in following Christ, not because we won’t have to suffer or sacrifice, but because God will give us what we need. Bearing the pain with love and resolution can add a certain joy, and through the cross we become more like our King. The same God who gave such courage to St Philomena, is with us now and always, and crosses carried with love for Him, become less difficult.

Also posted at Made4More