Friday, 4 May 2007

Be Careful What You Pray For...

Once upon a time I had a little blog. In my first month I got about 200 hits. Given that I started part-way through the month, that worked out at around 10 hits a day...

...I longed to be tagged for one of those meme thingies. I eagerly noted the invitation "...and anyone else who's interested" and promptly counted myself tagged. I wistfully observed all those "popular" bloggers who were tagged by just about everyone...

...and now I get nearly 200 hits a day. And there are lots more memes... and they're getting longer! Before you shoot me down in flames, I am not complaining... it is, after all, nice to feel loved! I am merely explaining the background to yet another meme... heck, it's a quiet news day!

I've been tagged for a book meme. I did spot the tag over at Esther's blog, but smugly assumed that I'd completed that one already. I hadn't. This is a different book meme. I'm supposed to list all the books I'm reading at the moment...

I rarely read more than one book at a time, so this one is easy. Not interesting to read about, but easy to complete... And luckily this is one of the rare occasions where I actually do have more than one book open!

First up, I am still trying to finish "The Story of a Soul" by St. Thérèse of Lisieux. I do not take well to saccharine-sugary confections in either my reading matter or my choice of films. I summed up Titanic to a bunch of teenage girls who were demanding if I would go to see the film by saying "I don't need to go and see the film. I know what happens. Boy meets girl. Ship hits iceberg. Ship sinks. Boy dies. Why do I need to waste three hours in the cinema?" This caused serious outrage...

But I digress. My Spiritual Director suggested that I read St. Thérèse. When I protested that I had done so already, and had found it rather cloying, he demanded to know how long ago I'd read the book... he then delivered a stunning sermon enthusing about the saint. I realised that I wasn't going to get out of it that easily, so I tried again.

From reading her autobiography, I get the impression that she was a terribly spoiled little girl, who was totally used to getting her own way, and succeeded in talking her father into taking her to Rome to badger the Pope himself into letting her get her own way in the matter of her vocation...

Re-reading her writings has brought it home to me (I missed it the first couple of times) that she was convinced that the matter of her vocation was God's will, not her own, and so she had to do everything possible to get admitted to the convent at Lisieux. I guess that I was originally put off by the fact that she was joining her sisters in that convent, and I couldn't see beyond the human affection which would (in my eyes) be bound to affect her.

And re-reading the book has highlighted the way in which she accepted everything from God, even unjustified reproaches. I am afraid that my initial reaction to hearing her meekly apologising for stuff she hadn't done (and appearing to be proud of it) was, "What a wimp!" I can, with the passing of years, see how heroic her attitude was. I still think she's a wimp. A sainted one, to be sure. And yes, I know that was the attitude at the time... But St. Bernadette lived at a similar time, and she had far more bite. I guess that my taste in saints is similar to my taste in wine: I prefer them dry!

I'm desperate to finish the book so that I can move on, and report honsetly to my SD that, yes, hand-on-heart, I gave it my best shot...

The second book is one I'm using for my Consecration to Our Lady (Preparation for Total Consecration According to St. Louis-Marie de Montfort.) I blogged about it in a previous post. Today is Day 7. I've noticed a few references to it lately, so I guess that starting on the Feast of St. Louis and finishing on the Feast of the Visitation is a popular choice. Excellent - it is so encouraging to think that others are doing the same spiritual exercises.

The third book I am reading (albeit very, very sporadically) is "The Spiritual Combat" by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli. I am fighting the urge to race my way through it, because it is very good, but I really need to take it slowly and think about each chapter. There's a lot to take in, and it really is "fighting talk"... and when it comes to temptation, I'm a bit of a wimp myself, so I need time to digest each morsel of advice...

I have absolutely no idea who to tag (I don't want to irritate anyone in particular right now...) so, I guess I'll just tag Fr. Ray and Ttony (he's been far too quiet of late)!

9 comments:

Simon-Peter Vickers-Buckley said...

Good news!

When you are done, make sure you send off your handwritten and signed to the Confraternity (with a donation) so you can join. If you don't none of the indulgences which attach will be open to you (they are not contained in the enchiridion anyway and are conditioned on membership not just doing the total consecration). They'll send you a really nice certificate of member ship which is worth framing.

I can't help you with a contact address in the UK I am afraid!

Simon-Peter Vickers-Buckley said...

That'll teach me! I should have read your previous post! Still, one still has to join. It's like wearing a brown scapular without being enrolled...it doesn't cut it.

Stephen Wikner said...

I'm not looking for a tag. please not! I just want to say I have complete sympathy with you about St Therese. I can so readily identify with the essence of her message - the sanctifation of the little things in life - and I had the most wonderful two days in Lisieux last August but can I get to the end of her autobiography? No, and for the very reasons you state. And I've tried and tried.

That said, I can recommend Dwight Longenecker's 'St Benedict & St Therese: The Little Rule & The Little Way'

Oh and BTW, I also prefer dry wine.

Mark said...

Sounds like you're having a good and productive time, albeit busy. I often have two books on the go, but only for the reason that I am prone to race through a book, so I rotate them.

Let me know if you get the address...

Mac McLernon said...

address??

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Have read all 3 books! the copy of St Therese you show was given to me personally by Fr Michael Day Cong. Orat (now deceased) as he had translated that edition. He was an amazing intellectual...& loved Therese!

Personally i see your points..my daughter Elizabeth just won 3rd prize in The Keys competition, & has won a certificate & one of joanna Bogle's novels. many of my girls have therese in their names or Confirmation names.

It is clear Therese suffered severe depressive episodes & suffered much.being able to ignore the nun rattling her rosary beads,,well let me say..i'm not there yet! This week for May devotions we have a lady droning the rosary behind me such that i put my hands over my ears! No saint in the making there then!

i think a lot of The story of a Soul is simply a life..eg when she came down tjhe stairs or that christmas..age 14...surely all girls remember that Christmas morning when one realises the magic has gone..as they've slipped into adult-hood? i do..

But there is much to ponder on..not least her poor father's last insanity...so we get a picture of a holy family battling against death, illness, & spiritual aridity..certainly not for the faint-hearted!

Coffee Wife said...

I just finished reading the book, "And the whole world shall love me" (or is that 'will love me'?) and it was extremely eye-opening! St. Therese is my Patron Saint and it took me a while to get through "Story of a Soul." This other books gives a LOT more background information - all the stuff you don't "see" going on when you read Story of a Soul!

Mark said...

The Confraternity, Mac.

wistful said...

Re St Therese - perhaps you are reading the older translation of the text which was extensively amended by her sister, to sweeten it to suit the sensibilities of the time. I would strongly recommend John Clarke's translation which uses modern technology to decipher the original text hidden beneath hundreds of corrections, and reveals a much more robust and attractive style. Bernard Bro's excellent biography and Jean Gheon's 'The Spiritual Genius of St Therese of Lisieux' also reveal a far less 'wimpy' spirit!
The wistful hermit

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