September 2015 - I Want to See God

The rector reflects on St. Teresa of Avila and her strong commitment to the phrase:  I want to see God. Taking as a model the perseverance which this great saint had throughout her life's work and trials, we are reminded that the driving force behind our efforts should be:  I want to see God. Too often the world puts other desires in souls. On this 500th anniversary of her birth, we are reminded that our first and foremost desire should be inspired by the example of St. Teresa. Otherwise, we would not remember that our earthly life is only a passage, because our final end is to be with our God for whom we were made.

Dear Friends and Benefactors,

A great man is often a man of one idea. Throughout his life, he pursues this idea, guided by an intuition that is always present as a light illuminating his life and giving it its full value. Constantly alive in his spirit, this idea gives his will the strength to overcome all obstacles.

The saint is this kind of man. Of course, he is not guided by an intuition that could be wrong, but by an initial grace that is, by nature, infallible. He does not follow an idea of his own making, but a principle that he receives with reverence as the fruit of this first grace which gives him particular lights about God and the sense of his own existence.

Assured by this divine support and this light from on high, he overcomes the obstacles that the devil unfailingly raises before him in order to turn him away from his goal and to distract him from God.

It was thus for St. Teresa of Avila, of whom we celebrate this year the 500th anniversary of her birth. Her whole life carried the mark of this primordial grace, which she expressed in a simple and strong phrase that sums her up:  I want to see God.

Indeed, that says it all. Her life of prayer and her habitual union with God, her repeated mortifications, her desire for martyrdom, her radical conversion from a tepid life to a life of fervor, her many journeys and her painful efforts to establish her convents can be explained only by this interior fire that set her ablaze.

I want to see God. This interior desire prevented her from shriveling in upon herself and stopping in her race in spite of the complaints of nature that sometimes, weighed down by such burdens, demanded a break. She advanced, fearless, strengthened by the power of this grace that placed on her soul the seal of unity and conferred to her the dynamism of love. In St. Teresa, there was no hesitation, no delay, no sickening return upon herself, no discouragement before the worst obstacles. Here below, she saw only God – so great was her desire to contemplate Him in the world to come.

Our world is dying because of the absence of saints who let themselves be seized by grace. We live in a world that opposes all the loving entreaties of God with the meanness of human attachments, which only measure our sorrow. The love of God no longer finds souls eager to follow Him out of love.

Perhaps the grace of this 500th anniversary could be to inspire today’s weakened souls by giving them again this desire for God and thus helping them to leave behind the vain desires which too often lead them.

May God indeed grant that this initial grace of St. Teresa awaken numbed souls and make them finally understand that life is only a passage and that this desire to see God one day is the only thing that counts. The price to be paid may sometimes appear high, but it will always be far below the ultimate reward which God reserves for those who have loved Him more than themselves, at the expense of themselves.

In Christo sacerdote et Maria,

Fr. Yves le Roux