Sunday, September 30, 2012

Therese and her Interior Friend

St. Therese of Lisieux once said, "Jesus has no need of books or teachers to instruct souls; He teaches without the noise of words. Never have I heard Him speak, but I feel that He is within me at each moment; He is guiding and inspiring me with what I must say and do. I find just when I need certain lights which I had not seen until then, and it is not most frequently during my hours of prayer that these are most abundant but rather in the midst of my daily occupations.”

Christ is that Interior Friend that comes to make his home in our souls before he prepares a home in heaven for us. At the Last Supper, upon the Apostles First Communion, he reminded them:
"In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If there were not would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be." Indeed, it is in preparing our souls for his dwelling that he prepares heaven for ours.

From this inner chamber, not the from the sky or the clouds, is where he guides and inspires his followers. It is there we must meet our Interior Friend. Surprisingly, he speaks to the soul quite often during the ordinary routine of the day when we least expect it. We hear him not, as St. Therese indicates, during prayer when we are asking all the questions. The Lord does this so that we do not treat prayer as a kind of technique where we do this or that for a specific result. Prayer is not an impersonal gadget. He speaks to us in his own time and in his own way.

And as the trials and uncertainties of life press upon us, and when the external circumstances of life appear to be less promising than our ideals, it is then that we turn to this Interior Friend. That is to say, it is when we suffer that Christ's home within our souls expands and takes on the likeness of a cathedral or monastery. After all, does not Scripture teach us that the body is the temple of God? Pascal once said that when we are undergoing trials it is good to have something beautiful inside. Think of it. The most beautiful shrines and cathedrals had its beginning in the human soul where Christ and the Holy Spirit made their home.

The same place where cathedral-beauty and monastic peace originates is the same place where martyr-like strength is to be found. St. Louis de Monfort once said, "He who is within us is stronger than the one who is in the world."

Dr. Victor Frankl, a survivor of Auschwitz and a convert to Catholicism, once said that 1 in 28 survived the holocaust in Poland. But many of these survivors, he claimed, had an inner world to draw from; a place where peace, strength and beauty resided. This inner world of faith served as a great source of moral strength during times of inhumanity and misery.

The greatest lessons in life come, not through books or in a classroom, but in the quiet of our souls. As St. Therese said, "Jesus has no need of books or teachers to instruct souls; He teaches without the noise of words." Indeed, an open ear and silence, quite often, is all that our Interior Friend needs to be heard. It is then that he can expand that inner chamber of ours and fill it with good things.