St. Therese and the Canticle of Love

Also posted at The New Evangelist/Companions of the Cross

When I recently met with my spiritual director, I told him about the restless desire I have been experiencing to go deeper into my faith life and the feeling of wanting more.  He identified what I described as being spiritual poverty which theologian Johannes Baptist Metz explains “is a necessary ingredient in any authentic Christian attitude toward life……Only through poverty of spirit do we draw near to God; only through it does God draw near to us.” (1968, 1988. Poverty of Spirit. New York: Paulist Press)

For my results driven, type-A personality, the solution to my longing was one of action:  more prayer, more spiritual reading, more doing.  My spiritual director thankfully had other ideas.  He saw that I needed to strive to be “little” and to open my heart to whatever the Lord wants to give me.

“So how do I do that?” I asked.

St.-theresa-as-childIn response, he gave me the example of St. Therese of Lisieux who in her short but full twenty-four years lived a very simple and hidden life.  Her “little way” was so spiritually profound that Bl. John-Paul II, in 1997, gave her the title Doctor of the Church. In his Apostolic Letter, Novo Millennio Ineunte, he called her an expert in the “scientica amoris”, the science of love.  In his book, Holy Women ( 2011. Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division), Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said that she “is one of the ‘little’ ones of the gospel who let themselves be led by God to the depths of His mystery”.

As part of  his usual wise counsel, my spiritual director advised me to read and pray the hymn, St. Therese’s Canticle of Love, written by Sr. Marie-Therese Sokol, OCD.  The words of the hymn are taken from the Little Flower herself.

“It’s all there,” he said. “No homily needed.”

And he’s right.

St. Therese’s Canticle of Love

How great and tender is our God,
who has smiled on the lowly,
eternally my heart will sing a new canticle of love.

Come all who hunger, all who thirst,
all who long for fulfillment,
the God of mercy waits for you,
as a mother her child,
oh come to the living water,
fear not your weakness,
forever trusting in God’s merciful love.

Through the shadows of this night,
love will be my guiding light,
presence hidden from my sight,
till the clouds are put to flight,
beneath your gaze, I’ve blossomed forth
as a rose in the sunshine.
With joyful heart, I give it all
to the mystery of love.

In peace, I will come before you,
with empty hands,
relying solely on your merciful love.

Through the veil your face appears,
beauty shrouded bathed in tears,
bread of sinners I will share,
rose unpetaled everywhere.

Oh, My God, I will sing of your love,
for this one eternal day,
for this one eternal today.

Transformed in love’s consuming fire, lifted up in glory,
her fragrance filling all the earth,
drawing us unto her,
until in eternity,
we join in one chorus,
forever singing of God’s merciful love.

Canticle of love, song of love,
this eternal day, I will sing, sing of your love.

Deo Gratias

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15 Responses to St. Therese and the Canticle of Love

  1. juanrbalboa says:

    Thanks! What a wonderful and timely (for me) post. I’ve been noticing for the past couple of years that St. Therese has been popping up in the strangest of places for me and lately I’ve been wondering if I am being called to a Carmelite spiritual life. This has been prodded by a “restless desire” similar to the one you describe, so I am looking into a secular discalced Carmelite community nearby and picked up some books to help me better understand.
    Thanks again for your post — could be a poke prodding me in the right direction.

  2. abcinsc says:

    Reblogged this on The Peanut Gallery and commented:
    I must decrease, so that He may increase.

  3. SR says:

    Thank you so much for this post. Your last two post have truly been inspiring to me. They have given me so much to think about the “changes” I need to make in my own life and have inspired me to do so. For a long time I had a hard time “connecting” with St. Therese for some reason. Then about six months ago, for some reason it came. She has taught me so much regarding how “important” it is that we obtain “smallness” in our life with God, so He can be the greater. Again thanks so much for sharing all you have. God Bless, SR

  4. St. Therese speaks right to my own spirit beause my spirituality is becoming simpler and more child like every day
    p.s. Do I simply copy and paste an article onto The association of Catholic Women Bloggers and press publish?

  5. oh I am up in the side column- is that it? the note from Jacquline talks about stating to post articles

  6. Teresa Rice says:

    Beautiful Canticle! Wonderful Post! God Bless.

  7. Thanks for sharing! Beautiful! Great to read today!

  8. quinersdiner says:

    I really enjoyed your beautiful post, and listening to the lovely music. Thanks for giving my day a boost.

  9. What a blessing to St. Therese showing people in the whole Church how to experience peace, and be transformed by love!

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