Sunday 11 October 2009

St Therese at Aylesford (4)

Yesterday (Saturday) seems to have been "bloggers day" at Aylesford - perhaps an accident of the geography that the south east of England is home to several priest bloggers. Groups from their parishes were visiting yesterday.

A round up:

The Friars, Aylesford, Saturday - I suspect that the number of pilgrims cited is on the cautious side.

Aylesford today - has some links to follow to other coverage. Updated here.

Aylesford today - same title, different blog.

The relics of St Therese at Aylesford - scroll down for the photographs, particularly of the queue at a "confessional tent", which indicates an aspect of the day that might otherwise be missed. I think this is the post that best communicates something of the feel of the day.

The text of Fr Keating's homily at the main Mass of the day can be found here, and there is a link to the flickr site with photographs of the day. I offer four "sound bites" from the different sections of Father's homily
God desires not great deeds but our availability....
[I am a little wary of how Fr Keating expresses Therese in a framework of transcending a narrowness and rigidity of her time - she certainly speaks to such a narrowness and rigidity, but, reading her own writing, for example, I don't feel there was any sense of her own lived experience of being one of transcending it - her own experience was, I think, one in which that narrowness and rigidity simply weren't there to be transcended - sorry, me being fussy!]

I believe this is what makes Thérèse so relevant and universal in the 20th and 21st centuries. Her struggles, despite the short and very different circumstances she faced, are ours also. In the 1940’s and 50’s her story touched a champion of the New York poor, Dorothy Day by means of a little medal given to her in hospital that would lead Dorothy to a life-long relationship with the saint. A visit to the tomb of Thérèse by the French singer Edith Piaf, as a little girl, would remain with her throughout her tortured life, which was so beautifully expressed in the film La vie en rose.
[I have been citing a passage from Madeleine Delbrel, in many ways a French counterpart to Dorothy Day.]
Life calls for a truthfulness in the face of our own reality and limitation. Only God can lead us loving beyond all the limits of this world. In this moment we must surrender and let the Lord lead us – let God’s will be done. Literally, she had to throw herself on the mercy of God. To use the phrase of the mystic Adrienne von Speyr “littleness absorbed into holiness”.
[I couldn't resist the citation of Adrienne von Speyr.]
Saints are models, teachers, witnesses…. Thérèse herself describes them as levers that have “lifted the world” (Ms C36v).... It is not policies, or politics, or programmes or even economics that will change the world we live in. What can silently touch hearts and bring it peace but God’s love shining through our human weakness! It is the power of holiness. This little saint enables us to perceive a little way to holiness that is accessible. It is obvious that Thérèse still speaks to our world. Just look around you....

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