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St. Therese & St. Francis

Dear Friends and Parishioners of Saint Patrick,

Love and peace to you and yours.

In these first days of October, we celebrate the feasts of two saints who call us to understand the essence of genuine love and the joy of peace.

Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, who is also known as St. Therese of Lisieux, a Carmelite nun who was born 150 years ago and entered religious life at the age of 15, was canonized in 1925 and declared to be a Doctor of the Church in 1997.  Her feast day is October 1.  At first glance, her life and her writings may appear simplistic.  However, as we reflect upon her daily witness and her written word, we get to peer into the heart of a strong and resilient soul who truly knew what it was to have a heart in consummate union with God. One of her more famous lines is, “Let us love, since that is what our hearts were made for.”

In an on-line column, Jeannie Ewing offers some insight into this beautiful truth. Ewing states that “we forget, in our modern age, that love isn’t based on emotion.  It’s not the secular notion of fantasy, romance, and chemistry.  It’s not lust. Love is, indeed, what we were born to do and become, because we are reflections of the Triune God, who is Love incarnate. As a decision, rather than a feeling, love requires us to step outside of our egocentric behavior and always seek to serve the other. When we do this, our hearts expand beyond imagination, and we are then capable of loving even more than we knew possible.” 

Although Saint Francis of Assisi, whose feast day is October 4, did not necessarily pen the “Prayer of Saint Francis” (probably a compilation of works from other pious souls), the essence of the prayer reflects the peace in his heart.  What powerful words for our generation who boasts of being a global community but can be painfully divided, dares to define love but is really good at hatred, seeks happiness in many ways but still sadly despairs, pursues personal freedom but is victim to a culture of death. Regardless of who actually wrote it, the prayer inspires and challenges:  

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offence, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.

In the love and peace of Christ,

Fr. Gurnick