Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira



Comments on St. Therese’s Offer in Holocaust to God’s Merciful Love





Saint of the Day, Monday, April 17, 1967 


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Saint Galdinus, Confessor, cardinal and archbishop of Milan, gave his soul to God after a sermon against heretics.

What a beautiful death! That is how I would like to die! After doing the most radical thing against heretics in my life, to pronounce the words “Our Lady” and die. That is how one should die. That would fill my soul. Our Lady will dispose of us as She sees fit.

Since there is no Saint of the Day today, Dr. Paulinho forwarded to me a request from Chilean members to comment on an excerpt from St. Therese’s Offering to God’s Merciful Love. Here is the text:

“I want to console You for the ingratitude of the wicked, and I beg of you to take away my freedom to displease You. If through weakness I sometimes fall, may Your Divine Glance cleanse my soul immediately, consuming all my imperfections like the fire that transforms everything into itself.

I thank You, O my God! for all the graces You have granted me, especially the grace of making me pass through the crucible of suffering. It is with joy I shall contemplate You on the Last Day carrying the sceptre of Your Cross. Since You deigned to give me a share in this very precious Cross, I hope in heaven to resemble You and to see shining in my glorified body the sacred stigmata of Your Passion.

After earth’s Exile, I hope to go and enjoy You in the Fatherland, but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for Your Love Alone with the one purpose of pleasing You, consoling Your Sacred Heart, and saving souls who will love You eternally.

In the evening of this life, I shall appear before You with empty hands, for I do not ask You, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is stained in Your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in Your own Justice and to receive from Your Love the eternal possession of Yourself. I want no other Throne, no other Crown but You, my Beloved!

Time is nothing in Your eyes, and a single day is like a thousand years. You can, then, in one instant prepare me to appear before You.

In order to live in one single act of perfect Love, I OFFER MYSELF AS A VICTIM OF HOLOCAUST TO YOUR MERCIFUL LOVE, Asking You to consume me incessantly, allowing the waves of infinite tenderness shut up within You to overflow into my soul, and that thus I may become a martyr of Your Love, O my God!”

This text is so substantial that I do not think there is time to comment on in its entirety. But we can comment on one or two paragraphs. Let us take the first paragraph:

I want to console You for the ingratitude of the wicked, and I beg of you to take away my freedom to displease You. If through weakness I sometimes fall, may Your Divine Glance cleanse my soul immediately, consuming all my imperfections like the fire that transforms everything into itself.”

Here we see two things: first, she asks Our Lord to take away her freedom to displease Him and then admits she might have done so. How can we reconcile these two thoughts? First of all, what is the freedom to displease God? Does He really take away from some souls the freedom to displease Him? He does—to people who are confirmed in grace, which, of course, are very rare. All the Apostles were confirmed in grace, meaning that God took away from them what could be called the freedom to displease Him in the ordinary, homely sense of the word.

In fact, the person is left with the fullest, perfect freedom, which is not the freedom to displease God but precisely being free from temptations and pleas of evil, free to do what his soul desires: to love God continually. So God takes away the person’s freedom to displease Him, but not freedom as such. On the contrary, his freedom is increased just as the freedom of the blessed in heaven, all confirmed in grace, is much greater than that of a man on earth.

Why? Because full freedom consists exactly in doing what reason and faith command, and reason and faith command to serve God. Disordered passions, temptations, diabolical interferences and solicitations give us a desire to do something opposed to the dictates of wisdom and reason. Such temptations diminish our freedom, and by removing them, we lose something falsely called freedom (it does have some legitimate meaning) –- the freedom to offend God.

In fact, by receiving that grace we are confirmed in the fullness of our freedom. Was Saint Thérèse asking for confirmation in grace or modestly asking that He keep her at His service and that, if she had the misfortune to displease Him, it would be as instantaneous as if she had not left the path of virtue? At least for me, this passage is not clear enough to make an accurate interpretation.

At any rate, we see how she considered God’s action in a sinning soul. She knew her soul was so united to God that her fault would be out of weakness, like a child’s. A soul in her spiritual infancy, hers would not be a sin of perfidy in the proper and complete sense of the word. So she said: if I ever fall through weakness, may Your divine gaze soon purify my soul, consuming all my imperfections like fire, which transforms all things into itself.

She is therefore asking for one of those fulminating graces that can transform a soul in an instant, eliminating its longstanding defects by a simple touch. Everything leads us to believe that the culminating episode in the history of souls, which was Our Lord’s gaze at St. Peter, was like that. St. Peter was completely changed in that instant. The former Saint Peter of laziness, superficiality, disordered impulses disappears and gives rise to Saint Peter, the pillar of the Church because Our Lord’s loving gaze toward him with infinite tenderness, forgiveness, and a sacral, elevated, most sweet, coherent and impressive reproach. That is how He gazed at St. Peter, who was completely transformed at that very moment.

As a soul with all the boldness of an eagle, St. Therese said she had the body of a bird but the eyes of an eagle. She had the heart and eyes of an eagle and was asking for that grace so she would not fall again. You can see what a marvelous grace she asked for, how we must make her request our own! May we never sin. In the Te Deum, there is a beautiful request: Lord, deign to preserve me this day without sin. There is also a very beautiful supplication in the Anima Christi prayer: Do not allow me to be separated from You. It is a supplication in which the person puts his whole soul. Let there be everything, but may I never be separated from You. I ask with all the élan and impetus of which my soul is capable: may I not be separated from You.

Then she asks: what if it happens? If it happens, may my iniquity be instantly cleansed by Your grace, and may I be completely transformed and made much better than I was.

This reference possibly concerns some major fault and especially little faults that even very righteous souls sometimes commit. Scripture says that a just person sins seven times a day. That is what those great acts of contrition are for.

Also very beautiful is her request to have the stigmata of the Passion shine on her body in heaven. She is a soul ardently in love with Our Lord and naturally wished to have the stigmata of the Passion. But by having the stigmata of the Passion, she would somehow stray from her Little Way because it does not call for extraordinary or marvelous events. The Little Way includes the normality of ordinary spiritual life. But since she wanted to have the stigmata of the Passion, in a flight of the soul, she asks that as a consequence of her love for suffering on this earth she may have the stigmata shine on her body when she gets to heaven.

I think it would be very beautiful to make an image of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus in the glory of heaven with the stigmata on her hands and feet. At the Last Judgment, her request will be undoubtedly granted, and she will have shining stigmata like those of St. Francis of Assisi.

Another very beautiful thought is that she does not work with the intention of accumulating merits. Sshe works exclusively to serve Our Lord. Let any merits accumulate later. They are not the reason for her attitude. The reason for her attitude is completely unselfish love, according to that beautiful phrase of St. Teresa the Great: ‘Even if there were no heaven, I would love You; even if there were no hell, I would fear You.’ It is a completely disinterested and self-denying union with God.

She dares not present her actions to God because all actions of the righteous are tainted. Indeed, something tainted can and does enter in every man’s actions. With extraordinary audacity, she says: I will not present myself to You with my merits; I will clothe myself with Your righteousness. I am going to clothe myself in Your holiness just as Jacob clad himself in goatskins to pretend he was Esau. I will clothe myself in Your righteousness and will thus stand before You.

Here you see the heroism of small souls who feel they have nothing to offer, so they make this superlative offer: they offer God the virtue of God Himself and present themselves before Him. This has astonishing greatness.

Finally, here comes her offering:

In order to live in one single act of perfect Love, I OFFER MYSELF AS A VICTIM OF HOLOCAUST TO YOUR MERCIFUL LOVE, asking You to consume me incessantly, allowing the waves of infinite tenderness shut up within You to overflow into my soul, and that thus I may become a martyr of Your Love, O my God!

In other words, God’s Merciful Love flows from the Sacred Heart of Jesus and filters through the Immaculate Heart of Mary as from inexhaustible springs. But it so happens that men are continually rejecting this Merciful Love. They do not give it importance and see it as sentimentality or empty blabber; they do not care about it, so this love remains without having someone to correspond to it.

So, Saint Thérèse presents herself and says: I am here as a holocaust victim. I want this despised love to concentrate in me; I want this love to be so great as to consume and kill me. I want to die for love and thus make reparation for the contempt of all those who reject it. We see how quickly she was consumed, having died at the age of 24. I figure that if St. Therese were still alive today, she would be my mother’s age. It is rare but there are still people who live to be that age. Her career on this earth was lightning short, but she was consumed by love. She died after having loved God so intensely that she quickly traveled her entire spiritual journey. And when fully ripe for sacrifice, she was taken away.

Hence the beautiful episode of her first hemoptysis. When it happened, she had the virtuous act of not looking at the cloth next to her to see what liquid was there because it could be blood. And if it was blood, she would be so happy that she preferred not to look out of mortification. She awaited death as a victim awaits the moment of her holocaust’s complete consummation. She desires death to fly to God. So here we have the explanation of her martyrdom throughout her life and at the hour of death: holocaust to God’s Merciful Love.

One might wonder if that holocaust to Merciful Love has any meaning in this day and age. I think there are good grounds to believe, at least as extremely likely, that St. Therese’s holocaust to Merciful Love has a lot to do with the graces of the Grand Retour and the Reign of Mary, because she announced that she was going to spread a shower of roses throughout the world. In the Story of a Soul, which I read thoroughly, and in some of her letters, we see that she knew that humanity would take a new stance vis-a-vis the love of God because of her holocaust. Thanks to her sacrifice, something would change in the history of mankind’s love of God, and a new chapter would be written.

The legions of little souls that she would attract to Our Lord were bought by this sacrifice and make other works fertile, opening the Little Way and changing humanity’s lukewarm attitude toward God. This new history of souls in the face of God’s love, this new attitude, this historic turnaround has not yet taken place. There is no doubt that Saint Thérèse has already done a lot of good. Still, there is also no doubt that the heresies devouring Catholic circles have fiercely fought and particularly sabotaged devotion to Saint Thérèse among the faithful. This devotion now is abysmally smaller than it used to be.

I remember that about ten or fifteen years ago, on St. Therese’s feast day, I saw entire streetcars stopping and leaving empty as everyone descended to visit her church. St. Therese’s Church filled to capacity, all its doors were open, people stood outside, and solemn masses followed one after the other. All this has been waning even as the population of São Paulo increases. In other words, devotion to Saint Therese has declined.

Does that mean that all her hopes were reduced to producing this movement of love that she inspired? To me, it definitely does not seem so. We must understand that this movement of love must continue and reach its culmination at a certain moment. What is its continuation? In my view, it is the founding of the counterrevolutionary groups, the fact that so many little and even lame and maimed souls are attracted to the TFP and awakened to the love of God and Our Lady with new enthusiasm to start on a new path. I would dare say that it is not possible that something like the counterrevolutionary groups, so new in the history of the Church, running counter thousands of previous declines, could appear without someone having died and shed new blood for it. I do not think this forgiveness would have taken place.

I believe, therefore, that one can admit as extremely likely that Saint Therese of the Child Jesus’s martyrdom and holocaust to God’s Merciful Love bought for us these graces that we do not deserve. We were given the grace to see the TFP’s awakening and founding, and the grace to found the TFP through undeserved mercy obtained for us by Mary’s prayers. But that was done because many decades earlier, a virgin without stain, living in the once Christian and Marian kingdom of France, offered her whole soul, heart and life to obtain it.

Saint Thérèse would then be the blood that watered our seed even before planted; that gave life to our seed even before placed into the ground. As a victim of her holocaust to Merciful Love, there she would be, obtaining as many pardons as I see within the TFP. What a wonderful thing it is to simply have been called! Usually, the grace of being called already implies a pardon. Few are those who join the counterrevolutionary groups without Our Lady having to forgive them long before.

And then, how many pardons we see within the TFP! How many regenerations in the sense of God’s love! Now, someone died for this; at least one person died for it. And we must admit in all probability, if not with moral certainty, that the life of St. Therese of the Child Jesus is at the root of this. The shower of roses falls on these groups, which distributes petals through the world.

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