Before her death, the young Carmelite nun experienced great spiritual conflicts & inner darkness. In that night of trial, her impending death once appeared to her – as she literally states – as a night of nothingness. “I no longer believe in eternal life: I feel that there is nothing beyond this mortal life,” the doctor of the church wrote. “My mind is gripped by the arguments of the worst materialists” was another of her authentic statements. Not only was Therese to know the collapse of the sweet life of piety, which she had always known up to then; her previous profound sense of God’s closeness was to be swallowed up by mist, darkness, & emptiness. When one is on the verge of death, it is no doubt unexceptional, even for those with a deep belief, to undergo similar trials, as if they were participating in the painful mystery of Christ’s death throes, which we can only sense from His cry of “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” – a cry that only one of the Evangelists had the courage to record. But there is something else at issue here. Mother Agnes, who held the final conversations with the dying Therese & was the first editor (& eager censor) of her writings, construed Therese’s mental state (in the tradition of Carmelite mysticism) as a “dark night of the spirit” - & she formulated her statements accordingly – but thereby she failed to grasp what was truly original, new & unique about Therese de Lisieux, something that, understandably, is absent in the case of both the “great Theresa” of Avila & John of the cross. “Little Therese’s” principle was “to accept even the strangest thoughts” out of love for God. What is therefore most remarkable about Therese is the way she accepted & perceived her contest with God, with darkness & forlornness, her experience with the absence of God & the eclipse of her faith. She accepted it as a mark of solidarity with unbelievers. [“Patience with God” Fr Tomaz Halik ]
This Sunday we will celebrate our annual Cemetery Mass at 12noon. Given the change in weather it will probably be in the Church, after which we will visit the graves of your loved ones in order to pause for a prayer of blessing. It is an opportunity to pray for all our deceased relatives, friends & parishioners buried here, & to unite with those buried elsewhere, who nonetheless still belong to this Parish & its emerging story. Please mention the Mass to those who go to Church elsewhere in the locality, & indeed to those who live further afield, who may not be able to be present but who will be united with us in thought & prayer. I would like to express our gratitude to John Dawson, Gerard Thompson & Peter Tuke who work so hard & diligently in keeping our graveyard in such fine & prayerful condition. Visitors often remark on how well it looks, a reflection of our ongoing love & gratitude to those buried & remembered here. On Wednesday week 26th Sept we are hosting the village Harvest Festival at 7pm followed by a simple Harvest Supper. It is one of the few occasions when we gather for prayer & fellowship with our brothers & sisters from St Hilda’s, so I would warmly encourage as many as possible to join us in offering hospitality to Rev Catherine Reid & her flock. With love & prayers, Fr Bede.