Saturday, June 22, 2013

Cranaleith Spiritual Center: Brother Joseph Schmidt, FSC, on Thérèse of Lisieux, the saint of the “little way”


Here's my notes from the talk arrayed on my red living room couch/desk, along with my indispensable peanuts.

The speaker Brother Joseph Schmidt, FSC, (Brothers of the Christian Schools) is a big fan of Thérèse of Lisieux, the saint of the “little way” and the most recent Doctor of the Church

Many of us stand on the shoulders of giants. Therese herself liked Teresa of Avila, a Spanish saint.

And the great Trappist monk, Thomas Merton

was inspired by the writings of Therese, whom we'll abbreviate as Trez.

Therese Lisieux (1873 - 1897) who was only 24 when she died.

She is known b/c of a memoir she wrote called "The Story of a Soul." Several people asked her to write it.

Sister Mary thanked me for leaving comments on FB.
Here's Brother Joe Schneider. He was wearing a gorgeous shirt with fine inlay on it. He'd been living in Kenya for five years and I wondered if he might have bought it there.

Trez, he said, would be 100 years old in a couple yrs, had she lived. She's our contemporary, he said, as are Freud and Jung.

She was psychologically wise - intuitively - since her beloved mother died when she was four - and she'd spent a dozen years being depressed. She entered the Carmelite convent at 14.

She was mistreated in the convent she joined, the Carmelites in the Normandy section of France. Bro Joseph refers to this harsh treatment she received as 'violence.'

Fair enough term. Violence can destroy a person's spirit. Or it can transform them.

Numerous 'sayings' by Trez on little scraps of paper. Many were wrin to her sister Pauline, who was also a nun.

A pope dug her writing. Why? Her work, he said, was the essence of the Gospel. He made her a "doctor of the church."

Only a Catholic can keep up with this lingo.We all have our own lingo and must translate it to outsiders. For example, birdies and bogies for a game of golf.

The 'little way' of Trez has two steps, said Bro Joe. From one of her writings
Holiness is not a matter of
this or that pious practice.
It consists of a disposition of the heart
which makes us small and humble
in the arms of God,
aware of our weakness,
yet confident
- boldly confident '
in the goodness of our Father.
She was mistreated, he said, b/c she was young, beautiful, joyful and wise.

The violence of jealousy and bullying.

But wait! Thomas Merton has something to say about violence.

Tom, your turn:


There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence.
The rush and pressures of modern life are a form of its innate violence.
To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns,
to surrender to too many projects,
to want to help everyone in everything,
is to succumb to violence...

The frenzy of the activist ... destroys our own inner capacity for peace.

It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work,
b/c it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.

Merton was a human rights' activist. His books inspired young men to go into the religious life.

Merton and Trez were constantly learning.

Bro Joe said two years before she died, Trez wrote, "Finally I understand what love is."

He quoted the famous Corinthians' verse about love

Why were people mean to Trez?

"B/c they hurt inside, they hurt other people," said Trez.

She told Mother Superior that people who are hurt, angry and depressed must be helped. We must help them 'where they are, on their own terms,' said Bro Joe.

"Start looking at what Jesus did in the presence of the Enemy," said Bro Joe.

With her concern for emotions, Trez was ahead of her time.

Read the last 50 pages of her book, he said, which tells stories of people in the convent and their inability to understand themselves and feel at peace.

The writing of Trez counteracted a stern Catholic movement called Jansenism. They believed in original sin, that man was essentially evil, and that constant penance was required.

Trez, who emulated Jesus, was able to succeed b/c of four necessary virtues:

Inner freedom

Bro Joe had us do an exercise with a person sitting next to us.

Bill Durham and I chatted about willful people he knew. He wisely said that there's competition between females in the family.

I told him about a demand a guy in my support group made on me.

I had been prepared for an argument from him but I stood my ground. Very unpleasant for me and I'm sure for him too.

Jesus, said Bro Joe, was very creative when dealing with his many enemies. He told the story about Jesus and the Pharisees

He also mentioned a Biblical character I'd never heard of. Zacchaeus. Great story. Zaccheus repented and changed. 

Okay, let's take a 25-minute break and take a walk around the spacious grounds in Northeast Philadelphia. 

 I have these in my back yard, plus on my living room windowsill and kitchen windowsill. My friend the late Mr Carrell Beame gave them to me.
 Read this sign to learn about the huge boulders once used by the Lenni-Lenape, who were here before us.

 This sister is studying one of Trez's little prayers.
 Stone stairway leads up to the house of the founder / directors.
Swamp land filled with intriguing swampalalayia.

Before I went down for lunch, Kathy Krol stopped me. We knew we'd had seen one another and finally remembered.

We both worked at Bristol-Bensalem Human Services before it shut done for Medicare fraud and became an upscale housing development.

Kathy worked in the Partial Hospital Program. I can visualize it so well. Did Kathy know Diana Ice? Diana was a singer - I went to her solo recital - and she conducted some of the clients in a lovely concert. Kathy said she worked with Lena Marder, who I certainly remember.

Jay Lermitte, who lives in nearby Bryn Athyn, was one of the heads of the partial program.

 Kathy invited me to eat with her amazing friends. Thank you Kath and friends for having me!

They came today b/c of the suicide death of a friend Maureen. 

This is one of the ways they're healing themselves of her death a couple of weeks ago. I told them about Our Tony and planting a tree in his name at a local park.  
 I know, I know, not a great pic of the attractive, vivacious Gina of Broomall, who gave so many great quotes from her father who, sadly, is in a nursing home with Alz disease.
 Here's Eileen Hillman
 and Lucia
 and meatless chili made with - dyou hear my voice rising in elation? - bulgar wheat! I am mostly a vegetarian. I put sour cream and grated cheddar on top.
 Now we visit the lovely old home where Sister Maria and Sister Mary live. Dining room table with hydrangea centerpiece.

Quick! What movie features hydrangeas as part of a hypnosis. Answer will apear later.
 Double-click to enlarge kitchen cabinets. Don't double-click. It does no good.

 Old doors and light switch.

 Dans le living with hardwood floors and oriental area rugs.
 Tiled fireplaces.
Don't you just love Madonna and Child in unusual places?

The Manchurian Candidate.

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