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from issue no. 05 - 2006

The attraction of Jesus

«O Jesus, then it is not even necessary to say: Attracting me, You attract the souls I love. This simple word: “attracting me” is enough»

edited by Maurizio Benzi

The vocation of Matthew, Caravaggio, church of San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome

The vocation of Matthew, Caravaggio, church of San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome

It is understandable that the appeal to a capitalized New Evangelization should have become so insistent. It is understandable first of all because the Lord’s command, «Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation» (Mk 16.15), cannot be escaped and then because there is underway, especially in the last decades, an unimaginable de-christianization.
But this is precisely the point: at times the appeal seems a little too unquiet, more preoccupied with achieving a result than with collaborating in the joy of those who should reach it. Almost as if this (the joy, surprising fruit of grace) might not be operative, might not be the same goal of all that Jesus said and did («these things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full» Jn 15.11), might not be the gratuitous point of force of a poor Christian along with the request that the Lord work with us («… while the Lord worked with them» Mk 16.20).
And as if it were necessary to add some further task to the daily recitation of prayers and the humble observation of the Ten Commandments («For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome», 1Jn 5.3).
The text of Lumen gentium is so consoling and convincing – and therefore inevitably operational – when in number 31 it speaks of the «ordinary conditions of family and social life» as the place where the faithful are called «to make Christ visible to others principally by the testimony of their life and with the splendor of faith, of hope and of charity».
The recent Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church goes in the same direction when, in number 97 it explains «how Mary collaborates in the divine plan of salvation»: «by the grace of God Mary was kept free from every personal sin her whole life long»; and then in number 433, almost as a comment on Lumen Gentium 31, it explains that «because their lives are conformed to the Lord Jesus Christians draw others to faith in the true God, build up the Church, inform the world with the spirit of the Gospel and hasten the coming of the Kingdom of God» (all the italics are ours, here and above).
But an even more convincing word because full of the lightness and candor of holiness comes from the last pages of manuscript C of The story of a Soul, where the little Teresa of Lisieux recounts the unexpected fulfillment of her missionary vocation. We publish it as the best contribution to the cause of the new evangelization, which the patron of the missions, declared Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II, is certainly the most active in advocating.

Edited by Don Maurizio Benzi
Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus

Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus

«Simple souls do not need complicated methods, and, as I am one of their number, Our Lord has inspired me with a very simple way of fulfilling my mission. One day, after Holy Communion, He made me understand these words of the Canticles: “Draw me: we will run after You to the fragrance of Your ointments.”(Ct 1.4).
O my Jesus, there is no need therefore to say: “In drawing me, draw also the souls that I love”. These simple words, “Draw me,” suffice.
Lord, I understand, when a soul has let herself be taken captive by the inebriating fragrance of Your perfumes, she cannot run alone; as a natural consequence of her attraction towards You, the souls of all those she loves are drawn in her train: this happens without constraint, without force, it is a natural consequence of the attraction towards you.
Just as a torrent impetuously carries into the depths of the ocean all that it meets on its way, so, my Jesus, does the soul who plunges into the shoreless ocean of Your Love draw with it all its treasures…».
Dear Mother, I feel it is still necessary to give you some further explanation about this passage of the Sacred Canticles: “Draw me, we will run”, because what I wanted to say seems to me barely understandable.
Our Lord has said: “No man can come to Me except my Father Who has sent Me, draw him”. Then later, with sublime parables, and often without even using this means so familiar to the people, He teaches us that it is enough for whosoever seeks to find, whosoever asks humbly to receive what he wants, that unto him that knocks it shall be opened… And He further adds that whatever we ask His Father in His Name He will grant us. It was no doubt for this reason that, long before the birth of Our Lord, the Holy Spirit dictated this prophetic prayer: “Draw me, we will run”.
What is it then to ask to be drawn, if not to join ourselves intimately with what possesses the soul. If iron and fire were endowed with reason, and the iron could say to the other: “Draw me”, would not that prove its desire to be identified with the fire in such a way that this would penetrate and impregnate it with its burning substance and seem to become one thing with it.
Beloved Mother, this is precisely my prayer: I ask Jesus to draw me into the flames of His love, and to unite me so closely to Himself that He may live and act in me.
I feel that the more the fire of love consumes my heart, so much the more shall I say: “Draw me” and the more also will souls who draw near me (poor little piece of useless scrap iron, were I to distance myself from the divine brazier) run swiftly to the sweet fragrance of their Beloved, because a soul on fire can never be at rest inactively. They may indeed, like Saint Mary Magdalen, sit at the feet of Jesus, listening to His sweet and burning words. Seeming to give Him nothing, they give much more than Martha, who busied herself about many things and wanted her sister to imitate her. It is not Martha’s work that Our Lord blames: His divine Mother humbly occupied herself all of her life in the same kind of work because she had to prepare the meals for the Holy Family. It was only the disquiet of his over anxious hostess that he wanted to correct».

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