By Fr. Alex Ezechukwu, OCD
You can tell that Fr. Udris loves St. Therese.
Rev. Canon Udris, the author of two books on St. Therese of Lisieux, is giving a lecture to a group of retreatants. He points to the word “elan” on the screen in Therese’s own handwriting.
“Here is a lovely word,” he says. “People have translated it in all sorts of ways…surge, impulse, aspiration, inspiration, launching out, and reach.”
Then, to get across the meaning of the word, he moves the slide to the next image, which is a sports car, the Lotus Elan. And then a yacht, and a ski. All of these have the brand name Elan.
All in all, a well-rounded explanation.
Fr. Udris is giving one of his two lectures, “St. Therese: Doctor of Daring Prayer,” which are part of the one hundred lectures of our new Wisdom Lectures series on Carmelite prayer and spirituality.
The impact of St. Therese, who was declared a doctor of the Church in 1997, is seen in the Catholic Catechism’s answer to the question “What is prayer?” This answer is given, in Therese’s words:
“For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”
Fr. Udris points out that the saint uses the term “for me.”
“She is talking about her own personal experience. It may be a different experience for you, since we all experience prayer differently.”
The priest’s presentation includes soaring music and images of leaping lambs and gazelles, to get across the idea of a “surge of the heart.”
He also offers a video clip of today’s Carmelite nuns filing into the chapel of the same house in which St. Therese lived, saying their morning offering. The camera pans to the very seat, called a stall, in which St. Therese used to sit.
Secret to Littleness
What is the secret of the saint’s littleness? It is her simple way to reach out to God:
“I have not the courage to force myself to seek beautiful prayers in books; not knowing which to choose I act as children do who cannot read; I say quite simply to the good God what I want to tell Him, and He always understands me.”
Fr. Udris also relates Therese’s correspondence with a missionary priest, a White Father, during the last 18 months of her life. The missionary explained to Therese that before he became a priest he had served in the military and committed a “big blunder,” something that haunted him. He wanted to throw himself into the arms of Jesus, but he stops short of his wretchedness and says, “I do not dare.”
Therese advises, “I beg you, do not drag yourself any longer to his feet. Follow that first impulse in love that draws you into his heart.”
Listen to All the Lectures
You can listen to both of Fr. Udris’ lectures, as well as other lectures that explore the spirituality of St. Therese, with a subscription to our Wisdom Lecture video series. The advantage of this series is that you can get more than one hundred videos on Carmelite spirituality – all in one place, and free from ads.
Not only that, but our video module keeps track of which videos you have watched, so you can continue with whatever video you want next. Also, if you stop in the middle of a video, our program will pick up right where you left off.
These videos have been produced by the newly-formed DecorCarmeli Media, a service of the Order of the Discalced Carmelites in the United Kingdom.
Monthly and annual subscriptions to the video platform will soon be available. We will let you know – simply sign up for our mailing list: DecorCarmeli Media, at https://vocationpromotion.com/discalced-carmelites/notify-me.html
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