Second Part: The Symbolism of the Offertory (Cont)
A few moments before the Incarnation, Our Lady too, understanding the message of the Angel inviting her, the New Eve, to be the ‘adjutorium sibi simile’, the helper like unto himself, of the New Adam in the mystery of the redemption of the world through a terribly painful sacrifice, Our Lady also offered herself completely for this work:
Behold the Handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word. (Lk 1:38)
We can find an authorized commentary of her answer, what she herself felt, in what she asked the children of Fatima on the day of her very first apparition to them
– Will you offer yourselves to God, and bear all the sufferings He sends you? In atonement for all the sins that offend Him? And for the conversion of sinners?
– Oh, we will, we will!, the children spontaneously replied.
– Then you will have a great deal to suffer, but the grace of God will be with you and will strengthen you.
You are all familiar with two St Teresas. Few, especially in the English-speaking world, have heard of the third one, St Therese Couderc, 1805-1885, the foundress of the Congregation of the Cenacle, nuns specializing in giving the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius to women, in the 19th century. Her main biographer is Fr. André Combes, the same who wrote so much on the Saint of Lisieux.
Fr. Combes relates the following historical moment, one of the highest mystical point in the life of this little known saint. It was June 26, 1864. Notice that there are three progressing stages in what you will hear.
First, she wrote:
This morning (…) I was just about to start my meditation, when I heard the sound of numerous bells calling the faithful to attend the divine mysteries. At that moment, I desired to unite myself to all the masses that were being said, and directed my intention to unite myself to them all.
Secondly, she is lifted to the mystical level:
Then I had a general view of the whole Catholic universe and of a multitude of altars where the adorable Victim was simultaneously being offered. The blood of the spotless Lamb flowed in abundance on each of these altars, which seemed to me to be enveloped in a very light smoke rising towards Heaven.
My soul was captivated and penetrated by a sentiment of love and gratitude at the sight of this superabundant satisfaction offered for us by Our Lord.
But at the same moment I was deeply astonished that the whole world was not sanctified thereby.
And so I asked how come the Sacrifice of the Cross having been offered only once, being sufficient to redeem all souls, and now, renewed so many times, was not sufficient to sanctify them all?
We now come to the third phase of this event:
Here is the answer I seemed to have heard.
The sacrifice without doubt is sufficient by itself, and the blood of Jesus Christ more than sufficient for the sanctification of millions of worlds, but souls lack correspondence and generosity.
Now the great means to enter in the way of perfection and holiness is to deliver oneself, to hand ourselves over, to surrender ourselves totally to our Good God. (in French, “se livrer au Bon Dieu”).