Commentary on St. Therese’s Offering to Merciful Love

SourceStory of A Soul, translated by Fr. John Clarke, O.C.D. Copyright (c) 1976 
by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, ICS Publications, 2131 Lincoln Road, 
N.E., Washington, DC 20002 U.S.A., pp. 276-278.

Other resources used: 33 Days to Merciful Love by Fr. Michael Gaitley
Offering of myself
as a Victim of Holocaust
to God’s Merciful Love

On June 9th, 1895 – Trinity Sunday, St. Therese received the inspiration and burning desire during Mass to offer herself to Merciful Love. This came 9 months after St. Therese discovered her Little Way. After receiving permission from Mother Agnes, the prioress at the time, St. Therese, whose “face was all lit up, as if she were on fire with love,” centred her whole life around this consecration and constantly repeated it throughout her life. At a time when sisters, under some Jansenist influences, were offering themselves as victims of God’s divine justice, St. Therese, who was “far from feeling attracted to making [that offering],” received the grace to offer herself as a victim of God’s Merciful Love.

(1) O My God! Most Blessed Trinity, I desire to Love You and make you Loved, to work for the glory of Holy Church by saving souls on earth and liberating those suffering in purgatory. I desire to accomplish Your will perfectly and to reach the degree of glory You have prepared for me in Your Kingdom. I desire, in a word, to be saint, but I feel my helplessness and I beg You, O my God! to be Yourself my Sanctity!

This first paragraph, in which Therese describes the goal of her Offering, gives us one of the best definitions of what it means to be a saint. At the same time, she clearly realizes that she is “helpless” to attain it. So, in a bold move, she chooses to rely on God’s sanctity. 

We can use Therese’s desire for sanctity as a helpful examination of conscience:

  • How strong is my desire to love God? and make Him loved?
  • How zealous am I to work for the salvation of souls on earth? and free those in purgatory?
  • How eager am I to perfectly accomplish God’s will? and attain the level of holiness He has set out before me?
  • How aware am I of my helplessness? Does this lead me to rely totally on God?
(2) Since You loved me so much as to give me Your only Son as my Savior and my Spouse, the infinite treasures of His merits are mine. I offer them to You with gladness, begging You to look upon me only in the Face of Jesus and in His heart burning with Love.

Therese’s choice to rely on God’s sanctity is further explained in this second paragraph. By looking at Christ, she finds her source of confidence. Therese expresses the truth St. Paul discovered, that “it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

How often do I offer to God the Father the infinite merits of His Son?

(3) I offer You, too, all the merits of the saints (in heaven and on earth), their acts of Love, and those of the holy angels. Finally, I offer You, O Blessed Trinity! the Love and merits of the Blessed Virginmy Dear Mother. It is to her I abandon my offering, begging her to present it to You. Her Divine Son, my Beloved Spouse, told us in the says of His mortal life: “Whatsoever you ask the Father in my name he will give it to you!” I am certain, then, that You will grant my desires; I know, O my God! that the more You want to give, the more You make us desire. I feel in my heart immense desires and it is with confidence I ask You to come and take possession of my soul. Ah! I cannot receive Holy Communion as often as I desire, but, Lord, are You not all-powerful? Remain in me as in a tabernacle and never separate Yourself from Your little victim.

Next, Therese adds in the merits of the saints, angels, and the Blessed Mother. No holding back here! She goes even further to remind God both that He is all-powerful and of the promise He made to us in Scripture to grant whatever we ask.

Therese also makes a bold act of spiritual communion, wanting God to be a permanent resident in the tabernacle of her heart.

(4) I want to console You for the ingratitude of the wicked, and I beg of you to take away my freedom to displease You. If through weakness I sometimes fall, may Your Divine Glance cleanse my soul immediately, consuming all my imperfections like the fire that transforms everything into itself.

This bold petition is remarkable: Therese asks the Lord not only to take away her freedom to sin but to cleanse her from the stain of any falls as they happen. Therese’s expressed desire is no less remarkable: She wants to “console” Jesus, a desire that she repeats later (see paragraph 6), a desire that’s a particuarly important concept in her spirituality. Remember, Therese’s Offering is all about consoling Jesus, loving Him in the best way possible, not some selfish desire to reach sanctity apart from the Cross. In other words, Therese wants to become a saint not to please herself but, rather, to please Jesus.

May this prayer inspire us to be more bold in our own petitions for the glory of God!

“The essence of the Offering to Merciful Love is to console the Heart of Jesus by accepting all the Merciful Love that other souls don’t want” (Gaitley, 120).

(5) I thank You, O my God! for all the graces You have granted me, especially the grace of making me pass through the crucible of suffering. It is with joy I shall contemplate You on the Last Day carrying the sceptre of Your Cross. Since You deigned to give me a share in this very precious Cross, I hope in heaven to resemble You and to see shining in my glorified body the sacred stigmata of Your Passion.

Here, Therese speaks of suffering as a grace, as a loving acceptance of the suffering that the tender God has chosen for her.

We must pray for the grace of suffering well for Jesus.

(6) After earth’s Exile, I hope to go and enjoy You in the Fatherland, but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for Your Love Alone with the one purpose of pleasing You, consoling Your Sacred Heart, and saving souls who will love You eternally.

As we learned earlier, Therese’s way is not that of merit but of mercy and of love. In fact, we just read that her focus is on being merciful to Jesus and to her neighbour.

Do we work for Jesus’ love alone? to please Him? to console His Sacred Heart?

(7) In the evening of this life, I shall appear before You with empty hands, for I do not ask You, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is stained in Your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in Your own Justice and to receive from Your Love the eternal possession of Yourself. I want no other Throne, no other Crown but You, my Beloved!

So, not wanting to gather merits with downward-facing, grasping hands, Therese wants to appear before the Lord with upward-facing, poor, and empty hands that are ready to receive God’s gift of himself. And, again, she’s not worried. Even if, along with her empty hands, she’s full of weaknesses and imperfections, she does not fear. Why not? Well, because she knows this about God…

How would it feel to appear before God at the moment of our death with empty hands? with nothing to prove that we deserve to go to heaven?

(8) Time is nothing in Your eyes, and a single day is like a thousand years. You can, then, in one instant prepare me to appear before You.

Yes, God can do it.

How much do we trust in God’s promises? Do we really believe that He can do this?

(9) In order to live in one single act of perfect Love, I OFFER MYSELF AS A VICTIM OF HOLOCAUST TO YOUR MERCIFUL LOVEAsking You to consume me incessantly, allowing the waves of infinite tenderness shut up within You to overflow into my soul, and that thus I may become a martyr of Your Love, O my God!

Therese’s offering to Merciful Love opens her up to the waves of infinite tenderness.

Do we want to be martyrs of God’s love? How does it feel to offer yourself as a victim of holocaust to God’s merciful love? Remember, holocausts were consumed entirely, they left nothing behind!

(10) May this martyrdom, after having prepared me to appear before You, finally cause me to die and may my soul take its flight without any delay into the eternal embrace of Your Merciful Love.

St. Therese wanted to die of love. To be a martyr of love is a beatiful thing. It’s the way the Lord knows he can come and “get” little souls at the end of their lives. St. John of the Cross said that this martyrdom is “very gentle and very sweet, sweeter and more gentle than [our] whole spiritual life on earth.”

I want, O my Beloved, at each beat of my heart to renew this offering to You an infinite number of times, until the shadows having disappeared I may be able to tell You of my Love in an Eternal Face to Face!

Until that blessed moment, Therese will continue to offer herself to Merciful Love.

Let us persevere in this beatiful offering to God every day of our lives!

Marie, Françoise, Thérèse of the Child Jesus
and the Holy Face, unworthy Carmelite religious.
This 9th day of June,
Feast of the Most Holy Trinity,
In the year of grace, 1895

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