I often ponder all of the beautiful, wonderful people God has placed in my life from the day of my birth. As God has shown me the power and the importance of prayer, He has led me to feel a great and very joyful obligation to pray for many of them by name each day. I feel that in a way, He has entrusted them to me and the best thing I can do for them is to pray for them and place them right back into His holy care, knowing and believing and trusting that He will answer my most heartfelt prayers for them. And those prayers are both simple and impossible for anyone but God – that He forgive our sins and leads us into everlasting life.
Imagine my surprise as I was reading The Story of a Soul, written by St. Therese of Lisieux, and found that in her life, God had shown her the same thing. I was given wonderful, deeper insight as she expanded on this, teaching me and sharing her Wisdom, written over a century ago!
I have read and re-read the following paragraph many times this week, pondering and excited by what it is saying to me.
“One day, after Holy Communion, He made me understand these words of the Canticles¹: ‘Draw me: we will run after Thee to the odour of Thy ointments.’ O my Jesus, there is no need to say: ‘In drawing me, draw also the souls that I love’: these words, ‘Draw me,’ suffice. When a soul has let herself be taken captive by the inebriating odour of Thy perfumes, she cannot run alone; as a natural consequence of her attraction towards Thee, the souls of all those she loves are drawn in her train. Just as a torrent carries into the depths of the sea all that it meets on its way, so, my Jesus, does the soul who plunges into the shoreless ocean of Thy Love bring with it all its treasures. My treasures are the souls it has pleased thee to unite with mine; Thou has confided them to me, and therefore I do not fear to use Thy own words, uttered by Thee on the last night that saw Thee still a traveler on this earth. Jesus, my Beloved!”
St. Therese then proceeds to use this passage from John 17 … using Jesus’ own words for His disciples … to pray for the souls God has entrusted to her prayerful care! I found it amazing and wonderful and I will be returning to this many times, I’m sure, as I ponder this and grow in understanding.
6 “I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.
7 Now they know that everything you gave me is from you,
8 because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me.
9 I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours,
10 and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them.
11 And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are.
12 When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled.
13 But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely.
14 I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.
15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one.
16 They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.
17 Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.
18 As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world.
19 And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.
20 “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
21 so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.m
22 And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one,
23 I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.
24 Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
25 Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me.
26 I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.”
¹Song of Songs, 1:3 or 4, depending on the version