Fifth Avenue and Rodeo Drive have nothing on the kind of extravagance I am talking about.
Believe it or not, throughout the years Carmelites have been accused of a certain extremism, an extravagance that shocks the world. It is very, very hard to shock our world these days, but we do. We are not the only ones who practice this excess, but we do have quite a reputation for it. I suppose it really goes back to the one under whose special patronage we live.
You see, many years ago, there was a girl in her early teens who performed an act of such extreme extravagance that the world still stands speechless in light of it. “Fiat.” She held nothing back, kept nothing in reserve, her entire life was placed at the disposal of the Lord. It was far beyond what was necessary, beyond what was to be expected, and infinitely far reaching in its consequences. Extravagant? Definitely!
Some years later, there was another woman who followed this example of excess. Imagine taking the most expensive bottle of perfume you can buy and pouring out the entire thing on someone. Can you even think of the power of the fragrance? It would have stayed around for weeks! And just to make sure that nothing would be held back, the bottle is broken in the process. She was certainly criticized for her seeming extreme measures.
Then there was this little French teen who did something very similar. In fact, it was really her whole family that was extravagant. All her sisters poured out everything and when the last sister was about to follow suit, she was accused of being ridiculous. The response of her sister, Therese? “After all, what matter that our vessels are broken, since Jesus is consoled, and since, in spite of itself, the world is forced to awareness of the perfumes they breathe forth, perfumes which serve to purify the poisoned air the world is ever breathing.”
So as we celebrate her feast day today, we in Carmel (and all those Carmelites at heart) are trying to follow this French extravagance, holding nothing back, pouring it all out for our Beloved. Let the world think of us what it may, we will love Jesus even unto folly.
May St. Therese obtain for you the spiritual roses that will make you most pleasing to our God!