Finding Love in France

The Good God does not need years to accomplish His work of love in a soul; one ray from His heart can, in an instant, make His flower bloom for eternity…

St. Therese of Lisieux

These words from this beautiful soul resound in my heart. I always struggled to grow closer to Jesus, especially in prayer. I always heard my friends talk about different times they experienced intimacy with Jesus whenever they went into prayer. I didn’t know how to pray that way and so I didn’t think I could ever experience such intimacy and love with Him.

Until this summer.

I had the opportunity to travel to France on a three week evangelization mission trip and pilgrimage. On one occasion of immense blessing (of which I was not aware of until later on), we visited Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire Abbey where the relics of St. Benedict can be found in the crypt. There, we were invited by Fr. Anthony, the priest on the mission with us, to ask for St. Benedict’s intercession to grow in love and intimacy with our Holy. I prayed for this in front of St. Benedict’s relics but then I forgot all about it some days later.

The mission then led us on to Lisieux, the small village where St. Thérèse of the child Jesus and the Holy Face spent her time at Carmel. I didn’t know much about her but knew she was very close with Christ, so I begged her to help me experience some kind of closeness with Him. In a matter of 24 hours, Christ heard my plea as I sat in the basilica of St. Thérèse with Mass about to begin. I looked up and around the ceiling and walls of this basilica which was covered in mosaic art, taking in the tiny pieces of tiles that formed the beauty around me, it was in that moment that our Holy granted me exactly what I had begged for.

In that instant, He broke open my heart and shattered it into a thousand tiny pieces, and then He picked up every piece and shaped it into what He had wanted. In one instant my heart had been completely transformed and filled with Christ’s love like I had never known before. I did not want to ever let go of that feeling of intimacy with Jesus. I can’t really explain in words what this felt like, but at that moment, I truly understood how much our Holy loves me. The next time I received Him in the Eucharist was beyond what words could explain. For the first time, I wept joyfully when I received Him in the Eucharist. For the first time, our Holy in the Blessed Eucharist became very real to me. I surrendered completely and accepted Him into my heart.

He is always waiting at the doors of our hearts. He wants to come in and remain in us. He longs for us. He loves us completely even when we shut the doors of our hearts and leave Him outside. In order to experience intimacy with our Beloved, we have to open the doors of our hearts. We have to let Him come in and stay. We must host our Host. We have to let Him transform our hearts into beautiful mosaic works of art.

When we allow Him to break open our hearts, He molds the fragile pieces together into exactly what He wants. When He molds the pieces together, the spaces between them serve as channels through which we continue to receive His love every day and fall more in love with Him. The spaces also serve as channels through which we are now able to radiate the love we had received into the world. As one of my friends Christine would say, I have fallen in love with the purest source of love, Christ Himself. My daily prayer for the rest of my life is that Christ will continue to grant me the grace to fall more in love with Him every day. As St. Thérèse wrote,

One ray from God’s heart can make us, His flowers, bloom for eternity. Just ask Him.

 

Thelma Ekeocha is a senior at Mount St. Mary's University pursuing a degree in International Studies and French. She enjoys traveling and is slightly obsessed with Ireland. She also loves going on spontaneous trips to random places with her friends while learning to be fully alive for the greater glory of God.