Bearing Children for Jesus
Summary: The following article addresses a very common question: why doesn’t God always convert the closest and dearest person to us? Six truths, six steps, are explored – often with quotes from the Scriptures and the Doctors of the Church – leading us to a deeper and wider understanding of such apparent silence from God. The latter steps introduce us into a new spiritual dimension where each step deserves to be meditated and gazed upon. It all leads to the discovery of a hidden dimension in our actual reality, in our daily life where each small act can now be transfigured into a new realm.
1- God’s Freedom and Mysterious Design
2- God is Pleased
3- We Need to Pray and Act for Conversion
4- We are Missionaries by Baptism
5- The Mystical Dimension of our Mission
6- The Power of the Fiery Prayer
7- You Will Save Your Husband
I am emailing you as it is easier, I think, to voice what I want to say this way, and I do need your help over a line I read in the gospel of St. John a day or two ago: “Yet there are some of you who do not believe. For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.” He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” (John 6:64-65)
My understanding has been that God honours our free will and will not force Himself on us, so if we do not believe He accepts that. But the next verse is causing me the problem, namely: “no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father”.
I have understood this to mean that God chooses those to whom He wishes to give the faith, i.e., He calls us… He is the one who initiates always. But it has suddenly dawned on me that there are those whom God does not call. Like my poor husband. Why? I looked back at the gospels and I saw that Jesus did not perform miracles for everyone, and understood that as a human being He could only do a certain amount because of his human resources.
How then does the Father, who is divine, choose not to give the faith to everyone?
I have accepted the Lord’s will on this all my life without questioning it, and I still accept it, but I can’t help wondering why. I know that following one’s conscience, no matter what path you take (Buddhist etc) will ensure you will be acceptable in God’s eyes…. But why does the Lord pick and choose those to whom He will reveal Himself when He wants all of us to be with Him in Paradise?
In Mary in this glorious Month of May,
Thank you, N., for your email. Here is what I can say and I hope it can help you live your daily life better and obtain a better understanding as to why things are as they are.
1- God’s Freedom and Mysterious Design
The main text that comes to your mind and to mine is St. Paul’s one, underlining God’s total and utter Freedom and Wisdom in choosing whoever He wants, when He wants. Choosing the persons, but also choosing the timing. St. Paul in fact suffered a lot to see his fellow Jewish people who didn’t believe in Jesus. He even wished to be anathema (like going to Hell (Rm 9:3)) in order to have them discover Jesus. It is never easy to accept such a thing.
Here is the famous text:
“And it is not as that the word of God has failed. For not all who are of Israel, are these Israel. 7 Nor because they are seed of Abraham are all children. Rather, “In Isaac your offspring will be named.” 8 That is, the children of the flesh, these are not children of God; but the children of the promise are regarded as offspring. 9 For this is the word of the promise: “At this time I will come, and to Sarah there will be a son.”
10 And not only so, but also Rebecca, having conception by one, Isaac our father, 11 for they not yet having been born nor having done anything good or evil, so that the purpose of God according to election might stand, 12 not of works, but of the One calling, it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it has been written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
14 What then shall we say? Is there injustice with God? Never may it be! 15 For He says to Moses:
“I will show mercy to whom I may show mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I may have compassion.”
16 So then, it is not of the willing, nor of the running, but of God showing mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “For this very purpose I have raised you up, so that I might show My power in you, and that My name should be declared in all the earth.” 18 So then, He shows mercy to whom He wants, and He hardens whom He wants.” (Rom 9:6-18)
For the majority God seems to wait, to delay. Hence the incomprehensible situation of bad people saying the Psalms yet also seeming to have a good life … oblivious of God. This is not the case of your husband of course.
In light of this underlining God’s mysterious design and wisdom is fundamental. He has the initiative! No doubt about this! However, does this leave things totally in His Hands with us being totally passive?
2- God is Pleased
Thérèse, Manuscript A:
“I wondered for a long time why God has preferences, why all souls don’t receive an equal amount of graces. I was surprised when I saw Him shower His extraordinary favours on saints who had [2v°] offended Him, for instance, St. Paul and St. Augustine, and whom He forced, so to speak, to accept His graces. When reading the lives of the saints, I was puzzled at seeing how Our Lord was pleased to caress certain ones from the cradle to the grave, allowing no obstacle in their way when coming to Him, helping them with such favours that they were unable to soil the immaculate beauty of their baptismal robe. I wondered why poor savages died in great numbers without even having heard the name of God pronounced.
Jesus deigned to teach me this mystery. He set before me the book of nature; I understood how all the flowers He has created are beautiful, how the splendour of the rose and the whiteness of the Lily do not take away the perfume of the little violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose her springtime beauty, and the fields would no longer be decked out with little wild flowers.
And so it is in the world of souls, Jesus’ garden. He willed to create great souls comparable to Lilies and roses, but He has created smaller ones and these must be content to be daisies or violets destined to give joy to God’s glances when He looks down at his feet. Perfection consists in doing His will, in being what He wills us to be.
I understood, too, that Our Lord’s love is revealed as perfectly in the most simple soul who resists His grace in nothing as in the most excellent soul; in fact, since the nature of love is to humble oneself, if all souls resembled those of the holy Doctors who illumined the Church [3r°] with the clarity of their teachings, it seems God would not descend so low when coming to their heart. But He created the child who knows only how to make his feeble cries heard; He has created the poor savage who has nothing but the natural law to guide him. It is to their hearts that God deigns to lower Himself. These are the wild flowers whose simplicity attracts Him. When coming down in this way, God manifests His infinite grandeur. Just as the sun shines simultaneously on the tall cedars and on each little flower as though it were alone on the earth, so Our Lord is occupied particularly with each soul as though there were no others like it. And just as in nature all the seasons are arranged in such a way as to make the humblest daisy bloom on a set day, in the same way, everything works out for the good of each soul.”
3- We Need to Pray and Act for Conversion
If one only reads the text above one might think: ok, things are as they are, we should leave them as they are. No! Jesus commanded us to spread the Good News! Jesus invited us to pray to the Master of the harvest to call more people to the harvest. We can’t just stay passive, even if we have understood something of God’s wisdom above. He wants us to be part of His Plan, to ask Him himself. He wants us to be his friends not his slaves! It is his friend who knows His Heart, understands his heart and does his best to collaborate with Him! It is we who must offer our sufferings for the conversion of others.
Jesus August 15, 1892
I cannot allow the letter to leave without joining a note to it. For this, I must steal a few moments from Jesus, but He does not hold it against me, for it is about Him that we speak together, without Him no discourse has any charms for our hearts… Céline, the vast solitudes, the enchanting horizons opening up before you must be speaking volumes to your soul? I myself see nothing of all that, but I say with Saint John of the Cross: “My Beloved is the mountains, and lonely, wooded valleys, etc.” And this Beloved instructs my soul, He speaks to it in silence, in darkness…. Recently, there came a thought to me which I have to tell my Céline. It was one day when I was thinking of what I could do to save souls, a word of the gospel gave me a real light. In days gone by, Jesus said to His disciples when showing them the fields of ripe corn: “Lift up your eyes and see how the fields are already white enough to be harvested,” and a little later: “In truth, the harvest is abundant but the number of laborers is small, ask then the master of the harvest to send laborers.” What a mystery!… Is not Jesus all-powerful? Are not creatures His who made them? Why, then, does Jesus say: “Ask the Lord of the harvest that he send some workers”? Why?… Ah! it is because Jesus has so incomprehensible a love for us that He wills that we have a share with Him in the salvation of souls. He wills to do nothing without us. The Creator of the universe awaits the prayer of a poor little soul to save other souls redeemed like it at the price of all His Blood.
Our own vocation is not to go out to harvest the fields of ripe corn. Jesus does not say to us: “Lower your eyes, look at the fields and go harvest them.” Our mission is still more sublime. These are the words of our Jesus: “Lift your eyes and see.” See how in my heaven there are empty places; it is up to you to fill them, you are my Moses praying on the mountain, ask me for workers and I shall send them, I await only a prayer, a sigh from your heart!…
Is not the apostolate of prayer, so to speak, more elevated than that of the word? Our mission as Carmelites is to form evangelical workers who will save thousands of souls whose mothers we shall be…. Céline, if these were not the very words of our Jesus, who would dare to believe in them?… I find that our share is really beautiful, what have we to envy in priests?… How I would like to be able to tell you all I am thinking, but time is lacking, understand all I could write you!… […]
Your little Thérèse of the Child Jesus rel. carm. ind.
Here we see that we can’t remain passive! Prayer and sacrifices offered out of love are, as they unfold, a powerful weapon of salvation, of spreading the Good News, of converting more people. We discover that not only has God the initiative to call people but that we have a part in this Sacred, Divine Work of Salvation. God depends on us, God needs us.
So, why is He not answering our prayers? Because He needs us to continue to pray till the end!
In this sense your husband “represents” mystically all the people Jesus is expecting you, as a true bride and mother, to bear for Him!! What a new dimension and depth of love this becomes.
4- We are Missionaries by Baptism
Because of our Baptism, we become “Priests in Christ” the High Priest. This means that we are called to pray, act and intercede for our brothers and sisters. Since we are baptised, we are called to be missionaries. “All the Laity Are Missionaries by baptism” says John Paull II (see Redemptoris Missio 71-72). Jesus’ order to spread the Good News is not optional, it is a mandate. We are all called to take our share in it.
Mission – a requirement of the Church’s catholicity
849 The missionary mandate. “Having been divinely sent to the nations that she might be ‘the universal sacrament of salvation,’ the Church, in obedience to the command of her founder and because it is demanded by her own essential universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all men”: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and Lo, I am with you always, until the close of the age.”
850 The origin and purpose of mission. The Lord’s missionary mandate is ultimately grounded in the eternal love of the Most Holy Trinity: “The Church on earth is by her nature missionary since, according to the plan of the Father, she has as her origin the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit.” The ultimate purpose of mission is none other than to make men share in the communion between the Father and the Son in their Spirit of love.
851 Missionary motivation. It is from God’s love for all men that the Church in every age receives both the obligation and the vigour of her missionary dynamism, “for the love of Christ urges us on.” Indeed, God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”; that is, God wills the salvation of everyone through the knowledge of the truth. Salvation is found in the truth. Those who obey the prompting of the Spirit of truth are already on the way of salvation. But the Church, to whom this truth has been entrusted, must go out to meet their desire, so as to bring them the truth. Because she believes in God’s universal plan of salvation, the Church must be missionary.
852 Missionary paths. The Holy Spirit is the protagonist, “the principal agent of the whole of the Church’s mission.” It is he who leads the Church on her missionary paths. “This mission continues and, in the course of history, unfolds the mission of Christ, who was sent to evangelize the poor; so the Church, urged on by the Spirit of Christ, must walk the road Christ himself walked, a way of poverty and obedience, of service and self-sacrifice even to death, a death from which he emerged victorious by his resurrection.” So it is that “the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians.”
5- The Mystical Dimension of our Mission
God’s Providence puts us in a certain place in life, with certain individuals. All this has a meaning. Let us try to see the relationship between our situation and our “mission” in life, or part of our mission.
Therefore, going even deeper in the same direction, I would say the following. We ourselves have an important and fundamental mystical dimension to discover, explore, deepen and live: the Communion of Saints.
We are linked to our brothers and sisters: the ones who are already Christians and the ones who are not. We all have a portion of God’s children entrusted to us, for whom He invites our help in applying His salvation. He wants us to be his true Bride. The bride becomes thereby a real mother for his children.
When we unite with Jesus, when we have a closer relationship with Him, we discover that Charity grows in us exponentially. God’s love starts to push us out of our egoistical comfort zone, asking us to pray and care for a person – and not the person of our choice. Then He enlarges the action of His Charity in us and offers us more people. Then categories of people follow; then He reaches out to people who are really far from our perspectives: bad people, people who are bad in our eyes! He teaches us from within to love them, with His Love; He changes our mind and pushes us to cross many limits and boundaries in our understanding. It becomes a serious true love. The more charity grows in us the more we in charity reach out to more people and people far from Him. This is fundamental. We can’t claim to know Jesus if His Charity and care for others, charity poured into us, doesn’t reach more people and people who are distant from Him.
It is Charity which connects and unites us with these people! It ensures this invisible but true connection with our spiritual children. Through Charity we enter ever deeper into the Mystery of his Body and into the mysterious communication between us.
Plus, it is important to notice that our acts have implications for others. What we do, others benefit from! What a mystery. It is part of the “communion of saints”! This is fundamental, not optional. Entering into this mystery is vital.
Now, you will notice that in order to teach us a very deep truth, the Lord, through certain prophets of the Old Testament (Ez 24:15 onward; Hosea 3), showed us how the wife of the Prophet had a mystical meaning also in that she represented God’s people. When St. Paul says that Marriage relates to something much deeper than just husband and wife, that it incarnated essentially the relationship between Jesus and the Church, he is not saying anything different to what God had said through some of His prophets.
Therefore, what the Prophet will go through is in fact reflecting what is happening deeply between God and His People.
This is why each act between a Christian wife and a Christian husband, has a deep influence on the Church and the entire world.
When St. Paul says: “So also husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. The one loving his wife loves himself. For no one at any time hated his flesh. But he nourishes and cherishes it […].” (Eph 5:28-29), he means that the wife is truly the husband’s body and not an extension of it (and vice-versa), in the sense that there is a mystical dimension to the word “body” here!
St. Paul continues: “Because of this, a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will be into one flesh.” 32This mystery is great; but I speak as to Christ and as to the church.” (Eph 5:31-32)
It shows us here how in Christian marriage, that is, in the Sacrament, a mystical dimension has been introduced. The husband is much more than the husband and the wife becomes much more than the wife. They are carrying the mystery of salvation between the two of them, the mystery of salvation in which Christ saves the Church. It is a mystery of Salvation. This is why I tried to show that in the person of your husband there are thousands of people waiting their own salvation from you, of if you prefer, your taking your share of responsibility in the Salvation of your “mystical body”. Accordingly, your husband becomes much more than your husband – he embodies the mystery of the people you are called to save.
We see, then, that the prophets Ezekiel and Hosea represented God, and their wives represented the people of God, the people He loves and wants to save. It is very deep. It is as if Marriage has introduced us into the depths of God’s love for his people!
In this light we should consider each one of us as having a “mystical body”, i.e. a number of children Jesus wants us to bear for Him! In this sense the deep communion one has with one’s husband (they become “one” says the Bible when they marry) is a true mystery of salvation. This means that the husband or the wife (even if she is still ‘rather far’ from Jesus) represents a mystical dimension, a deep mystery, that represents not only the individually but also all the people we should work to bring to Jesus who are in the same state!
In this sense, the Growth of Charity introduces us into a very deep dimension where we communicate mysteriously but truly with others; where Jesus gives the bride the capacity to become a mother (this is one of the qualities of Divine Charity), where she finds that she has a “mystical body” to save, that the “Communion of Saints” is something more real than the visible life we lead.
Remember what Therese used to say when walking in huge pain during her last illness: “I walk for a Missionary”. She saw and lived this responsibility, this invisible strong link, as a true Bride of Jesus. She knew that each of her acts had direct implications for others! That deep inside, like from another end, the house of her being had an inner open garden where she was able to communicate with thousands of people. She was led to discover that Union with Jesus was also a Union with a portion of His Mystical Body. She could not remain inactive or passive… she knew that each act of pure love, in Mary, had a mysterious power to bear children for God.
If, then, God allows your husband not to discover Jesus, maybe it is to keep you immensely motivated, and to have clear before your eyes that you have much to do still. Till the end.
Remember that because of the Communion of Saints, because of Charity, because of the Sacrament of Marriage, anything you do, is communicated to your husband and vice versa.
Let us draw closer to the one who had mastered this science in its fullness: Mary. Let us be carried by Her, by the infinite power of her Fiery Pray, to continue to elevate (unite) to God all his children scattered around the World.
6- The Power of the Fiery Prayer
I hope these explanations and horizons help you “see” better the meaning of the mystery in which you live, and the work Jesus is begging from you. But please remember that the Fire of Love that comes from God is the only power that can lift, or bear children. This Fire of the Holy Spirit is fully acting in Mary. Let us just invoke her Fiery prayer, at the heart of the rosary, saying: “Pray for us” O “holy Mother of God” … The Rosary is to have recourse to Mary’s Prayer, not to ours! She lifts the world. But just let us say: “Pray for us O Holy Mother of God” (the Hail Mary):
“All the saints have understood this, and more especially those who filled the world with the light of the Gospel teachings. Was it not in prayer that St. Paul, St. Augustine, St. John of the Cross, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis, St. Dominic, and so many other famous Friends of God have drawn out this divine science which delights the greatest geniuses? A scholar has said: “Give me a lever and a fulcrum and I will lift the world.” What Archimedes was not able to obtain, for his request was not directed by God and was only made from a material viewpoint, the saints have obtained [36v°] in all its fullness. The Almighty has given them as fulcrum: HIMSELF ALONE; as lever: PRAYER which burns with a fire of love. And it is in this way that they have lifted the world; it is in this way that the saints still militant lift it, and that, until the end of time, the saints to come will lift it.” (Manuscript C, end)
7- You Will Save Your Husband
During apostolic times, when a married woman became Christian and her husband remained pagan, and wondered what to do, leave him or stay with him, St. Paul gave this advice:
“If any brother has an unbelieving wife and she consents to dwell with him, let him not divorce her. 13 And if any woman has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to dwell with her, let her not divorce the husband. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified in the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified in the husband. Otherwise, your children are unclean; but now they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever separates himself, let him separate himself. The brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called you into Peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, if you will save the husband? Or how do you know, husband, if you will save the wife?” (1Co 7:12-16)
The individual is free, but he or she might as well stay with their husband or wife for you never know what can happen; maybe through the influence of the believer, and his prayers, he might win him over and he or she might be won over and convert. Of course, this is not your case at all. It is not also the case of many of you who might read this article. But what catches our attention here is something that goes deeper: St. Paul knows that a good influence, i.e. prayer, suffering (not abuse) and sacrifice can eventually be instrumental in the conversion, the salvation.
St. Monica prayed for years for her son. And in the end, God granted her the conversion of her son and he became one of the greatest saints and a doctor of the Church. Souls have a price. They have been redeemed by the Blood of God… is it not our privilege to give him some help?
In the final analysis do we ourselves want to be the only ones who are saved? Each act of love has two components: one that draws us toward God and one that through us draws our brothers to God. Both happen at the same time! This happens for any of the faithful, all the more reason does it happen for married people. Here is the explanation offered by St. Thérèse:
“Mother, I think it is necessary to give a few more explanations on the passage in the Canticle of Canticles: “Draw me, we shall run,” for what I wanted to say appears to me little understood. “No man can come after me, unless the FATHER who sent me draw him,” Jesus has said. Again, through beautiful parables, and often even without using this means so well known to the people, He teaches us that it is enough to knock and it will be opened, to seek in order to find, and to hold out one’s hand humbly to receive what is asked for. He also says that everything we ask the Father in His name, He will grant it. No doubt, it is because of this teaching that the Holy Spirit, before Jesus’ birth, dictated this prophetic prayer: “Draw me, we shall run.” What is it then to ask to be “Drawn” if not to be united in an intimate way to the object which captivates our heart? If fire and iron had the use of reason, and if the latter said to the other: “Draw me,” would it not prove that it desires to be identified with the fire in such a way that the fire penetrate [36r°] and drink it up with its burning substance and seem to become one with it?
Dear Mother, this is my prayer. I ask Jesus to draw me into the flames of His love, to unite me so closely to Him that He live and act in me. I feel that the more the fire of love burns within my heart, the more I shall say: “Draw me,” the more also the souls who will approach me (poor little piece of iron, useless if I withdraw from the divine furnace), the more these souls will run swiftly in the odour of the ointments of their Beloved, for a soul that is burning with love cannot remain inactive.” (Manuscript C, end)
We can transform this important passage in this way: the more the Fire of love burns within my heart, the more I shall say “draw me”, the more the soul of my husband who is attached to me, forming one mystical flesh – and the souls he mystically represents to me – will run swiftly in the odour of the ointments of their Beloved.
You will save your husband. He is already saved. True, he doesn’t experience what you yourself mystically experience, but he experiences it through you because you are one. When you lift him and with him lift all the persons he represents, you lift up all those whom Jesus wants to save. He/they will be saved by the help you offer to Jesus your Groom.
Looked at in the round you can see that Jesus blesses many people around you because of your love for Him, because you spread His Mercy. This is so even for people from other religions, because we are all in one community, receive blessings, as if we were in the wider circle of a communion of saints: they are potentially saved by Jesus on the Cross, waiting and begging you to help them, manifest in the new way you make your acts (i.e. with Mary’s lifting Power). Each moment you try to live in Mary, immersed in Jesus, this benefits them. No doubt about it. We are all one Body – Jesus wants the salvation of All.