A Meditation Novena in the Footsteps of St. Thérèse

written by Fr. Todd Arsenault, LC


The experience of not seeing Christ or of feeling distant from Christ can be one that affects all of us. We wonder, “why is Jesus keeping his face from me?” or think “I feel forgotten!” These are real sensations that we can experience. It isn’t immediately easy to understand or comprehend what is happening to us or within us. Yet, the Lord allows all for a purpose.

In my 15 years-plus of giving spiritual direction, it has become evident to me that this exact trial of the hidden Lord has given many people the opportunity to grow in true and more mature knowledge and understanding of the Lord so not to be easy prey to the huge swings of feelings, emotions, and sentiments that played havoc with our imagination and sometimes cloud our reason. We live in a society of emotional overload and thus, being aware of this, we need to strengthen our faith in the goodness, love, and mercy of God. He can desire or will nothing evil; thus it is important to mature in our understanding of the workings of our inner life, how we tend to interpret this, and God’s action and relation to us as revealed by Christ and taught by his Church. Only with an ardent and maturing faith in Christ will the eyes of my soul be opened to see past the lies and illusions that are presented to us so convincingly and spontaneously.

In this novena of 9 meditations, I wish to offer you the opportunity to dive into this experience of feeling that Jesus is hiding his face, has forgotten us, is leaving us on our own, or is not giving us consolation. We will approach this concept from different angles with the help of stories, Scripture, and St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s Story of a Soul to better grasp the pedagogy of God the Father who loves us with an eternal love, calls us to a relationship of love with himself, and invites us to surrender our whole person to him in faith and trust enlightened by the power of the Holy Spirit. This novena of meditations is meant to strengthen the spiritual muscles of our faith and trust in God’s Providence, mercy, and loving friendship so as not to panic, despair, recoil in fear, react imprudently, doubt his love, or paint God in an erroneous way as if he was just as flawed as we are in times of desolation, trial, or deep crisis.

I pray that these meditations serve you, inspire you, enlighten you, and whet your appetite for a deeper life of intimacy with Christ in faith, hope, and love, and that through him you experience a true encounter with who God made you to be and, thus, live as fully as possible his most holy plan for your life to the glory of God. The Holy Spirit is the sweet guest of our soul; let us invoke him daily to illuminate our minds, educate our senses, convict us of sin, and lead us into truth.

St. Ignatius of Loyola offers us in the first week of his 30-day spiritual exercises retreat the 14 rules of discernment of spirits (click HERE for a brief and practical explanation by Fr. Timothy Gallagher, OMV). These can serve as a guide to navigate consolations and desolations and the different emotions.

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