Bishop Stephen Robson shares his thoughts
With what joy and anticipation are we all looking forward to the visit of the relics of St Thérèse of the Child Jesus to Scottish dioceses!
There is hardly a parish in Scotland and certainly in this Diocese of Dunkeld which does not have a statue of her - and much more importantly a devotion to her. All of my Catholic life as layman, priest and then bishop, Thérèse and her spirituality has deeply moved me. Not only the wonderful Spirituality of the Little Way guided many, but also the way in which her spiritual insights help inform our basic baptismal spirituality of son-ship and daughter-ship of God: our common Vocation to Holiness. Further, Thérèse’s supportive letters to her priestly friends on the mission are still encouraging and apposite to missionaries today for the insights they give.
Thérèse’s particular brand of Carmelite spirituality was brought to our Scottish shores early in the 20th century by the good offices of Monsignor Thomas Taylor, Rector of Carfin. Since then, Thérèse has showered many graces from Heaven on her devotees, and still does. And given that St Thérèse only died of consumption in 1897 and was timeously beatified in 1923 canonised by Pope Pius XI in 1925, we are reminded that the Catholics of the British Isles were among the first Catholics in the world to follow Thérèse and her Little Way. And now her very physical presence is coming to us here in Scotland to our own dioceses.
For the three days of her visit to us in Dundee (4-7 September), our Cathedral in Dundee will be open for most of the time, and for an all-night Vigil on 5-6 September. We also have a guest Retreat giver, Canon John Udris from Oscott College, an expert on Thérèsian Spirituality, to preach and lead our devotions during the Saint’s visit.
A few years ago when Pope St John Paul II declared Thérèse to be a Doctor of the Church, acknowledging that St Thérèse had not set much down in writing about her detailed spiritual path to God he nevertheless prophetically declared that what she lacked in literary acumen she professed and practically demonstrated in her spiritual life; that the most sublime knowledge of the Lord is most powerfully gained above all by means of the Way of Love. In this, Thérèse was indeed a veritable Doctor of the Church, and her simple spiritual ways are a safe and sure guide and path to the LORD.
May she shower many graces on us during this wonderful visit to our country.
+ Bishop Stephen Robson, Bishop of Dunkeld