Charity is the beginning of every conversion. God always starts the process. Paul roots the whole Christian life in this principle: We have free access to God, because “the love of God is poured forth into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who is given to us” (Rom 5.5). Our life in God starts here: “You have not chosen me, I have chosen you” (Jn 15:16). “The love of God consists in this, not that we have loved God, but that God has loved us” (1 Jn 4:10). God’s love initiates the process and brings every good work to its conclusion.
But we must appropriate that love; we must access it. God’s love is there all the time, like that of an indulgent parent. We are the ones, as Eckhart says, who are out to lunch. We do not realize that God dwells in the depths of our being, calling us, offering friendship, desiring to sit at table with us. We have to get in touch with that divine intention. This is why we pay attention to God’s word in the Scriptures, why we celebrate the Sacraments, especially Eucharist, why we pray. These practices raise our consciousness and put us in contact with the Indwelling God.
Therese was disposed to hear and to do the word of God. She was ready for the Christmas healing. God was able to touch her heart, and she was ready to receive the in breaking of God’s love, because she was in the process of struggling to grow up. What was the outcome of the grace? “I felt the need to forget myself and please others.” Here are the two main challenges of every Christian life, to die to self and to live for others. This is the Paschal Mystery of death and resurrection and it is made possible, even appealing by the gift of God’s love.