Country Music legend George Jones
sang a song called
“Beneath Still Waters.”
It’s one of my favorites.
The main line of the lyrics goes like this:
Beneath still waters
there’s a strong undertow. . .
The surface won’t tell you
what the deep water knows.
The song is about a love relationship
that looks so romantic on the surface. . .
but just below. . .
just below the surface. . .
there’s trouble. . .
There’s an underneath current swirling. . .
Ready to pull you under. . .
and drown you.
Just beneath the surface. . .
Just beneath. . .
The surface won’t tell you,
what the deep waters knows.
I love this song!!!
In my own life,
there have been times when everything
on the surface looks calm. . .
But just below the surface. . .
I was dealing with some serious stuff. . .
The current was swirling
And as a priest. . .
I know this is true
for many others as well.
We just have no idea
what someone might be going through. . .
beneath still waters. . .
beneath still waters.
this is also true of the saints.
sometimes we just hear all the good stuff. . .
but saints are human, too.
Take for example,
St. Therese of Lisieux. . .
“the Little Flower”. . .
the saint always pictured with roses.
To read parts of her autobiography,
one would think that
her life was nothing but roses.
That’s partly because of the sugary
French language of the late
19th century she used.
One commentator said that he
had to take a shot of insulin
before he could read her. . .
but beneath still waters. . .
there was a strong undertow.
Therese was certainly surrounded by love. . .
so much so that Therese’s mother and father. . .
Zelie and Louis. . .
are also canonized saints.
But Therese also experienced a lot of trauma. . .
First, Zelie. . .
had breast cancer. . .
and Zelie had great difficulty in
So, at 3 months,
Therese was separated from her mother
and given to a wet nurse named “Rose.”
Rose lived several miles away from the Martin Family.
And as any child would do—
Therese bonded with Rose as if
she were her mother.
And when Rose would bring
Therese to her real home. . .
Therese would just cling to Rose—
as if Rose was her real mother.
Then 11 months later. . .
Therese was returned to her home. . .
So she experienced 2 separation experiences
of a mother figure. . .
in the first critical year of life. . .
After a period of adjustment—
Therese would cling to Zelie—
her biological mother—
cling in an extreme way. . .
afraid of being abandoned again.
when Therese was 4 and 1/2—
died of breast cancer.
A tremendous. . .
Losing a mother again. . .
for real. . .
and at such a young age.
Underneath that sugary language of Therese. . .
is a lot of pain.
After her mother’s death. . .
the family showered Therese with even more love. . .
trying to make up for the losses. . .
and they spoiled her. . .
and they sheltered her.
So much so that when Therese went to school. . .
she didn’t know how to play
with the other children. . .
She didn’t know how to play
any of the games they played. . .
So, as children can sometimes be. . .
they were mean to Therese. . .
She was an outcast. . .
They bullied her.
And she kept all this inside. . .
Not telling anybody. . .
It kept building and building
Beneath still waters. . .
There’s a strong undertow
And then another huge hit. . .
another great storm.
her older sister
who became Therese’s surrogate mother
when Zelie died. . .
joined the convent.
Another experience of maternal abandonment.
And she lost it. . .
she had a real nervous breakdown.
There would be even more great storms Therese’s life. . .
Her beloved Father suffered mini-strokes
and was institutionalized.
And at the end of her life,
she experienced the Dark Night of the Soul. . .
She doubted if there was a heaven. . .
or a hell. . .
she couldn’t feel God’s presence.
But through all of these storms. . .
and undercurrents that threatened to
pull her under and drown her. . .
There was one constant. . .
And that was Jesus.
Therese knew. . .
even though she couldn’t feel Him at times. . .
that Jesus would never abandon her.
From an early age in childhood. . .
until she died of tuberculosis at 24. . .
She always hung on to Jesus. . .
Even in the darkest of times. . .
And in doing that. . .
She is the model of trusting in the love God. . .
Regardless of what’s going on externally.
She is the model of charity. . .
Being kind and gentle and loving
with those who were just as wounded as she was.
Clinging to Jesus.
And that, to me is why she is. . .
as Pope Pius X proclaimed,
the Greatest Saint of Modern Times.
Have you noticed how Jesus acts in the Bible. . .
Jesus exorcises demons. . .
Jesus heals. . .
Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever. . .
which in that time. . .
before antibiotics. . .
could easily rob someone of their life. . .
He heals the man of leprosy. . .
A leper couldn’t worship. . .
A leper was a social outcast. . .
And Jesus gives them life and
Jesus gives them the grace for a more fulfilled way of life. . .
in the midst of difficulties.
in the midst of storms. . .
In the midst of undercurrents threatening to pull us under.
Like those possessed. . .
Like Peter’s Mother in Law. . .
Like the Leper. . .
Like St. Therese.
That’s the work of God. . .
That’s the work of Jesus in the Gospels.
Trust in Him. . .
Cling to Him
I want to end with one more St. Therese story. . .
I’ve mentioned it so many times,
but it so wonderful. . .
I want to mention it again.
Do you recall how St. Therese
interpreted the story of the disciples
waking Jesus up while he was asleep
in the boat as
the storm raged. . .
threatening to capsize the boat.
St. Therese trusted Him so much,
she said she would let Him sleep. . .
She had nothing to fear as long as
He was in the boat with her.
A great image for her life. . .
filled with many storms and undercurrents. . .
And a great image for our lives. . .
Filled with many storms and undercurrents. . .
And it’s all there right in the very first part of Mark’s Gospel. . .
How does Jesus act in the Gospels. . .
Jesus gives life and
Jesus gives the grace for a more fulfilled way of life.
Holy Spirit 02/13-14/2021