The 95th Psalm, which we have for our Responsorial Psalm, tells us, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”
But, what if today you do not hear his voice? What are you to do then? That is a situation with which most of us have been familiar. How can we keep going when we hear nothing at all from God? St. Peter’s in Rome each year has millions of viewers of the marble reclining statue of Theresa of Avilla. It portrays an angel piercing Teresa’s heart with the fire of God’s love. Teresa is there hearing God’s voice more clearly than any of us has been privileged to hear it.
Although Teresa writes feelingly about that experience, she tells us that in her life a contrary experience came a thousand times more often. For year on end Teresa lived in what she called “The dark night of the soul,” when she was engaged in a solitary fight against the doubt that God was there at all.
A priest friend told me the other day that he is always able to feel the presence of God in his life. I felt like saying, “Yeah, tell me another one!” My experience is that periods of aridity are where most of us live. Paul told us, “By hope we are saved. Now hope that sees is no longer hope, for who hopes for what he sees.” Romans, 8:24.
The other Theresa, St. Therese of Lisieux, gave an answer to the question as to how we are to behave if today we do not hear his voice.
Known as Theresa of the Child Jesus, Theresa of Lisieux would tell her novices to think of themselves as toy dolls of the Child Jesus. Jesus, as a child would, at times would pick up his little novice, covering her with kisses; at other times, perhaps for months or years, he would abandon his little toy, leaving her forgotten in a dusty corner.