Published on February 18, 2014
Mother Thecla Merlo First Superior General of the Daughters of St. Paul
“The way traced out by Mother Thecla is for us a great, spacious and luminous way that rises towards the heights of perfection.”
“My God, you are always thinking about me. You are with me and around me. I am written on your hands. I surrender myself to you completely and forever.”
The dimension of trust became the secret of her courageous apostolic energy.
everything “By myself I can do nothing, with God I can do everything.”
“She lived always under the gaze of God.”
“We need to pray just like we need to breathe, we need prayer like we need water to live.”
“The Lord used her as he willed because he never found resistance in her, she never resisted the will of God.” “You sensed that it was the Lord who sustained her. She was a contemplative soul. She knew how to turn to others, but always and in the first place she turned to God. Everything had to come from God and everything was done for God.”
God at the foundation of EVERYTHING
“Look here: let us put all our wretchedness and defects in our foundation, which is God, and then let us build solely on him. Let us count on him alone. Those who come after us will have enough if they continue to count on God.... Jesus is the living stone.” (1928)
Count only on God In the foundation of the Congregation there is the humility and littleness of the first sisters, for this reason the foundation is strong.…
Already in 1927 one finds in her a longing for holiness. “This year, with the grace of God, I want to become a saint, quickly a saint, a great saint.”
A JOURNEY OF FAITH, IN TRIAL in darkness
The first trial that purified her was the discovery of herself as a person who resists God. She felt herself as part of the world of sin. “I only do that which is bad” (1927). “Jesus have mercy on me.”
The understanding of her personal poverty brought her to work hard on herself through the examination of conscience so as to remove all that which was resistance, in a particular way, pride.
January 1927 “Search only for Him. Beginning right now, I unite my prayers and sufferings to the intentions of Jesus in the holy Host, and I want to renew this offering with every beat of my heart.”
The understanding of her personal poverty brought her towards an always deeper growth in trust in God.
A trust that in time is transformed into great love for the Master, a love that is personal and explicit. “This year has just begun. Will I finish it? I don’t know... I know however that if I do well the will of God, if I love the Lord very much I will go to Heaven with him... It is not important if I have a long or short life, what is important is to love God” (1938).
She experienced darkness during the journey of the Congregation. “In certain moments, things seemed so dark we understood nothing.” (1918) “Here we are truly in darkness”… (1937)
It is a journey of bare FAITH The darkness was even more dark when in 1939 she had to guide three sectors of the apostolate, led by three superiors....
“I am truly in darkness… Let us do as they tell us and we will not make a mistake. One can see that the Lord wants to fortify our Congregational charism because he is sending us many crosses.”
A constant glance at Jesus.
“That my thoughts and my affections become always more humble and united to those of Jesus. Unite myself to him; let myself be transformed into Him” ( 1931).
Mother Thecla placed her gaze on Jesus, and this gaze was transformed into a commitment of imitation and profound union: Jesus is good, I am bad, Jesus is everything, I am nothing. Jesus is humble, I am proud.
When she was alive, She became a constant teaching for the Congregation. A Congregation made up of persons who are sincere, simple, poor, carriers of peace: persons committed to the imitation of Christ. “Do we want to be true disciples of Jesus? Imitate him: he responded always with meekness and kindness even to sinners. Let us remember that humble and kind words are seeds that will sprout and bear fruit….”
Her prayer life was expressed through the practices of piety of the Institute: “Take the points of piety one at a time: 1) First moment – spirit 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) of energy Preventive Exam – recollection The Mass according to our method Communion Union with God – ejaculations, etc. The Visit – Rosary.” Attitude to assume: vigor and spiritual energy.
Humility - littleness abandonment “We need to become little, little.” “Let us kneel before the crib….” “We cannot do anything without grace.” “We are nothing….”
Dearest, I have learned that we are nothing, we do not count for anything and we cannot do anything without the grace of God. But the nothingness that we are is gathered up by God, who “made his dwelling among us,” rewards us, has pity on our weakness and who will sustain us with his strong arms (Cir 76)
From the littleness of Mother Thecla springs forth total trust in God:
providence “Because God is our Father, if we seek him alone, he will send us the food and clothing we need each day.... We will be nourished by the immaculate flesh of the Savior and his Gospel.”
“BE LITTLE Let us keep ourselves little, therefore doubt ourselves and place much trust in the goodness of the Lord.”
believe “Believe that everything is arranged by our good Heavenly Father.... I will examine myself to see whether or not my heart rests serenely in the Lord, in the heart of God, who is continually thinking about me....”
“With Him one can live without worrying, even if the trials are many.... Do not worry yourselves, he will help us gradually….” A strength that is born from confidence
Abandonment “Total abandonment in God, complete... I abandon myself like a little child. I completely entrust myself to the Lord in everything.”
“Stay with the Lord in trust and serenity recalling that he loves me and I love him.”
“Full trust in Jesus and in the Madonna. Patience in everything and with everyone. Trustful serenity” (1947).
Fr. Alberione gave his approval to her resolutions saying: “Live in Jesus Master. Jesus Master will be light for the mind; comfort and intimate joy. His continual presence in the soul will be always more felt....” (LMT)
Holy Year 1950-1951. - This year has just begun. Will I finish it? I don’t know. - I want to dedicate all the minutes, hours, days and months of this year to God, to Him alone. - I renounce my own will and cling only to the will of God. - I renounce my preferences and my way of seeing things, so as to have only God’s preferences. - I want to do everything for him alone. - May my life be a continual “Magnificat.”
Mother Thecla teaches us that contemplation does not impede the most intense actions. The apostolate signifies prolonging the apostolate of Jesus and as such unites us to God.
“If there is not recollection, a spirit of prayer, one cannot do good to souls.” “The apostolate is vital prayer that unites us to God..... When we give a book, we give grace.”
A strong and constant tension “That you arrive at full transformation in Christ” (1963) “Live in Jesus. In this way our thoughts and our affections will be his. Our will is his will, so that we have his same desires.”
“It is Jesus who lives in me with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Adoration, union, recollection…. The Trinity is my family.”
“… Live unity of life with Jesus Master.” Stay united to Jesus. May my thoughts be his thoughts, my will his will. Love the Father above all, for him and with him. Sacrifice for souls.” Imitate St. Paul in his union with the Divine Master: ‘Who will separate me from the love of Christ’?” (1963)
“Today a more intense life with Jesus Master. Everything with him: unity” (1963) “The silence of Jesus in the tabernacle governs the world in silence.”
“Live in Jesus… Arrive at intimate union with the Divine Master; reach the highest degree of prayer, to ‘it is no longer I who live but it is Christ living in me’… to the point of being the praise of God.”
She concentrated all her teaching on only one objective: the vocation to holiness. “The apostles of the press should all be saints: do we at least have the firm and resolute will to become one?”
The key word of her teaching is: Progress…
Progress to the point of total abandonment, to the point of being “in continual adoration,” to the point of expressing the “magnificat” with one’s life.
“We need to acquire a heart full of God so as to carry him to souls.”
“How beautiful and holy it is to communicate Jesus to souls, this Jesus whom we desire to always carry in the center of our heart.”
“Prima Maestra is not absent, she is present… do not feel her far away, but feel her always near.” Blessed James Alberione, Founder)
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