The first fervour of love

At Mass today the celebrant spoke of the first reading (Apocalypse 3) reminding us of our first fervour of love, before lukewarmness slowly sets in. And on a dull, grey, mizzly-drizzly November day, in the midst of sombre news and a bleak outlook, love's first fervour can feel especially damp and distant, and therefore in need of reminders.

Two days ago it was the feast of St Stanislaus, the patron saint of novices in many congregations. Those first few years in religious life, often so close to the strength and intensity of the call to religious life, are invariably a time for fervour, love and desire. In truth, though, for much of my novitiate I was all too aware of how lacking in fervour I felt. And yet something, some spark of Love, must have captivated me, must have continued to burn within - must still, surely, burn within - to have brought me, kept me and continued to lead me deeper into the Heart of Jesus.

And in three days we will celebrate the feast of St Philippine Duchesne, a woman who was surely Fervour Personified! Whatever she may have thought of herself, Philippine was a woman whose first fervour continued to blaze, undimmed by the multiple disappointments, setbacks and adversities she encountered; undimmed, too, by her limitations and infirmities. She's certainly a good mentor for anyone feeling even remotely lukewarm!

So today, bleak and grey though it may be, with Stanislaus on one side and Philippine on the other, I'm glad to be reminded of God's initial call and response, and their constant, quietly reinforcing renewal. And I can recall and give thanks for my first fervour of love, for the eagerness and desire; for the continuing grace and ever-deepening, ever-quietening joy of my vocation. And yes, the day is still grey, the outlook still bleak, but in the recollection and rekindling, may some spark of transforming Love catch fire and burn more brightly within...