This is the beginning of a series of reflections and prayers that takes you on a journey with Venerable Mother Thecla Merlo. It is a journey firmly founded on her great loves: Jesus Master in the Holy Eucharist, the Gospel, the Church and souls, sought through the apostolate of social communication. The Word of God and the Eucharist guided her life in a particular way. For her, these were "places" where she encountered Christ in the full conviction that the Gospel would enlighten her and the Eucharist give her strength (cf.. Exercises, 02.23-1934). Moreover, her journey was carried out in the climate of Mary, Queen of Apostles, who both preserved the Word in her heart and continually offers Jesus to the world.
Seek First the Kingdom of God and His Justice
This phrase from the Gospel of Matthew is the nucleus of "Our Secret of Success" (a prayer that is included at the end of this reflection). While still at home, Mother Thecla (known as Teresa Merlo) lived in a family atmosphere permeated by these evangelical words. Her priest-brother testifies: Dad had adopted as a program of life the Gospel teaching: "Seek first the Kingdom of God and his justice." Mother Thecla grew to maturity in this radical spirit of Gospel values and made it a program for her whole life. It helped shape her personality according to a clear hierarchy of values: the glory of God, the salvation of souls, and holiness.
The Gospel Message
That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and what you are to wear. Surely life is more than food, and the body more than the clothing! Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they are? Can any of you, however much you worry, add one single cubit to your span of life? So do not worry; do not say, “What are we to eat? What are we to drink” What are we to wear? It is the gentiles who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on God’s saving justice, and all these other things will be given you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Mt. 6: 25-34)
Isa.51:1; Isa.55:6; Zeph.2:3; Jn. 20: 5:41-44; Jn 20:15; Rm. 8:18; Phil.4:3-6; Col.3:1 2;Tm. 2:22
Meditating the Word with Venerable Mother Thecla
Glory to God and peace to all peoples: may this always be our prayer, our greatest desire, and first among our particular inclinations (VPC18).
In the Gospel, the Lord says: “Seek first of all the Kingdom of God and his justice and everything else will be given you as well.” “Everything else”... that means God will give us whatever we need for our body and for our life. This tells us that we must rise above the things of the earth, seek to do good to souls, become good ourselves, and not worry about anything else. CSAS 14/1).
First of all and above all: souls. “The rest,” Jesus tells us in the Gospel, “will be given you as well.” This is the word of God and it will last forever: Let us believe this (VPC140).
May everyone’s single and overriding thought be the concern to become holy…Everything else will be given you in addition (VPC238).
Let nothing come between us and God not even the smallest trifle. I am praying very much for you—for all of you—that we may all attain the holiness to which we are called (VPC263).
We have been consecrated to the apostolate; we have assumed the sacred obligation of working with modern instruments—press, cinema and radio—(and now with social media) for the glory of God and peace to all peoples. Have we been faithful to this duty? Are we following our ideal without deviating, without wavering? (VCP140)
The key word in these readings is the verb “to seek”. Mother Thecla always sought the glory of God, the salvation of souls, and holiness.
- In the light of her teachings and the Word of God, I can ask myself: Who and what am I seeking?
- Am I dedicating all my energies to extending the Kingdom of God in what I do each day?
Psalms 16; 23; 27; 84; 141
Our Father who art in heaven: “Your Kingdom Come”
Jesus, Divine Teacher, you call us to follow you and to spread the Good News of your Gospel to the ends of the earth. To undertake such a task, we must be holy as our Father is holy.
Yet we are weak, unaware, incapable and inadequate in so many ways. You, instead, are the Way and the Truth and the Life, the Resurrection, our one and supreme good. We trust in your promise: "I am with you always" (Mt 28:20). We have faith in you alone who assure us, "Whatever you ask the Father in my name, you will receive" (see Jn 14:13).
For our part, we promise to seek only and always your Kingdom, your glory, and peace to all people. We trust that you will give us all we need: grace, discernment, and the means for doing good in the world. Multiply our spiritual and apostolic efforts, Lord. We do not doubt you, but we fear our inconstancy and weakness.
Therefore, good Master, through the intercession of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, extend to us the mercy you used with the Apostle Saint Paul, so that , faithfully imitating you here on earth, we may be companions of the saints in heavenly glory.
Based on the prayer of Secret of Success by Blessed James Alberione
From the Founder: Blessed James Alberione, ssp
A person's holiness is always based on the three theological virtues: faith, hope and love. Mother Thecla saw everything in God; waited for everything from God; directed everything towards God. All her actions were directed to the glory of God. We must not only voice these phrases but feel them deep within us, in union with God. The contemplation she enjoyed in the depths of her soul was entirely directed to the glory of God. Alberione, Meditation, 02.05.1965
From the booklet "Let us Rediscover Her Message: Outline for a Spiritual Itinerary" Celebrating the 100th Year of the Birth of Mother Thecla Merlo 1894-1994