All for Jesus
St Teresa of Avila

All for Jesus

“All for Jesus, Sister William had said in the ward, pulling on the rubber gloves. Say it, my dear students, every time you are called upon for what seems an impossible task. Then you can do anything with serenity. It is a talisman phrase that takes away the disagreeable inherent in many nursing duties. Say it for the bedpans you carry, for the old incontinents you bathe, for those sputum cups of the tubercular. Tout pour Jesus, she said briskly as she bent to change a dressing foul with corruption. Gabrielle, Jeannine, Charlotte . . . come closer and watch how I do this. You see how easy. All for Jesus . . . This is no beggar’s body picked up in the Rue des Radis. This is the body of Christ and this suppurating sore is one of His Wounds . . .”  (Kathryn Hulme, The Nun’s Story)

Like the sisters, we strive for holiness, the best of all goals. People who take holiness seriously are good friends of Jesus because they let him have full reign in their hearts. ‘All for Jesus’ should be a maxim for all who strive for holiness. The holiness challenge and lifestyle are distinctive to each individual. Jesus is everything and his holiness draws us to authentic living. In Jesus, we lose ourselves in someone greater than ourselves. The apostle Paul said that all treasures and wisdom dwell in Christ. Deep down, we thirst for those treasures and that wisdom. 

Before we do anything for Jesus, we must have a sound knowledge of him. Deepening our knowledge of Jesus leads to a deeper love for him, and to a greater appreciation of his presence in every aspect of our lives. We learn about Jesus in many ways, most importantly in prayer, receiving the sacraments and reading scripture and other good Christian books. Jesus, the unsettling incarnation of God, stands at the center of humanity and beckons all to learn of him and follow him. Jesus is the most powerful confirmation that God exists. A Christian can have a friendship with Jesus that is more intimate and nobler than any friendship on earth. 

Keeping ‘All for Jesus’ as a frame of reference is a great asset. This phrase consoles us when we do unpleasant tasks. It connects us to the one who is most essential in our lives and in this world. It shifts emphasis from dwelling on the negative aspects of a disagreeable activity to doing it for the love of Jesus. When we step back from an initial negative response to an unpleasant task, we become receptive to unexpected graces that assist us in doing the task. We connect with his great love for us when our love is at low ebb because the kids are screaming, we just lost our job or everything seems to be going wrong. His love takes over when our love seems non existent while doing distasteful duties or receiving bad news.

Our soul is the most precious part of ourselves. Its matchless beauty has yet to be discovered by most of humanity. Soul care grows in importance as we move closer to Jesus. In her spiritual masterpiece, the Interior Castle, Teresa of Avila describes the importance of the soul and the necessity to keep it beautiful. Teresa tells us that Jesus is at the center of our soul castle. He patiently waits for us to come to him. We come to him through prayer. Teresa explains how we grow in prayer. Prayer is a journey of love. On this journey, we can linger in love with the Lord, and let ourselves be loved by him. Prayer gives us the push to know God better and to trust that he will help us in our needs. Prayer is a haven of the heart where we strive to see ourselves through God’s eyes of love.

The day was long, the burdens I had borne seemed heavier than I could longer bear. And then it lifted, but I did not know, someone had knelt in prayer. Had taken me to God that very hour, and asked the easing of the load. And he, in infinite compassion, had stooped down and taken it from me. We cannot tell how often as we pray for some bewildered one, hurt and distressed. The answer comes, but many times those hearts find sudden peace and rest. Someone has prayed, and faith, a reaching hand, took hold of God and brought him down that day. So many, many hearts have need of prayer. Oh, let us pray.  (Monastery of the Precious Blood, Watertown, NY)

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Written by
Carolyn Humphreys, O.C.D.S.