I wrote the other day about my new Saint friends.
If you’ve read it: I’d love to hear if any of you choose a new friend too!
As of late, I’ve been spending a lot of time with my sous-Saint, St. Therese of Lisieux.
Trust me – the Holy Spirit has reallllly been working over-time showing me exactly WHY she was chosen for me.
And let me tell you – we have become very fast BFFs!!
In a vulnerable, wounded world like ours, where nevertheless the Holy Spirit is addressing all Christians with a ringing call to holiness and inspiring them with a desire to live out the Gospel message in all its depth, I think there is no better path than the one St. Therese of Lisieux offers us: her little way of trust and love.
I am convinced that the Lord wants to do great things in our hearts.
Spending time with St. Therese prayerfully, with a heart open to God’s Word, he is working marvels in me.
Her style may not please some people, for it was very much in the manner of the nineteenth century, but her writing contains extraordinary forcefulness and truth. Saint Pope John Paul II said Therese helps us rediscover the heart of the Gospel: the tenderness of God the Father, and the path by which we are called to become, in God’s sight, like little children.
Of Therese of Lisieux, it can be said with conviction that the Spirit of God enabled her heart to reveal directly, to the men and women of our time, the fundamental mystery, the reality of the Gospel: the fact of having really received ‘a spirit of adoption as children that makes us cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The “Little Way” is the way of “spiritual childhood.” This way contains something unique that is part of the genius of St. Therese of Lisieux. At the same time it holds a confirmation and renewal of the most fundamental and universal truth. For what truth of the Gospel message is more fundamental and universal than this: that God is our Father and we are his children?Saint Pope John Paul II
Therese makes us understand what “being little” is: the Gospel call to be converted and become like little children again.
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”Matthew 18:3
What does being little mean? Therese invites us to rediscover, and put into practice, the right attitudes which will enable grace to reach us. Admittedly, putting them into practice demands patience and perseverance, effort and courage; but I would call it well placed courage!
Efforts to change ourselves are bound to fail; the courage we need is that of persevering in the kind of (fruitful) dispositions that open us up effectively to God’s action.
Here are St. Therese’s words compiled in the last months of her life by Sister Agnes of Jesus (her sister Pauline).
I asked her in the evening during Matins what she understood by “remaining little before God.”
She answered, “It is to recognize our nothingness, to expect everything from God, as a little child expects everything from his or her father; it is not getting worried or upset about anything. Being little means not attributing to ourselves the virtues we practice, or believing ourselves capable of anything, but recognizing that God places this treasure in the hands of his little child so that she can use it when she needs it; but the treasure is still God’s. It means not being discouraged by our faults, because children often fall over, but they are so little they don’t hurt themselves badly.”Passage dated August 6, 1897, shortly before her death which occurred on September 30.
During my time here in the Arizona desert I have been walking with St. Therese of Liseux and making a personal retreat as written by Fr. Jacques Philippe.
And as he instructs this is what I am learning…
I practice virtue courageously, but I recognize it is a gift God gives me, so I don’t glorify myself for it. All the good I accomplish – and I really try – I attribute to God’s goodness.
The best lesson is Therese was never discouraged by her faults, even when they were sometimes humiliating and painful. There is a great deal of wisdom in what she shares with us: children often fall over and aren’t really hurt because they don’t fall from a great height (the height of pride, self-sufficiency, etc.) and, what’s more, they get right up to throw themselves into their parents’ arms and start off again!
May it be so too for us.
May we be courageous in a balanced way – when we don’t manage as perfectly as we wish, let us not get depressed about it, but accept the fact that we will sometimes fail; and when we do manage, let it not go to our head – not better than others because of it, but thank God for the gift He has given us.
St. Therese believed God would not have given her a desire for holiness if He did not intend for her to achieve it. And I am beginning to trust my new friend, that she’s been brought to me so that I might believe so too.
hugs n’ blessings for all those who are seeking “the little way” with complete trust in God’s love.