I remember when I first met her. It was 1999. Her name was one I’d heard before but I didn’t pay attention to who she was, until I saw her. That day she smiled at me and I have never been the same. She shared her deep love of God with me. When I looked at her face, I saw her heart.
A French girl named Therese. A Saint.
She lived just before the 20th Century and was a Carmelite nun at age 15. St. Therese was only 24 when died of tuberculosis in 1897.
It was during a visit of her relics to America that I was struck by her. Mom made sure we arrived early to the National Shrine that day. Being there before the flocks of people, one of the priests asked me if I would like to pray in front of her relics right then! I prayed through the intercession of St. Therese for the first time.
In his homily, Father broke down her spirituality—her “little way” as she called it. She would do little things with great love. As little as picking up a pin from the floor. When she didn’t feel like doing certain things, she would do them anyway—cheerfully. If one of the sisters splashed water on her, she would offer that silently to God as a prayer. She loved in season and out. It was so amazing to me.
After that Mass, somebody gave me a picture of St. Therese. There she was…and I was finished. That peace on her face radiated—she knew Jesus Christ personally. She was telling me to join her.
I wanted to know more about her so I read her autobiography that she wrote in obedience to her superiors. It’s called Story of a Soul.
The “Little Way” is rooted in child-like trust in God and dependence on him for everything. It’s a about becoming a little child loved by their Father. Simple, humble and innocent like children. So little that we acknowledge it’s not us—it’s all the grace of God. Trusting in His strength not in our weakness, trusting to the point of ‘foolishness’, trusting in His great love for us. And if He loves us we can do nothing than to love Him back and respond to that love.
The “Little Way” consists in doing ordinary things with extraordinary love.
When we fall, when our love fails through sin, we get up—or rather we allow ourselves to be picked up by God and carried by Him. Our shortcomings can even serve to bring us closer to Him!
St. Therese saw herself as a “little flower” in God’s garden among the other variety growing there.
He has created the great saints who are like the lilies and the roses, but he has also created much lesser saints and they must be content to be the daisies or the violets which rejoice his eyes whenever he glances down. Perfection consists in doing his will, in being that which he wants us to be.
Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be – and becoming that person.
This is all so practical, she is relevant to us here and now. In fact, so relevant that shortly after her death Pope Pius XI called her “the greatest saint of modern times.” And Pope John Paul, II named her a Doctor of the Church! To think—this young woman, a cloistered nun who was said to have “done nothing”!
She inspires and encourages me. And keeps me to wanting to go on til the end…which is really the beginning. After her death she said:
My mission – to make God loved – will begin after my death..I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses.
How God blessed me when He gave me a friend like St. Therese! This post reminded me!