A MORNING PRAYER WRITTEN BY ST. THERESE THE LITTLE FLOWER
O my God! I offer Thee all my actions of this day for the intentions and for the glory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I wish to make reparation for my sins by casting them into the furnace of Thy Merciful Love. I ask of Thee for myself and for those whom I hold dear, the grace to fulfill perfectly Thy Holy Will, to accept for love of Thee the joys and sorrows of this passing life, so that we may one day be united together in heaven for all Eternity. Amen
ST. THERESE OF LISEUX THE LITTLE FLOWER
FEAST DAY OCTOBER 1
This year October 1 falls on a Sunday and Sunday liturgy takes precedent over feast days but I did not want anyone to miss out celebrating one of our greatest saints. Her autobiography Story of a Soul is one of the most popular spiritual books ever written and I recommend it to everyone.
With this blog, we honor her and thank her for not only telling us about God’s boundless Mercy but showing us by action what it means to turn ourselves over to that “furnace of mercy” of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, allowing us, in trust, to be consumed by God’s Mercy.
On September 30th, 1897, a young Carmelite nun living in France succumbed to the effects of tuberculosis, dying in obscurity, known only to her sisters in religious life. Like many Carmelite nuns before her, Therese’s death should have meant the culmination of a life of obscurity and faithfulness. Yet, this particular Carmelite nun would prove different in this respect because of a spiritual diary she had kept at the insistence of her Superiors.
Within years of her death, the spiritual diary and autobiography (Story of a Soul) of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, the Little Flower, would captivate the Church. Miracles attributed to her intercession began to be reported.
In just a few decades after her death, the image of Therese of Lisieux would be immediately recognizable in the Catholic world. Canonization would soon follow. At the hundred year anniversary of her death, Pope John Paul II declared formally this obscure cloistered Carmelite nun to be one of the Doctors of the Church, a title given to only a privileged few of the Church’s saints.
THE LITTLE WAY OF THE LITTLE FLOWER
Thérèse worried constantly about how she could achieve holiness in the life she led. She didn’t want to just be good; she wanted to be a SAINT. She thought there must be a way for people living hidden, little lives like hers. “I have always wanted to become a saint. God would not make me wish for something impossible and so, in spite of my littleness, I can aim at being a saint”.
A turning point in her thinking came during a trip with her Father. They stayed at a hotel with an elevator or lift as she called it, one of those new fangled inventions at that time. That lift persuaded her that she did not have to do all the heavy climbing to the arms of Jesus.
“… for I was far too small to climb the steep stairs of perfection. So I sought in Holy Scripture some idea of what this life I wanted would be, and I read these words: “Whosoever is a little one, come to me.” It is your arms, Jesus, that are the lift to carry me to heaven. And so there is no need for me to grow up: I must stay little and become less and less.”
Therese discovered through God’s grace that one does not have to journey to lands hostile to the Faith and suffer martyrdom to know what it means to suffer for the sake of the Gospel. Opportunities to know and serve the Lord will find us wherever we are, and when they do, will we rise to the occasion to seek to serve the Lord? All for the love of Jesus who gave His all to us; isn’t our all to Jesus in return only fitting?
Therese took every chance to sacrifice, no matter how small it would seem. She smiled at the sisters she didn’t like. She ate everything she was given without complaining…so that she was often given the worst leftovers.
At the heart of Therese’s understanding of the spiritual life is the principle that holiness can be appreciated and accomplished not only in the performance of mighty deeds but in a willing surrender to the purposes of God as we engage the seemingly ordinary experiences of life.
St. Therese’s “Little Way” is an inspiration to all. Therese realized that it was not possible on her own to be a great saint, although that is what she desired more than anything. She gave us “the elevator metaphor” of a God that would come down to her and lift her up to Him. “As I decrease, He increases!”
Matthew 18:3, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” It is hard to think of ourselves as we age, especially in our senior years, as children but Matthew 18:3 above says that we better act that way if we want to get into heaven. This, of course, refers to being child-like (wholly trusting) in our relationship with God our loving Father, not child-ish, which is a big difference.
Therese’s “little way” seems to put holiness of life within the reach of ordinary people. Each day is a gift in which your life can make a difference by the way you choose to live it. St. Therese knew the difference love makes by allowing love to be the statement she made each day of her life. Thérèse’s “little way” of trusting in Jesus to make her holy and relying on small daily sacrifices instead of great deeds appeals to thousands of Catholics and others who are trying to find holiness in ordinary lives.
St. Therese said before she died at age 24 that she wanted to spend her time in heaven doing good on earth, and that she would let a shower of roses fall from Heaven. May St. Therese intercede for us and help us to be attentive to the presence of Christ in all the experiences of life.
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