She continues, “Practically speaking, in this life, astounding works are forbidden me. This is how my life is going to be consumed.” She begins to define The Little Way that Jesus had inspired in her. She didn’t call it by that name, but her blood sisters did. “My little way, how I will allow my life to be consumed is by not allowing one little sacrifice to escape.” She realized that she could love Jesus in the small matters, so that the small things would become really big, important, and “astounding.”
How small did she mean when she says, “not allowing one little sacrifice to escape”? She would not allow one look, not one word to escape, and profit by doing the smallest actions, by doing everything through love.
Jesus said, ‘Even if you give a little glass of water to one of my little ones, that will not be unnoticed and you will be blessed.’ When something as insignificant as a glass of water is given, and ‘When that’s done out of love,’ Jesus says, ‘It captures my attention and it charms my heart. I notice. It matters. It means a lot to me.’
We all know that in our own lives, you could be having a down – or worst – a miserable day. A phone call or a smile, or just one little gesture of kindness could make all the difference, though that person could be completely oblivious to how important it was to you. Yet that made the difference in your day. That woke up something in your heart that was dormant or buried. One small act can resurrect so much. We know that, as human beings, so St. Thérese applies this to the divine level in relationship to God. If those small acts are important to us, how much more important are they to the Lord? He Himself said so.
She continues, “Oh my Jesus, I love You. I love the Church, my Mother. I recall the smallest act of pure love is of more value to her than all other works together.” She is quoting St. John of the Cross, one of her greatest inspirations after the sacred scriptures. In the beginning, her great source of inspiration was The Imitation of Christ, but toward the end of her life the only thing she drew inspiration from were the New Testament and St. John of the Cross. That was enough for her.
“But is pure love in my heart?” she asks. “Are my measureless desires only but a dream?…If this be so, Jesus, enlighten me for You know I am seeking only the truth.” That is humility. To only seek truth and want transparency, to have no speck of falsehood in life, to be in touch with reality is true humility. “If my desires are rash, then make them disappear for these desires are the greatest martyrdom to me.”
In other words, ‘my desires are killing me because I want them so deeply, and yet I can’t actualize them. I can’t incarnate them. I can’t make them concrete.’ Yet she aspired to the most lofty heights of love. She was so little and yet she aspired to the highest summit of union with God, the greatest union possible – mystical marriage, with Almighty God.
She asks, “How can a soul as imperfect as mine aspire to the possession of the plenitude of love. Oh Jesus, explain this mystery to me.” She wrestles inside with these stark contrasts. The Psalm says, ‘deep calls to deep’ and similarly, St. Thérese cries out, ‘the depths of my poverty calls to the depths of your beauty, greatness, and richness. There’s a chasm between us, but I feel that I am inseparably connected and meant to be with You. How is that going to happen?’ (to be continued).
Saint Thérèse, pray for us.
(SOURCE: Cristo Rey Retreat, San Francisco, September 2015)
Copyright 2016, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All rights reserved
Feast Day Novena Prayer
(This prayer is used by the Carmelites during the Feast Day Novena)
St. Therese, Flower of fervor and love, please intercede for us. Fill our hearts with your pure love of God. As we approach and celebrate your feast day, make us more aware of the goodness of God and how well He tends His garden. Instill in us your little way of doing ordinary things with extra-ordinary love.
Give us the heart of a child who wonders at life and embraces everything with loving enthusiasm. Teach us your delight in God’s ways so that divine charity may blossom in our hearts. Little Flower of Jesus, bring our petitions (mention in silence here) before God, our Father.
With your confidence, we come before Jesus as God’s children, because you are our heavenly friend. As we celebrate the Feast Day of your homecoming in heaven, continue to shower roses and grace upon us.
Editor’s note: Those of you who want to learn more about Saint Thérèse can also visit Maureen O’Riordan’s blog, “Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: A Gateway,” at http://www.thereseoflisieux.org/. She is a dear friend of Father James Geoghegan of the San Jose Monastery, CA.
The Santa Clara OCDS will be sponsoring A Day of Recollection with St.Thérèse, with Maureen as our guest speaker on Saturday, November 11, 2017 at Santa Clara Monastery (1000 Lincoln Street). To register, please go to thespeakroom DONATE tab. ($20 donation suggested, but any amount is appreciated!)