Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: St. Thérèse of Lisieux, 1

Photo credit: thespeakroom.org
Photo credit: thespeakroom.org

Luke 9: 46-49:  46 An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest. 47Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side 48and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.”

We see the apostles arguing among themselves about who is the greatest. It clearly shows that their motivations and intentions were not pure. In the midst of their wanting to do great things for God, they were seeking themselves in many ways. Their motivations still had to be purified. And yet Jesus did not take back His choice, acceptance, and love for them. Instead of chastising the disciples for their egoism, He takes a child, puts him in the midst of them and says, ‘This child who is considered to be the least and most insignificant is actually the greatest among you.’

Jesus does the same to us in the Church today. In the early part of the century, Pope Pius X referred to Saint Thérèse as one of the greatest saints of modern times. Thérèse had only lived twenty-four years, and in worldly standards, had not accomplished any major works of mercy that would have been a sign of success. Her greatness was hidden inside the simplicity of her soul. Yet Pope Pius took that young child and put her in the midst of all the Church’s saints in modern times, and said, ‘This child is the greatest.’

Thérèse herself recognized that she was small, and that she was little. In that very littleness and her acceptance of her littleness, she found her potential for greatness. She writes, “I am a child, powerless and weak, yet it is my weakness that gives me the boldness of offering myself as a victim of Your love, dear Jesus. Love has chosen me.” We can all apply that teaching to ourselves. We have to recognize our identity and realize that Love has chosen each of us to be here.

We are here because God has somehow already been active in our lives. There’s a direction, a momentum to this action. There’s a summit, an accomplishment, a perfection, that this love is leading us toward. “The heart of a child,” writes Saint Thérèse, “does not seek riches and glory, not even the glory of heaven. What this child asks for is love and she knows only one thing, to love You, Jesus.”

In the beginning of Manuscript B, Saint Thérèse talks about the science of love as being the only thing she wants to be able to understand. Her only ambition is love, and to love Jesus more than ever before. She writes,

It is love that makes us acceptable to God. Jesus deigned to show me the road which leads to this divine furnace and this road is the surrender of the little child, who sleeps without fear in its father’s arms. If all weak and imperfect souls felt what the least of souls feels,”[that is, her own soul, the soul of little Thérèse], “not one would despair of reaching the summit of the mountain of love.”

We see throughout her writings, especially in this manuscript, a contrast. With one eye, she sees her total weakness, poverty and littleness. With the other eye, she gazes on the greatness of God. She has limitless confidence in what He is able and capable of accomplishing in her. Rather than being a stumbling block, her littleness and poverty are actually the fuel, the building blocks that will allow her to be transformed by the love of God (to be continued).

Saint Thérèse, pray for us.

(SOURCE: Cristo Rey, San Francisco Retreat, 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.

Amen

Editor’s note: Those of you who want to learn more about Saint Thérèse can also visit Maureen O’Riordan’s blog at http://www.thereseoflisieux.org/.

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!)

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