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/.
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!)
I am struck by how indebted I personally am to St.Thérèse for all the many, many ways she has helped me in my littleness as I’ve strived to grow as a Christian. From the infancy of my coming to know Jesus personally, she has assisted me in many marvelous ways and in all its simplicity. That indebtedness to Saint Thérèse pointed me to the indebtedness we all have to Our Lord.
It’s such a grace, truly a gift from God, to realize how great He is, how much we owe Him, and how deserving He is of all of our love; to really be awakened and be aware of that truth – that reality which is at the core of the cosmos of our creation, of our existence – is a great gift. To have faith in Him and to know how much we owe Him, how deserving He is of all of our hearts, minds, souls, and strength, of all of our life and love – is such a grace.
God has done something so wonderful through Saint Thérèse, and He’s done it for all of us. Of course, He loved Saint Thérèse, but He also loves each of us as if we are the only one in the world to love. God is so large and magnanimous, beyond our wildest dreams. When God draws one soul, He does so with the intention of maximizing what He is putting into action and allowing that person to be magnetic for many others.
In our Novena journey, we must try to come to grips with Saint Thérèse’s humanity, her genius, and her sanctity. Hopefully, we realize that she was as normal, as human, with real-life problems as any one of us. Yet what God had accomplished in her soul was amazingly wonderful. If He could do it for her, He could do it for us. One of Saint Thérèse ’s messages is that none of us are excluded from this dazzling and adventurous embrace of love. None of us are disqualified because of our littleness, our significance, our ordinariness, or our poverty. On the contrary, our smallness makes us more fit for the transformation of God’s friendship.
Saint Thérèse ’s autobiography, this sacrament of her soul, displays the audacity of her spirit and brings us into a dialogue that allows her to become a teacher who schools us in the science and knowledge of Divine Love. Saint Thérèse is a wise warrior, a wonder woman, truly filled with Flower Power to a remarkable degree, more than anything you’ll see on Haight and Asbury.
For Saint Thérèse, prayer is the weapon of the spiritual warrior. She says that prayer and sacrifice together are the invisible and invincible weapons that Jesus gives us. “It is these that give me all my strength. They can touch souls much better than words, as I have experienced.”
Saint Thérèse’s teaching on prayer is very simple. She explains, “For me prayer is an aspiration of the heart, a longing. It is a simple glance directed to heaven. It is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trial as well as joy.” In other words, prayer is an act of thanksgiving and love in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, and for better or for worst.
That prayer, she continues, “is something great, supernatural which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus.” Thérèse is so transparent, truthful, and realistic that she can admit that as much as she cherishes the Virgin Mary, she nevertheless struggled to pray the rosary because she often fell asleep. She admits that she didn’t have a lot of prayers. She didn’t recite them from a big stack of prayers. Outside of the honor of being able to pray the Liturgy of the Hours in the Divine Office, she simply prayed to Jesus as a child.
Going through different prayers exhausted her because “One is as more beautiful as the other, and there’s no end…What suffices for me is just expressing my sentiments to Jesus as a child,” she says, “and He listens, and He answers me.” (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.
‘Arm yourselves with the armor of faith and the sword of truth. Pray for the grace to forgive and to ask for forgiveness – and for the healing of wounded bodies and souls.’
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