And The Little Flower did it in her own ‘Little Way’. Oh, but was she really ‘little’!
Pope St Pius X stated that St Thérèse of Lisieux is “the greatest saint of modern times” and her life is known all over the world. We know about Thérèse’s life because of her writings, particularly her autobiography, ‘The Story of a Soul’.
Therese’s ‘little way’ of living was to carry out ordinary everyday tasks with extraordinary love. She trusted and surrendered herself to Jesus completely and she understood the meaning of Jesus’ words, “Unless you become like little children you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mark 10:15).
Her little way is the highest form of spiritual existence for Christ. I mean imagine living a life only to please God. Zero self-indulgence. No other thought than to make Jesus happy. Yes, her cloistered life helped such living. But hey, from what we read, life had its share of ‘human foibles’ even amongst the nuns.
I KNOW what Jesus wants of me. But do I DO what He has told me to do, all the time? No. I fall. And man, that hurts. Each fall from grace is like falling off a cliff into the sea (thinking the water will somehow break the fall and cause less damage) but instead hitting a hard rock you didn’t know was lying innocuously just below the water.
To have a steady spiritual life is like a distant dream for me. And living a life like Thérèse is something i can only aspire for. How do you ‘pray without ceasing’ in the midst of acute spiritual aridity? How do you make yourself pray and be in His presence when all you want to do is run away from everything, even God? When you don’t want the ‘burden’ of the effort of maintaining a relationship with God! How do you not exercise your will and yet be happy about it?
Thérèse experienced all this. She fell asleep during her prayers. She got upset with people’s harshness. She sometimes couldn’t suffer fools. She was hurt in her relationships. And yet through all this, she was faithful to her Jesus. Oh what a glorious thing!
I always pray that if there’s a way to love Jesus, then it is the ‘little way’ and that God enables me to love Him like she did. I am seized with an extraordinary emotion, an overpowering emotional response, each time i read Thérèse’s thoughts such as:
Far from resembling those beautiful saints who practiced all sorts of austerities from childhood, my penance consisted in breaking my self-will, in keeping back a sharp reply, in doing little kindnesses to those about me, but considering these deeds as nothing.
I fear only one thing—to keep my own will; take it, my God, for I choose all that You choose. The only happiness here below is to strive to be always content with what Jesus gives us. I can demand nothing with fervor, except the perfect accomplishment of God’s will in my soul. O my Beloved, I offer myself to You, that You may perfectly accomplish in me Your holy designs, and I will not allow anything created to be an obstacle in their path.
The one thing which is not open to envy is the lowest place. Here alone, therefore, there is neither vanity nor affliction of spirit. Yet, ‘the way of a man is not his own,’ and sometimes we find ourselves wishing for what dazzles. In that hour let us in all humility take our place among the imperfect, and look upon ourselves as little souls who at every instant need to be upheld by the goodness of God. From the moment He sees us full convinced of our nothingness, and hears us cry out: ‘ My foot stumbles, Lord, but Thy Mercy is my strength,’’ He reaches out His Hand to us. But, should we attempt great things even under pretext of zeal, He deserts us. It suffices, therefore, to humble ourselves, to bear with meekness our imperfections. Herein lies – for us – true holiness.”
Let us work together for the salvation of souls. We have only the day of this life to save souls and to give them to the Lord as proofs of our love. I tell Jesus that I am glad not to be able to see, with the eyes of my soul, this beautiful heaven which awaits me, in order that He may vouchsafe to open it forever to poor unbelievers. I cannot perform brilliant works; I cannot preach the Gospel or shed my blood. But what matter? My brothers work in place of me, and I a little child, keep very close to the royal throne. I love for those who are carrying on the warfare. My deeds, my little sufferings, can make God loved all over the world.
Neither can I. I cannot do great things, I cannot preach, I lack the courage to be a martyr. Hell, I haven’t yet publicly confessed that I am a Christian. Those who know me, do not know about my blog. And i am anonymous to those of you who read this.
Gosh, as i type this i realise even more how far away I am from truly loving Jesus in a way that He is worthy of.
But I and Thérèse. And I just hope that one day, sooner than later, I will have perfected the little way – in breaking my self-will, in keeping back a sharp reply, in doing little kindnesses to those about me, but considering these deeds as nothing. All for the love of Jesus.
Would you remember me in your prayers, please?