The Thinking 
Housewife
 

The Little Way

October 3, 2017

 

Therese, aged 15

MODERN SOCIETY exalts efficiency and expertise over wisdom and holiness.

That’s why a woman such as Saint Thérèse of Lisieux could not easily be produced by our age.

St. Thérèse, born in 1873 France, lived only to the age of 24, and the last years of her life were spent in a cloistered convent, but she has nevertheless had a powerful influence on millions of people.

Her spiritual doctrine is so simple that, at first glance, it seems like nothing. Only on close examination does one find its profundity.

Thérèse, charmingly known as the Little Flower, believed the path to heaven lay in recognizing one’s littleness and doing everything, the smallest action — especially those which are painful or annoying — out of love for God. Not everyone is called to heroism, but all of us are called to endurance and confidence. The small matters of life can be transformed into acts of love. These have eternal ramifications for ourselves and others. Thérèse offers an antidote to the quest for man-centered utopia and the drugs of contemporary psychology, which she turns completely on its head, directing human actions upward and leaving nothing, no suffering, that is without great purpose and resolution.

Here on the feast day of this remarkable woman is food for thought from her letters and her book Story of a Soul:

“‘Remaining little’ means—to recognise one’s nothingness, to await everything from the Goodness of God, to avoid being too much troubled at our faults; finally, not to worry over amassing spiritual riches, not to be solicitous about anything. Even amongst the poor, while a child is still small, he is given what is necessary; but, once he is grown up, his father will no longer feed him, and tells him to seek work and support himself. Well, it was to avoid hearing this, that I have never wished to grow up, for I feel incapable of earning my livelihood, which is Life Eternal!”

By telling us that a single hair can work this wonder, He shows us that the smallest actions done for His Love are those which charm His Heart. If it were necessary to do great things, we should be deserving of pity, but we are happy beyond measure, because Jesus lets Himself be led captive by the smallest action. . . .

….

Pick up a pin from a motive of love, and you may thereby convert a soul. Jesus alone can make our deeds of such worth, so let us love Him with every fibre of our heart….

Let us remain far from all that dazzles, loving our littleness, and content to have no joy. Then we shall be truly poor in spirit, and Jesus will come to seek us however far off we may be, and transform us into flames of Love. ….

This, then, is what I think about the Justice of God; my own way is all confidence and love, and I cannot understand those souls who are afraid of so affectionate a Friend. Sometimes, when I read books in which perfection is put before us with the goal obstructed by a thousand obstacles, my poor little head is quickly fatigued. I close the learned treatise, which tires my brain and dries up my heart, and I turn to the Sacred Scriptures. Then all becomes clear and lightsome—a single word opens out infinite vistas, perfection appears easy, and I see that it is enough to acknowledge our nothingness, and like children surrender ourselves into the Arms of the Good God. Leaving to great and lofty minds the beautiful books which I cannot understand, still less put in practice, I rejoice in my littleness because “only little children and those who are like them shall be admitted to the Heavenly banquet.”6 Fortunately—”there are many mansions in my Father’s House”:7 if there were only those—to me—incomprehensible mansions with their baffling roads, I should certainly never enter there . . .

You ask for a word from your little Lamb. But what shall I say? Is it not you who have taught me? Remember those days when I sat upon your knee, and you talked to me of Heaven. I can still hear you say: “Look at those who want to become rich, and see how they toil to obtain money. Now, my little Thérèse, through every moment of the day and with far less trouble, we can lay up riches in Heaven. Diamonds are so plentiful, we can gather them together as with a rake, and we do this by performing all our actions for the love of God.” Then I would leave you, my heart overflowing with joy, and fully bent on amassing great wealth.

…..

To offer oneself as a victim to Divine Love is not to offer oneself to sweetness – to consolation; but to every anguish, every bitterness, for Love lives only by sacrifice; and the more a soul wills to be surrendered to Love, the more must she be surrendered to suffering.

….

O my God, Thou knowest I have never desired but to love Thee alone. I seek no other glory. Thy Love has gone before me from my childhood, it has grown with my growth, and now it is an abyss the depths of which I cannot fathom.

….

At the close of life’s evening I shall appear before Thee with empty hands, for I ask not, Lord, that Thou wouldst count my works…All our justice is tarnished in Thy sight. It is therefore my desire to be clothed with Thine own Justice and to receive from Thy Love the eternal possession of Thyself. I crave no other Throne nor other Crown but Thee, O my Beloved!…

In Thy sight time is nothing, one day is as a thousand years (Cf. Psalms 89:4). Thou canst in an instant prepare me to appear before Thee.

The Lily of the valley asks but a single dewdrop, which for one night shall rest in its cup, hidden from all human eyes. But when the shadows shall begin to fade, when the Flower of the field shall have become the Sun of Justice,26 then the dewdrop—the humble sharer of His exile—will rise up to Him as love’s vapour. He will shed on her a ray of His light, and before the whole court of Heaven she will shine eternally like a precious pearl, a dazzling mirror of the Divine Sun.

St. Thérèse, pray for us!

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