October 1, 2014
Confession time:

I used to have a hard time with St. Therese. Well, that doesn't express it very well, so let me try to find another way to describe our relationship:
We wouldn't have sat at the same table in the lunch room.

I wasn't able to see that we had anything in common. For example:
She is very holy.  I am very not.
She is very sweet.  I am rather sour (a bit of a pickle, I'd say).
During her life on earth she wanted to be nothing more than to be little; I was always looking for the 'big thing' I was meant to do.
She was able to rest in the knowledge that she is loved by God; I felt I had to prove I was worthy of His love before I could accept it.

It is very difficult to relate to someone if you two have nothing in common. It is difficult to like someone if you resent them for having figured out (and seemingly breeze through) whatever it is that is your stumbling block.  Marie Francoise Therese Martin knew how to open herself to God so utterly - not only giving herself completely, but also receiving His love without boundary or limit. I do not. Surrender is not an easy state for me to be in, nor is it an easy action for me to perform.

On first reading her Story of a soul, I groaned at her language and cringed at her sentiments. Perhaps I should have waited for greater spiritual maturity, because as a relatively new convert (newly catechized, that is) I was too hungry for hearty spiritual meat that I overlooked the truth, beauty, and goodness of Therese's example of littleness. I was enamoured of Catherine of Siena's larger than life Eucharist-only diet, childhood visions, and admonishing letters to Popes, or Teresa of Avila's ordeals with her order, and so I underestimated the heroic virtue required to allow oneself to be made small.

With time I have made peace with Therese. Perhaps it is that life has worn me down a little; very
definitely I am tired of fighting against myself. I may have finally surrendered some of my stubbornness, too. For any and all of these, I am grateful because now I try to live Therese's Little Way. I no longer look for the great thing I am meant to do, but rather want to do the every day, humble things with love - love for God and love for souls.

How many of us women have days full of opportunities to offer little sacrifices, little gifts of prayer, or little gestures of love? Every time I pick a book off the floor of the library, or tell yet another patron where to find that book about the thing, I remind myself this is exactly what the Little Flower meant when she talked about little things.  And if I join my little things with your little things - the co-worker who always takes your pen, the seventh poopy diaper of the day - what an offering we have for God and just think what He will do with it!

And so I have become a Little Flower novice. If she is a rose, then I am a daisy and I'm quite ok with that.

4 comments:

  1. Hear! hear! I can completely relate to your sentiments. She was always sickly sweet to me. I looked down on her as ignorant of 'real' life and in need of maturity. Sigh. Thankfully, she waited for me - 35 years. She even let me grow up in a church named after her, eventually marrying under her watchful eye. Then finally a year ago it was as if I looked up from my lunch and saw her sitting across the table from me. Quietly, knowingly smiling that she knew I would eventually talk to her and realise that she was the friend that I had been looking for. Praise God for his patience and for that of his saints. Amen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Praise God indeed, Elena. What a wonderful story! I'm very grateful for that patience.

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  2. I love it! I wanna be a Little Flower novice too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think little flowers thrive in the cloister gardens, Nancy, don't you?

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