St Therese of Lisieux – the Little Way

Marie Francoise Therese Martin was born on January 2, 1863 at Alencon in Normandy France. She lived the life of a normal child and entered the Carmel of Lisieux in 1889 when she was 15 years old. Finally St. Theresa entered eternal life on September 30, 1897. Theresa was not a great healer or miracle worker, but a woman who was faithful to her everyday chores to a heroic degree.

        St. Theresa chose for her motto the well known words of St. John of the Cross:

Love is repaid by love alone.”

        Not only did she take these words as her motto, but Theresa lived them throughout her life. The holy Nun lived her life of fidelity to her duties in what she called her “little way”. The “little way” is that of childhood simplicity and trust in the heavenly Father and a life in union with the suffering Christ. As St. Paul wrote, “We make up in our bodies, what was lacking in the sufferings of Christ”. St. Theresa was faithful in offering her sufferings in union with Christ. The Saints greatest work was her untiring prayer and suffering for Priests. As a young Nun she desired to be a missionary and when she could not, she became a missionary by offering prayers for the works of mission Priests.

Some quotes from her writings:

  • Trials help us detach ourselves from the earth; they make us look higher than this world.
  • Perfect love means putting up with other people’s shortcomings, feeling no surprise at their weaknesses, finding encouragement even in the slightest evidence of good qualities in them.
  • Frequently only silence can express my prayer.
  • Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want meto be and becoming that person.
  • Let us love, since our heart is make for nothing else.
  • How happy I am to see myself as imperfect and to be in need of God’s mercy
  • Holiness consists simply in doing God’s will, and being just what God wants us to be.
  • You cannot be half a saint; you must be a whole saint or no saint at all.
  • When we yield to discouragement it is usually because we give too much thought to the past and to the future.
  • Jesus does not demand great actions from us, but simply surrender and gratitude.
  • The value of life does not depend upon the place we occupy. It depends on the way we occupy that place.
  • Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you – for you alone? He burns with the desire to come into your heart… Don’t listen to the demon, laugh at him, and go without fear to receive the Jesus of peace and love.
  • Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God. Do all that you do with love.
  • Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, or even at their difficulty, as at the love with which we do them.
  • I give thanks to my Jesus for making me walk in darkness and in this darkness I enjoy profound peace. I only desire that my darkness may obtain light for sinners.
  • It is possible to remain little even in the most responsible position.
  • Use the gifts you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you.
  • We must not be discouraged by our faults, for children fall frequently.
  • Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what You want me to be and becoming that person.
  • Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word. Always doing the smallest ….. and doing it all for love.
  • The world is thy ship and not thy home.

The Little Way

… Inspired by Jesus’ words: “Whosoever is a little one, come to me”, she said that she would “look for some means of going to heaven by a little way which is very short and very straight”. For Therese being a follower of Jesus meant finding holiness in the ordinary and everyday events of daily life.

There are two central foundations to the ‘little way’:

Firstly God shows love by mercy and forgiveness. We should not be afraid of God, in fact fear of God prevents us from developing a loving relationship with Him.

Secondly none of us can be perfect in following God. Hence, we should approach God as a child approaches a loving parent.

Therese believed that we must live out these principles in our everyday lives – that .even the most mundane and unexciting activities can be made holy because of the way we do them, because of the love we show in our actions

.Know that God is truly present and loves you – each of us can make a difference in the world by the way we choose to live and act. Each day is a gift to be used to help others. The Little Way leads away from selfishness, greed and materialism and points towards trust in God and confidence in our ability to make a difference.

God is everywhere, present in the smallest details of our ordinary lives. The smallest action however insignificant, done with love, is more important than great things done for personal glory or fame. “Everything is grace” she said, meaning that God is present in each of us and everything, enabling us to do the ordinary things in life with extraordinary love. … Speak to God from the heart, she said, and you will develop a relationship of love and trust in a Father who loves you.

St. Therese writes: “My mission – to make God loved – will begin after my death. I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses”.

To live by love is to go through life sowing peace and joy in hearts” St. Therese

​​St. Therese, A Little Way by Father John Welch, O.Carm.

Saint Therese of Lisieux restored our confidence in a God who is loving and merciful. In a time when religion focused on sin and God’s punishment, Therese relied on a God whose justice would take into account our poverty, and whose love would never turn away. Her little way is not a lessening of desire nor a retreat from life. It is a way of proceeding with absolute trust in God’s merciful love. Therese declared, “Everything is grace!”

…Our ordinary lives are filled with daily miracles, the mercies of the Lord. And she quoted Saint Paul: “So then there is question not of him who wills nor of him who runs but of God showing mercy’ (Rom 9,16). Her emphasis was not on what she had done in her lifetime, but on what God’s presence and love had done in and through her.

Confidence and love

The Little Flower was convinced that God is not looking for people to punish. God is looking for people to love. Therese said, “How few there are who are willing to open their lives to that love.” God’s love is a transforming love. God wants to love people into life, into freedom, into a profound friendship.

.Therese said it is not our virtues or our great desires God loves it is our “littleness.” She wrote to Marie: The more one is weak, without desires and without virtues, the more one is suited for the operation of God’s consuming and transforming love.” We do not earn God’s love; it is freely given.

. I will teach you how to travel…on the stormy sea of the world; with the surrender and love of a child who knows God loves us and cannot leave us alone in the hour of danger… it is the way of simple love and confidence.”

Bishop Patrick Ahern, an ardent devotee of Saint Therese, described her spirituality: “The Little Way finds joy in the present moment. In being pleased to be the person you are, whoever you are. It is a school of self-acceptance, which goes beyond accepting who you are to wanting to be who you are. It is a way of coming to terms with life, not as it might be but as it is.”

Prayers

O my God ! I offer Thee all my actions of this day for the intentions and for the glory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I desire to sanctify every beat of my heart, my every thought, my simplest works, by uniting them to Its infinite merits ; and I wish to make reparation for my sins by casting them into the furnace of Its Merciful Love.

O my God! I ask thee for myself and for those whom I hold dear, the grace to fulfil perfectly Thy Holy Will, to accept for love of Thee the joys and sorrows of this passing life, so that we may one day be united together in Heaven for all Eternity. Amen.

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O Little Therese of the Child Jesus, please pick for me a rose
from the heavenly gardens and send it to me as a message of love.

O Little Flower of Jesus, ask God to grant the favours
I now place with confidence in your hands . .

(mention in silence here)

St. Therese, help me to always believe as you did in
God’s great love for me, so that I might imitate your “Little Way” each day.

Amen