St. Therese and the Little Way

st. therese 2I’ve written about St. Therese before on this blog. She and I had, for many years, a love-hate relationship. She loved, I hated.

But that was before I came to realize the genius in her words and her thought. I recall a time in D.C. when I was in the courtyard of the seminary debating a priest about whether St. Therese should be called a Doctor of the Church. She did not, in my mind, have the intellectual rigor of a St. Thomas Aquinas or the eloquence of a Leo the Great. She was an ordinary girl living in a rather ordinary time who tried to be holy doing ordinary things. What is so special about that?

What is special about that is that her “ordinary” way has extraordinary potential. When one thinks of it, not many people–if any at all–could attain the intellectual heights that Thomas Aquinas did. Not many of us will be called to lead as Leo did. But all of us are called to holiness in the ordinary, the mundane. And it is St. Therese who first gave to the Church a more systematic understanding of this “Little Way” and provided the theological foundation for it.

I came to love St. Therese through her example of patient suffering and perseverance in the love of God. But beyond that, Therese is a shining example to us of what we can all accomplish during our time on Earth. We need not do great things, but to do ordinary things with great love. We are to respond to the call of the Lord readily and joyfully:

“To have beautiful and holy thoughts and to write books on lives of the saints do not count as much as answering as soon as you are called.”

Let us respond today as Therese did, with complete love and willing soul. Therese responded to the Lord with a heart ready to travel to the ends of the Earth when she was called to remain in her monastery. She answered as God called. May we do the same.

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