St. Therese, the Little Flower, was a French Carmelite nun in Lisieux who died of tuberculosis at the young age of 24. She was born in 1873, died in 1897, and was proclaimed to be the 33rd doctor of the Catholic Church in 1997. Her mother died when she was only 4 years old, and she suffered mightily from intestinal problems, headaches, and an undiagnosed illness. It wasn't until the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to her while she was sick that she got completely well. When she was 15 and too young to enter the Carmelite Monastery, she pleaded her case before Pope Leo XII himself, who told her that if God willed it, she would indeed enter the monastery at such a young age. God did will it, as enter it she did. While there, she wrote and directed plays, did menial household chores, as well as performed duties taking care of the sacristy. So what is so amazing about this beautiful young girl?
St. Therese is the originator of "The Little Way", which is the way of those who are not rich and famous, and who want to serve God their loving Father through their littleness and simplicity and love. In other words, St. Therese knew that she was not capable of great sacrifices, or of performing great and mighty works. Rather, she chose to remain as a child in they eyes of God, performing all of her duties with love and obedience, no matter how small and insignificant they were.
Matthew 18:3: and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
It's hard to think of ourselves as little children when we reach 40 or 50 years old, but that is exactly how our attitude towards God should be. If we live to be 100, God still sees us as His children; The question is, "Do we act like we are His children?" Matthew 18:3 above says that we better act that way if we want to get into heaven. This, of course, refers to being child-like in our relationship with God our loving Father, not child-ish, which is a big difference. Our relationship with God the Father should be no different than the relationship that a 4 year old has with his father - One of complete trust that the father will take care of him, feed him good things, keep him warm in the winter, buy him appropriate clothes, educate him properly, etc. How hurt would we be if our 4 year old told us to buzz off and leave him alone, because he knew better than his father how to provide for himself? Very hurt indeed! And how hurt would we be if our 4 year old was afraid of us all of the time, rather than wanting to play with us and be with us and to be like us? A lot! But this is exactly how so many of God's children treat Him, on a routine basis.
Catholics would do well to imitate St. Therese's Little Way if they want to be happy in this life, as well as happy in the next. That "Little Way" consists of simplicity in life, prayer from the heart to Jesus, total trust in God as our Loving Father (not a stern judge), being a true child of God our Father rather than doing our own thing, seeking God's will in our everyday activities, doing everything for the love of Jesus with humility, being kind to people we can't stand, and a sincere desire to be with Jesus forever rather than to be in this world. It does NOT consist of trying to be a millionaire, watching dirty movies, gossiping about people, cheating at work to get the promotion, thinking about sex all the time, etc. After all, what is more important to you - Getting to heaven, or being successful in this life? Mother Teresa of Calcutta said that "God did not put me down here to be successful. He put me down here to be faithful".
St. Therese said before she died at age 24 that she wanted to spend her time in heaven doing good on earth, and that she would let a shower of roses fall from Heaven. If this sounds good to you, then asking for St. Therese of Lisieux's intercession on a daily basis is recommended.
2 Corinthians 12:10: For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Matthew 19:14: but Jesus said, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven."
Quotes from St. Therese of Lisieux
"I leave to great souls and lofty minds the beautiful books I cannot understand, much less put into practice and I rejoice that I am little because children alone and those who resemble them will be admitted to the heavenly banquet. I am glad that there are many mansions in the Kingdom of God, because if there were only those whose description and whose road seem to me incomprehensible, I could never enter there."
"How happy I am to realize that I am little and weak, how happy I am to see myself so imperfect"
"It is needful to remain little before God and to remain little is to recognize one's nothingness, expect all things from the good God just as a little child expects all things from its father; it is not to be troubled by anything, not to try to make a fortune. Even among poor people, a child is given all it needs, as long as it is very little, but as soon as it has grown up, the father does not want to support it any longer and says: "Work, now you are able to take care of yourself". Because I never want to hear these words I do not want to grow up, feeling that I can never earn my living, that is, eternal life in heaven. So I have stayed little, and have no other occupation than of gathering flowers of love and sacrifice and of offering them to the good God to please Him.
"You are not sufficiently trusting, you fear God too much. I assure you that this grieves Him. Do not be afraid of going to purgatory because of its pain, but rather long not to go there because this pleases God who imposes this expiation so regretfully. From the moment that you try to please Him in all things, if you have the unshakable confidence that He will purify you at every instant in His love and will leave in you no trace of sin, be very sure that you will not go to purgatory."
"O, how you hurt me, how greatly you injure the good God when you believe you are going to purgatory. For one who loves there can be no purgatory.
"For a long time I had been asking myself why souls did not all receive the same amount of grace. Jesus deigned to instruct me about this mystery. Before my eyes He placed the book of nature and I understood that all the flowers created by Him are beautiful... that, if all the little flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose her springtime garb. The same is true of the world of souls, the Lord's living garden.
"God's love is revealed just as much in the most simple soul who does not resist His graces as in the most sublime."
"There is only one way to force the good God not to judge at all, and that is to present one's self to Him with empty hands. When I think of this word: 'I will soon come and I carry My reward with Me to give to each one according to his works ', I say to myself, He will be very embarrassed for me because I have no works. Well, He will have to give me according to His own works."
"It is necessary to consent to remain poor and weak; this is hard ". "I have always longed to be unknown, I am resigned to being forgotten". "It is necessary to count on nothing".
"I know well that it is not my great desires that please God in my little soul, what He likes to see is the way I love my littleness and my poverty; it is my blind hope in His mercy, this is my only treasure.... The weaker one is, without desires or virtues the more ready one is for the operations of this consuming and transforming love.... God rejoices more in what He can do in a soul humbly resigned to its poverty than in the creation of millions of suns and the vast stretch of the heavens."
"I tell you that it is enough to recognize one's nothingness and to abandon one's self like a child in the arms of God."
"Merit is not to be found in doing much or in giving much, but rather in receiving and in loving much. It is said that it is far sweeter to give than to receive, and this is true. But when Jesus wants for Himself the sweetness of giving, it would not be gracious to refuse. Let Him take and give whatever He wants."