26th Week in Ordinary Time
Memorial of St Thérèse of Lisieux
Thursday 1st October
‘Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.’ [Matthew 18:4]
When asked by the disciples who is the greatest in the kingdom, Jesus embraces a child and tells them that the humility, simplicity and innocence of a child are the measure of greatness in God’s heart. How contrary are these attributes to our world’s markers of success: fame, fortune and power. Who is to be believed? Which pathway brings happiness and fulfilment?
St. John Paul II, in his homily proclaiming St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the youngest Doctor of the Church, says ‘she counters a rational culture, so often overcome by practical materialism with the disarming simplicity of the “little way”, which by returning to the essentials, leads to the secret of all life: the divine Love that surrounds and penetrates every human venture. She did not only grasp and describe the profound truth of Love but she lived it intensely.’
In her short life of 24 years, nine of which were spent in the obscure Carmelite convent in Lisieux, France, Thérèse Martin lived a life of great simplicity, humility and trust, relying not on her own merits but the gracious mercy and love of God. Captured in her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, her childlike confidence in God’s promises meant that her ambition to become a saint was realised to a degree well beyond her wildest dreams.
She dreamed of a being a great missionary without ever leaving the walls of her convent, only to be proclaimed a Patron of the Missions. She set her heart on becoming a saint and was canonised just 28 years after her death. She only had a basic education, yet she became the youngest Doctor of the Church, acclaimed for her wisdom and holiness. She aspired to spend her life in heaven making God loved and known across the globe and this has happened through the ongoing pilgrimage of her relics.
Thérèse accepted her smallness but this never limited her confidence in God to do great things. Her motto was ‘to live in love’ so that her whole life could become one act of Love. She did this so well that she has become a model of holiness by taking the ordinary tasks of life and infusing them with great love. Her ‘little way’ is to do small things with great love. Her simple prayers express her great love for God.
‘O Jesus, I want to be magnetised by Your divine glance. I want to become the prey of your love.’
By Mike Humphrys
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