Confidence, nothing but confidence

What do you call a religious community that’s not Carmelite but loves St. Thérèse of Lisieux?  The Franciscan Sisters, T.O.R. of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother of course!  As Sr. Thérèse Marie likes to say, today is everyone’s feast day!

St. Thérèse began stalking me before I entered (that’s another story) and I am continually surprised by how many sisters have a special devotion to her.  Who is St. Thérèse?  What is her message?  Why is she so well loved?  She is simple, she is human, and she is real.

As I have gotten to know her better I’ve realized that the heart of her message is so simple that it’s easy to miss and even easier to misunderstand.  She wrote of her “little way of spiritual childhood.”  We often hear the phrase “do little things with great love,” linked to the Little Flower.  Or like I thought, many people think that she was all about suffering with great love.  St. Thérèse teaches us these things, and many more, but at the core of her “little way” is abandonment; complete, total dependence on the Father.  The more you learn about the Saints, the more you will see that this is the secret of every great Saint.

The stained glass window above our crucifix is a perfect illustration of this total dependence on the Father.  St. Thérèse wanted to abandon herself into the Father’s hands.  Looking at this window one day it occurred to me that if I place myself in the Father’s hands then I am in the midst of the fire of the Holy Spirit.  This is not a comfortable place to be!

St. Thérèse could abandon herself completely to the Father because she trusted in His merciful love.  Her life was a reply of love to His mercy, which is another reason that our community is drawn her – she lived our charism of making known God’s merciful love.  She even went so far as to offer herself as a victim to Merciful Love, to make the Lord loved by all people.

Story of a Soul, her autobiography ends with these lines: “even though I had on my conscience all the sins that can be committed, I would go, my heart broken with sorrow, and throw myself into Jesus’ arms, for I know how much he loves the prodigal child who returns to Him.  It is not because God, in His anticipating Mercy, as preserved my soul from mortal sin that I go to Him with confidence and love…”

Finally, St. Thérèse saw herself as remaining always at the foot of the cross, which is where we receive this merciful love:
“One Sunday, looking at a picture of Our Lord on the cross, I was struck by the blood flowing from one of the divine hands...I resolved to remain in spirit at the foot of the Cross and to receive the divine dew.  I understood I was then to pour it out upon souls.  The cry of Jesus on the Cross sounded continually in my heart: ‘I thirst!’  These words ignited within me an unknown and very living fire.  I wanted to give my beloved to drink and I felt myself consumed with a thirst for souls...I burned with the desire to snatch them from the eternal flames.”

St. Thérèse Pray for Us!


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