Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Little Way of St. Therese of Lisieux, A Way for All of Us

As parents, we all have a hundred things on the “to-do” list, a small number of which actually make it to the “done” list. Our days are filled with the realities of home, work, is there a uniform clean for today, what’s for dinner, and how did that piece of gum get there of all places? It’s hard to find the time to be what we may think is a great Catholic…pious, prayerful, and humble. It’s equally difficult to find time for solitary prayer or prayer as a family. How bad must it be if I fall asleep during the first decade of a well-intentioned rosary? Perhaps, in the midst of our quest for our near sighted view of perfection, the answer lies in letting ourselves off the hook ever so slightly and attempting instead the “Little Way” of St. Therese of Lisieux.

“Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant,
count as nothing.”  St. Therese of Lisieuxst_therese.jpg
The smell of fall in the air reminds me of one of my favorite traditions at the girls’ school, the All Saints Day Procession. There are countless saints that we can look to for guidance and encouragement. Visit any Catholic gift shop and you will find hundreds of medals and icons to inspire you. Do a little research and pick one! Most of us have put the Blessed Mother in our window for good weather or have buried St. Joseph in the ground (upside down of course) to sell our house. St. Therese is one of my “faves” because she teaches that having a good faith doesn’t necessitate some huge accomplishment, no grand sweeping display of how Catholic we are. Her way was to be a child of God in ALL that you do, not just the “Catholic things” you do. Her way was a little one, and if we try, every day, to be that good Catholic in a little way – it will pay off in a big way.

“What is the meaning of ‘the little way’ of St. Therese? It is an image that tries to capture her understanding of being a disciple of Jesus Christ, of seeking holiness of life in the ordinary and the everyday. St. Therese based ‘her little way’ on two fundamental convictions: 1. God shows love by mercy and forgiveness and 2. She could not be “perfect” in following the Lord” (Rev. John F. Russell, O.Carm., Seton Hall University). Well, if a wise Saint knew she could never be perfect – why even try? But, herein I miss the point. No, I don’t need to be nor will I ever be perfect, but I can strive to be relatively perfect in my little world. How do I do that? If we follow St. Therese’s philosophy - going about our daily activities with love – then we’re on the right path. There will be time later, when our children are way too cool to hang out with us, time for, dare I say it aloud, an hour of spiritual reading, prayerful meditation, a visit to the Blessed Sacrament? But, for now, in between the homework, and lunch packing and being a Mom taxi – we can remember why we are doing it all in the first place. God has blessed us all with these precious little humans, entrusted them to our care without the slightest thought of our past transgressions or behavior that, on paper, wouldn’t qualify us to be the best candidates for parenthood. But, in His infinite love, He sent them anyway and if we can keep that gift in mind, then all we do will be done with love. The love remains even when we don’t feel it - when we are screaming, “No, you cannot have ice cream before dinner” for the 20th time that day. We are all children of God, so we should act like it. And if we fail to act like it, at least try to remember it in our hearts even when our behavior shows otherwise. There are always going to be no good, terrible, horrible days, but at the end of even those, if we manage to tuck the kids into bed and say a prayer with them (even through gritted teeth) and for them (even after the fighting over what pajamas to wear and who gets the toothpaste first), then we are well on the “little way” of being a disciple of Christ.

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