When I first read, “Story of a Soul,” the biography of St. Therese’ of Lisieux, I was on strict bed rest with my third child. I mention this, because it might account for at least part of my crankiness at the time. There I lay, day after day, alone with a pile of books, a crochet needle and a ball of yarn and a television. A friend of mine brought me the St. Therese’s book, so I began reading. I found the first couple of chapters hard to get through. My first impression was, “I can’t relate to this girl. She was rich and beautiful and she loved Jesus with her whole heart at a very early age. How disgusting!” I thought. Knowing that we are all called to sainthood, (not just the special people, or those who seemed to have been born with an innate sense of holiness) I didn’t see Therese’ as someone that I could relate to and aspire to emulate.
Normally, I would have put the book down, and not picked it up again. Since my dear friend had loaned it to me – and highly recommended it– I felt pressured to plug along until I had read enough to converse with her about it. Well… by the end of the biography, I had fallen in love with the “Little Flower” and her “Little Way” to holiness. Therese’ saw it as her simple mission in life to “love Jesus and make Him more loved.” What could be more pure and more beautiful than that? Can you imagine how wonderful our world would be if everyone had this as his/her mission?
Therese’ believed that the path to holiness was simple. She demonstrated through her life that everyone could achieve holiness by doing everyday tasks with love. She mopped for Jesus. She gardened for Jesus. She accepted the insults of grumpy, old nuns in her convent for Jesus. She did all for love of Christ. By denying herself, and doing all for Jesus, she sanctified her daily labors. Despite her suffering, she carried an undeniable joy in her heart that shone radiantly from within.
Let us ask the Blessed Mother to help us to love Jesus more and more each day, and to help others to love Him as well. We may never be called to give our lives for Christ like the martyrs in the early Church but we can begin our paths to sainthood using St. Therese’s little way to holiness, regardless of our state in life. St. Therese of Lisieux, pray for us.