A very dear friend of mine has suggested that I write about that great Saint, Therese, the Little Flower, of the Holy Face of Jesus. Long has she been a favorite of mine; our second daughter is named after her...and how well she emulates the trademark virtues of this "little" Saint!
I guess you could say that St. Therese has always been one of my special Patrons ~ ever since I was a little girl I have prayed to her and wanted to be just like her. Yet, the more I learn about her the more I realize that I must have a long way to go, lol.
I don't know if anyone actually realizes during their own lifetimes how close they are (or not) to being a Saint, but I'm sure that God has made it so to keep them humble. According to St. Alphonsus de Ligouri, it is good to ask Our Lord to let it be this way ~ if it agrees with His Will ~ so we don't get so sure of ourselves that we think ourselves too good "for our own good."
Since we all know how St. Therese was a mistress of the Little Way I would be willing to bet that God let her go along keeping secret from her just how much He was exceptionally pleased with her "invention." Have any Saints before her ever revealed such a sure and complete way to His Heart? To take so seriously His admonition to "become like the little children" and take it so to heart!
St. Therese writes in her Autobiography, "The Story of A Soul" ~
"Walking with Papa, I gazed at the stars twinkling ever so peacefully in the skies - one cluster of golden pearls attracted my attention and gave me great joy as they were in the form of a 'T' - I pointed out to Papa that my name is written in heaven..."
This simple entry speaks volumes about a small girl who, even as young as she must have been at the time, was already aware of the beauty of God's wondrous creation, what it meant in relation to her own self, and the joy ~ the unadulterated joy ~ of one who sees her own pre-destination!
From the tender age of four years she was already devoted to Our Blessed Lady, and this kind Mother took her under Her own protective mantle, since Therese's earthly mother was taken from her at so young an age.
Don't get me wrong...little Therese had her faults, her temper for one thing, being one of her most blatant.
Once, when she was in need of an ink bottle that was up ontop a mantle shelf, she asked her nurse, Victoire, to get it for her. But by now poor Victoire had a more than passing acquaintance with her young charge's temper, and told her to "get it herself." Frequently, she had called Therese a "little brat" since she had many times given way to childhood tantrums when she did not get her own way. (Being the youngest of five sisters, she was the family "favorite" and she knew it!)
So, getting a stool and retrieving the ink for herself, she turned upon her nurse when she got down and exclaimed, "Victoire, you are a brat!"
She must have thought to herself that this would be the proper retort, but as she grew in her love for Jesus, I am sure that she must have repented in her later years, lol.
When Therese was a Carmelite sister, she was frequently put to work doing the various menial tasks that needed to be done about the convent. One of them was the daily washing. There was one story that related how a fellow sister was also assigned the task of hand-washing on a particular day, alongside Therese, and as they were "up to their elbows" in the hot water, scrubbing and rinsing dirty handkerchiefs, this sister continually splashed dirty water in Therese's face; by now, however, Therese was in the habit of controlling her "tantrums" and she knew to ask Our Lord to help her to offer up this inconvenience, gaining for herself and for her fellow nun the graces of earthly penance for whatever venial sins of which they may have been guilty. (I cannot imagine this Saint being guilty of much, if anything, and yet she was the first critic of her own behavior!)
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen once remarked that "to hear a nun's confession is like being pelted to death with popcorn!"
This is, to me, the perfect image of how it must have been for our dear St. Therese! Can anyone even imagine her committing the smallest fault?!? Her conquering of her own temper was no small feat for her, yet she did all with the greatest humility and love for the Savior Who did so much for her.
She must have credited much of this to her Guardian Angel, to whom she was consecrated at the tender age of nine years. For myself, being a member of the Opus Sanctorum Angelorum (which was not formed in those days), I am most grateful for the same devotion.
To be sure, I have many faults of my own...many, many more than our good model of virtue here...but with her help and the guidance of my own Angel, I keep plodding along the way. I can only hope and pray that my own "little way" is even remotely close to the great "Little Way" of one of the most holy and wonderful Saints of our modern times.
"One single act of love will make us know Jesus better...It will bring us closer to him for all eternity." ~ St. Therese, The Little Flower.