"God does not demand great actions from us, but simply surrender and gratitude."
--St. Therese, Story of a Soul
We have arrived! It is the feast of our dear Little Flower, the very littlest St. Therese who wants to shower us with roses today and every day until she helps us take that last step into Heaven. But first, before anything else, let's finish our novena to her.
O Little Therese of the Child Jesus
Please pick for me a rose from the heavenly garden
and send it to me as a message of love.
O Little Flower of Jesus,
ask God to grant us the favors
we now place with confidence in your hands . . .
St. Therese, help us always to believe as you did,
in God’s great love for us,
so that we may imitate your Little Way each day.
* * *
If you are just joining us, welcome! If you have been praying each day, welcome! If you prayed on day 1 and then forgot - all the more welcome! I have been commending your intentions to our dear Sister each day, and I've asked our Guardian Angels to fill in all the particulars. St. Therese is so desirous of dropping down boatloads of roses that we don't want to leave anyone or any need out, and you can be sure that she who promised to come down has no "intention" of her own to forget you. Look for roses - she is near!
I have loved St. Therese for a very long time, but before that I was quite indifferent to her. There was a statue of her in the parish church I attended growing up, and this statue was right across from a statue of the Infant of Prague, both in the narrow entry you passed through walking into the church, both facing each other, and both kind of annoying to me. I had no idea who they were or what they wanted - and what a good joke on me that they were later to reveal their identities. They were Jesus and His dear Therese, and they wanted nothing more nor less than to draw me to Him through her!
One thing I love about Servant of God Marcel Van, for whom my blog and I are named, is that he, too, thought nothing of Therese when he first came across her. He picked up Story of a Soul, saw there were no pictures, and sighed, saying to himself here was another perfect saint who no doubt mortified herself a great deal, performed many miracles in her life, and died at a ripe old age. He started reading the book, was enthralled, and realized his own picture of her was completely wrong!
So I wonder today what you might be thinking of Therese, what you might have thought of her, and how things have changed. I wonder what she's done in your life, what she's doing now, and what she's planning to do. I can assure you that she's planning a lot, no matter what's gone on so far for you (and for you and her). And it is all good, it is all grace!
For Marcel, she taught him personally her Little Way of how to love God and be loved by Him. For me, after many other graces, she introduced me to Marcel so I too could learn from her, and especially from Jesus and Mary, through their hilarious, insightful, sometimes deep, sometimes silly, and utterly endearing chats in his Conversations. But what it always turns out that makes this book so wonderful for me is that I find in it a commentary on the Gospels and on St. Therese's writings (which are themselves a commentary on the Gospels). I am so dopey, goofy, forgetful, and Marcellian (for he was dopey, goofy, and quite forgetful too) that I need constant reminders of what Jesus desires of us, such as Therese explains in the quote with which I started this post: "God does not demand great actions from us, but simply surrender and gratitude."
Really? Surrender and gratitude? That's it? That's a plan I can at least aim for. We've lowered the bar to a place I can reach, because surrender means admitting I can't do it, and gratitude means admitting He can (and so often has). I like this program a lot.
The other day I was lucky enough to be praying before the Blessed Sacrament with Marcel at hand, and I flipped to a page in Convos where Jesus is speaking to him (and to us). After explaining to Marcel that humility consists in recognizing and following the truth, Our Lord adds:
"Nevertheless, I do not wish you to understand all the words that Love says to you because that is not necessary for you. All the same I have a means which can allow you to understand: this means consists in loving me and abandoning yourself to me in total confidence." (Conversations, 429)
Something about this passage, which I had read before more than once, suddenly rung a bell. This sounded a lot like, hmmm, like . . . something from St. Therese . . . from Story of a Soul, maybe?
Well, yes, as it turned out! In the middle section of Story of a Soul, the part written for her sister Marie of the Sacred Heart, Therese turns to Jesus and bursts out,
"O Jesus! why can't I tell all little souls how unspeakable is Your condescension? I feel that if You found a soul weaker and littler than mine, which is impossible, You would be pleased to grant it still greater favors, provided it abandoned itself with total confidence to Your Infinite Mercy. But why do I desire to communicate Your secrets of Love, O Jesus, for was it not You alone who taught them to me, and can You not reveal them to others? Yes, I know it, and I beg You to do it. I beg You to cast Your Divine Glance upon a great number of little souls."
I don't know about you, but TOTAL confidence feels far beyond me. Nonetheless, as I've written in my book Something New with St. Therese: Her Eucharistic Miracle, we can't let a little thing like our weakness get in the way of what God wants to do in us. In this case, He wants us simply to acknowledge our weakness and let Him carry us! When we find ourselves struggling, like a toddler who is tired and doesn't want to be held, though that is what he most needs, I think the easiest way out of our restless failure to surrender is to ask St. Therese and Marcel to help us do what they did, what Jesus taught them to do, what He wants to teach us to do (or better yet, what He wants to do in us) - namely, to let go and let God. To surrender. To relax. To sleep or nap a while. To look upon Him as our Father who wants to give us everything and will take care of everything for us. It's all easy for Him - He is omnipotent, and even better, He loves us infinitely, just as we are!
A case in point - today's blog post. I wanted to share so much more with you, but the feasts are too short and too full for me to write everything I would, so I'm going to surrender and trust that Jesus is feeding you with what is already written. And better yet, I'm going to trust that He's given Therese and Marcel even more heavenly graces with which to shower us on this day and in the days ahead. May your minutes, your hours, your days and weeks and months and years be filled with the fragrance of her roses and her near presence, and I pray you enjoy the love of God to the full. As a friend once told me she did, let's ask God to NOT let us be surprised by how good He is when we get to Heaven! Let's learn now how much He loves us and snuggle closer to His merciful Sacred Heart. He has it all covered, everything we possibly need, and the same for those we love and those we don't even know yet - He is Love! So relax, have a cupcake (or your own delightful equivalent), and let's thank God for letting us know Him and His little dear daughter and son, our sister Therese and our brother Marcel. Thank You, Jesus! We love You! Come and stay with us! Remain in us as in a tabernacle, and never separate Yourself from Your little victims!
(And if that last line is unfamiliar to you, I highly recommend Something New with St. Therese, Her Eucharistic Miracle!)
Draw me, we will run!
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I've written books and articles and even a novel. Now it's time to try a blog! For more about me personally, go to the home page and you'll get the whole scoop! If you want to send me an email, feel free to click "Contact Me" below. To receive new posts, enter your email and click "Subscribe" below.