First posted by Simon Pickering 21st May, 2010 on 4Marks Social network;
Being a disciple and follower of St Therese of Lisieux this blog portrays “The Little Way” from a new perspective that could help us gauge the enormity and universality of her message!
St Therese gives us some clues when she mentions “keeping the ’Kings Secrets’ in the bottom of her heart” and “it is honorable to publish the works of the Most High”; also “how powerless I am to express in human language the secrets of heaven”. Finally she says “There are so many different horizons, so many nuances of infinite variety that only the palette of the Celestial Painter will be able to furnish me after the night of this life with the colors capable of depicting the marvels He reveals to my soul”. We can therefore surmise that St Therese holds a secret, a very big secret of the magnitude of God’s grace and how we can attain it.
Chapter 1: The World at its Creation:
The Holy Scriptures;
- Light sustains life in the world (1:3-4)
- Adam & Eve’s meekness and simplicity in their state of “Original Holiness or Justice” to serving God’s will is deafeningly silent. It is sufficient only for God to describe them and the scenario as “very good” (1:31).
- God states that what He saw was “good” seven times in Chapter 1 (1:3,10,12,18,21,25,31); Harmony and perfection presides over all God’s creatures, with Man as their shepherd.
- Man was made in God’s own image, to shepherd over His creation (1:26).
- God’s orders His creatures to be fruitful as God intended them to be and fill the world with their presence to quell earthliness (1:28).
- Jesus through the Virgin Mary provides the light to our spiritual darkness; Therese promises to shed a shower of roses from Heaven; Charity is a cornerstone of holiness:
- Life for all of God’s creatures was straightforward and their task was only to fill the world with their goodness; Glory was only attained through God and not from ourselves:
- Everything was “good”; the power of goodness cannot be overlooked or underestimated; everything was made and done out of Love of God from His Love; God expects us to do and be good to honor Him in everything we do, no matter how small; Jesus says “Little Children, love one another, as I have loved you” (John 13:34):
- We are children of God born in His own image, which means we can only feel complete and contented being one with God, by doing His will (e.g. Virgin Mary’s “fiat” and “Thy will be done”); Therese says you need to be little and weak to have habitual fusion with Jesus (refer to Mt 18:4).
- St Therese’s autobiography “Story of a Soul” fulfills this divine order by bearing fruit from all over the world by using Christ as its vine (John 15:1).
The Holy Scriptures;
- God breathed life into the soil or dust to create Man (2:7):
- God created a special place for Man called the Garden of Eden, where He created a variety of trees; Central to the Garden were two trees, one of life the other of knowledge between good and evil (2:9).
- God instructs Man to tender the garden (2:15) but must not touch or eat from the tree of knowledge or else death becomes him (2:16); Note that there is only one condition (commandment) for living in paradise, Man’s original utopia!
- God sees that Adam’s loneliness and seeks a suitable companion for him (2:18,20).
- God empowers Adam to name His creatures and authorizes his decision (2:19).
- God creates a partner for Adam from one of his ribs, so that there can become one together (2:22;24)
- Adam and Eve were completely shameless and thus were looked upon as perfection in the eyes of God as He intended them to be so (2:25).
- God demonstrates the simplicity and power of His grace to create the wonder of life; The LW by design can harness the same breath of divine air that fills our lives with God’s grace as His “Spiritual Children”.
- God reserves a special place for His people, today we call this salvation in Heaven; LW is a straight path to Jesus Christ who represents the Tree of Life (John 1:23); Life’s simplicity naturally creates harmony and perfection, which draws God’s presence and mercy; Therese loved nature and animals, particularly roses, so she would of loved immensely being in the Garden of Eden and fitting perfectly within this idyllic habitat, without distraction!:
- God’s commandment became Jesus “He says listen to Him!”(Luke 9:35); LW encourages us to be virtuous to all God’s creation because we are blessed and we should avoid to sin:
- God provides, as a father for his children, to those who please Him and who rely on Him, even without request or petition, for He knows their needs and He through love will satisfy them;
- God gives man authority over his kingdom, this is why praying and caring for each other is expected by Him;
- Zelie and Louis Martin were model parents, as St Therese describes them as “Being more worthy of heaven than of earth”; This I am sure inspired her to understand the natural relationship of people with God:
- Holy purity and innocence comes from “simplicity” and “spiritual poverty” and not through deeds or accomplishments:
The Holy Scriptures;
- The serpent hoodwinks Adam and Eve and their eyes are opened to understand the difference between good and evil, the effects of disobeying God and eating from the tree of knowledge (3:1-6).
- They became ashamed and noticed their nakedness covering themselves with plants or fig leaves (3:7).
- God called for Adam who was in hiding ‘Where are you?’ (3:8). Adam confesses to his state of being to God (3:10). God then accuses him of wrong doing and enquirers as to how they knew that they were naked? (3:11).
- God says “What have you done?" indicating the hurt, the grief He felt by the betrayal (3:13)
- A trial ensues and God discovers the instigator the serpent’s guilt of the three parties He questions (3:12-13);
- God punishes all parties involved for retribution. The devastating stain of “Original Sin” enters the world. (3:14-19).
- God said to the condemned Serpent, that his descendants including people in-spirit will always be opposed and yet powerless against God’s people, whom are faithful to Him: (3:15).
- God gave man the garments of his fallen nature, so his image on the outside portrayed the skin of an animal or beast (contrary to this verse, Gen 2:20) rather than the image God intended him to have. Indicating that animals were to be sacrificed to cover or pay for man’s sins and to display his demoted status (3:21).
- Adam & Eve were banished from paradise and eternal life, to survive in the harshness of the wilderness, the price they paid for having the capacity to be Godly, acquired through Original Sin (3:22-24).
- LW is obedience simplifies and directs us towards the “Tree of Life”, Jesus Christ, through the Gospels; Jesus tells us “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except by me”(John 14:6):
- It is sufficient for us to put our trust and confidence in Our Lord Jesus Christ who doesn’t cover but takes away our sins in the sight of God, the Father:
- Fear and disunity enters the original parents consciousness so they look for excuses; Their lives in effect becomes complicated and harsh, not simple and peaceful:
- What have we done? To show thanksgiving to God’s grace, this in the world means everything!
- God “Loves the sinner, hates the sin”; God’s is only comforted through our prays and by doing penance for those who offend Him:
- Therese embraced joyously suffering “I have learned to find joy and sweetness in all that is bitter”(refer to Col. 1:24); By carrying her cross she knew that she was following Jesus and would find Him in all His glory; She also says “Let us offer our sufferings to Jesus for the salvation of souls.”
- Pray for those who are on the wrong side of this divide between good and bad; Pranzini was Therese’s first child, saved by her intercession; She enters Carmel to fulfill this vocation of saving souls and making Priests saints:
- We clothe ourselves in Jesus’ wounds who is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world and restores us to our original image, so that God the Father can elevate us back to Him:
- Humbleness is virtuous and our armor (our combat jacket) which will help us survive the dangers of our spiritual wilderness; Avoiding and being detached from the snares, pride tempts us towards through having knowledge and intellectual status, as being Godly opposes our route to holiness; St Therese teaches us, all that really matters is letting Jesus be your elevator to Heaven; Jesus says “Unless you be converted and become as little children you cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 18:3):
The Holy Scriptures;
- Cain a descendant of Adam & Eve, questions God’s favor and fails to understand the consequences of doing what is wrong compared to doing what is right (4:6-7). God’s advises him “you must master it (sin)” (4:7):
- Cain ignores the advice and kills Abel out of jealousy (4:8):
- God exclaims “What have you done?” for the second time to man (4:10). Again, God shows His hurt, His grief and annoyance of what man was doing:
- Cain struggles with his exposure to the danger and despair of being an outcast from God’s presence (4:14).
- Cain’s appeal drew sympathy from God and He issued a protection order promising His wrath to anyone who should harmed Cain (4:15). And so God withdraws his presence from Adam’s descendant (4:16), due to the hurt caused to God’s heart.
- Cain seems lost, but if we abandon ourselves to God we will find peace; LW focuses very much on doing right and avoiding sin, everything else to left to God’s providence and mercy;
- LW makes us look internally and not externally, to compare ourselves against Jesus’ model and not against each other; Therefore avoiding any negative emotion of being less well off as loving God makes it impossible to be so; Therese says “Since Jesus has gone to Heaven now, I can only follow the traces He has left behind.”:
- What have we done? To show our belief and our love for God; God
- looks for acts of virtues constantly:
- Pray to God and offer Him our problems like a child running to their parents for comfort, protection and sympathy; Therese says of the Eucharist “I desire Him to come for His own pleasure, not for mine”:
- God cannot help Himself but to show his love for us, who are weak and timid; His mercy is so vast that He is sure to respond to our call if we turn to Him like a beggar with outstretched hands:
The Holy Scriptures;
- With the increase in people, God says “My Spirit will not contend with [a] man forever, for he is mortal” (6:3).
- God saw the level man's wickedness had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time (6:5):
- God grieves and is distraught at what we have become. His heart is filled with pain to such a extent that He decides to destroy the very things He created (6:7,11,12):
- Except Noah who was righteous and blameless (6:9):
- God tells Noah to build an ark so to avoid destruction (6:13-21).
- Noah obeyed all that was expected from him (6:22):
- Therese says that “We only have this life to prove our love for Him”:
- Pray for sinners and do penance as the very smallest act of virtue could open their hearts to God’s love, to change their ways:
- LW helps us to be what we truly are “God’s children” with a destiny of life and promise; Not a destiny of sin that leads ultimately to death and dust from where we came:
- Noah’s example is rewarded by God; this is part of God’s promise, His Truth if you like; That He will always save His people, who have faith in Him and who obey His laws:
- LW helps us build or construct our lives in the way God intended us to; So that we too may be saved from His wrath; Therese said to her spiritual Brother Fr Belliere “When I will be in port, I will teach you, dear little Brother of my soul, how you should sail the stormy sea of the world with the abandonment and the love of a child who knows his Father cherishes it and would be unable to leave him in the hour of danger. Ah! How I would like to make you understand the tenderness of the Heart of Jesus, what He expects of you.”:
- LW helps us obey all that is expected from us by God, through His Son, Jesus Christ:
The Holy Scriptures;
- God requests Noah to use the ark to save clean and righteous creatures only (7:1-4):
- God establishes a covenant with Noah and his descendants to populate the earth as He will never again use floods to cause mayhem. Rainbows would be God’s sign of this bond with mankind (7:14-17).
- The awesomeness of God’s mercy is shown through giving us His only begotten son, Jesus Christ and the Immaculate Mary, Our Mother who is today’s Ark; she provides a refuge to all God’s people by leading us down the path of Truth and Salvation through her Son.
- The Cross is our “rainbow” and covenant, the sign that promises everlasting salvation; the genius of St Therese’s Little Way is that the path she outlines is open to every one of us to follow; as we have only this life to prove our worthiness. She says "We have only the short moment of this life to give to God, and He is already preparing to say: 'Now, my turn'."
+ God is Love and mercy; He is goodness. He only expects the same from us;
+ A sister at her Carmel made the comment what has Sister Therese done we can write about in her Obituary? I am sure that this was a completely innocent remark from a visibly enthused Carmelite nun. However, she raises an excellent point upon reflecting upon the answer. Especially when one compares her life with the lives of Our Blessed Virgin Mary and St Joseph whose roles are mentioned fleetingly in Holy Scriptures, the Bible’s New Testament. But through their love of God and fortitude of duty to serve through the eyes of God, they played an essential part in the salvation of humanity. Let’s assume it’s theologically correct to say that “The Story of a Soul” is a biographical homage akin to the Blessed Virgin Mary’s “Magnificat” that begins “My soul glorifies the Lord… (Luke 1:46-55);
+ This is why “The Little Way” is so powerful because it appeals to God’s heart from where He found the inspiration to create heaven and earth. Hence “Little” in the “Little Way” should be looked upon in the same context as when Venerate Fulton J Sheen’s talked about love, happiness and a person’s heart. He said “When God made your human heart, He found it so good and so lovable that He kept a small piece of it in heaven. He sent the rest of it into this world to enjoy His gifts, and to use them as stepping stones back to Him, but to be ever mindful that you can never love anything in this world with our whole heart because you have not a whole heart with which to love. In order to love anyone with your whole heart, in order to be really peaceful, in order to be really wholehearted, you must go back again to God to recover the piece He has been keeping from all eternity!”;
St Therese loved with her whole heart and I am truly thankful that she wrote about how she loved God and everything that belonged to Him.