SAINT THÉRESE OF LISIEUX
Like a child
Let us allow the Saint to speak for herself: “I can aspire to holiness, despite my smallness. To make myself bigger is impossible! I must bear with myself just as I an, with my countless imperfections, but I want to find a way of going to heaven by a little path that is very straight, very short, a little way that is altogether new. We are living in a century of inventions. Now we no longer need to climb stairs. In the homes of the wealthy an elevator takes the place of a staircase. As for me, I should also like to find an elevator to lift me up to Jesus; for I am too little to climb the rugged stairway of perfection.”
“And so I have looked in the Sacred Books for some clue to the elevator that is the object of my desire. And I read these words from the very lips of Eternal Wisdom: ‘If anyone is very small, let him crane to me.’ Then I approached God, quite sure that I had discovered what I was looking for: ‘As one whom the mother caresseth, so will I comfort you. And I shall hold you on my knees’” (cf. Isa. 66:13, 12).
“Ah! Never did more tender, more melodious words cane to delight my soul. It is Your arms, O Jesus: that are the elevator which will take me up to heaven. For this, I do not need to grow any bigger. On the contrary, I must remain small, I must become smaller and smaller. O my God., You have exceeded my expectations, and I for my part want to sing Your mercies:” (Histoire d’une ậme, Chapter 9).
“Give me some of this water”
Thus speaks the Lord:
“I will not take a calf out of thy house nor he-goats of thy flocks: for all the beasts of the woods are mine, the thousands of beasts in my mountains…
“If I should be hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine and the fullness thereof. Shall I eat the flesh of bulls, or shall I drink the blood of goats? Offer to God the sacrifice of praise, and pay thy vows to the Most High” (Ps. 49:9-14).
“This, then, is all that Jesus demands of us! He does not need our works, but only our love. This same God who declares He has no need to tell us when He is hungry did, not fear to beg a little water from the Samaritan woman. He was thirsty! But when He said: ‘Give me to drink,’ He, the Creator of the universe, was asking for the love of His poor creatures. He was thirsty for love!
“Yes, now more than ever Jesus is, parched with thirst. He finds only ingrates and heartless men among the disciples of’ the world. And among His own disciples He finds –alas! – very few hearts who surrender themselves without reservation to the tenderness of His infinite Love” (Histoire d’une ậme, Chapter 11).
“You busy yourself too much”
“Souls afire with love cannot remain inactive. Of course, like Saint Magdalen, contemplative souls remain at the feet of Jesus, listening to His sweet and impassioned words. Although they appear to give nothing, they give much more than Martha who torments herself with many things. However, it was not Martha’s works that Jesus condemned, but only her anxiety. His divine Mother humbly accepted to perform these very same works, since she had to prepare the meals of the Holy Family.”
“It is above all the Gospel that nourishes me during my mental prayer. There I find everything that is necessary for my poor little soul. I am always discovering new lights in it, hidden and mysterious meanings. I understand and I know from experience that the kingdom of God is within us. Jesus needs no books or teachers to instruct souls. He, the Doctor of doctors, teaches without noise of words. I have never heard Him speak; but I know that He is within me. At every instant, He guides and inspires me. At the very moment I need them, I become aware of lights hitherto unknown” (Histoire d’une ậme, Chapter 8).
“Have pity on me, Lord!”
“Holiness does not consist in this or that practice, but in a disposition of heart that makes us humble and small in the arms of God, conscious of our weakness and confident to the point of boldness in His Fatherly kindness” (Novissima Verba).
From the Spiritual Directory of The Society of the Missionaries the Holy Apostles, 1962