Monday, October 1, 2012

A Little Flower Power

St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face
Have you ever felt like there are so many changes you'd like to make in the world, but you've really got so little control over anything?  Have you ever had the nagging feeling that there are powerful forces at work--politically, economically, culturally, etc.--that are pushing our country and our world in the wrong directions, and there's not much you can do about it?  Perhaps closer to home, have you ever been frustrated that you're not making your immediate daily life better--in terms of stronger relationships and deeper friendships?

But haven't you also had the sense that there must be some little ways we can make a difference? 

How about a Little Way to change the world?  St. Therese of Lisieux, who entered the convent as a teenager and died at age 24 leaving only her spiritual autobiography, became affectionately known as the "Little Flower" precisely because of her piercing insights into this Little Way.  It's the Way of spiritual childhood, of loving trust in our heavenly Father.  It's the Way of fulfilling our small, seemingly insignificant daily duties with great love. 

This Way, of course, comes directly from Jesus himself.  The Word made flesh reveals that God is not some impersonal and arbitrary life-force who winds up the cosmos and lets things play out randomly and meaninglessly.   Jesus reveals the merciful love of the Father and then tells us, "unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 18:3).

Our heavenly Father is simply waiting for his beloved children to turn to him and to entrust themselves to his providential love.  Each day.  Each hour.  Each moment of each hour of each day.  Therese's Little Way is simply a matter of confident trust in the love of the Father, and then a humble, loving response, in each circumstance and moment of our daily lives.  In her autobiography, Therese wrote that "LOVE, IN FACT, IS THE VOCATION WHICH INCLUDES ALL OTHERS; IT'S A UNIVERSE OF ITS OWN, COMPRISING ALL TIME AND SPACE--IT'S ETERNAL" (quoted in the CCC, n. 826; the emphasis is hers!).

How can we change the world, and change our daily worlds, and contribute to the Church's mission to bring all people home to the Father?  The Little Flower reminds us that it's simply a matter of self-giving and self-sacrificing love.  If we turn away from and leave behind our grasping for control and fears about an unknown future, our eyes will be opened to those in need in our daily life, moment by moment.  We don't need to worry about being holy for the rest of our lives; we just need to respond to God's grace now, wherever we are presently planted.

Becoming like a child--indeed, becoming like this child--will open our eyes to see his Holy Face in those we meet.  And the Little Flower assures us that our heavenly Father will take care of the rest!