Let me introduce you to my heavenly friend and companion St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
You have likely met her already, as she is rather popular in Catholic circles. When I was 14 years old, I was confirmed and chose her as my patron saint. I would like to say I prayerfully considered all my options, but really it came down this: I liked the name Thérèse and wanted it to be part of my name too.
The truth is, St. Thérèse would become one of my closest companions and inspirations as I grew spiritually throughout my life.
I have no doubt that despite my selfish reasons for choosing her as a patron, she had, in fact, chosen me and had already been walking right along with me and was patiently waiting for me to know of her presence and intercession.
It wasn’t until my early twenties that I really began to study the life and writings of St. Thérèse. Upon reading her autobiography, Story of a Soul, I came to realize that we seemed to share a similar melancholic temperament:
- Prone to discouragement
Yep, I can confidently assure you that I struggle with all of those tendencies.
I found it oddly comforting to learn that Thérèse struggled with these same shortcomings from childhood. And yet, she became a saint. Not only a saint but a Doctor of the Church! Thérèse showed me that in God’s mercy, He allows our imperfections to become the very means of our sanctification.
I will say it again, God uses our imperfections to sanctify us.
You guys, that means that we don’t have to be perfect to be SAINTS!! And Thérèse shows us through her wisdom and life that it is precisely in our littleness, in our weakness and in our imperfections, that we can come to depend on the Father to grow in virtue and attain holiness. It is only through the mercy of God that I can turn my selfishness into selflessness and transform my critical, moody, and despondent attitude into compassion, mercy, and love for others.
Thérèse shows that we also do not have to perform wondrous deeds to become a saint.
In fact, she assures us that if we complete our small daily sacrifices and duties with great love, we can attain sanctification. It is not in spite of our mundane, daily tasks that we have the opportunity to grow and attain holiness, but precisely because of them.
Now this is a path to sainthood that I can relate to, and this is likely why, long before I knew her, she beckoned to me and called me into a friendship with her.
So, I leave you with this letter from St. Thérèse in which she gives us practical advice on how to live a life of selfishness, hope, and joyful acceptance. May we truly cherish who we are in the eyes of God, and may we remember that when we approach God as a child, He will scoop us up and use our every action, big or small, to glorify Himself and sanctify us.
(Note: St. Thérèse did not actually write this letter as seen here. The following letter is my compilation of her many thought provoking words which can be found in her various works such as Story of a Soul.)
The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of it’s scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness. Holiness consists simply in doing God’s will, and being just what God wants us to be. We must strive to do what little we can, with what little we have, in the place we are now, with the greatest possible love. Miss no single opportunity to make some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love. When things that are irritable or disagreeable befall me, instead of assuming an air of sadness, I respond by a smile. At first I was not always successful, but now it is a habit which I am very happy to have acquired. I know now that true charity consists in bearing all of our neighbors’ defects—not being surprised at their weakness, but edified at their smallest virtues. And it is the Lord, it is Jesus, Who is my judge. Therefore I will try always to think leniently of others, that He may judge me leniently, or rather not at all, since He says: “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged.”
Your Sister in Christ,
Thérèse of Lisieux
St. Thérèse, sister and friend, pray for us!