If I were to introduce myself, it would go somewhat like this: I am impulsive, sensitive, stubborn, silly, love all that is yummy to my tummy (or rather my tongue) and would do my best to bring joy to the people I truly care about. However, I’m not here to share about myself, but about a little saint who in a few ways was like me, and in other ways, inspired me to desire something greater. That little saint is Saint Therese-the Little Flower whom I was briefly introduced to in school and again more concretely about 4 years ago through reading her autobiography “The Story of a Soul”.
St. Therese of Lisieux loved her parents so much that she would say, “Poor darling mamma, I do wish you were dead!”, and on being scolded she would excuse herself by telling her mother,
“It’s only because then you will go to heaven; you told me that you have to die to go there!”
So pure, deep and tender was her love, that even now I’m unable to fathom its intensity.
As I said earlier, I am a lover of all things yummy, so I was surprised when I read about how she wanted to run and give a cake to a poor old cripple when he refused to take the penny she offered. She was only 6 years old then and wanted to do something for the old man, but she was too frightened to do this and later felt horrible about it. If I were her, I would have left it at that, but she went one step further. She made up her mind that she would pray for the old man on the day of her First Holy Communion and five years later, she did just that! No one asked her to do it, no one needed to remind her. It was a selfless act of love that drove her to such a commitment.
Her love even extended to those who would seem to us, incapable of loving back or changing.
When she was a novitiate, there was a certain nun in the convent who troubled her in everything she did. Though this sister was the cause of a lot of struggle for little Therese, she kept praying for her. Now that is something I would do. I can think of quite a few people I would pray for who seem to give me a hard time. But that was not all she did, for she writes,
“I reminded myself that sentiments of charity were not enough; they must find expression, and I set myself to treat her as if I loved her best of all”.
Human as she was, sometimes, when she couldn’t handle the temptation to answer back sharply or reveal her inner struggle, she would run away. To me, this first seemed like a losing battle, but as I read on I realised what a fool I was, for she writes,
“She(the nun) said to me one day, her face radiant: What do you find so attractive in me? Whenever we meet, you give me such a generous smile”.
For all my spiritual battles this has been the hardest of all, but it has also been the most fruitful, starting first in small moments of great blessing in my family and then among those I have worked with.
Of all things that could be loved, she always strived to love more. It was this overflowing of love that gave her the grace to think of those who were far, unseen, unheard and unknown. She loved the criminal, she loved the priests, in short, she loved every soul that Christ loved. So much so, she took upon herself her saintly vocation when she said,
“I feel that my mission is soon to begin, to make others love God as I do, to teach others my ‘little way’. I will spend my Heaven in doing good on earth…”
Her little way did attract my little heart, for I believe that she looked upon my soul at a time I was completely lost and through her intercession, I was able to learn and I’m still learning what it means to love God intimately. To be so entwined in Him that my will should dissolve in His. I started learning what it means to die not just once, but every day to myself till His joy, His desire, His pain and everything that is His, becomes mine.
I believe that her little way led me to become a full-time missionary worker for CFCI, as well as to get married to one, and we decided to take her as our family patron saint by receiving the sacrament of matrimony on 1st October 2017 which is her feast day. Ever since then, we have seen her work not only in our personal lives but our missionary lives as well. Every moment we were lacking in love, she has dropped a rose for us and led us back to Him whose love is everlasting.
I am yet to find my saintly vocation. But until then, I know she is there to remind me and encourage me to love as Christ loved and to die as Christ died.