Today Christians the world over celebrate an unlikely “celebrity” of the Church. For someone reading a sketch of her life for the first time – just the facts – St. Therese of Lisieux would appear to be no one special, although tragic maybe, because she only lived until the age of 24 years, having contracted tuberculosis at a young age. What one learns, however, in studying her own writings and the evidence in other sources, is that she is one of the most popular saints in the history of Christianity. How is this possible for someone who entered a cloistered Carmelite community at the age of 15 years and lived a daily routine of prayer and household tasks until her death nine years later?
Clearly, the only answer can be love, a great fire that fueled kindness to her sisters in religion, attentiveness to prayer, outreach in letters to soldiers and all to whom she wrote to inspire them with confidence in God’s protection and care. Her love for God and all others in God permeated her young life with mystical visions and contemplation on the sufferings of Christ to whom she was united from early childhood. She desired only to serve God in little, ordinary ways, which she did in the convent where she was not easily accepted.
A lesson for us is the way that Therese approached life and all of her daily tasks. She simply opened her eyes to what was in front of her and saw God in every person and every moment. She did not fret over what was not done, or done perfectly. She just offered everything without concern. Those of us who are so concerned with outcomes would do well to reflect today on the following quote from the one who is fondly called “Little Theresa.”
To the right and to the left, I throw to my little birds the good grain that God places in my hands. And then I let things take their course! I busy myself with it no more. Sometimes, it’s just as though I had thrown nothing; at other times, it does some good. But God tells me: “Give, give always, without being concerned with the results.”