Parishioner Jeanne Speanburg very generously offered to write about St. Therese of Lisieux for November, this month of saints.
Like so many others, I was captivated at a young age by St. Therese of the Child Jesus, also known as St. Therese of Lisieux, or The Little Flower. I remember reading a book about her in about 3rd or 4th grade and promptly deciding I wanted to become a Carmelite nun. My calling to religious life was quickly forgotten, however, as I grew up and discovered boys. My fascination with St. Therese returned when I read a biography about her when I was a stay at home Mom. The Story of a Life: St. Theresa of Lisieux by Guy Gaucher not only told the story of her life but had photographs of her as well. Recently I read the autobiography of St. Therese, The Story of a Soul, and again was struck by the simplicity and holiness of this remarkable saint.
In her short life of just 24 years, St. Therese lived a sheltered life, first with her family and then in a Carmelite Monastery, entering at the age of 15. Her life was quite ordinary and she never fulfilled her dream of being a missionary, yet she became a saint and was named a Doctor of the Church. She lived a simple life, yet the way she lived it was not. She worked hard at loving Jesus, first of all, and loving the sisters she lived with. She put her own preferences aside, deliberately choosing to do what she did not want to do as a way of showing love. This sounds very simple, but it is extremely hard to do. By living an ordinary life with great love, she showed us a way to be holy in our own ordinary lives. She called it her “little way” and it is what makes her so easy to relate to and so inspiring. St. Therese is a saint we can all try to emulate by putting our own self interests aside and striving to love Jesus and the people in our lives.
Isaiah 49: 8-15 (All of today’s readings can be found here.)
Sometimes we are so involved in our own problems that we cannot see beyond them. Our struggles become our only reality and nothing else seems to exist. Today’s scripture from Isaiah is like this. The first part of the scripture relates all the ways that God will help and comfort his people. He promises to restore their land, provide for their needs, free the prisoners, and bring into the light those in darkness. He even says he will cut a road through the mountains and make the highways level to ease their journey.
The people respond by saying “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” It is almost as if they were not listening, or perhaps could not believe the promises the Lord had just made to them. They are mired in their own problems and have lost hope. God’s response is one of such gentleness and affection that it must awaken them from their negative reality.
“Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget, I will never forget you.”
What a beautiful maternal image of God. God is so often portrayed as our father that we may overlook this maternal image. Like a mother, God is tender, comforting and merciful. God is always with us, will never forsake us, is always on our side and wants only the best for us. How blessed we are to have a God who loves us unconditionally!
Filed under Lent, Lent 2013
Song of Songs 2:10-13
My lover speaks; he says to me,
“Arise, my beloved, my dove, my beautiful one,
“For see, the winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of pruning the vines has come,
and the song of the dove is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance.
Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one,
These words are beautiful to read, but difficult for me to imagine God saying to me. They are so personal, so intimate, and yet I know they are words that God speaks to each one of us. Words we long to hear; words we need to hear even if they may embarrass us with their intimacy.
Our community and our nation have recently experienced the deaths of so many innocent, young victims and we are grieving. Grief can be all consuming and it is hard to see an end to the pain. This scripture offers us hope that the winter of our grief will pass and we will heal so we can go on with life. It gives us a picture that life will someday be beautiful again. In the midst of our grief, the hope of God can be our lifeline during the difficult days ahead. Hope will sustain us during the slow, painful process of healing and someday we will again see beauty in our world.