Discovering my patron saint for April was an unexpected delight. I’d enjoyed learning about my other saints, St Lawrence of Brindisi and St Margaret the Dragon-Slayer. But I’m a little more familiar with St Thérèse.
Or should I say she’s more familiar with me?
Truthfully, I think of St Thérèse as my novice mistress. In her life, she was the novice mistress at the Carmel in Lisieux and she guided many young women to a deeper love for and union with our Lord. That’s what I want too. I want to be able to say with the Little Flower,
O my God, You know I have never desired but to love You alone. I seek no other glory.
A lot of people think of her as the sickly sweet, overly emotional French nun — and she is. But there is a fierceness to St Thérèse beneath her talk of lilies and snowdrops. For Thérèse, the sweetest joys are found in the hidden pricks of sacrifice. Now, I’m not going to be a Carmelite nun. (At least I don’t think so!) But I am still a novice sister in the temple of my Lord and God.
So what is my dear sister Thérèse trying to tell me?
It’s quite simple.
Return to your first love.
Run to the Lord and let Him love you. Go back to Jesus in the Eucharist and humble yourself before Him. Let Him love you with the overwhelming passion you desire. Don’t just seek the courts of the Lord. Seek His face. Seek His smile.
He loves you, beloved, if only you’d let yourself be loved. But God’s love is so great that we can only receive it by becoming very small. The littler we are, the bigger our hearts and the more room for Jesus to stretch out in our souls.
Stir up within yourself a desire to please God. You delight Him. You bring a smile to His Face by your acts of love. Take each opportunity to do good and make it a chance to bring joy to our Lord. Did you know you exercise such a tyranny over the Lord of the universe? In love, He makes Himself our own and thirsts for our love. Give Him to drink. Love Him who desires only our love.
Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.
So put aside anger. Put away resentment. Practice gentleness. Choose humility.
And entrust yourself to the merciful love of Jesus.
He is a consuming fire. A furnace. An abyss. A fount of mercy. Plunge yourself into His depths and watch as the dross is melted away. It’s not easy. In fact it’s painful but see, that pain as good. It’s a purifying pain. No discipline is pleasant at the time but afterwards it yields a harvest of riches. Do not take your eyes of His face. Fix your eyes on Him who, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross. What was that joy? You are that joy. Every person, created in the image of Divine Love, is His joy. You are the joy of God and He would willingly endure it all again for your sake.
So be little, my little one, and rejoice in your weaknesses, because when you are little, God is mighty. When you are weak, then He is strong. When you have nothing but Him, He is your everything.
Then, overcome by joy, I cried, ‘Jesus, my love. At last I have found my vocation. My vocation is love. In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love, and then I will be all things.
Return to the love of Jesus, burning for you in the Blessed Sacrament and poured out in abundant mercies.
Love Him as He deserves to be loved.
St Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, pray for us!