Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Love proved by deeds: Memorial for Theresa of the Cross

     (January 2, 1873 – September 30, 1897)

“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.” 

― St. Thérèse de Lisieux


Today, we are celebrating Therese,  one of the Church's most beloved daughters - Next to Mother Mary, probably the most prayed to woman in the Communion of Saints!- .Despite the fact that her own desires to follow the path of priesthood could not be fulfilled in this Church she so loved, she was able to cultivate a life of love and charity in our world, so much so that her 'little ways' continue to be admired by millions -even non Catholics!- today.  

Born in France in 1873 she was raised in  a very pious family. She chose contemplative life at the age of 15,  like her two older sisters before her, and entered the Carmel of Lisieux. In addition to religious responsibilities, St. Therese was a writer. She penned an autobiography, poetry, letters, and prayers. Her poems give praise to God for His unfailing love and speak to her desire to model her life after Christ. Also, St. Therese lived this devotion in “little ways,” becoming known as the “Little Flower of Jesus.” She died at the young age of 24, but her writings continue to inspire the faithful. St. Therese was canonized in 1925 by Pius XI and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1997.

Reflections:  I don't usually use this blog to speak about current events, but it's hard for me to avoid talking about the great spirit of reform coming out of Rome these days. Thankfully, the changes that Pope Francis seems to be inspiring have nothing to do with what the secular society and Media want to see in the Church, and everything to do  with this Church going back to her roots in following Jesus with profound simplicity, love, and care for others,  while staying open to exploring how the She can have an even more  positive impact  in this world. (in truth, the Roman Catholic Church already has that  positive impact on our world. However, I guarantee you Francis would argue it's not enough, and we can do more!)

 And as we set out on this journey of reform,  millions of people (both Catholic and non Catholic alike apparently!) will have opinions of what the Church should be doing to making the world a better place, and will probably voice that opinion on a weekly basis.. But as valuable as those opinions may be,  it's not to these, but to people like St Theresa that we will have to be turning to.  She has paved the way for us, showing us that it's not the big ambitious plans, but the daily little deeds of love that bring us closer to God.  The big gestures will be appreciated and important, but they'll be meaningless if they don't come from a place of love.  If God is truly to be with us in this time of reform, it isn't the thunder and lightning that will change hearts and minds of others (thus the rebuke that Jesus offers his disciples in today's readings) but a testimony of humility, meekness, and affection for our world and those in it. It's what Theresa did for the short 24 years she was on earth, and it's what Pope Francis is inviting us to do almost every week.  How we as Catholics respond is what will really determine where this Church will go.  Let us hope the people are up to the task of carrying the Church, and the Spirit of Theresa, well beyond the 21st century.

 Zechariah 8:20-23

20 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘It will yet be that peoples will come, even the inhabitants of many cities. 21 The inhabitants of one will go to another, saying, “Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts; I will also go.” 22 So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord.’ 23 Thus says theLord of hosts, ‘In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”’

Responsorial Psalm, Psalms 87:1-3, 4-5, 6-7

1 [Of the sons of Korah Psalm Song] With its foundations on the holy mountains,
2 Yahweh loves his city, he prefers the gates of Zion to any dwelling-place in Jacob.
3 He speaks of glory for you, city of God,Pause (Selah)
4 'I number Rahab and Babylon among those that acknowledge me; look at Tyre, Philistia, Ethiopia, so and so was born there.'
5 But of Zion it will be said, 'Every one was born there,' her guarantee is the Most High.
6 Yahweh in his register of peoples will note against each, 'Born there',Pause
7 princes no less than native-born; all make their home in you.

Gospel, Luke 9:51-56

51 Now it happened that as the time drew near for him to be taken up, he resolutely turned his face towards Jerusalem
52 and sent messengers ahead of him. These set out, and they went into a Samaritan village to make preparations for him,
53 but the people would not receive him because he was making for Jerusalem.
54 Seeing this, the disciples James and John said, 'Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to burn them up?'
55 But he turned and rebuked them,

56 and they went on to another village.

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