My Dear Friends,
This coming Friday, October 1, we celebrate the Feast Day of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, the Little Flower; our patronal feast! Next month we also celebrate our parish’s 95th Anniversary. Back in October 1926, Monsignor Thomas Comber took possession of Church of the Little Flower as its founding pastor. In order to celebrate this milestone anniversary, a couple of weeks ago I asked Archbishop Wenski if we could celebrate the Feast of St. Thérèse on Sunday, October 3 to afford all our parishioners the opportunity to celebrate our patron saint when we gather together for Sunday Mass. The Archbishop graciously granted this request and congratulated our parish for reaching our 95th anniversary. So, when you come to Mass next weekend, our priests will be celebrating the Mass of St. Thérèse and the readings will be the proper for this feast day instead of the readings for the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time. The readings will be printed in the bulletin and throughout the bulletin you will find prayers from St. Thérèse, a quick biography and more importantly a catechesis of St. Thérèse’s “Little Way” which I will begin explaining with this column.
As a parish named after the Little Flower, it is important for us to know who St. Thérèse was and to familiarize ourselves with what made St. John Paul II declare this young saint a doctor of the Church. Last Monday, I asked Sister Rosalie, who is a Carmelite Sister just like Thérèse, a simple question: “How would you explain “The Little Way”? This was her response:
St. Therese had great desires to be a saint, a missionary, a martyr but she would never say that she herself was “great”. She saw herself little in the eyes of God and that “little way” was what was going to help her obtain the greatness of a saint. Daily she sought to be great through her littleness and weakness…not only to be little and weak but to use those attributes to depend on God for everything…this was her “little way” of confidence and love. How did she practice this? By self-forgetfulness and love through those daily acts that we would normally think are insignificant: smiling at the one who is the most frustrating; cleaning the dishes without telling anyone; offering to help someone when the schedule is tight… and more can be described. St. Therese’s “Little Way” is an imitation of Christ to a heroic virtue: “Whatever you do for the least of these, you do it to me” (Matt. 25:40).
Embracing our littleness is something that goes against our instincts and against our society that places so much emphasis on being the best. Being the best Christian is precisely placing the needs of others before our own. As Sister said, we must see ourselves as little before God and before our brothers and sisters. We must always regard our neighbor as more important than ourselves. Like our Lord, we must be the servant of all. We accomplish this by doing little things, little acts of love that may go unnoticed. St. Thérèse wrote in her Story of a Soul: “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.”
As we prepare for our 95th Anniversary, let us model our lives after our patroness and her “Little Way.” I invite you this week to meditate on this spiritual path that led Thérèse to greatness by simply being the least.
God bless you all,