(Psalm 26) That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving…
For Thanksgiving I reacquainted myself with Therese of Lisieux, the little flower. The Little Flower is probably a misnomer because she never tolerated sentimentality, piety or religious affectation. But she was destined to be a fragrant and audacious flower for Christ.
She says that in her immaturity she desired public martyrdom, she desired the grand gesture. But it never worked out. Instead she entered an anonymous and humble convent.
Here, in her small cloister, she says she “habitually failed”. But here is where she grew into that little flower. In the absence of the crowd, in life together in a small community, in the presence of ordinary goodness and ordinary pettiness, she learned “her little way”.
She discovered herself in Christ through the smallest of acts, in the smallest of tasks, in the most mundane events, but also in misunderstandings, in personal slights, and in mistreatment.
There seems to be an unhealthy aspect of her quietude in the face of personal injustices and great physical suffering. But how can I judge her when this is what seemed to drive her deeper into the heart and mystery of Christ. Besides, she never saw the fruit in opposition. Her peace of heart and mind, which was her compass, came more often in “suffering” the thing.
She died when she was 24 years old, “with a thankful heart”. She gave her life to what was, and for her it was suffering, not because she desired suffering, but because it was her unique vehicle toward life with and in Christ.
Her “Story of a Soul”–which she rejoiced in having published because it told of all God’s favour and love for her–is far removed from me, but I do identify with her when she says, “I am far from living up to my ideal, and yet the very desire to do so gives me a feeling of peace.”