The Little Way


Susanna VanVickle // Genius of the Call

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October 1  

Holiness is not one exercise or another. It consists in a disposition of the heart, which renders us humble and little in the hands of God, conscious of our weakness, but confident—even daringly confident—in God’s goodness.”- St. Therese of Lisieux

For my family, the month of October starts the beginning of our “new normal.” We pray for the best as my twins begin their life-long regimen of Enzyme Replacement Therapy and we begin to walk the long road of visits with specialists, medical testing, and waiting on results. It is a time of going deep into unchartered waters, not confident in our own abilities, but confident in God’s faithfulness.

In face of the uncertainty and suffering that this season holds, I am comforted by the feast of a little saint with enormous trust. St. Therese of Lisieux has been dear to me since childhood as the patroness of missionaries. Unlike her co-patron, St. Francis Xavier, who is said to have baptized 100,000 people into the faith, Therese never preached or traveled. Although she longed to be a warrior, a martyr, or a missionary evangelist, God asked something radically different of her. In her obedience and confidence, Therese’s “little way” of love transformed the world from within the walls of Carmel’s cloister.

So, today, as I gear up to drive my teenage sons to their own enclosure within hospital walls, for the first of many six-hour I.V. infusions, I’m reminded that God uses our discomfort, self-denial, and weakness. I think of his plan to stretch me and my sons through suffering. I think of the value of small things done with love. I think of my own mother prompting me as a child to “offer up” my pain. I think of St. Therese’s patient endurance of both agonizing illness and small annoyances. I think of the peace she experienced because of her total confidence in our loving Lord. I think of the Blessed Mother watching her son in torment and trusting God in the midst of her real and undeniable ache.

St. Paul assures us, “All things work together for the good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28).  Not only is Jesus with us, he is also using this to conform us to himself.  And so, despite my innate desire to stand between my kids and their affliction, I look to the loving God whose every gift is for our good, and I ask him to teach me trust. 

Lord, help me to have the spirit of humility, self-denial, and total confidence that Saint Therese lived, even when I feel stretched beyond my strength.  

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