I’ve been re-reading St. Therese’s autobiography, The Story of a Soul. Almost at the beginning she writes about her view of the “world of souls” as a flower garden. She is one little flower in it, surrounded by others. Each has its own size, color, strength, and beauty.
“[God] has created the great saints who are like the lilies and the roses, but He has also created much lesser saints and they must be content to be the daisies or the violets which rejoice His eyes whenever He glances down. Perfection consists in doing His will, in being that which He wants us to be.”
It’s easy to have spiritual envy. We read about the graces God gave St. Therese and think, “That’s not fair. Why didn’t He give such graces to me? I’d like to be a saint too.”
But notice that Therese does not mention any soul in God’s garden who was not made to be a saint–just greater and lesser saints. We all have different graces, but we are all called to be saints.
Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.
Last December, I began a quest to trust God more. It started with my reading The Way of Trust and Love by Jacques Philippe. You can read my original post on St. Therese’s trust here. (I know I link to this post a lot, but that’s because I consider it among my best. Trust is the Lesson from the Carmelite Saints that is changing my life. If you haven’t read it, I strongly encourage you to do so.)
Later, I told you how I was focusing on trusting God in the ups and downs of my day during Lent.
More recently, I have worked on entrusting my future to God. This next step began with my reading Diary of a Country Mother by Cindy Montanaro. It’s the journal of a mother reflecting on the life of her young son who has recently died. As I hinted in my review, I have struggled with entrusting my children’s futures to God. I hear of so many parents who have lost a child. Two of my siblings died in childhood. My former roommate’s daughter died at age four. Some of my readers have blogs about their losses.
Then there are the adults I know who have left the faith. Three people in my immediate family are non-practicing. Most families I know have at least one wayward member. (My husbands’ family is a rare but encouraging exception).
Shortly after finishing Cindy’s book, I picked up Left to Tell: Finding God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza. Immaculee lost nearly all her family to genocide. Friends and neighbors turned into deadly enemies. Yet, not only did she keep her faith–she was able to forgive the murderers.
Read the rest at Contemplative Homeschool.
Are you afraid of standing before God on Judgment Day? Does the thought of facing Him make you fear death? Even if you’ve committed mortal sin in your lifetime, you only have to fear God in one circumstance–if you die unrepentant, or with no intention of confessing your sin as soon as possible. Here’s how my husband, St. Therese, and Mr. Darcy taught me to think of the Final Judgment with peace.
My husband and I met through Single Catholics Online (now Ave Maria Singles). After emailing and talking on the phone for several weeks, we decided to meet in person. As I was preparing for our first date, my hands shook from nervousness. I told myself, “There’s nothing to worry about. It’s just Dan.” We had gotten along great in our conversations. We already knew a lot about each other. We were friends. We were old enough to have been completely genuine with each other, rather than acting a part. What did I have to fear? If it wasn’t God’s will for our relationship to deepen, it wouldn’t happen, but I knew Dan would not reject me as a person. Most (I’ll admit–not all) of my nervousness disappeared at these thoughts.
Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.
What is Carmelite spirituality? A couple of readers have asked me this question, and I assume several more have wondered and not asked. So I’m going to write this as a post (for maximum visibility and readership), then make it a permanent page soon.
Carmelite spirituality stems from the teaching and lifestyle of one of the oldest surviving religious orders in the Catholic Church. Like the Franciscans, Jesuits, Dominicans, and others, the Carmelites have a particular way of living out the faith, which has been approved by the Church. St. Therese of Lisieux, one of the best-beloved saints of our age, was a Carmelite nun.
From ancient Mt. Carmel to medieval EuropeIn the 12th century, a group of Christian hermits settled on Mt. Carmel, where the prophet Elijah had once lived in a cave. St. Albert of Jerusalem wrote a rule of life for them to follow. They built a monastery and came together for prayer, but each lived in his own cell. They dedicated their oratory to Mary, becoming known as the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mt. Carmel.
As always, tensions were high in the Middle East at this time. Soon the Carmelite brothers left the Holy Land for Europe. There they assumed an active life–that is, living and working in the world. Blessed John Soreth established the Carmelite nuns in 1452. The Third Order, for seculars, began two centuries later.
There seems to be a dilemma in the spiritual life. We want to do great things for God, but we are caught up in the little tasks of everyday life. We think holiness must wait until some future time: when the kids are grown up, when the job is less demanding, when we retire, when we can go on retreat. But if, as Vatican II taught, holiness is meant for everyone, shouldn’t it be accessible in every circumstance? How can we become holy now?
Although some saints have been martyrs, missionaries, or miracle workers, others have been parents, kings and queens, businessmen, and even children. How did they become great? Through “abandonment to divine providence” as Fr. Jeanne-Pierre de Caussade called it.
Don’t let the big words confuse you. This is simply the “Little Way” of St. Therese of Lisieux, who said that even when she picked an object off the floor, she did it out of love for God. Likewise, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta said, “We must do little things with great love.” This practice has also been called “the sacrament of the present moment.”
Continue reading about the Little Way.