It's Our Parish Feast Day!!!
Happy Feast Day friends! What a wonderful day when we celebrate both the earthly and heavenly life of our patroness, the Little Flower, St. Therese of Lisieux!
But how did this French Carmelite nun, who died at age 24 and rarely went out in public, become our patroness? What does she have to do with the Blackfeet Reservation? Well, the short answer is that she is the worldwide patroness of missions and one of the most popular saints of the past few centuries. And since this is mission country, and even more so when the parish was founded, Therese would have been a logical choice.
Ok, but why is she patroness of missions when she lived her whole life hidden from the world? Therese had an immense desire for bringing as many people as possible to Christ. She even wanted to be a missionary in Asia but poor health prevented her from going. So she turned to prayer and also to developing relationships with missionaries, including a number of priests that she corresponded with regularly. Therefore, even though she lived physically within the cloister, her missionary heart could not be confined within the cloister walls and her love radiated throughout the world. Moreover, once her heavenly life began, she immediately began honoring her vow to spend her Heaven helping people on earth grow in holiness, and she hasn’t stopped! There are countless stories of her answering prayers of people reaching out to her. As a matter of fact, I’m hearing of prayers already answered during the novena that we just finished today!
Now that we can see how Therese became patroness of missions, we must also ask why she is such a popular saint. What is the big deal? There are a great many reasons, but they can all be summed up in the “Little Way” that she developed. Although she certainly wanted to be a great saint, she knew in her heart that God wasn’t calling her to do great and flashy things to get there, as He did with her fellow Carmelite saints Theresa of Avila and John of the Cross. Therese just wasn’t built for that (i.e. had very little education, was sickly most of her life, very little exposure to the outside world and died at age 24) and eventually she had to humbly accept this fact. And accept it she did by learning that her vocation was to find little ways to love others, especially those she struggled the most to love. She would even pick the most difficult ways to love those who were most at odds with her and would try to do them anonymously. And she was constantly doing this throughout each day.
So this is the famous Little Way and it applies to every human being on the planet, no matter where they live or what their living circumstances are. That is a huge reason why she became so popular, since this way to sainthood can be followed by anyone, anywhere. It doesn’t require graces that are out of our reach. But it does require extraordinary faith and obedience to God in order to receive the graces necessary to live this Way day in and day out. By doing just this, simple, little Therese amazingly became a Doctor of the Church! Through the relationship she developed with Christ during her short life, she received an understanding of the spiritual life that rivals the greatest saints of all time. Just imagine what the Lord can do in your life if you follow this same Way!
Therefore, brothers and sisters, take St. Therese up on her offer to spend her Heaven helping you. She is so generous in responding and she has a very special love for us here since she is our patroness. Don’t let this love go to waste! Please also find some ways to celebrate this great day with Therese, even with the pandemic and all.
If you want to learn more about Therese, I recommend reading her wonderful autobiography, “The Story of a Soul.” I also recommend checking out “I Believe in Love,” by Fr. Jean D’Eblee and “The Way of Trust and Love,” by Fr. Jacques Philippe. Enjoy and God bless!