Dedicating herself to the saving of souls…
Reflections on the readings for the Memorial of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus (October 1, 2020): JB 19:21-27; PS 27:7-9,13-14; LK 10:1-12
MISSIO offers “Mission In Scripture” to nurture a missionary heart, providing reflections on the missionary themes in the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days
Through her work, prayer, penance, and acts of charity, she embraced what she called her Little Way.
On this feast day, we celebrate the well-beloved St. Thérèse of Lisieux (of the Child Jesus) who is also known as the “Little Flower.” Before her death at only 24 years of age, she had spent a sheltered life, first in her home in the Normandy region of France, and then in a nearby Carmelite convent. While she was dedicated to God from her childhood, Thérèse still had to overcome various physical, emotional and spiritual issues on her path to the deep relationship with our Lord for which she so longed. At 15 she was permitted to enter the order. She wanted to dedicate herself to the saving of souls. Every single person on the face of the earth was precious to her because they were precious to God. And through her work, prayer, penance, and acts of charity, she embraced what she called her Little Way. It would bring her closer to Christ and assist those for whom she offered up her efforts. In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus say, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way.… Whatever town you enter and they welcome you…say to them, ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand for you’” (Luke 10:2-3, 8, 9). Surely St. Thérèse did her part on behalf of the Kingdom. Her sacrifice on behalf of priests, missionaries and all the people they serve was a major focus of her vocation as a Carmelite: “Not being able to be a missionary in action, I have wanted to be one by love and penance.”
Near the end of her life in 1897, she experienced both physical pain and a spiritual darkness of the soul. A year later, the autobiography that she had been instructed by her superiors to write made its way from other convents to bookstores. “The Story of a Soul” made a great impact on people around the world. St. Therese was canonized in 1925 and, in 1927, named co-patron (with St. Francis Xavier) of all the Church’s missions. Pope St. John Paul II proclaimed her a doctor of the Church in 1997. She is remembered for promising that: “After my death I will let fall a shower of roses. I will spend my heaven in doing good upon earth.”
Suggested missionary action: As we begin this Mission Month, let us ask St. Thérèse of Lisieux to help us each day to be “missionaries by love” to our neighbor half a block and half a world away. Let us also ask the Little Flower to protect and strengthen the Church’s missionaries each day.