Monday, July 4, 2011

Living the "little way" of St. Thérèse

"We are living now in an age of inventions, and we no longer have to take the trouble of climbing stairs, for, in the homes of the rich, an elevator has replaced these very successfully. I wanted to find an elevator which would raise me to Jesus, for I am too small to climb the rough stairway of perfection. I searched, then, in the Scriptures for some sign of this elevator, the object of my desires, and I read these words coming from the mouth of Eternal Wisdom: "Whoever is a LITTLE ONE, let him come to me." And so I succeeded. I felt I had found what I was looking for...The elevator which must raise me to heaven is Your arms O Jesus! And for this I had no need to grow up, but rather I had to remain little and become this more and more." ~St. Thérèse of Lisieux

"...We step into the elevator of Jesus' arms by trying to climb the stairway of perfection. Yes, even if we can't climb these stairs, the way we step into Jesus' arms is by continuing to try to climb, by continuing to try to grow in virtue and holiness. Yet this kind of stepping up (stepping in) requires that we make our efforts with a different attitude than before. For, whereas before we may have gotten discouraged by our inability to climb the stairs, now we try not to. We accept that we might never even climb one stair! Nevertheless, we peacefully keep trying, knowing that Jesus comes down, lifts us up, and eventually carries us to the heights. We might not see him doing it, but he does. We might not feel like we're going anywhere, but we are. We might not think anything has changed, but it has.

Yes, the elevator of the Little Way is a bit strange. It's a way of holiness that doesn't seem to work. In other words, little souls who are in the elevator often look no different than other souls. They have vices and struggles and imperfections just like everyone else, but that's actually part of the Lord's strategy as he works in little souls: He likes to keep them little. He knows that if they were to see themselves bounding with great strides up the steep stairway of perfection, they suddenly wouldn't be so little, and so they wouldn't move hi Heart as deeply. They'd become big souls who don't feel the need to rely completely on Jesus for everything, and so they wouldn't reach those highest heights in heaven reserved for those who accept the lowest places here on earth. Yes, Jesus likes to keep little souls little, so he can give them the biggest gifts, and though it may seem like they don't make any progress, they actually do. Jesus just hides this fact from them.

...Maybe we don't have a single virtue in which we're big. Or do we? By the grace of God, little souls going the Little Way are big on trust. They trust in the mercy of God.They trust God's promise of mercy, the promise he'll satisfy the desires for holiness, even if it seems impossible. They trust in the merciful Heart of Jesus that, they know, can't resist their humble confidence. They trust, they trust, they trust. "

"My virtues are nothing; they are not what give me unlimited confidence that I feel in my heart. They are, to tell the truth, the spiritual riches that render one unjust, when one rests in them with complacence and when one believes they are something great...Ah! I really feel that it is not this at all that pleases God in my little soul; what pleases Him is that He sees me loving my littleness and my poverty, the blind hope that I have in His mercy...That is my only treasure..." ~St. Thérèse of Lisieux

"...understand that to love Jesus, to be His victim of love, the weaker one is, without desires or virtues, the more suited one is for the workings of this consuming and transforming Love...but we must consent to remain always poor and without strength, and this is the difficulty...let us love our littleness, let us love to feel nothing, then we shall be poor in spirit, and Jesus will come to look for us and He will transform us in flames of love...It is confidence and nothing but confidence that must lead us to love." ~St. Thérèse of Lisieux

*Excerpts from: Consoling the Heart of Jesus, by Michael E. Gaitley, MIC

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