Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Studying St. Therese of Lisieux
First, there is the comfort of similarities between our feelings in some ways. Case in point, her opinion on prayer:
"I very simply tell God what I want to tell Him, without making beautiful phrases, and He always understands me....For me, prayer is an upward rising of the heart...its a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trials as much as in the midst of joys. ...It's something big, something great, something supernatural, that expands my heart and unites me with Jesus." (274)
This past Sunday I took a group of teens going through the Rite of Christian Initiation on a "backstage tour" of the empty, dark church. At least, that's what I called it. I took them from the basement to the sacristy, to the closets, to the altar, to the pews, the Stations of the Cross and finally to the choir loft. We stood around "God's kitchen table" (the altar table), and spoke about the personality of God, as each of us sees it. It was comfortable and informal. My God is not a stuffy God, but there are times and places in the church building where we should be reverent, I explained. Then we stood in front of the Eucharist, silently. It felt so good to share my faith with these teens and to see their perspective. It's truly beautiful when a person makes a choice and a conscious effort to find God. It's so great to be a part of the RCIA process as a teacher. The questions that come up make me dig deeper into my own beliefs, and the students renew my faith. What I've discovered is that teens respond very well to the idea of a loving, merciful, welcoming God who accepts our quirks and roughness like a parent accepts the behavior of a young child. This is also how St. Therese views God.
There are other aspects of St. Therese's personality that I can relate to. For example, her love of snow, (she was born in a storm like I was), her association between the power and glory of God and the ocean, (one reason I love the beach), her habit of falling asleep during formal prayers, her need to touch everything (especially when sight seeing), and how she frequently jumps out of her seat with emotion. All these particular character traits make her very human, even comical. She talks about feeling sad, or deeply embarrassed at times and her desire to be a great saint, despite her weaknesses and faults.
"He alone who, being content with my feeble efforts, will raise me up to Himself and, covering me with his infinite merits, will make me a Saint." (71)
It is in fact, her devotion to praying for others that makes her a saint. She talks about forgiveness, about "being poor in spirit." She interprets this idea as putting her own will aside and focusing on the best in others even when it is difficult to do so. Since, I struggle with this idea, her example does me much good. I think I want to imitate her attempt to "always have charitable thoughts."(250) At least, I'll keep trying.
Picture is of St. Therese as a child from Yahoo images.
Dear Internet Traveler,
Welcome to my writer's blog, started about six years ago for fun. Over time, the writing I have posted has ranged from personal reflection, to Long Island history research, to tall tales for my own amusement, to feature articles for local newspapers. As you can see from topics listed here, I travel in many mental directions in regard to interests. Click on the tabs and labels to explore my strange mind which senses that you may be having a criss-cross day. If so, perhaps this blog will distract you. However, please note that if you tell me my blog is beautiful just to get me to advertise rhinoplasty surgery and cheap drugs from Canada in your comment, I will ask the gods to give you a tail that cannot be concealed.