One of the themes that struck me as I researched and wrote about the life of St. Therese was the fatherhood of God. Jesus taught His disciples to address God as “Father.” He revealed the mystery of the Holy Trinity. What does that mean for our spirituality?
As you know from past posts, St. Therese lost her mother to breast cancer at age four. From then on her father Louis Martin supplied the place of both parents. Therese’s greatest fear was that her father would die too. She clung to him and he spoiled her. They did everything together. She was “Daddy’s little girl.”
Louis Martin was gentle and loving. He devoted his life to raising his five surviving daughters. At the same time, he never allowed them to be lax in obedience or lukewarm in faith. Although he had his faults, he had a near-perfect balance of love and firmness.
Therese formed her image of God from her father. She believed that God wanted her to succeed spiritually. She saw Him as a Daddy who was always looking for ways He could enrich her life, always eager to embrace her and to forgive her faults.
Therese was able to surrender herself totally to God, because she knew He would never betray her trust. Louis might have to discipline her at times. As a young child, she might not always understand the reasons for the discipline. But she learned to see that in the long run it was all for her good. As she prepared to enter the Carmelite convent, she began to understand God’s providence in a similar way.
God is interested in our eternal happiness. Yes, our temporal trials matter to Him–even our trivial ones. When a small child skins his knee, what parent refuses to kiss it and care for it?
At the same time, what good parent neglects to discipline when necessary? Sometimes I think my boys believe I discipline them for fun. Believe me, often I would rather skip it. It’s much easier in the short term to give in to a child’s demands, to let naughtiness continue rather than intervene. But I expend my energy (often nearly all of it), because I desire their ultimate good. I know that good discipline will guide them toward psychological and spiritual maturity.
God is the same way with us.
Sometimes readers ask me why God is allowing a specific trial in their lives. The specific whys are a mystery. I wouldn’t want to say, “God did A, because of B,” especially when I know so little about readers’ lives. God’s ways in my own life are also mysterious.
But of this I am sure: everything God allows in our lives is for our eternal good–if we choose to seek His will in it. God is a good Father–the best of fathers.
That’s why we, like Therese, can place total confidence in God. And maybe some day in Heaven–when we are finally grown up–we will understand why bad things happened to us. But I am guessing that by then we’ll no longer care. Our trust will have reached its fulfillment in total love and joy.
Happy feast of All Carmelite Saints!
Note: Just a reminder that Trusting God with St. Therese is a great choice for your book club. People all over the world–literally–have purchased it in bulk. If you buy five paperbacks directly from me, I will throw in an extra and sign them all–plus ship them free. Email me at crossini4774 at comcast dot net for details.