The other day, I read this passage from one of St. Therese of Lisieux‘s letters, in Jacques Philippe’s The Way of Trust and Love:
“[A child who has sinned] throws himself into his father’s arms, telling him that he is sorry to have hurt him, that he loves him, and that he will prove it by being good from now on… Then, if that child asks his father to punish him with a kiss, I don’t think the happy father could harden his heart against his child’s filial trust, knowing his sincerity and love.”
St. Therese is saying that when we sin, we should trust God so much as to ask Him to bless us in lieu of punishment.
Does this astonish you? It did me. Human nature says that when we sin, we should run away from God like Adam did. We expect God to reject us, even when we do come to Him in repentance.
Be daring in your trust
But Therese is bold, “daring” as she herself said. She asked for a kiss from God whenever she sinned. And she became “the greatest saint of modern times,” according to Pope Pius X!
You might be thinking, “Yeah, but Therese’s sins weren’t like mine. She only committed tiny venial sins, while I…” (You name it.) You’re right. Your sins probably are worse than hers. So are mine. But if you are a Christian, your God is exactly the same as hers was. And that’s the whole point.
Our sins don’t change God
Do we expect to earn Heaven by being good, or be rewarded with what we don’t deserve? If you despair because you have sinned, or you think that you have no call to trust God as much as Therese did, think again. The penitent woman in the Gospel loved much, because she had been forgiven much. She was bold in her trust and love too. Jesus did not turn her away. He defended her against her detractors. (See Luke 7:36-50.) Some say she went on to become St. Mary Magdalen.
We must trust God, not because we are good, but because He is. Therese was fond of saying that God would always meet our expectations. The more we trust Him, the more He will prove Himself trustworthy. Our sins are not too big for God. Our trust is too little.
Of course, we cannot be presumptuous, only pretending to be repentant without resolving to do better in the future. Presumption can be a mortal sin. It won’t win us a kiss from God. But neither should we despair, no matter what we have done, no matter how many times we have fallen. Our sins do not change God.
Join me in trusting God more
Since reading this passage of St. Therese’s, I have started asking God for a kiss as my punishment, an increase of grace and closeness to Him every time I sin. I ask Him to draw me even closer than I would have been if I had withstood temptation. Will you join me in being as daring as St. Therese?
Start by going to Confession, especially if you’ve committed any mortal sins. Then trust Him. You wouldn’t refuse to kiss your child when he was sorry for being naughty, would you? Nor will God refuse to bestow His love and grace on you.
Share with us: Do you find it hard to trust in God’s mercy? How are you working on this? What other sayings or practices of the saints astonish you with their boldness?
This is linked to Catholic Bloggers Network Monthly Roundup.