To enter the Kingdom of Heaven, we must become like little children. The Little Way of Spiritual Childhood set forth by St. Therese is popular among Catholics. But are we really willing to be little?
Over the last few days, I’ve been meditating on a section of Luke we heard recently at Mass:
“He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will entrust to you the true riches?” (Luke 16:10-11)
What is your “little”?
So, what is the little thing God is calling you to be faithful in? For me, it’s keeping my home in better order and concentrating on raising and teaching my children. All four of my boys are now studying in our homeschool, the eldest in ninth grade. It’s challenging to teach four different levels and make sure everyone gets the optimum education. We haven’t ironed out all the wrinkles yet. Until we do, I’ll be tempted to stress out.
God has been prompting me for a long time to spend less of my day online or in other writing activities and more time working on my primary vocation. My little homeschool is the little thing where God calls me to be faithful.
It’s easy to want to jump ahead to the “much.” I want to help people, like the readers of my blogs and my books. But first things must come first. So you’ll notice that I’m posting less often here and on my other blog. I am doing fewer posts at SpiritualDirection.com. I’m spending less time on social media and trying to stay focused on spirituality when I am logged in.
All this is challenging for me! I’ve heard this call for months. but typically phlegmatic, it’s taken me a long time to make needed changes. I feel guilty for not communicating with you more often — but I shouldn’t, because I’m following God’s will. I ask for your prayers and understanding. I will blog as it fits my life, rather than being a slave to a schedule.
What about you? Are you trying to do great things when you have mastered the little? Here are some other ways we can think about these verses.
Meditation before contemplation
We’d all like to be contemplatives. We’d love to sit in the silence (okay, maybe not some of you extroverts). We’d love to bask in God’s presence. But first things first.
First we must practice often mundane meditation on Sacred Scripture. We find prayer dry. Boring. Tedious. Long. Same thing, day after day.
There is no shortcut in the spiritual life, except the shortcut of St. Therese. That’s the Little Way! Become little. Do the little thing that seems beneath you, the boring thing that is your duty, the dry thing that shows you are in the relationship for love’s sake, not for consolation.
Don’t expect to be a contemplative quickly. Steer clear of anyone who promises you instant success. The road is narrow and long, but God picks up the little ones who are on it and carries them forward. We must be little enough for Him to lift!
Fix your house before God’s house
D and M read about St. Francis of Assisi in history his week. When God called St. Francis, He told Francis, “Repair my house.” Francis thought He meant a local church building that had fallen into ruin, but God meant for him to bring new life to the universal Church through the founding of a new order.
Nowadays, we all think we are St. Francis. We want to repair God’s Church. But we don’t want to start little, by picking up stones like St. Francis did, doing menial, thankless work. We want to go straight to fixing the universal Church!
We read about Pope Francis saying something off-the-cuff or writing letters to Argentinian bishops. We read about American bishops’ responses to Sen. Tim Kaine’s outrageous statements. We think, “The Church is falling to pieces, and I’ve got to fix it!”
So, we complain about the Pope and bishops on Facebook. We start pointing fingers. And all the while, it is our own house that is in ruins.
The dishes are turning moldy in the sink. The dirty laundry rivals the tower of Babel. The baby needs a bath. The middle schooler is floundering in Grammar. Our spouse longs for something beyond frozen pizza for dinner.
We’re on social media at work, because it’s much more important to tell our 1000 best friends that the Pope is flirting with schism than it is to be conscientious about doing the work we are being paid to do. After all, work is rather tedious. Boring. Meaningless. Dry. Same thing, day after day.
Or perhaps we’re not that ambitious. Perhaps we only want to fix the US. So we bad-mouth Hillary Clinton around the water cooler as though we can read her soul. As though God has made us her judge. But we can’t make a decision about a tiny project that the boss assigned to us.
God wants to grant us true riches, but He can’t. We’re not ready for them. We haven’t done the grunt work. Don’t you think it’s about time we did?
Note 1: Every year at this time I celebrate the feast of St. Therese by dropping my ebook of Trusting God with St. Therese to $.99. The sale goes today (September 30) through October 2. (This is an affiliate link.) Please tell your friends and family.
Note 2: Carmelite nun Elizabeth of the Trinity will be canonized on October 16. The Avila Institute is sponsoring a thanksgiving Mass in California in November. You can read more about it here. Please tell anybody you know who lives in the area.