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You can be holy today

C's Birth

English: Saint Therese of Lisieux church, Disc...

There seems to be a dilemma in the spiritual life. We want to do great things for God, but we are caught up in the little tasks of everyday life. We think holiness must wait until some future time: when the kids are grown up, when the job is less demanding, when we retire, when we can go on retreat. But if, as Vatican II taught, holiness is meant for everyone, shouldn’t it be accessible in every circumstance? How can we become holy now?

Although some saints have been martyrs, missionaries, or miracle workers, others have been parents, kings and queens, businessmen, and even children. How did they become great? Through “abandonment to divine providence” as Fr. Jeanne-Pierre de Caussade called it.

Don’t let the big words confuse you. This is simply the “Little Way” of St. Therese of Lisieux, who said that even when she picked an object off the floor, she did it out of love for God. Likewise, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta said, “We must do little things with great love.” This practice has also been called “the sacrament of the present moment.”

The Little Way goes beyond mindfulness

The modern practice of mindfulness tries to achieve something similar. Stemming from Buddhism, mindfulness entails living in and being aware of what is happening in the present, even down to small details.  While mindfulness can bring a certain measure of peace, it cannot sanctify the present, or the one who practices it. More is needed. We need to recognize and accept God’s will in the present moment.

C's Birth
C and I, 7 years ago. As a mom, I can’t always do what I want–thank God!

We lead hectically busy lives. Sometimes I find myself being “too busy” to be open to God’s grace.  When my boys interrupt my tasks with questions, requests, or seemingly endless stories, I find it difficult to be patient. I have so much to do! I need to see these interruptions as part of God’s plan for me at that moment. Maybe God has a different agenda than I do. If He allows these interruptions, who am I to get impatient over them? At the very least, I need to respond to my children with love.

Can you accept the ups and downs of your day with peace?

Thus it is with all the events and circumstances of our daily lives.  We need to accept them with peace. We need to see the will of God in the conflicts with our co-workers, in the crashing of our computers, in the weather that ruins a family outing, in the phone call that comes at dinner time. We need to keep our equilibrium at every moment, because God is in control of our lives, and He has a loving plan for us. Our goal is to become like St. Paul, who said, “I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want.  I can do all things in him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12-13).

When we accept our circumstances–not just because they exist, but out of love for God–the present moment becomes holy. Our day is sanctified, and so are we. This is the path to finding holiness now. This is the simple way each of us can become a saint.

Connie Rossini

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How have you implemented the Little Way in your life? How are you striving to sanctify the present?

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St. Therese’s astonishing trust in God

St Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897) was one of t...
St Thérèse of Lisieux (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Connie Rossini

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.