Sunday, March 29, 2015
Lenten Reflection: St. Therese and Little Ways
This year, Lent has been both incredibly rewarding and intensely challenging in ways that I never would've imagined. I felt as if I had a friend in St. Therese, whose meditations for Lent (which I read using this book; same book I've used for the past five years).
Those of you who've been reading this blog for a while know that I consider St. Therese a good friend. When I was at my uber liberal "Catholic" alma mater, I used a strand of her sacrifice beads during lectures because sometimes the professors wouldn't allow anyone to speak up to challenge what they would "teach." When I had a particularly bad day (and I had a few of those junior and senior year of undergrad), I used to cry in the darkened chapel on campus and then, when I'd gotten the tears under control, I would walk over to the alcove that has a St. Therese statue. "For one pain endured with joy, we shall love the good God more forever," I used to remind myself before I had to get to my next lecture.
Over the years, I've found myself asking her for her intercession quite often. For school matters, vocation uncertainties, and other moments of weakness and doubt... and not just for myself. I once asked her to help two good guy friends figure out their vocations and they both ended up entering seminary (at the same time) last fall. :D While I've cut back on the asking for intercession (mostly because I've learned to let go and just wait to see what God has in store for me), St. Therese is still very much a constant friend in my life. This Lent was no exception.
As I've written over the past couple of weeks, I've had to endure some pretty difficult things. I saw the end of a wonderful friendship. I had a scary moment regarding my health that ended with me being taken to the ER. (side note: I'm fine. It was just a bad stomach virus and GERD that ended up triggering a bad panic attack as well; some of the symptoms were similar to those found in women when they have heart attacks.) I had some really spiritually dry days on which I didn't even want to pray and I struggled to get through the Rosary and/or prayers because of that dryness. Despite this, St. Therese's words helped remind me that Jesus Christ endured worse things; that sometimes we're asked to go through times of difficulty and that we must simply trust Him.
My biggest reward of this Lenten season was figuring out why I've always felt a kinship with St. Therese. This past week I found myself in awe of how eloquently someone expressed their beliefs. With only a few words, they were able to sum up our beliefs (as Catholics) beautifully. It's quite intimidating but, instead of being envious, I thanked God for giving that person that gift because they are undoubtedly inspiring people who have lukewarm faith (or no faith at all) to learn more about it. They certainly inspired me to look into a couple of things that I have yet to tackle on my journey to better understand our faith. As much as I wish I could express myself as well as they do, I've learned that my ways are much simpler. Enter St. Therese.
I think the reason why I've always felt close to St. Therese is because I've been able to identify with her and her little ways. I'm well aware that my words when speaking about the faith are simplistic compared to great apologists. My words come from the heart, out of love for our faith and God. When I read and learn something new, I internalize it. I like to think that I have the academic Dominican desire to learn and teach as many souls as I can but I have a Carmelite heart that internalizes things that steadily makes my love for God grow. (side note: this is why it's taken me so long to discern whether I want to be a lay Dominican or a lay Carmelite.) When it comes time to express myself, I tend to use the same words I use when speaking to a friend; uncomplicated and personal. That's always been my style though I hadn't realized it until this past week.
I'm not sure if a more formal education (read: grad school courses which will be focused on teaching the faith to others) will change the way I speak to others but I am grateful for what I've been able to do for God and His kingdom with my little ways. I may not be a great public speaker (I blush and stutter when the focus is on me) and I may not put myself out there as much as some of the great Catholic speakers do, but I try to do what I can in my little way. Thank you, St. Therese, for reminding me that "all the flowers God has created are beautiful" and that "if all flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose her springtime beauty, and the fields would no longer be decked out with little wild flowers."
Anyway, I just wanted to share this. I'm hoping to be offline for most of Holy Week. Correction: I will be checking messages and replying but I'm hoping to cut back on the unnecessary/procrastinating/time wasting that I do when I have writer's block or am simply bored. That is my intent. Unless I get news from JP Catholic (aka admissions decision), this may be my only blog post this week. Don't quote me on this because sometimes I try to take breaks from the internet and then the Holy Spirit inspires me to write 2-3 posts in a single week. lol.
I hope y'all have a blessed Holy Week. :D
As always, thanks for reading and God bless. :D