When Excellence Comes: St. Therese and the Little Way

It might not happen as often as we’d like, but sometimes we do something excellent: that fondant-covered birthday cake that actually looked like the Pinterest pin that inspired it, that time we calmed down the about-to-explode toddler with serenity and grace, that one time last fall when the entire house was clean.

When such unexpected—and usually unfamiliar—feelings of accomplishment and pride come, what do we do with them? The normal reaction in the face of such superhuman feats might be to do a little victory dance, eat a celebratory slab of cake, or humblebrag about it on Facebook.

But St. Therese might have a better way. Her Little Way was built on spiritual childhood, the unshakeable belief that she was a little child of God and that as her Father, God had given all that she had to her as a gift, including the virtues that she practiced. Knowing that in human families the smallest child usually receives the most attention, St. Therese endeavored to remain small in spirit, eager only to remain in His close protective care. Anything that might take that smallness away from her—thinking too much about the good that she’d done or attributing that good to herself—she avoided, preferring to stay in Our Lord’s arms.

St. Therese writes, “To be little also means not to attribute to oneself the virtues that one practices, believing oneself capable of something; but it means recognizing that God places this treasure of virtue in the hand of His little child that he may make use of it when necessity arises; and it is always God’s treasure.”

St. Therese preferred to stay close to Our Lord as the smallest of souls, recognizing her need for constant tender care. Compared to the fleeting and shallow consolation we receive when we seek others’ praise, St. Therese seems indeed to have chosen the better part.

Copyright Meg Matenaer (2015).
Photo by GaborfromHungary (2015) via Morguefile.

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