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Let the wisdom of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, God’s “little flower,” guide your growth in everyday goodness and greater awareness of grace with the help of these Lenten daily reflections on quotations from her autobiography, Story of a Soul.

St. Therese's 'Little Way': Our Guide through Lent
By: Carol Ann Morrow


Each issue carries an imprimatur from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Reprinting prohibited
St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897) spent her short life almost entirely in France. She made one exceptional trip to the feet of Pope Leo XIII in Rome. There, at age 15, she boldly asked to become a cloistered Carmelite.

In 1894, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus was asked to write her childhood memories, the beginning of her spiritual autobiography, Story of a Soul. Its pages detail the “Little Way of Spiritual Childhood,” which is our path this Lent.

May the wisdom of the Little Flower guide your growth in everyday goodness and greater awareness of grace.


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Ash Wednesday
I come to sing the mercies of the Lord.
On the first page of her autobiography, Thérèse writes that her story is a tale of God’s mercies.
Recall the many mercies you have experienced. Begin this season with gratitude.

Thursday after Ash Wednesday
Love attracts love.
Near the end of her story, Thérèse speaks eloquently of love. She acknowledges that she is able to love only because Jesus has first loved her. Acknowledge the love Jesus has placed in your heart as the source of your own acts of love.

Friday after Ash Wednesday
It is in my weakness that I glory and I expect each day to discover new imperfections in myself.
For many, Lent is about the quest to be more perfect. Thérèse freely admitted she was not perfect but was counting on God’s merciful love. When you sense your imperfection, ask Jesus to borrow from the rich mine of God’s mercy.

Saturday after Ash Wednesday
True glory is that which will last eternally, and to reach it, it isn’t necessary to perform striking works but to hide oneself and practice virtue in such a way that the left hand knows not what the right is doing.
At Lent’s beginning, Thérèse’s observation about hiding one’s good works is an appropriate caution. Keep your resolutions to yourself. Bask in God’s merciful love.

FIRST WEEK OF LENT: SEEK OUT YOUR IMAGES

Sunday
Just as the sun shines simultaneously on the tall cedars and on each little flower as though it were alone on the earth, so Our Lord is occupied particularly with each soul as though there were no others like it.
Consider what flower or tree best describes your soul. Reach up to the sun in your prayer.

Monday
Thérèse had vanished as a drop of water is lost in the immensity of the ocean. Jesus alone remained.
Allow every experience with water—as cleanser, refreshment, relaxation—to remind you of Jesus.

Tuesday
God is more tender than a mother.
Recall a happy experience of being mothered by someone. Imitate that tenderness to another.

Wednesday
I feel the vocation of the WARRIOR, THE PRIEST, THE APOSTLE, THE DOCTOR, THE MARTYR.
Name your spiritual calling. Pray within that calling—as warrior, priest, apostle, doctor, or martyr.

Thursday
I am a little brush that Jesus has chosen in order to paint His own image in the souls . . . entrusted to my care.
What is your favorite image of Jesus? Use that image to inspire your prayer.

Friday
I had offered myself . . . to the Child Jesus as His little plaything. I told Him . . . to use me like a little ball of no value which He could throw on the ground, push with His foot, pierce, leave in a corner, or press to His heart if it pleased Him.
What “plaything” might you be for the Child Jesus? In prayer, picture yourself entertaining Jesus.

Saturday
One feels that to do good is as impossible without God’s help as to make the sun shine at night.
Bask in the sunlight literally or figuratively. Experience the divine warmth and energy.

SECOND WEEK OF LENT: MEASURE YOUR LITTLENESS

Sunday
I applied myself to practicing little virtues, not having the capability of practicing the great.
Choose a small challenge: to smile, to be silent, to be thankful.

Monday
God cannot inspire unrealizable desires. I can, then, in spite of my littleness, aspire to holiness.
Focus on a virtue to which God is calling you. Seek opportunities to express it.

Tuesday
Little children are as pleasing to their parents when they are asleep as well as when they are wide awake.
Extend your night prayers. Experience yourself cradled by God as you close your eyes in sleep.

Wednesday
I look upon myself as a weak little bird. . . . I have only an eagle’s EYES AND HEART.
Imagine yourself as a wren. Hide yourself, as the psalmist says, in the shadow of God’s wings.

Thursday
The elevator which must raise me to heaven is Your arms, O Jesus! And for this I had no need to grow up, but rather I had to remain little.
Thérèse saw herself as too small to climb the “stairway of perfection.” She invites you to surrender strenuous effort and allow yourself to be lifted by—and to—the Lord.

Friday
You can see that I am a very little soul and that I can offer God only very little things.
Nothing is so small that it escapes heavenly notice. Like Thérèse, choose not to complain about petty annoyances.

Saturday
I am but a poor little thing who would return to nothingness if Your divine glance did not give me life from one moment to the next.
Thérèse sees herself as a little bird, nourished by the Eucharist. Visit the Blessed Sacrament.

THIRD WEEK OF LENT: FIND WAYS TO PRAY

Sunday
If the big feasts were rare, each week brought one that was very dear to my heart, namely Sunday! What a day Sunday was for me! It was God’s feast day, and feast of rest.
Observe a day of rest. Thérèse was confident that God loved her just as much at rest as awake.

Monday
Sometimes I would try to fish with my little line, but I preferred to go alone and sit down on the grass. . . . Without knowing what it was to meditate, my soul was absorbed in real prayer. I listened to distant sounds, the murmuring of the wind, etc.
Thérèse’s childhood experience can be yours. Prayerfully attend to the sounds of God’s creation.

Tuesday
When I saw all these beauties very profound thoughts came to life in my soul. I seemed to understand already the grandeur of God and the marvels of heaven.
Thérèse is speaking of the Swiss mountains and lakes. Visit a beautiful natural setting and drink in the beauty created by God.

Wednesday
It is especially the Gospels that sustain me during my hours of prayer, for in them I find what is necessary for my poor little soul.
Use the Gospels to inspire your prayer. You, too, will find in them what you need.

For more Lenten reflections, order your copy here. Save by buying in bulk quantities.



Carol Ann Morrow is an Associate of the Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg, Indiana, and author of other Catholic Updates and books, including Forgiving Is Smart for Your Heart (Abbey Press).

Quotations from Story of a Soul, translated by John Clarke, OCD. Copyright © 1975, 1976, 1996 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites. ICS Publications, 2131 Lincoln Road, NE, Washington, DC 20002-1199, USA, icspublications.org. Used with permission. 


NEXT: Examine Your Conscience with the Ten Commandments

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Martha: Martha, Mary and their brother Lazarus were evidently close friends of Jesus. He came to their home simply as a welcomed guest, rather than as one celebrating the conversion of a sinner like Zacchaeus or one unceremoniously received by a suspicious Pharisee. The sisters feel free to call on Jesus at their brother’s death, even though a return to Judea at that time seems almost certain death. 
<p>No doubt Martha was an active sort of person. On one occasion (see Luke 10:38-42) she prepares the meal for Jesus and possibly his fellow guests and forthrightly states the obvious: All hands should pitch in to help with the dinner. </p><p>Yet, as biblical scholar Father John McKenzie points out, she need not be rated as an “unrecollected activist.” The evangelist is emphasizing what our Lord said on several occasions about the primacy of the spiritual: “...[D]o not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear…. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:25b, 33a); “One does not live by bread alone” (Luke 4:4b); “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness…” (Matthew 5:6a). </p><p>Martha’s great glory is her simple and strong statement of faith in Jesus after her brother’s death. “Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world’” (John 11:25-27).</p> American Catholic Blog The commandments are a gift, not a curse. Sin is less about breaking the rules and more about breaking the Father’s heart.

 
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