Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, of the Child Jesus
I seem to have a natural tendency towards the little things; as a child I was captivated by the minutest details in pictures, miniature figurines, and the tiniest wildflowers in the field. Yet as I grew in the world I desired to be big and noticeable in the eyes of others: What can I do to show people that I am worth looking at, that I am impressive, that I’ve got what it takes to stand out more than the rest? Then, in college, I read Story of A Soul, the autobiography of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. Thérèse taught me in words that still speak directly to my heart, that littleness in the eyes of the world is most often greatness in the eyes of God, and that in His eyes the little ones are precious treasures to behold.
The “Little Flower,” as Saint Thérèse is often called, lived a simple, hidden life as a cloistered Carmelite nun in the late 1800s – a life which lasted only 24 years on earth. Though the whole world minus a few knew she existed at the time, she now basks in the glory of Heaven bearing the name Saint of God (as well as Doctor of the Church!), and to this day she bears incredible fruit for the kingdom of God. In my life her example is what led me to follow God’s calling to be a missionary overseas, out of obedience to His desires for my life to spread His love.
My current everyday circumstances are more mundane compared to those previous years “on mission.” Yet even though I spend the majority of my time in the home, mothering my own little one, I know that even the smallest action or movement of the heart done for love of God and others does not go unnoticed by my Heavenly Father; it can even bear great fruit if He so desires it to, much more so than from any impressive or “great” work done for love of myself. Saint Thérèse, pray for us, that we would totally love and give glory to God as whatever kind of “flower” He created us to be!
“The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of its scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.” ~ Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
Saint John Paul the Great
Saint Irenaeus said that “the glory of God is man fully alive.” I used to think that being a devout Catholic, a “religious person,” and putting God first would make me the most boring version of myself. I thought I’d lose the freedom to do what I wanted with my own life, and that my gifts and talents would go to waste. Then when I became a bit more interested in my faith, I was quite impressed with how “cool” Pope John Paul II was (pre-canonization). Not only was he “cool” to me, but I also saw holiness in a way that I couldn’t understand but found entirely attractive.
Later in my journey I studied a bit of his life as well as his Theology of the Body. I realized this world-changing man had a deep understanding not only of God and the Church, but of what it meant to be fully human! He was an actor, a playwright, a philosopher, an avid sportsman, an adventure-seeker, a teacher, a joker, a gifted writer, a linguist, and a dear friend, brother, uncle, and father to countless people around the world. In all things, Christ was at the center, and it became so evident to me that a life lived for Christ is the best, least “boring”, most adventurous life to be had. Our gifts and talents are not squandered and wasted but instead find their greatest fulfillment in the service of the Lord.
I have unashamedly fallen in love with Saint JPII, and the more I read of him the more I discover how profoundly in love with Our Eucharistic Lord, Our Blessed Mother, and all of humanity (and in a special way, women!). I recently studied his Letter to Women and it was clear as crystal that the heart of this saint beat to the rhythm of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I regularly entrust my marriage and family, and those of others, into his paternal care, and I have full confidence that he’ll help us be fully alive in Jesus. Saint John Paul the GREAT, pray for us!
“Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure.” ~ St. John Paul the Great
Our Lady of Guadalupe
There is no Saint who has been more involved in my life than our dearest Mother Mary, particularly under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe. She appeared in Guadalupe, Mexico, in December of 1531 to a lowly, indigenous man named Juan Diego. She showed God’s love through a miraculous image of her as the “woman clothed with the sun” (see Revelation 12), on a “tilma” (or cloak) which to this day remains available for public viewing at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. Our Lady came as a young, virginal, pregnant woman of mixed ethnicity and introduced herself as the “Mother of all men.”
It wasn’t until I spent a weekend with the Sisters of Life in NYC that this image and message became very meaningful for me. At the end of the day, the sisters would stand before a replica of the Guadalupe image with candles and entrust their mission – to protect and enhance the sacredness of human life – to her maternal care. It was clear to me that Our Lady is indeed the Mother of all, and the Mother of each. She said to Juan Diego: “Do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here, who am your Mother?” These words are meant for each of her children, especially the most vulnerable.
Since that weekend, her presence and action in my life has been significant. My husband and I spent most of our engagement in separate continents. At one point I was feeling discouraged when I asked Our Lady to show me somehow that our marriage plans were what God wanted them to be. Shortly thereafter, a box of personalized prayer cards I had ordered as wedding favors arrived. I had carefully chosen a particular image of the Wedding of Mary and Joseph, thanks to my Godmother, and was excited to see the cards. When I opened the box, I saw a very different image than the one I’d selected for the cards: it was Our Lady of Guadalupe! I couldn’t help but laugh and tremble for joy. I called the prayer card company and they said they had no idea why that image showed up, since the request was clearly for the wedding image. I knew that Our Lady had heard my prayer, that she was intimately involved in our marriage plans, and that she would remain with us no matter what. “Am I not here, who am your Mother?”
Our Lady of Guadalupe is carrying the unborn Jesus, and thus she is the patroness of unborn children and their mothers. I continue to entrust my motherhood, mothers in crisis, and their unborn children to her reliable care. I know she will help us build a culture of life and love, and that she will always be with us as our Mother, bearing God’s Life in our own. Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of Our Savior and Mother of all, pray for us!
“Do not be troubled… Am I not here, who am your Mother?” ~ Our Lady of Guadalupe
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