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Monday, September 30, 2013

St Therese, the Little Flower

"Prayer is, for me, an outburst from the heart; it is a simple glance darted upwards to Heaven; it is a cry of gratitude and of love in the midst of trial as in the midst of joy!" (Story of a Soul, X)

St Therese, the Little Flower, was immensely attractive to many in the 20th century. Simple, direct and repeatable, her spirituality made sense to people who were lost in the complexities of a faith that spent more time helping people understand its theology than encouraging them to grow in holiness. When Therese was most popular the majority of believers thought that the pursuit of holiness was something reserved to priests and sisters, but Therese taught otherwise. Her spirituality was accessible to anyone who was willing to walk a simple path and love God along the way.

Too often spirituality is presented as something so other worldly that few are attracted to it. Content with being "good enough" by going to mass on Sunday, saying their morning and evening prayers and doing the works of mercy, they were not encouraged to seek intimacy with God, but to to strive to sneak in the back door of heaven. That this thinking and attitude was demeaning to lay people and dismissive of the vocation of marriage as an authentic path to holiness, became clear, and Therese's little way was a new road all could take. Her spirituality was something that emerged as a response to everyday life and its popularity soared.

In a world obsessed with information and communication, Therese's life and example can still be important. As long as we are willing to look at one another with openness of spirit and hope, we can be profound examples to those who feel lost in a world they can no longer manage and are forced to be passive recipients of directions from churches, governments and media rather than active participants in living and proclaiming the Gospel.

Today, choose simplicity. Look at someone with love and gratitude.

What most attracts you to live the Gospel simply?

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