Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Little Way to Heaven

St. Therese once noted that for those with faith "the size of a mustard seed, Our Lord moves mountains." And every so often He puts someone in our midst that even the most skeptical person would have to give serious consideration. St. Pio was such a person. Given the Stigmata, he was known for his ability to read souls, for the long hours he spent in the confessional and for his ability to bilocate. Once, a priest asked me rhetorically if I thought I was as holy as St. Pio, then he asked me if, before having my dinner, I prayed 15 decades of the Rosary. Padre Pio spent hours preparing to celebrate Holy Mass, and hours afterward in thanksgiving. I don't think it would be wrong to call him a mystic. Today we observe his feast day.

Like Padre Pio, St. Therese enjoys a very close following by millions of Catholics worldwide. As another priest once noted, "once she gets you in her little web, you can't help but be drawn closer to Christ". St. Therese was not made incorruptible. In all her writings, she never mentions any mystic experiences such as Padre Pio or Teresa of Avila had. It wasn't until after her death that her fellow sisters discovered anything remarkable about her. Yet once her memoirs reached the other Carmels in France and around the world, the torrent of roses began. Her confessor confirmed for her that in her entire life, she had never committed a serious sin. She gave a heroic effort to turning every day trials into extraordinary sacrifices.

According to Bishop Noser, Therese suffered from a sensitive stomach, yet she never recoiled at what she was served at table. She would eat leftovers warmed over many times with a smile on her face that gave no indication of what turmoil went on inside her. She exercised saintly self-control by giving up even the smallest comforts and she never gave an external indication of feeling hot, cold or tired.

Some little sacrifices we can make in emulation of her include refraining from crossing our legs or feet while sitting (especially during Adoration). We can dress in one less layer in winter, or one more in summer. We can eat something we don't particularly like, or resist the urge to make food more palatable by adding salt or other seasoning. And, like St. Therese, we would of course not call attention to these little sacrifices but offer them with love. And, like Father Corapi says, if we're REALLY smart, we can offer them through the Blessed Mother.

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