October is full of beautiful feast days. It begins with The Little Flower. St. Therese of Lisieux has much to give the modern Catholic. The first is the gift of spiritual maturity in an age of abundance.
Being the youngest of a large family, Therese was loved and pampered, so much so, that at 14, she was still expecting her shoe to be filled with toys on Christmas Eve.
Having done this for a full 10 years following the death of his wife, Therese's father, Louis Martin was growing tired of the custom and thought Therese should have grown out of it by then. He said as much to Therese's older sister Celine and Therese was heartbroken when she overheard the comment.
Normally, a hurt like this would have sent her into hysterics. This year though, God gave her the grace to fight back her tears, and graciously open the presents waiting for her. Her father's cheerfulness returned and Therese was changed forever.
Therese considered this a "miracle" "conversion" of Sacramental and Eucharistic grace given to her by God--for she had just returned with her family from Midnight Mass that Christmas Eve.
In ten years, Therese had gone from a social, precocious and outgoing child to worrisome and clingy after loosing her mother. Through this Christmas conversion, God had finally completely healed the grief that had driven her true self underground at such a tender age. God had liberated her from her powerlessness and fear.
The change was so complete, that later Therese said, "I no longer recognized myself" and that "in an instant" God had "armed me for war." She was ready to live completely for God.
Almost immediately, Therese's spiritual growth was so exponential, that she asked for and finally received permission to enter a Carmelite convent at the age of 15.
The second thing we can learn from St. Therese has to do with her patronage of the Missions. Therese's dream was to be a missionary and go overseas to teach others about God. She was unable to physically do that because of her ill health. In spite of that she continued to pray and sacrifice for the missionaries. After her death, she was made Patron of the Missions and a Doctor of the Church.
In this life, things often seem to be going badly for us. We may suffer for years either because of our own human failings, or for seemingly no reason at all. Sometimes, we may get our true dreams only after a long period of suffering has passed, or even, after death.
Her famous words tell it all:
"My mission - to make God loved
- will begin after my death.
I will spend my heaven
doing good on earth.
I will let fall a shower of roses."