It is a wonderful privelage to have the stories and examples of the saints to help and encourage us in our path to heaven. I stand in awe of the courage of the martyrs of the early Church, and the good works of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta in India are inspiring. When I read the writings of many of my favorite saints, including Saint Faustina and Teresa of Avila, I am amazed at how close they were to Our Lord. Yet sometimes the saints and their greatness are intimidating, and I feel like throwing up my hands in hopelessness. How can I even hope to be like them?
St. Therese captured this sentiment perfectly when she said, “When I have compared myself with the saints, I have always found that there is the same difference between the saints and me as there is between a mountain whose summit is lost in the clouds and a humble grain of sand trodden underfoot by passers-by.”
But it was in this smallness that Therese found her path to greatness. She writes, “In spite of my littleness, I can aim at being a saint. It is impossible for me to grow bigger, so I put up with myself as I am, with all my countless faults. I was far too small to climb the steep stairs of perfection. So I sought in holy Scripture some idea of what this life I wanted would be, and I read these words: “Whosoever is a little one, come to me.” It is your arms, Jesus, that are the lift to carry me to heaven. And so there is no need for me to grow up: I must stay little and become less and less.”
” I understood that every flower created by Him is beautiful, that the brilliance of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not lessen the perfume of the violet or the sweet simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all the lowly flowers wished to be roses, nature would lose its springtide beauty, and the fields would no longer be enamelled with lovely hues.
“So it is in the world of souls, Our Lord’s living garden. He has been pleased to create great Saints who may be compared to the lily and the rose, but He has also created lesser ones, who must be content to be daisies or simple violets, nestling at His Feet to delight his eyes when He deigns to look down on them. The happier they are to be as He wills, the more perfect they are. I understood this also, that God’s Love is made manifest as well in a simple soul which does not resist His grace as it does through the greatest. In fact, the characteristic of love being self-abasement, if all souls resembled the holy Doctors who have illuminated the Church, it seems that God in coming to them would not stoop low enough. But He has created the little children, who know nothing and can but utter feeble cries and it is to their hearts that He deigns to stoop. These are the field flowers whose simplicity charms Him; and by His condescension to them Our Saviour shows His infinite greatness.”
A few weeks ago I began reading St. Therese’s autobiography for the third time, and the beauty of her writing struck me afresh. The words posses simplicity and earnestness, and I come away from reading them feeling encouraged and motivated. I see even such little things such as sweeping the floor and changing diapers in a new light, for as Therese says, “Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them.”