Last Thursday October 1 we honored a special saint, Saint Therese. Sometimes she is called The Little Flower. She seemed to live a very simple quiet life in a convent. She died in 1897 at the age of 24. But she left us a beautiful book, the story of her spiritual journey, a story about how to be a holy person, how to come closer to Christ and become more and more like Him. Her idea is very simple. The most important idea in the spiritual life is one word: LOVE. Everything you do, something simple or something great, always do it with great love. A person can say, “Yes I know about love; I try, but I am not very important. I cannot influence many people. I am not famous or powerful.” But all of us, you and I, can do everything with love. Then we will accomplish much.
Sometimes we need to use a picture or an example to explain something. For example, love is like the flame of a candle. One flame from one candle is very small. But if you walk into a dark room, the one little candle can give so much light in a fully dark room. In another person’s darkness, you and I can be light to that person in ways we may not think important. We can be light by a smile or a kind word. In simple ways we can be that living flame of love.
If we think our love is not much, think of something else: In the spring a garden is beautiful because there are many different kinds of flowers; there are big red roses and beautiful white lilies, but also very small purple flowers and little yellow flowers. Sometimes we think the big red roses are the only important flowers. But each of the flowers in that garden is important. Each flower adds to the beauty of the garden. You or I may not be a beautiful big red rose; but all of us can be a little purple flower or a small yellow flower and bring beauty into the garden, into God’s garden, so that He can enjoy our presence; and other people can be better because we touch their lives. Maybe you think your love is small; no matter; your love is a beautiful part of God’s world; you make the world beautiful for others.
Another example: think of yourself as a small child resting in the arms of your mother or your father. Your father holds you close to him. You can rest in his arms safely, quietly, peacefully. Make that your prayer sometime. Imagine yourself resting in God the Father’s arms fully peaceful, fully safe, knowing that your father, your heavenly Father, cares for you always.
Another example: imagine you are looking into Christ’s eyes. Just look. Do not say anything. Do not talk about anything. Do not ask for anything. Only look. Imagine Jesus looks back at you with kindness, with love; see in Jesus’s eyes His love coming to you from His heart.
Another idea St. Therese gives us: At Mass Holy Communion is Jesus waiting for you, deeply wanting to be in you, hoping that you will come and receive Him in Holy Communion, why? Jesus wants to rest in you, rest next to your heart.
Another idea: sometimes in prayer, we feel empty, cold, as if nothing is happening. Many things bother us; many ideas come into our mind. Inside we feel empty, cold, nothing happening, God Jesus seem far away. Maybe we feel disappointed. But remember when we feel empty in our hearts, then Jesus can come and rest in us. When we are full with many things, when we are very busy doing many things, we do not have room inside us for Jesus to come. When we feel empty, alone, lonely, then Jesus can come into our hearts.
Another idea of St. Therese is to remember your human life, my human life is like a boat. It is a boat going some place. Our real home is not here. Our real home is in heaven. We are on a boat going there. We are not staying here forever. It is important to remember this.
You are a holy person, when you do everything that God wants you to do, when you live the way He wants you to live your life. Your life may seem very simple, very ordinary, nothing special. But if you live the way God wants you to live, you can be full of joy, full of peace, full of meaning. Doing God’s will is the most important thing. Be the best person you can be, have a vision of how God is calling you to live a holy life. The vision of a holy life is very important.
Let me end with a story. It is a story from an Indian tribe. The chief was old and he knew he would soon die. He had three sons. He said, “One of you will become the next chief of our tribe. To decide who will be the next leader, I want the three of you to go up the holy mountain, find the most beautiful thing that you can find and bring it back. Come back in three days.” So they went off. After three days they came back. One brought a flower, a beautiful, rare flower. The second son came back with a very valuable gem like a diamond. The third came back and said, “Father, I did not bring anything back. When I went up to the top of the mountain, I looked into the valley on the other side and saw a rich, beautiful green valley, filled with streams and forests; and I thought, It would be wonderful for our people to go there and live. Our tribe could have a very happy, full life there.”
The old chief said: “Your gift is the best, because you have brought back a vision of how you want our people to live. This is the best gift a leader can give. You will be the next chief of our tribe.”
The same is true for us. We need a vision of how God wants us to live. When we put that vision into action, then we will become holy people, very holy people.