Feast day of St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower

On this first day of October, as we take our daily walk through the prayer garden, it seems so very appropriate that the Saint of the day is St. Therese of Lisieux. A Carmelite nun, St. Therese is, of course, lovingly known as the “Little Flower” and is the patron saint of florists.

As someone who lived relatively recently, at the end of the 19th century, St. Therese’s story is very well known. Her devotion to praying for others, especially priests, has inspired many. St. Therese, who died at the tender young age of 24, saw great beauty in her redemptive suffering and in emptying herself for the fulfillment of others souls.

As I prayed this week to find the words for this day, I came across a beautiful quote from a homily from St. Macarius of Egypt, an influential Desert Father of the fourth century. In his homily, St. Macarius writes,

When a farmer sets out to till the ground he has to take the proper tools and clothing for work in the fields: so when Christ, the Heavenly King and the true Husbandman, came to humanity laid waste by sin, He clothed Himself in a body and carried the Cross as His implement and cultivated the deserted soul. He pulled up the thorns and thistles of evil spirits and tore up the weeds of sin. When thus He had tilled the ground of its soul with the wooden plough of His Cross, He planted in it a lovely garden of the Spirit; a garden which brings forth for God as its Master the sweetest and most delightful fruits of every source.

The imagery of Christ as a farmer, tilling the soil with the wood of His cross, is a beautiful picture of God caring for His children. Christ took upon his shoulders the weight of the cross and thus the weight of all human sins. He plunged the base of His cross deep into the earth; an earth parched and withered from the flames of sin, and by His own blood made it a fertile garden for good seeds to take root and beautiful flowers to grow.  St. Therese, the Little Flower, is a wonderful example of the fruits of Christ’s sacrifice for us.

As we contemplate this, I find it humbling to consider that the same soil that Jesus cultivated that resulted in the beautiful Little Flower of Lisieux, is the same soil that each and every one of us is spiritually planted in. Each of us is called to Sainthood, just as St. Therese was. We pray to the Lord this day that the examples of giving ourselves up in prayer for others, the example we see from St. Therese, be a loving model of how we are called to live. We pray for the humility to serve others with the same loving heart that Jesus had for us when he bore the weight of human sins on His cross.

Finally, on this day where we contemplate the life of St. Therese of Lisieux, let us consider her own words from her autobiography, Story of a Soul. “What matters in life,” she wrote, “is not great deeds, but great love.” As we reflect back at the end of our day today, and with God’s grace each day of our future, let us look back not at what great deeds we may have accomplished, but what great love we showed for someone that day.

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