This is the last blog post about The Story of a Soul. I hope you’ve enjoyed this book as much as I have. I couldn’t end the discussion without examples of St. Therese’s “little way”…
For a long time I had to kneel during meditation near a Sister who could not stop fidgeting; if it was not with her Rosary, it was with goodness knows what else…I wanted to turn around and glare at the culprit to make her be quiet, but deep in my heart I felt that the best thing to do was to put up with it patiently, for the love of God first of all, and also not to hurt her feelings. So I kept quiet, bathed in perspiration often enough, while my prayer was nothing more than a prayer of suffering! In the end, I tried to find some way of bearing it peacefully and joyfully, at least in my inmost heart; then I even tried to like this wretched little noise.
It was impossible not to hear it, so I turned my whole attention to listening really close to it, as if it were a magnificent concert, and spent the rest of the time offering it to Jesus. It was certainly not the prayer of quiet!
Another time, washing handkerchiefs in the laundry opposite a Sister who kept on splashing me with dirty water, I was tempted to step back and wipe my face to show her that I would be obliged if she would be more careful. But why be foolish enough to refuse treasures offered so generously? I took care to hide my exasperation.
I tried hard to enjoy being splashed with dirty water, and by the end of half an hour, I had acquired a real taste for this novel form of aspersion. How fortunate to find this spot where such treasures were being given away…
So you see, Mother, what a very little soul I am! I can only offer very little things to God. These little sacrifices bring great peace of soul, but I often let the chance of making them slip by… – The Story of a Soul, pg. 180-181
So THIS is why St. Therese became a doctor of the church! In my opinion, anyone who can enjoy being splashed with dirty water over and over again without flinching deserves to be a doctor! Really! Just mentally run through your day and ask yourself how many times you consciously sacrificed discomfort, inconvenience or annoyance for love of Christ.
Perhaps you scored better than I did when I made the mental trip. Here’s a rundown of a typical morning in our home. I failed at Points A, B, C, D, E, and G!
A. 4:30am Cat creates a racket in my bedroom, running from a chair to an open box [packed with very loud and crinkly paper that houses a light fixture my husband plans to install], to the bed, back to chair and so on. I wake, annoyed, look at my phone, get further annoyed (even though this is a daily occurrence), look at my husband who continues to sleep comfortably (get even further annoyed), climb out of bed and carry cat to laundry room, feed her and lock her up so I can go back to sleep.
B. 6am Wake, do my spiritual reading (where I learn to accept with joy all that happens to me as God’s will), shower and wake the boys (ages 11 & 13); head downstairs, followed by my three-year-old who sounds like a screaming siren when I suggest he go potty before breakfast (very annoying).
C. 7:15 Make pancakes for breakfast and head back upstairs to wake boys again (inconvenienced and annoyed); wake girls (ages 6 & 9).
D. 7:30 Head back downstairs to serve breakfast. Girls wander down in pjs, so I send them back up to get dressed (annoyed – dressing before coming downstairs is a house rule).
[D-1. Apparently, these pancakes are the “healthy” kind and no one
likes them (six kids and their idiosyncrasies can be – very annoying).]
E. 7:45 Head back upstairs to wake boys again (further annoyed – these are the same boys who used to wake on their own at 5:30am).
F. 7:50 Bring baby down (all joy – and she loves the pancakes!)
G. 8:00 Boys finally shower. (Look at my watch and get annoyed at the time.) Afterwards they each head into the kitchen as I am cleaning up breakfast. They begin digging food back out (very annoying because they will not put it all away again).
This could go on ad nauseum. I’m sure you get the idea. The fact is, by 8am, I count nearly ten times wherein I allow myself to be annoyed by various incidents and family members in our household! None of these events is NEW – this is a ‘typical’ morning! You’d think by now I’d have found a way to ‘make a magnificent concert’ out of all the “hassle.”
I speak with many women who’s children are grown, and they all remind me to enjoy this time. They say that someday I will look on all these little annoyances in family life with great fondness, and I will miss each and every one of them. I have no doubt.
But what good will it do my family or me if I miss all these moments after my kids are grown? I know that if I enjoyed these little annoyances as much as I enjoy the smiles and laughter, my heart would be filled with peace and I would love every minute instead of every other. According to St. Therese, these little moments truly are ‘treasures,’ that I should never overlook or allow to go unappreciated (this sounds so nice, I almost believe it).
The truth is that I WANT to approach each of these instances (and all others) with patience out of love for Christ himself. So how do I grow to love these moments NOW as opposed to just missing them later? If you have ideas, I’d love to hear them. In the meantime, I think I’m going to start practicing my own “little way” by carrying a set of sacrifice beads. Each time I allow a situation to go by without making my frustration known (I won’t share how many of the above occur with commentary by me), I’ll slide one bead. Every time I allow our Lord to conjure up joy in my heart for one of these moments, I’ll slide two. Eventually, perhaps I’ll run through ten beads twice in one morning – wouldn’t that be beautiful?!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this book. Has reading it changed your life? In what way? Please share any comments about what St. Therese or The Story of a Soul have meant to you.