Word On Fire contributor Fr. Michael Cummins didn't have a lot in common with St. Therese. Yet just as with tangible friendships, sometimes we don't choose a saint, they instead choose us. Today he shares his thoughts on our ministry's patroness.
Sometimes I wonder if we go about it backwards in our catechesis of young people. We tell our young people about the saints, we give them holy cards, we ask them to choose the name of a saint for confirmation – all ways, at least on one level, of hoping that they will be inspired by the saint and come to know more of Jesus and living the Christian faith. Would it not be better, first and foremost, to introduce our young people to Jesus (to truly encounter him as Lord and Savior) and then trust that over time Jesus himself will introduce our young people to his friends, the saints?
I have to admit that this is the way that I have come to know and have friendship with different saints in my own life. Through Christ I have met St. Paul, I have met St. Teresa of Avila, recently I have begun a friendship with St. Josephine Bakhita and (I have to admit) that it is only through Christ that I have developed a friendship with St. Therese.
I grew up one of four boys in East Tennessee in the 1970’s. You quickly learned how to have thick skin growing up with three brothers; as our preferred way of showing affection was either mercilessly mocking one another or sneaking a punch when the parents were not looking. My parents, may they rest in peace, were both converts to the Catholic faith. My father had a life-long struggle with alcoholism (which he lost) and my mother struggled with an alcoholic for a husband. Often, my brothers and I were on our own. My extended family is the proto-typical American family, it seems, when it comes to religion and faith – meaning we are a mix of everything (Lutheran, Evangelical, Episcopalian, Baptist, Catholic, non-practicing Catholic, and agnostic). We cover the whole spectrum. This is my experience...
In continuing our week of devotion to the Little Flower, contributor Ellyn von Huben offers her take on the saint, for whom we often heap our saccharine admiration. But it is her intrepid faith and core-rattling love that is what we ought to remember.
Please look past the pink ribbon, the sweet-faced young Blessed on the medallion, and the whole roses thing. St. Thérèse of Lisieux is much more than that. St. Thérèse has been adored by girls everywhere (young and not so young), but it is a shame to keep her memory confined in pink ribbons, saccharine statuary and paper roses. Full disclosure: pink is my favorite color, I am overly fond of sweet vintage religious statuary, and “Tea Rose” is my favorite perfume. I have a pink shelf in my bedroom with a statue of The Little Flower next to a “shabby chic” vase of pink roses. And the picture is of the antique plaster medallion that I have over my desk at work.
How much would we lose out on if we let our devotion to St. Thérèse be limited to her girlish appeal? If what she can teach to those of us of any gender or age would be obscured by the frilly packaging? She is no pastel saint; no patroness of the Hello Kitty fan club. Her truth is the dynamic contradiction found in this Doctor of the Church. She is demure yet fierce, simple yet profound, minimally schooled yet possessing great knowledge, little yet huge...
Author Heather King shares her thoughts on Word on Fire's patron saint, St. Therese of Lisieux, and how this saint of "no extraordinary charism" led a life that teaches us we can all be better and love more. See the video, today, on the Word on Fire blog.