When I was ten years old, I asked Saint Therese for a kitten.
It makes me laugh now, but back then I desperately wanted one. My aunt, who knew more about Saint Therese than I did, had told me that she promised a shower of roses to whoever invoked her aid.
So I begged for that kitten. After all, it had to be easier than sending a torrential downpour of roses.
Years later, my youth minister gave me a book about her spirituality called “I Believe in Love.” I started reading it – no, I raced through it. I could relate to her so much more than any other saint I’d yet encountered.
Therese fell asleep while praying, messed up her daily chores, and yet, she didn’t inflict guilt and shame upon herself. She embraced her faults with child-like simplicity. Therese didn’t just rely on the all-encompassing love of God … she dove right into that ocean.
I so connected with this. It helped me respond to God’s already persistent tug on my heart, to rely on His love instead of being bothered by my failures.
So, no, I never got that kitten. It didn’t appear at Christmas underneath my tree like I’d wanted. Instead, my mother thought it would suffice to buy a stuffed cat, which was sort of like a porcelain doll with faux cat fur, and ultimately creepy. But what I did get from Saint Therese, years later, was so much better.
She helped bring me so close to Christ’s heart, that I learned not to be afraid of jumping inside. Which is, after all, what saints are supposed to do.
Saint Therese wanted to be a missionary in order to do great things. That never happened. But she wasn’t disturbed by it! She trusted that God would work in her, even if it was in a way she could not foresee. How often do we feel like we’re too little to be used by God? Or like we’ll never be one of His saints or never attain perfection?
Saint Therese knew it wasn’t about perfection. After her death, when her journal was published, countless people were brought closer to God through her knowledge of His love. She became a missionary of love. God used her just as she was and that’s what He does for each of us.
Her feast day is October 1st. If you feel too small to be used by God, take a moment and pray a novena with Saint Therese. Ask her to help you surrender to God’s love and to know that He is working in you, just as you are.
Saint Therese, pray for us, that we will all have a deeper awareness of God’s all-encompassing love.