The Little Way (part2)

To achieve what is said in part one of the Little way, Therese resolves to seek out a mean to become a saint by a very short, straight, “Little Way” that is completely new.[1] In her mind, this way will be as new as a new technological invention; after all we live in an age of inventions; that way will be like “an elevator by which I may be raised unto God, for I am too tiny to climb the steep stairway of perfection.”[2] Grace inspires boldness in us. When the Holy Spirit overpowers us, we dare to try to find new ways to live the gospel. Where can she find that elevator or way? She turns to Holy Scripture where she finds “Whosoever is a little one, let him come to me…”(Prov. 9:4). There, she finds that Jesus’ arms are the elevator that will raise her up to heaven.[3] The inspired word of God, which is ever new and fresh while remaining old, “opens new vistas, new and unforeseeable paths”[4] for her. There we have it. the new way to greatness must be achieved through littleness.therese07

Here is the great lesson Therese wants to teach us here: greatness comes from smallness. She wants to be a great saint, but instead of trying to do something noticeable, she lowers herself, persevere, and surrender her will to God. What the prophet Micah said in relation to the birth of Christ can be applied to Therese here. “You, Bethlehem-Ephratha too small to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel” (Micah 5:2). Therese who thought herself too small to be among the great saints is counted among the greatest saints that had ever graced the Church because she chooses to live the opposite of what she wanted to be. St. Francis de Sales advised, “when dealing with a character flaw, resort as much as possible to practicing the contrary virtue, and connect everything to it”.[5] Therese did precisely that. She wanted greatness, yet she chose littleness. She wanted fame, yet she chose hiddenness. Later, she became all at once, not just before men, but also before and because of God. Is this not a common occurrence in Scripture— the little giving rise to the great, wonderful things coming where you least expect them? Did stuttering Moses not speak up to mighty Pharaoh? Did the slave nation not defeat the mightiest army? Did tiny David not slaughter the giant Goliath? It is clear that when we surrender to God’s way, mighty forces come to our help.

img_0252Therese seems to intuit that method from God. After the Fall, God called Abraham, an unknown and powerless man to leave his country and move to an unknown land (Gen. 12), and made a great nation out of him. Out of all the powerful nations of the world, God chose a small and insignificant country for the savior of the world to be born; what’s more, while under the occupation of the most powerful nation on earth—Rome. In the midst of a wide world full of kingdoms with their mighty events and dramas, he devoted himself to little things, to individual men and women, and on “little people”. In a country where there were popular movements to overthrow the Romans, our Lord devoted many hours to one Samaritan woman, the one Nicodemus, the one Martha, the one Mary Magdalene, the one Lazarus, the one Simon Peter. That tells us the infinite value of the one (the little) is the key to the Christian understanding of the many (the great). God’s greatness is magnified more evidentially in small things.[6]

Do you want to please God too? well, it is possible, don’t become hopeless. trust wholeheartedly; choose the opposite of your flaw. you will succeed.

[1] Jacques Philippe, The Way of Love, p. 9

[2] Story of a soul 207

[3] Story of soul, 208

[4] Phillipe, 19

[5] Rudolf Stertenbrink, Wisdom of the Little Flower, 127

[6] Inspired from a quote of Anglican Primate Michael Ramsey used by Stertenbrink, 65-66