is Meant by Her "Little Way"?
Thérèse saw herself
as a child of God. She liked to keep things simple and focused as
a child does. Trust, especially trust in God, is a childlike virtue.
Some spiritualities have stressed complicated practices and extraordinary
journeys of the soul as it responds to God's grace and love. Thérèse's
spirituality is simple and she calls it her "little way".
She believed and teaches us that life presents enough challenges
and opportunities for grace. She teaches us that God is everywhere
- in every situation and person - and in the ordinary, simple details
"Everything is grace" is
probably the theme song of her spirituality. Her "Little Way"
teaches us to do the ordinary things of life with extraordinary
love. A smile, a note of encouragement, a phone call, suffering
in silence, always having a positive word, a simple unnoticed task
to brighten the life of another, and so many other simple deeds,
done with love - these are the examples of her spirituality. The
smallest action, done with love, is more important than great deeds
done for personal glory, gratification or simply out of obedience.
Thérèse teaches us that Jesus is everywhere and is
the power for love and goodness operating within us. Such is the
power and presence of grace. Thérèse's life was hidden.
To many, even in the convent, she seemed like such an average, ordinary
person. Her greatness showed in the constancy of her love for others
in the most simple ways.
Even in prayer, Thérèse
teaches simplicity; talking to God and Jesus in direct, personal
and heartfelt ways. She did not like long prayers. She fell asleep
during community prayer. She disliked the rosary. She prayed from
her heart as a child speaks honestly and trustingly to a parent
they love. God calls us to respond to Divine Love in a childlike
relationship of love, trust and bold confidence to "Abba"
(which literally means "Dad'), and by doing the simple things
for others, well and with love.
Thérèse was faithful
to the Gospel of Jesus and the core of his message. She invites
us to join in her "spiritual childhood" or "little
way". The power, appeal and simplicity of her message is why
the Church declared her a Doctor of the Church in 1997.