The Little Way: My Vocation is Love (Part 3 of 8)

Like many people who live a reserved life, Saint Thérèse was unsure of where she fit in the Body of Christ, as scripture refers to the Christian Church. Missionaries, clergy, evangelists, theologians, martyrs, Cardinals, Popes, authors, and more… Saint Thérèse saw and read of these great heroes of her faith, living as the hands and feet of Jesus, and she knew she could never live up to those great feats. She was called to a smaller life than they, yet she desperately desired to serve her God. So, if she could never be the hands and feet of her Beloved, then what could she do? How could she participate in the Body of Christ in the trenches of a mundane, day-in and day-out, life? Simple… she would be the heart of Christ.

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Saint Thérèse wrote,

If the church had a body, composed of different members, the Church had a heart, and this heart was burning with love… I understood that it was Love alone that made the Church’s members act, that if Love ever became extinct, apostles would not preach the Gospel and martyrs would not shed their blood.

I understood that Love compromised all vocations, that love was everything, that it embraces all times and places… in a word, that it was eternal.

Then, in the excess of my delirious joy, I cried out: O Jesus, my Love… my vocation, at last I have found it… my vocation is![1]

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Saint Thérèse realized she couldn’t shed her blood like the martyrs, or preach the Gospel like the apostles, but she could show love. She could do very little that made a big splash on a global scale, but she could make a splash in the life of those she encountered daily. The warrior on the battle field is nothing without his support back at base. The hands and feet of Christ are nothing with out the heart. Saint Thérèse realized that she couldnot, ever be the hands and feet of Christ, but she could be the heart. That was her mission.

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She went on to write,

Yes, I have found my place in the Church and it is You, O my God, who have given me this place; in the heart of the Church… I shall be Love.[2]

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Many people struggle finding their place in God’s Kingdom. Many of us have been saved from ourselves, and are in love with Jesus for what he did on the Cross and we desperately want to show it, but all the mainstream examples of how we show it fit very few people. We could become a pastor if our messed up past allows it. We could become a missionary if we have the means to uproot. We could start a non-profit or lead a youth small group. We could learn to play and instrument and lead worship stage at a church. But after that, there are very few mainstream Christian options.

We could go to our church to ask how we can express our deep abiding love for Christ daily, and chances are we will be passed to a volunteer coordinator who will set us up, serving that particular church in the best role that fits our schedule, but even those options are few.

So what about the single mom or dad, whose routine is simply trying to provide for and raise their child? What about the Sailor, stuck on a ship in some foreign waters whose schedule and scenery has not changed in the last eighteen months? What about the young girl in Roatan, whose entire life will be spent within the circumference of about fifteen miles of her village? Where do the quiet ones fit in God’s Kingdom? Saint Thérèse’s The Little Waymay be a helpful resource for us.

The best way that I can describe The Little Wayis Jesus wants nothing more from us than our love. No great feats, no great story, just our love. Saint Thérèsewrote, “Jesus does not demand great actions from us but simply surrender and gratitude.”[3]We can display that love and gratitude by how we seek Him, in spite of our brokenness, how treat those who we come in contact with and how we intentionally seek the Undesirables in our immediate world, who are most in need of feeling loved.

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Saint Thérèse continued,

See, then, all that Jesus lays claim to from us; He has no need of our works but only our love, for the same God who declares He has no need to tell us when He is hungry did not fear to beg for a little water from the Samaritan woman. He was thirsty. But when he said: “Give me a drink” it was the love of His poor creature the Creator of the universe was seeking.[4]

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He has no need of our work, but only for our love. That’s what the Broken should realize. In the end, no matter how large we are in this hazy existence we call life, or however small we are, we all have equally and only one thing to offer our creator: our love. That’s it. That’s the only thing that is untainted and wholly acceptable by Him. We try to complicated it, but that’s really just it. All of our greatest works on earth will be ashes one day. Indeed they are already compared to filthy rags[5]in Scripture, in comparison to knowing and loving our Heart’s Desire. All that will be left is how we loved Him and how we loved others in our day to day life. Other than that, we have nothing.

Augustus Topladv had it right when he wrote:

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to thee for dress,
Helpless, look to thee for grace;

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee.[6]

He desires us and nothing more. Obviously, this plays out in practical ways in our day today, but we must not force it. We need not desire anything else in this life but to, like a child, reach the lap of our Savior and there find comfort and rest. As Saint Thérèse exclaimed, “O Jesus, Your little bird is happy to be weak and little. What would become of it if it were big? Never would it have the boldness to appear in Your presence, to fall asleep in front of you.”[7]A child does not care about much more than to bask in the love of her mom or dad. And the Good Parent would never cast a child out for their lack of performance. We would not expect much out of them. We would simply desire to love and comfort them, the way they desire to be loved and comforted.

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[1]Thérèse, Story of a Soul, 194.

[2]Thérèse, Story of a Soul, 194.

[3]Thérèse, Story of a Soul, 188.

[4]Thérèse, Story of a Soul, 189.

[5]Is. 64:6

[6]Topladv, Trinity Hymnal, Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me (tune 1).

[7]Thérèse, Story of a Soul, 199.

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