Saint Therese and Her Little Way
When asked to explain what she meant by "remaining a little child before God," Therese replied:
It is to recognize our nothingness, to expect everything from God as a little child expects everything from its father; it is to be disquieted about nothing, and not to be set on gaining our living.
To be little is not attributing to oneself the virtues that one practices, not believing oneself capable of anything, but to recognize that God places this treasure in the hands of His little child to be used when necessary; but it remains always God's treasure. Finally, it is not to become discouraged over one's faults, for children fall often, but they are too little to hurt themselves very much.
It pleases Him to create great saints, who may be compared with the lilies or the rose; but He has also created little ones who must be content to be daisies or violets nestling at His feet to delight His eyes when He should choose to look at them. The happier they are to be as He wills, the more perfect they are.
What pleases Him is to see me love my littleness and poverty, the blind hope I have in His mercy...
What delights Him is the simplicity of these flowers of the field, and by stooping so low to them, He shows how infinitely great He is. Just as the sun shines equally on the cedar and the little flower, so the Divine Sun shines equally on the cedar and the little flower, so the Divine Sun shines equally on everyone, great and small. Everything is ordered for their good, just as in nature the seasons are so ordered that the smallest daisy comes to bloom at its appointed time.
Our vocation, yours and mine, is not to go harvesting in the fields of ripe corn; Jesus does not say to us; "Lower your eyes, look at the fields, and go and reap them"; our mission is still loftier. Here are Jesus'words: "Lift up your eyes and see.." See how in My Heaven there are places empty; it is for you to fill them..Each of you is My Moses praying on the mountain, ask Me for laborers and I shall send them, I await only a prayer, a sigh from your heart.
Saint Teresa of Avila says we must feed the fire of love. When we are in darkness, in dryness, there is no wood within our reach, but surely we are obliged at least to throw little bits of straw on the fire. Jesus is quite powerful enough to keep the fire going by Himself, yet He is glad when we add a little fuel, it is a delicate attention which gives him pleasure, and then He throws a great deal of wood on the fire; we do not see it but we feel the strength of Love's heat.
I have tried it: when I feel nothing, when I am incapable of praying or practicing viritue, then is the moment to look for small occasions, nothings that give Jesus more pleasure than the empire of the world, more even than martyrdom generously suffered. For example, a smile, a friendly word, when I would much prefer to say nothing at all or look bored, etc.
Often a single word, a friendly smile, is enough to give a depressed or lonely soul fresh life.
A spiritual feast of gentle, joyful love is all I can set before my Sisters, I do not know of any other, and want to follow the example of Saint Paul, rejoicing with all who rejoice. I know he wept with those who weep, and my feasts are not always without their share of tears, but I always try to turn them into smiles, for "the Lord loves the cheerful giver".
I saw only too well how very imperfect was my love for my Sisters; I did not really love them as Jesus loves them.
I see now that true charity consists in bearing with the faults of those about us, never being surprised at their weaknesses, but edified at the least sign of virtue. I see above all that charity must not remain hidden in the bottom of our hearts, for "no man lights a candle and puts it in a hidden place, nor under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that they who come in may see the light". It seems to me that this candle is the symbol of charity; it must shine out not only to cheer those we love best but all those who are of the household.