1 October – Memorial for St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor, Patroness of Missions
Born to a pious middle-class French family of tradesmen, Francoise-Marie Therese Martin (1873–1897) was the daughter of Saint Louis Martin and Saint Marie-Azelie Guerin Martin, and all four of her sisters became nuns. Her mother died when Francoise-Marie was only four, and the family moved to Lisieux, Normandy, France to be closer to family.
She was cured from an illness at the age of 8 when a statue of the Blessed Virgin smiled at her. She was educated by the Benedictine nuns of Notre-Dame-du-Pre, and confirmed there at the age of 11. Just before her 14th birthday, she received a vision of the Child Jesus. She immediately understood the great sacrifice that had been made for her, and developed an unshakeable faith.
She tried to join the Carmelites, but was turned down due to her age. She was a pilgrim to Rome for the Jubilee of Pope Leo XIII whom she met and who knew of her desire to become a nun. She joined the Carmelites at Lisieux on 9 April 1888 at the age of 15, taking her final vow on 8 September 1890 at the age of 17.
She is known by all for her complete devotion to spiritual development and to the austerities of the Carmelite Rule. Due to health problems resulting from her ongoing fight with tuberculosis, her superiors ordered her not to fast. She became novice mistress at the age of 20, and at age 22 was ordered by her prioress to begin writing her memories and ideas. The material would turn into the book History of a Soul.
She defined her path to God and holiness at The Little Way, which consisted of child-like love and trust in God. She had an ongoing correspondence with the Carmelite missionaries in China, often stating how much she wanted to come work with them. Many miracles are attributed to her and she was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1997 by Pope John Paul II.
“You know well enough that our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them.” – Saint Therese of Lisieux
– Patron Saints Index
This was the answer Job gave to the Lord:
I know that you are all-powerful:
what you conceive, you can perform.
I am the man who obscured your designs
with my empty-headed words.
I have been holding forth on matters I cannot understand,
on marvels beyond me and my knowledge.
I knew you then only by hearsay;
but now, having seen you with my own eyes,
I retract all I have said,
and in dust and ashes I repent.
The Lord blessed Job’s new fortune even more than his first one. He came to own fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand she-donkeys. He had seven sons and three daughters; his first daughter he called ‘Turtledove’, the second ‘Cassia’ and the third ‘Mascara.’ Throughout the land there were no women as beautiful as the daughters of Job. And their father gave them inheritance rights like their brothers.
After his trials, Job lived on until he was a hundred and forty years old, and saw his children and his children’s children up to the fourth generation. Then Job died, an old man and full of days.
The seventy-two came back rejoicing. ‘Lord,’ they said ‘even the devils submit to us when we use your name.’ He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Yes, I have given you power to tread underfoot serpents and scorpions and the whole strength of the enemy; nothing shall ever hurt you. Yet do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you; rejoice rather that your names are written in heaven.’
It was then that, filled with joy by the Holy Spirit, he said, ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’
Then turning to his disciples he spoke to them in private, ‘Happy the eyes that see what you see, for I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear, and never heard it.’
“Yet do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you; rejoice rather that your names are written in heaven.”
As we conclude the week, we read in the first reading of God blessing Job with new fortune, even more than his first one. Indeed, our lives, our faith, it isn’t one about continuous sufferings or struggles but God has something far much greater that He wants to share with us, hence sometimes He tries to lead us away from the small temporary distractions that seem to attract us.
As in the 2 readings, most of the time, we need to see in order to believe and the Lord acknowledges that. But what is important is not the miracles we see daily or whether or not we are bestowed with gifts of healing and so on. What is truly important as emphasised in the Gospel, “yet do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you; rejoice rather that your names are written in heaven.”
Let us not be distracted by our ultimate goal which is eternal life with our Father in heaven. Even though we may not be able to see or hear God’s voice, we know deep down within us, we are called to love, to care, to forgive, not just because the Bible says so, but it is very much who each and every one of us are, who we are all called to be.
We are given “power to tread underfoot serpents and scorpions and the whole strength of the enemy; nothing shall ever hurt you” but we will not know who the enemy is till we know who our master is. Let us not focus on the “power” but on the giver for the “power” may be temporary but the giver, eternal.
As the psalmist says, “let your face shine on your servant, O Lord”. Help us to live a life in order that when many see us, they see you too. Help us to love the way you love. Let us rejoice for you have blessed us abundantly and will only continue to bless us more. Let us rejoice for our lives, our faith is in your safe hands. Let us rejoice for we are yours. Amen.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)
Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for a continuous awareness of the distractions that turn our focus away from you. Help us to be reminded of your love and mercy. Help us to be your light and your love to all. Help us to trust in you. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for all the blessings you have bestowed on us. Thank you for your Word and your assurance that you are with us always.