HOMILY FOR THE MEMORIAL OF SAINT THÉRÈSE OF THE CHILD JESUS
THEME: What is your Elevator to Heaven?
BY: Fr. Anthony O. Ezeaputa, MA.
HOMILY FOR SATURDAY OCTOBER 1 2022
The genesis of all good work is desire. “The desire for God is written in the human heart,” the Catechism says, “because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself.” It is God who puts this desire in us. It means that it is not vainglory to desire to live a holy life and be canonized as a saint. Sainthood is, therefore, for all because Jesus Christ died for all (2 Cor. 5:15). But God nevertheless grants us the freedom to choose him and to choose the path—or the elevator—to sainthood.
In the manuscript of her memories, Marie Françoise-Thérèse Martin (Jan. 2, 1873–Sept. 30, 1897) shared her desire to become a saint like the great saints of her religious institute: St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. In her time, at the end of the nineteenth century, people still tended to identify the idea of sainthood with the kind of exceptional perfection that involved heroic experiences and extraordinary graces. These gifts tend to suggest that sainthood is the privilege of the few. Instead, it is open to all and sundry.
Thérèse Martin discovered that she couldn’t match up with the extraordinary gifts of great saints of the Discalced Carmelite Order. She found an easy way to accomplish her desire in “Whoever is simple, let him come to me!” (Proverb 9:4). Using the image of the elevator, she described her way to sainthood as the “Little Way”.
She wrote: “We are in an age of inventions; now one doesn’t have to make the effort to climb up a stairway in rich people’s houses, because an elevator does the work much better. I too would like to find an elevator to lift me up to Jesus, for I am too little to climb up the steep stairway of perfection.”
Her elevator to sainthood is a childlike simplicity, total abandonment, trust, and love of Jesus. She believes that “God could not inspire us with desires that were unrealizable, so despite my littleness, I can aspire to holiness. It is impossible for me to grow up, I must put up with myself as I am, with all my imperfections, but I want to find how to get to Heaven by a little way that is quite straight, quite short, a completely new little way.”
Her spirituality teaches us that the easiest and simplest way or elevator to sainthood is the “Little Way.” That is the transformation of daily life into an offering to God. It entails receiving everything from God: the meaning of our lives; the courage we need; the light by which we make our choices. It is receiving everything from God in trust, prayer, and simplicity.
The “little way of Saint Thérèse” is doing what is asked of us day by day, without anxiety or fear. It’s knowing that God is trustworthy and will give us what we need in each moment. It means never falling for the lie that we’ll be able to get by without God one day.
May St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face intercede for us to desire to be saints. May her “Little Way” inspire us to seek to please God in small things, to be on the lookout for every opportunity to show simple signs of love, to offer ourselves, and so on—not to accumulate merits or to rise above other people, but to love, to please God, as a child seeks to please her father through Christ our Lord. Amen!
Homily for the Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus – 1st