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The Little Way Of Holiness

Therese in 1886, age 13
Picture via Wikipedia

On October 1, 1997, The Feast Day of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, I offered Mass in the Monastery of St. John Eudes in Paris, France, her home country. Just 100 miles away, northwest to Normandy, rests the quiet little town of Lisieux where Sister Therese (1873-1897) lived out her days.  This was also the year that the Church celebrated the 100th Anniversary of her painful death from tuberculosis.

I delighted that morning to be so close to where this astounding story took place. A week before this, our little pilgrim group of four had traveled to Lisieux to pray and show our respect to this saintly young woman.  In the mighty Basilica, with seating for 8,000 people, I celebrated Mass at a side altar on the main floor with my three friends kneeling close by.  Therese said, “When I die, I will drop roses (favors) from Heaven.”  After Mass, I asked for many favors for myself, my family and my friends, especially for happy deaths for all of us.  What could be more important as that?

Therese is buried in the Convent of Carmel, about two blocks away from the Basilica. As I sat in the Convent, at her Tomb, I mused, Therese spent her seven years of religious life within these plain walls. When she died, the other nuns asked, “What shall we say about Sister Therese?  She seemed so ordinary!”  Shortly after her death in 1897, her autobiography, “The Story Of A Soul”, revealed her sanctity.  She was canonized in 1925.

What was her secret? In her love for God, she wanted to do great things for Him, but soon realized, in her hidden convent life, the impossibility of such grand accomplishments.  “I will show my love for God by trusting completely and wholeheartedly in Him.”  At the age of 15, on a train trip to Rome that took her over the Alps, the young girl fell under the spell of the grandeur and majesty of the mountain range.  She vowed never again will I fail to trust in God.  The wonders of Nature about us should impel us to say the same!

Jesus said, “Be like a child in your journey to the Kingdom!” In a child’s life, trust in its parents stands out above all other qualities.  When a child holds on to his mother’s hand to cross a busy street, he has no fears and skips along in a happy way.  In all our needs, Jesus wants us to trust in His Heavenly Father’s care for us.  His eye is on the sparrow.  Following this program, Therese hurried along the way of holiness.

I’ve written before about the Thai people and their uncommon acceptance of the hardships of life. An American, living in Thailand was amazed that when confronted with difficulties the Thai person would not complain, but with a simple bow of the head, would move on with life.  This touched me and I began to accept (the key word) whatever came into my life, in imitation of the Thai people and our little Saint Therese.  Even at my advance age of 99, and my recent medical issues, I still follow this way toward holiness.  What blessings of peace continue to pour into my life!

Fr. George McKenna

October 6, 2018 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , | 6 Comments

Holy Spirit, Open My Mind To The Possibilities Around Me

Appearance of Jesus Christ to Mary Magdalena
by Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov

In speaking of physical health, all doctors agree on one point – exercise is a “must”. “Use your heart or lose it.”  All my life I have kept active, my favorite activity being golf.  When I was assigned to Our Lady of The Snows on Chicago’s Southside, I would walk around Midway airport – a four mile trip – for my exercise.  When I retired, I rented a condominium in a three story complex at 99th & South Pulaski.  So accustomed to meeting my need for exercise, I became sad and frustrated because weather conditions kept me far from my usual level of activity.  It would be too cold or too hot, too snowy or too rainy, or sometimes just too inconvenient to go down three floors to street level.  I was beginning to feel sluggish and tired.

Then a thought came to me: what about the corridor just outside my door? It was long enough, about 50 yards, heavily air conditioned in the summer and heated in the winter.  And so I began my daily walks for about 30 minutes at a time.  My level of good health returned quickly.  I was actually thrilled at this discovery of how to get my walking in right outside my front door!

The same holds true for the health of our soul. Spiritual leaders tell of the absolute necessity of making Jesus, the Great Prophet from Nazareth, the center of our life.  We are to focus the spotlight of our love and attention on this Gentle Person of the Gospels.  All other persons stand in the dark.  Here we see the Savior offering us His Love and Friendship.  We need but say “Yes” and He will come, capture our hearts and draw us under His spell of goodness and righteousness.  We follow up this “Yes” with a daily sharing of the happenings of our life with Jesus.

In this brief message, we can see how to improve our interior life by accepting the Lord’s invitation to be His loving friend. In my opening story, I allowed everyday circumstances of life to keep me from my daily exercise.  Luckily I overcame these minor distractions before my health deteriorated too much.  And after starting my routine, I saw how simple it really was to find and make the time for exercise.

We can easily allow the conditions of life to make us deaf and blind to the circumstances that are darkening our souls, and then miss the chance of a life time to renew it; too much work to do, too many responsibilities, or the old time favorite – “I’m just not the praying type.” Jesus’ invitation is open to all people of all ages.  Don’t put off your acceptance of this wonderful soul and life saving change.  Thrill at the simplicity of carrying it out. 

Jesus stands before us . . . “Why are you making Me an alabaster statue, a thing with no hearing, no sight, and no understanding? I am fully alive!  I am alert to all the goings on in your life!  Share your life with Me, and I will share eternal life with you!”   Don’t be sad and frustrated like I was because of my lack of exercise – it was always available to me, right outside my front door.  Jesus too, is always there, always available!  Rejoice!

Fr. George McKenna

September 30, 2018 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , , | 7 Comments