“I will spend my heaven doing good upon earth. I will let fall from heaven a shower of roses”–St. Therese the Little Flower
Little Flowers and Big Messages
From the day we understood what it is to be big and what is to be small, we have wanted extra hard to be the former. As a child, all of us longed to play with the big kids. They seemed to have extra privileges, more strength and authority over their younger siblings, and could stay up much later with the adults. How unfair.
As we got older, our desires changed. We wanted to be able to drive and have personal freedom like the upperclassmen in high school. After college we wanted to find that big job we were promised. Then we want that big promotion and to live in a big house, etc.
Everything in us yearns to be bigger, better, brighter. And in many ways, that’s exactly how God made us.
But there is a paradox hidden in our God given call to greatness.
Marie Françoise-Thérèse Martin, otherwise known to the Universal Church as St. Therese the Little Flower, strove to find her unique way to serve God, despite feeling herself small and insignificant. At times she was troubled by her limitations. Performing great works for God were seemingly outside of her reach as a cloistered nun. Hers was not the work of a priest in a parish, or a missionary in a far away land heroically converting a foreign people. So she resolved to find a way to follow Christ in a short, simple, powerful way. This “little way” is best reflected in her autobiography The Story of a Soul. In it, one discovers a spiritual titan, the 33rd Doctor of the Church, living and advocating a spirituality that invites one, not to intellectual heights or deep theological ideas, but to everyday holiness accessible to any soul willing to love God freely and personally.
With many devotees, including St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, St. Maximilian Kolbe, and St. Teresa of Calcutta, her mission and intercessory power is well known. Her works for us from Heaven are powerful and simple, often mirroring her “little way.” At times though this Saint has been reported to take her words quite literally, leaving roses for her devotees, as a sign of the graces she obtains for them from God on our behalf. Here is someone who lived an ordinary life, herself beset with her own struggles before God and her own helplessness. All the same, she accepted her smallness, and with humble but resolute heart marched into heaven with purpose and mission, and now showers us as she promised with “roses from heaven.”
Her intercession is proof we may, in whatever state of life we are in, through little sacrifices, little acts of love for God, in the mundane and the routine, attain to the greatness of sainthood for which we are all destined! Our Lord himself tells us the secret to being great is allowing yourself to be small. Jesus admonished his disciples in Scripture thus: “But you shall not be like them. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who leads like the one who serves (Luke 22:26).” As imitators of Christ, this is the true and perfect way to greatness.