Last night I was thinking about St. Therese of the Little Flower (my confirmation saint), and a thought suddenly occurred to me.
I remember while reading various books about her a number of years ago that St. Joan of Arc was her favorite saint. Both of them lived in France and Therese seemed to feel a connection with the saint. Joan of Arc did great amazing things. She saved France and she died for Christ.
As a girl who has looked up to St. Therese all my life, I know that looking up to a saint and feeling a connection with them makes you want to follow in their footsteps. For example, I wanted to be a nun (a Carmelite, of course), I wanted to do everything with great love, and, yes, I even wanted to die of Tuberculosis.
As these thoughts occurred to me, I realized that St. Therese, I’m sure, wanted to follow in the footsteps of her favorite saint. She wanted to do something great for France, for the world.
And yet, what is she known for? For the little things she did, the “nothings”.
She wanted to be a heroic saint and wished she could go to war and save France, but she got to confine herself in a convent for her Love of God and offer every little action she did too Him.
That may make you laugh or smile, or it may make you feel a little upset. Would not the life Therese lived have be very unsatisfying if those were her desires?
Well, not necessarily. You see, Therese’s first and foremost desire was to do the Will of God. Her love for Him was so great that anything He wished for her to do was the only thing that would satisfy her (look at the determination and patience she had to enter the convent and the sorrow she experienced when she was prevented from entering).
But there’s more! Therese’s “little” things weren’t so little. Her Little Way has influenced so many lives and changed so many hearts. Her Little Way was Mother Teresa’s way of life, to do every little thing with great love. Imagine that! Therese influenced and guided another saint on their way to perfection!
Her littleness became greatness because she had great love. Therese wanted to save France, to do something big like Joan and she did, although maybe not in the way she imagined. She hoped to do something heroic for France but God said, “I have something better. I want you to do something heroic for the world.”
So remember, when you feel upset about the little things you do. About cleaning after your children, about being patient with your co-workers, about anything that just seems inadequate and worthless in the big scheme of things, remember that in littleness greatness is found.
I am sure that once in your life (at least) you have felt that your life is only made up of little things, that when you are asked what you did the only reply you have (though you have worked all day) is “nothing”. Well, the truth of the matter is that every life only consists in those little nothings. A great politician does many little things to get to where he or she is and has to continue those little things to stay in that place. The bestselling author did many small things to get where he or she is. Daily writing, editing over and over, rewriting stories, discarding stories and trying again. We do small things and over the course of a period of time or our life they amount to great things. But this all depends on how we do them.
Folding the laundry may seem insignificant to you, but what if you folded the laundry in a special way? What if you folded it with great love? What if every time you folded the laundry you offered your actions up with love for sinners? You will fold laundry a mountain of times in your life. Now this action that seemed so insignificant before by the end of your life will be your source of greatness. Your folding the laundry will have given hope, help, and grace to sinners. Your little, insignificant, weekly “nothing” of folding the laundry became an ocean of mercy, grace, and love. You may think it’s silly, but it’s so very true.
Now, imagine, what if you did more than the laundry with great love? What if you did everything with great love? Your ocean would expand to universes. And this is how Therese, Therese called the “Little Flower”, saved her France. This is how her desire to be a heroic saint like St. Joan of Arc was fulfilled in such a perfect way.
You see? Greatness does not only consist in astounding, heroic actions. It also consists in nothingness.