October 1 heralds my favorite month of the entire year (I live in the Northeast and am a huge fan of the beautiful fall foliage), and it causes a few predictable reactions within my spirit: I feel the beauty of our world so much more keenly in October, and I cherish it that much more. As well, I contemplate the coming holiday season and wonder if I am prepared for it physically, emotionally and spiritually. More often than not, the answer to that question is a decided “no!” There is, though, still plenty of time before Advent begins. That being said, if one is going through a period of spiritual dryness, even a two month lead time can make preparation for one of the most important cycles in the Church year seem very, well, *daunting*.
October 1 is also the feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and each year she never fails to inspire me. St. Thérèse did not practice any form of deep mysticism or complicated devotions. She merely believed in, and practiced, the art of smallness. Our Father in heaven sees us as his little children, and thus we can rest easy in His arms. Our prayer does not need to be formal or organized in any fashion (though there is nothing wrong with either of those two forms of prayer!), it can be anything that feels natural to us from moment-to-moment. We can ask our Father for help, we can offer up a prayer from childhood that we have memorized, or we can wing up a brief “thank you” when we muster the strength to navigate a particularly sticky situation. Rather than focusing on the grand spiritual goals we never seem to be able to accomplish, we can focus on the small ways each day in which we are able to communicate with our Father.
This is all part of St. Thérèse’s “little way” of holiness, in which she completed small, maybe even mundane, tasks, and offered them up to Our Lord to do with as He wished. In this way, we emphasize to ourselves that even when we feel alone, we are part of a much larger Body of Christ. As well, we are accomplishing good in our spiritual lives with our small offerings to God; we need not give in to frustration and despair that we are not achieving bigger things. God is asking us to give everything that we can, and sometimes that will be small, simple things. Those things, when offered with great love, are a bountiful and beautiful spiritual bouquet.
This fall, as I go about the everyday frustrations that accompany me in my job and in my interactions with others, I will think about St. Thérèse. She is one of our many companions in the communion of saints, and is interceding for us to find our way, through smallness and simplicity, back to our Father. This thought always fills me with hope and peace.
Do you have a devotion to St. Thérèse? Do simple ways of communing with our Father in heaven help you to overcome periods of spiritual dryness? I would love to hear about it in the comments!
Copyright 2018 Tiffany Walsh