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Lessons for a Lifetime from St. Thérèse the Little Flower


As a girl, Dr. Mary Kay Clark learned lessons for her lifetime about the Little Way of St. Therese: little ones of the world are great ones in the Kingdom.

St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus is her official title, but St. Thérèse is commonly known and loved by her popular title “St. Thérèse the Little Flower.” St. Thérèse was declared a saint when I was in 8th grade, the year Catholic School children were confirmed. The majority of us girls took “Thérèse” as our Confirmation name; most of us wanted to be nuns like St. Thérèse.

The life of St. Thérèse appealed to me as a young Catholic schoolgirl, not because she saved a nation or achieved some great feat, but because she proved that one can be a saint by living a quiet prayerful life. Years ago at my Catholic elementary school, the children attended Mass every day as a class and went to confession every month as a class. Our teachers were nuns who inspired us in many different ways, but definitely represented to us a life of holiness and self-giving, such as lived by St. Thérèse.

At the end of each school day, our teacher-nun would take the last fifteen minutes to have a student read from a biography of a saint, just like the book Seton is selling: “Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus” by Father Raymond.

The Little Way of the Cross

We students listened intently as we all wanted to be a saint, “just like the one in the book.” It was obvious to us that we did not need to be an important person, a king, or a president, but we needed only to live a normal good Catholic life. We needed to attend daily Mass, as we were doing, to say our daily rosary, as we were doing, and to remember the sacrifices of the saints, as we were encouraged to do. St. Thérèse reminded us of the famous statement, and which our nun-teachers daily repeated to us: “the little way of the cross.”

That phrase, “the little way of the cross,” convinced many of us children to accept the normal little difficulties of daily life. Those were years of foreign wars, with dads, brothers, and other relatives going off to fight in a faraway land.

Those were the years when women worked in factories to provide whatever the soldiers needed. Those were years when American families often had very little in material goods and parents depended upon their children to help at home. As the oldest in my family, I can remember washing diapers, ironing clothes, and standing on a stool to wash the dishes in the kitchen sink! Nevertheless, I remember reading books in the evening and doing my homework in a quiet corner.

St. Thérèse promised that when she entered Heaven, she would “spend Heaven doing good on Earth, and let fall from Heaven a shower of roses.” For this reason, she is lovingly called “The Little Flower.”

At this difficult time in our American history, we need to remember that there never has been, nor ever will be, a perfect time on this Earthly planet. The perfect time will be in Heaven. Keeping this in mind, we need to stay in continuing prayer, attending mass frequently, and being sure to include our children in our prayer life.

Show Your Power

Only with prayer, with the help of the Blessed Mother and her Son Jesus, can we achieve a healthy spiritual life, like the life of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus.

For many years I have said the short prayer “Little Flower, in this hour, show your power.” I am convinced that my life has been miraculous, in part because St. Theresa has been pleading for me in Heaven, ever since my Confirmation.

With the Blessed Mother Mary and St. Katherine joining St. Thérèse, I have been given an amazing and a miraculous life. Not because I am special, but because Jesus knows how much I can do, but only with His help and the help of His mother and His saints.

A Carmelite prayer asking St. Thérèse for help includes these words: “St. Thérèse, Flower of fervor and love, please intercede for us. … Instill in us your little way of doing ordinary things with extra-ordinary love.” Little Flower, in this hour, show your power. Amen.

I first became devoted to St. Thérèse as a young schoolgirl, but I know that she is not merely an example for the young. She is also a great example for homeschooling parents.

The world tries to tell us that we can only feel fulfilled in life by accomplishing great things out in the world. But homeschooling moms and dads should know that most of the truly lasting things are those things which are accomplished in the quiet stillness of home.

Someday, when all secrets are made know and we see things as they truly are, we will realize that the little ones of the world are the great ones of the Kingdom. We call the example of St. Thérèse the Little Way, but it’s really the Great Way.

Little Flower, in this hour, show your power.

About Dr. Mary Kay Clark

Director of Seton for more than 25 years. Dr. Clark left Mater Dei Academy and began teaching her children at home at seeing firsthand the opportunities and the pitfalls of private schooling. Meet Dr. Clark | See her book
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