Our parish anniversary of November 12th reminded us of the altar relic that was placed at Resurrection sanctuary thirty-four years ago. Cardinal Hickey gave us a relic of St. Therese of Lisieux, as the dedication ceremony. Each (Arch) diocese has relics that they keep to be used for church altar dedications. It remains there in the altar stone, right under the altar spot where the paten and chalice are placed in the consecration prayers at Holy Mass. It has been over 21,000 times now that a Mass has been prayed in the upper church. We also place the Eucharist each week (Friday) on the same spot for the Adoration time of the parish to the Blessed Sacrament, and at which were Benediction is done by the priest or deacon.
In this past October, about a month ago, the Church celebrated the 150 anniversary of Therese’ birth in France. Then, in 2023, Pope Francis took the occasion to write an apostolic exhortation to her praises, for the kind of life she led in her little ways of Love and in her utter God-confident spirit.
In reflection of that recognition of St. Therese, our guest lay evangelist Brian Pusateri, who gave us the parish mission at Resurrection and mini-mission at Riderwood, wrote these words, which I will pass on to you in this blog. It is taken from Brian’s 4th Day News which he writes a weekly article, found at the website brokendoorministries.com. One can sign up to get it (like I do). and I will use his words to send this newest blog to you.
Imagine a small child riding in the back seat of his father’s car, fully trusting that his father will get him home safely. At no point would the toddler know how to find his own way home. As we travel through life, we need that same level of trust and confidence. Jesus knows the way to get us safely home to our Heavenly Father. Do we trust in Him or do we trust in our abilities?
On Tuesday, October 17, 2023, in honor of the 150th anniversary of the birth of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Pope Francis offered an apostolic exhortation entitled C’est La Confiance. St. Thérèse of Lisieux lived a short life of only 24 years but she lived a life filled with trust. She once wrote, “C’est la confiance et rien que la confiance qui doit nous conduire à l’Amour.” This means, “it is confidence and nothing but confidence that must lead us to Love.” Although these words were written in 1896, they remain highly instructive for us today.
Trust and confidence in Jesus should be at the core of every Christian life. As Christians, we need a life filled with grace, and we need to constantly pray for unwavering trust and confidence in Jesus Christ. None of us should ever rely on our own merits, because outside of God, we have none.
The Apostolic Exhortation C’est La Confiance states, “It is confidence that sustains us daily and will enable us to stand before the Lord on the day when he calls us to himself: “In the evening of this life, I shall appear before you with empty hands, for I do not ask you, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is stained in your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in your own Justice and to receive from your Love the eternal possession of yourself”.
Unfortunately, many Christians, especially those battling recurring patterns of sin in their life, become disheartened, hopeless, or even despairing because they fear they are losing the battle against some broken area in their life. Too often they may be relying on their own ability to overcome their struggle. My hope is that today’s message offers everyone hope and encouragement. We should never torture ourselves with negative, critical, and self-defeating thoughts.
Therese of Lisieux always stressed the primacy of God’s work, His gift of grace. She knew she could not rely on her own merits, since, as she said, “I have none.” She had total trust in God’s mercy. She also understood that once gratuitously justified by sanctifying grace, we are changed and enabled to cooperate by our good works in a process of growth in holiness. She encouraged everyone to have complete confidence in the love of Christ outpoured.
St. Thérèse taught us to place heartfelt trust, not in ourselves, but in the infinite mercy of a God who loves us unconditionally and has already given us everything in the Cross of Jesus Christ. Her confidence in Christ allowed her to understand that Jesus does not demand great actions from us, but simply surrender and gratitude.
St. Thérèse was fully aware of the reality of sin in the world, however, she held tight to the words of Romans 5:20 which states, “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” Clearly, the world is filled with sin, but it is not infinite. The merciful love on the Redeemer, on the other hand, is indeed infinite!
St. Thérèse lived a life known as the “little way.” Her little way consisted of a path of trust and love, also known as the way of spiritual childhood. Today’s modern culture tries to tell us just the opposite. It tells us to rely on our own abilities. In this age of individualism and self-reliance, we must remember that one day we will stand before the Lord with empty hands.
We can learn a lot from the saints that walked before us. St Thérèse taught us to rediscover the importance of simplicity, the absolute primacy of love, trust and abandonment, and the necessity to move beyond a legalistic or moralistic mindset that fills the lives of too many Christians with rules and regulations, which in turn cause the joy of the Gospel to grow cold.
Like that small child in the back seat of dad’s car, we need to live each day with confidence and trust. Jesus will not only sustain us in this life, but He will be waiting to greet us when we arrive at the end of this life with empty hands.
Heavenly Father, grant me the grace and wisdom to never trust in my own abilities, for without You I can do nothing. Help me to hold firm, in good times and in the trials of life, to a never ending trust in your Son Jesus. He alone has the power to save me. Amen!