Extraordinary Women for Ordinary Time: St. Therese of Lisieux

The last six months have been a liturgical whirlwind. Advent sprinted by and ran headlong into Christmas morning. After only five short weeks of Lent, we were thrust into the contemplative season of Lent. As always, those forty days, which always seem like an endless amount of time, abruptly plopped me at the threshold of Holy Week and finally of his triumphant conquering of the forces of death and sin with his Resurrection. Seven more weeks of Easter celebrations and beautiful feasts  Goodness gracious, I’m sure what comes next is going to be even more magnificent!

And then it hits me: Ordinary Time. Twenty-nine weeks of Ordinary Time. You’ve got to be kidding. What am I supposed to do with “ordinary” after everything I’ve been through in the past six months? I already put up with the hum-drum of ordinary in my everyday life. Now, I’m supposed to be ordinary in the life of the Church as well? Sheesh…how many more days until Advent?

But this, my friends, is a magnificent season. In fact, one of the greatest saints of our time, St. Therese of Lisieux, became an extraordinary witness to the importance and sanctity  of the ordinary. Speaking of her famous life practice, known as the Little Way, St. Therese remarks that “in [the] little way, there are only ordinary things.” Yeah, okay, but aren’t we called to do big things? To bring Jesus single-handedly to every single person on this earth? To save the world with our Catholic super powers? But St. Therese continues, “Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.”

Ah, there’s the key. In all of the grandiose liturgical seasons we just experienced, were we not given an example of Christ’s great love? And wasn’t this love also shown in small ways? Indeed, our savior, our God, was born in a poor little stable to make manifest for us his incomprehensible and immense love, which culminated in his total gift of self for us, out of that love, on the cross.

What, then, is our true super power? It is love. It is practiced in the littleness of Ordinary Time just as much as in the grandness of Advent and Easter. As we transverse (for an extraordinary amount of time) into this new liturgical season, let’s commit to practicing St. Therese’s little way, which she says “is the way of spiritual childhood, the way of trust and absolute self-surrender.” It’s the way of letting that mom and her screaming child go in front of us in the check-out line. It’s the way of cheerfully interacting with that coworker. It’s the way of joyfully helping our friend finish that stressful project.

It is a time to practice. Let’s use this Ordinary Time to practice love, the very virtue that God has displayed for us so magnificently since the first Sunday of Advent. Following St. Therese’s example, we have the ability to make this Ordinary Time truly extraordinary with little acts of love.

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St. Therese of Lisieux, pray for us.

Meghan Perks

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