Today is the solemnity of St. Joseph! Model father, husband and worker, and integral part of the holy family. I have been praying a novena to him for particular intentions and always feel peace talking to him. I pray I will have the courage to do the right thing in tough situations, as he did.
I wanted to post an allocutio I gave last week, because I got a chance to talk about St. Therese, who I have been thinking a lot about after reading her autobiography, Story of a Soul. Her ability to find holiness in ordinary, and even unpleasant, things, amazes me. As another of my favorite saints said, "The cross is the gift God gives to his friends" (St. Philip Neri). It's a radical way to look at all of life's unpleasantness, from stubbing your toe to losing a loved one, and something I have been thinking about.
Below is the allocutio:
· Ch. 32: Objections Which May be Made Here
Part 8: “This is a small place. There is no room for the Legion here.”
Although the chapter of tonight’s reading deals with whether there is room for the Legion in a particular geographical area, Frank Duff actually uses it to focus on the flight of young people to more urban areas, where their spiritual needs will not be met. I like his image of a spiritual desert, made to blossom by the presence of a small band of apostles doing their work. It is hard to take the argument that “there is no room” seriously, as all our works are conducted in pairs, and hardly anywhere is too small in a physical or metaphysical sense to accept the company of two individuals. In fact, the essence of the Legion is in its littleness; its little acts of Christian goodwill shown in the distribution of a miraculous medal, quietly praying outside a nursing home resident’s room, bringing a Bible to a prisoner and so on. There is nothing large and flashy about the Legion, and we know it is in the seeds we plant that fruit is borne. Seeds are small.
Speaking of small, I just read for the first time St. Therese’s autobiography, Story of a Soul. If anyone is an advocate for how “smallness” is a blessing, it is St. Therese. Called “the greatest Saint of modern times,” she is known for her simplicity and love for Jesus. Her “little way,” as she called it, was a method of living by which every little task or meeting of her life became an opportunity to see and love God. The undertone to all her actions was love. She understood her own smallness as compared to God and the universe, but rather than feeling hopeless in this, embraced it as a blessing by which she could come closer to God. As she put it, “It is your arms, Jesus, which are the elevator to carry me to Heaven.” She teaches us that our supposed smallness – lack of talent, lack of expertise, tendency toward sin – is the vehicle which can actually bring us closer to God, and this is a wonderful thing.
Let us embrace our own smallness as humans and as Legionaries, which will aid us in our work and bring us closer to Jesus, who does not hate our weakness, but loves us all the more for it. And remember that in the Legion, it is not the size of the work you do that matters, but the spirit with which you perform it.