by Father Jacques Philippe,
We asked ourselves the question “What does ‘becoming a little child again’ mean?” After referring to humility, we spoke of trust, the most fundamental characteristic of the “littleness” of the Gospel. Thérèse talks about it a lot. Her insistence on the importance of trust is based on her rediscovery of God as Father.
At a time when people placed enormous stress on God’s severity and justice, when traces of Jansenism were still very evident in Catholic thinking, this rediscovery of the face of God as a merciful Father was badly needed.
Obviously, it’s not possible to set God’s justice in opposition to his mercy or to get rid of the notion of justice, but Thérèse rediscovered a true understanding of these divine attributes. This is what she said about God’s justice in one of her letters, quoting Psalm 103 (8–14):
I know that the Lord is infinitely just and it is that justice, which terrifies so many souls, that is the reason for my joy and trust. Being just does not only mean exercising severity to punish the guilty, it also means recognizing upright intentions and rewarding virtue.
I hope for as much from God’s justice as from his mercy. It is because He is just that “He is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love … for He knows our weakness, He remembers that we are dust. … As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities us.”
God is not scandalized by our weaknesses. Provided he finds in us good will and trust, we can be certain of pleasing him.
Many passages very beautifully illustrate how Thérèse saw God as Father—“It is so sweet to call God our Father!”—and what a great light this was for her whole life.
This rediscovery was greatly facilitated by her experience of family life. Her own father was an exceptional man, with whom she had a wonderful father-daughter relationship. Not all of us are lucky enough to have a father like Louis Martin. We may have had very difficult relationships with our fathers involving indifference, neglect, or excessive harshness. And it must be said that being a father and finding the right way to act in this difficult but marvelous vocation isn’t easy.
Fathers are often weak, wounded people; as a result, their children are too. But in our relationship with God—in prayer, in the discovery of His fatherly love—we can little by little find deep healing.
I think this privileged access to God as Father is one of the main fruits of prayer, particularly mental prayer, silent prayer.
This filial relationship with God, expressed and deepened especially in prayer, is not always easy to develop today. It is not obvious how to live as little children in such a pitiless, competitive world. We must be adult, able sometimes to fight, while still keeping a child’s heart which rests in God and abandons itself to Him. He will certainly know how to defend us. He is our Father, and He is faithful.
All too often we get agitated instead of relying trustingly on God. This work of restoring trust in our hearts is an essential aspect of the spiritual life.
Wounded by original sin, our hearts are riddled with fears and doubts. It takes time to be cured of them. Maybe that will never happen completely in this life, but we can nevertheless make great strides in trusting more.
With that aim, I want to say some words about how we can grow in this area. Our trust in God is weak and fragile. What specifically can we do to strengthen and increase it?
One very valuable resource, already mentioned, is Sacred Scripture. Multiple passages from the Old and New Testaments invite us to trust:
The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear? (Ps. 27:1)
Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32)
Do not be afraid … are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows! (Luke 12:6-7)
I am with you always, to the close of the age. (Matthew 28:20)
The Bible offers many passages like these to reassure us. In particular, it contains that school of prayer, the Psalms, whose words appeal to all cultures. Whether one is Chinese, African, or Spanish, this is a universal language, simple and specific: the Lord is my rock, my rampart, my refuge, my fortress, etc.
For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up. (Ps. 27:10)
We find the same language in the Prophets, such as Isaiah:
The mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you. (Isaiah 54:10)
If we lack trust, it’s often because we do not nourish ourselves enough on God’s Word. Everyone who has frequent and assiduous recourse to Scripture has had the experience of one day being troubled or discouraged when a verse of Scripture touched her, restored her trust and brought peace to her heart once again.
Holy Scripture is one of the richest, most beautiful, and most effective resources at our disposal. It possesses a power and authority no human words can have, and it can do much to nurture our trust in God. (That presupposes, of course, that we persevere in reading and praying about God’s Word.)
Book Set of 20: Mary Fabyan Windeatt
Every child needs good examples of a faithful Catholics in their life— what better examples than the saints themselves.
Each of these books is easy-to-read and filled with simple stories from the lives of the greatest saints. Your child will love the beautiful illustrations and charming stories. Aimed at instructing children in the Faith, these books will become an invaluable resource in your home.
This set is perfect for homeschooling families and parents looking to further their children’s’ knowledge of the faith in an engaging way! The stories are perfect for children of all ages if read aloud.
The set includes:
- The Children of Fatima and Our Lady’s Message to the World
- The Cure of Ars – The Story of Saint John Vianney
- The Little Flower – The Story of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus
- Saint of First Communicants – The Story of Blessed Imelda Lamertini
- The Miraculous Medal – The Story of Our Lady’s Appearances to St. Caherine Laboure
- St. Louis De Montfort – The Story of Our Lady’s Slave
- Saint Thomas Aquinas – The Story of the Dumb Ox
- Saint Catherine of Siena – The Story of the Girl Who Saw Saints in the Sky
- Saint Hyacinth of Poland – The Story of the Apostle of the North
- Saint Martin De Porres – The Story of the Little Doctor of Lima, Peru
- Saint Rose of Lima – The Story of the First Canonized Saint of the Americas
- The Children of La Salette
- Saint Paul the Apostle – The Story of the Apostle to the Gentiles
- Saint Benedict – The Story of the Father of the Western Monks
- Saint Margaret Mary and the Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
- Saint Dominic – Preacher of the Rosary and Founder of the Dominican Order
- King David and His Songs – A Story of the Psalms
- Saint Francis Solano – Wonder-Worker of the New World
- Saint John Masias – Marvelous Dominican Gatekeeper of Lima, Peru
- Blessed Marie of New France – The Story of the First Missionary Sisters in Canada
Sister Clare Gets Ready for Prayer
Sister Clare needs your help getting ready for prayer! Open the cover of this book, and you and your child will explore a cloistered monastery together and a day in the life of a Dominican nun.
Dance your fingers across the pages, sing, count, move around, and pray; we dare you not to smile. Sister Clare Gets Ready for Prayer is the most creative way to introduce your little one to the joy of vocation and the gift of the religious life!
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