A highlight from BKL496 St. Therese, the Little Flower Building a Kingdom of Love with Msgr. John Esseff
Discerning Hearts provides content dedicated to those on the spiritual journey. To continue production of these podcasts, prayers and more, go to discerninghearts .com and click the donate link found there or inside the free Discerning Hearts app to make your donation. Thanks and God bless. Discerninghearts .com presents Building a Kingdom of Love Reflections with Monsignor John Essif. Monsignor Essif is a priest of the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania. He has served as a retreat director and confessor to St. Teresa of Calcutta. He continues to offer direction and retreats for the sisters of the Missionaries of Charity. Monsignor Essif encountered St. Padre Pio, who would become a spiritual father to him. He has lived in areas around the world serving in the Pontifical Missions, a Catholic organization established by Pope St. John Paul II to bring the good news to the world, especially to the poor. He continues to serve as a retreat leader and director to bishops, priests and sisters, seminarians and other religious leaders. Building a Kingdom of Love Reflections with Monsignor John Essif. I'm your host, Chris McGregor. What's on my mind is such a, such a humble and beautiful saint, the little flower of Jesus, St. Teresa. The story of the little flower is so powerful in itself. It's so contra what our modern day sees as successful. First, like she goes to a Carmelite convent and, you know, people of our day say, well, she buried her talents, she buried her life, and even the idea of prayer being contributory to the world and its happiness. The little flower spent eight years in a Carmelite convent, a very short life. She died at 24. Even when she was in the convent, the sisters hardly knew anything about her life of holiness. She had kept a journal, her autobiography. She was asked and in fact ordered to write it by her superior. The wisdom of that book, I know, and I was in the seminary in the 40s and the 50s. Her story of a soul is one of the most popular spiritual books and it's so simple. She is the saint of the ordinary. She transforms every act of her life into an act of love and also a desire to unite her prayer with the sacrifice of her love. She became a victim of love for souls. Her whole desire during those eight years was to save souls for God through prayer, through sacrifice, through love. The hiddenness of her life, in fact, when she died, her sisters, who didn't know the depth of her love and her sanctity, said, what are we going to say about her? She has done nothing extraordinary, nothing that would catch the attention of anyone. She takes something like the rattling of the beads, which drove her crazy. She was so highly sensitive and some nun would rub the beads up against the bench in back of her and it would cause her like chalk on a blackboard and that's what would do with her system. She used that as an act of sacrificial love and transformed it and took it as an occasion and an opportunity to offer a sacrifice to God. The crankiest and the most rejecting of all the sisters, she would see them and embrace their rejections. I was just recently with a priest. His face would crack if he would smile. He was so unhappy. It's amazing and just to be around him, it was like pus oozed from his system of unhappiness. He wanted to know everybody to know just how unhappy he was and he would want to make everybody as unhappy as he was. And even to stand next to him, you know, what an opportunity that would be that St. Therese would say, why don't you just give him love and offer him the love so that he could have an opportunity to love. You know, just being around a person who's angry, upset all the time. So all of us have these opportunities in our day and the scripture in the mass that Jesus taught us, the church is teaching us on her feast, the disciples came to Jesus with the question, who is the greatest, most important in the kingdom of God? He called over a little child and stood him in their midst and said, I assure you, unless you change and become like a little child, you will not enter the lowly. Becoming like this child is the greatest and most important in the kingdom of God and the heavenly reign, the simplicity and the humility of a child. Now I believe in order for us to see a child who just simply looks at you with simple love. And so therefore, I really believe what Jesus is looking at is a little, little child in our society. Take today and see where in your neighborhood, in your family, look at a child. My cousin, Christine, of baby, she was so sweet, Olivia, just her eyes, her every smile, everything that would come into that child's face would be some of the most beautiful things that I could remember. I think that's the kind of child this was that our Lord meant in the gospel. There's a prayer. I was with my cousin and he had been making an avina to know what job he should take. And his favorite saint, and she is a favorite saint of so many, was the little flower. He would say this prayer to God through the intercession of St. Teresa. And she claimed, those who are devotees of St. Teresa claim, that they receive a rose or would have a rose as a sign that their prayer would be answered. And he made an avina and he got not only a rose, but his wife had given him this 30 roses. She didn't know that he was doing this, saying these prayers. He got an offer for a job that was absolutely unable to refuse. It was so powerful a sign right after he had received this bouquet of roses. And it was a sign to him that he should change his job. So many that I've talked to, the beautiful example of the little flower of humility, simplicity, childlikeness, and the prayer. My mother's middle name was Cecilia Teresa Esef. It's on her tombstone. She had this tremendous devotion. In fact, she gave a middle name to my sister Marlene. Marlene is Marlene Therese and also Mayanne Therese. And she had great devotion to the little flower. And she herself was a third -order Carmelite. And she had a way about her. My mother's prayer was very powerful for all of us. All of us, my cousins and so many people in our family. She never was out there. She wasn't someone who got into the mother's in school or in the altar and rosary in the parish or outside the family. She had five children. When I was a little boy, I would get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and I would see my mother on her knees. I thought every mother did this. When she would take us for a walk, she would stop in the church and she would make the Stations of the Cross. And we would kind of be there with her. But we just took for granted. That's what mom did. All her life, her entire life, her rosary, her prayers. And she had this power about her. Not really being noticed. But in our family, I would say, everyone who would refer to my mother would say she was like the holiest person they had ever met at her death. That's what she was known for. Prayer, humility, and childlikeness. She had a simplicity about her. And I saw this characteristic in some. When a person has this hiddenness, this characteristic of trusting in the power of prayer. Although the little flower never left her caramel and died at the age of 24, she has been known all over the Catholic world as the patroness of the missions. She is the saint of Vietnam.