By Ron Bertsch

Previously published October 2015

On October 1 is St. Therese of Lisieux's feast day. As a life-long member of St. Therese Parish, I recall the special devotion we show our patron saint. Therese is a Saint of our own time, dying in 1897 at the young age of 24. She is known for the “Little Way” in which she loved God, her family and her fellow sisters of the Carmelite Order in France.

Extra special is that her parents, Louis and Zelie Martin are to be canonized this coming Sunday, on October 18, 2015! Together they exemplified the “Little Way” in which a soul on earth can demonstrate the love of God. They trusted God like little children, and did ordinary things with extraordinary love, suffered immensely yet maintained faith and hope.

In making the parallel comparison to what the Martin family saints modeled for us, we as parents, as children, as individuals in whatever vocation, have much to learn from their example. In the ordinary simple details of life, one can perform great feats of love and receive much grace. All can be done for the glory of God, not our own. Humility is a trait seen in these saints. We can recognize and thank God for the skills, gifts and blessings given to us. Simple acts of obedience to those in authority, taking on the jobs least desirable; those were some of Therese’s acts of spirituality. They can be ours too. Always a kind word to others, never complaining or judging, was Therese’s little way. Her prayers were simple too, like a child speaking from the heart to a close friend, Jesus. It seems so simple to be like a Martin family saint, but we know how these simple acts of mercy, of love and kindness to those closest to us, can be the most difficult of all.

Pope Francis on his trip to the USA, from Philadelphia shared a message very similar. He pleaded for us to allow our homes to be domestic churches. He said the home is the right place for faith to become life and life to become faith. Just like Therese’s little way, the Pope said, “Little gestures at home”, like what mothers, fathers, grandparents and children do for one another are so profound. How we interact with each other in our homes, was his question and challenge.

As the foster care/adoption director at DCCH Center in Ft. Mitchell, I try to lead our case managers and our parents who serve the abused and neglected children entering child protection, to have that same little way of love and faith. The youth need to know that someone can love them on earth, so they can grow faith in the love of Jesus. It starts in the home!

Therese is also known as Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. Therese always looked, as we might strive to do, to see the Holy Face of Jesus in all our fellow men and women. I think this has to be the way we look at the poor, suffering and misguided people. Let us forgive, not judge. Let us serve with perseverance. Mother Theresa was questioned about how truly successful she was when there was still so much poverty, pain and suffering in the streets of India. She quickly replied, she was not called to be successful, but to serve. We are all called to serve, even if much is still to do or that it may not make a big difference. We cannot allow ourselves to get overwhelmed or discouraged so as to do nothing.

Therese viewed her death on earth as just the beginning of her ministry. She is quoted to say, “I will let fall a shower of roses. I will spend my Heaven, doing good on earth.” Saint Therese of the Little Flower, another of her titles is captured in a song’s refrain, “Dear Saint Therese, do not turn away, drop down just one little rose, the rose we need today”.