Today we celebrate the feast of St. Therese of Lisieux, The Little Flower of Jesus. Saint Therese is a favorite Saint of many for her “Little Way”- seeking to be holy in everyday life by putting love into all of our actions. Her book, Story of a Soul, is truly so wonderful. I am reading it now and I can’t recommend it enough! Her writings apply in so many ways to us as Catholic mamas, and I’ve outlined a few of my favorite takeaways below. I feel like I’m getting advice from a dear friend when I’m reading her work, and I want to share her friendship with all of you fellow mommies out there.
Being a mom is enough. Sometimes it’s easy to feel like there should be more to our lives than refilling sippy cups and wiping runny noses but St. Therese tells us that, “Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions as at the love with which we do them.” God gave us these little humans (and that big one too), He entrusted them to our care, this job is what He chose for you. I’m not saying He may not have something else planned for you too (and He probably does!), but at this time and place motherhood is your vocation, and just loving our families and doing our best is really enough to get us to heaven. You kiss boo boos because you love your child and don’t want them to feel pain. You make dinner because you love your family and you want them to be nourished. You pray for your children and your spouse because you love them. You know that you can’t do everything alone, but you love the Lord and know that He will help. LOVE. It is truly a part of every one of our actions as mothers. St Therese reminds us that this is enough for God.
We’re in this together. Mommy wars. They’re real, and they’re ridiculous. Not one of us is a perfect mom, and not one of us is the same as the other. God wants us to lift each other up, not break each other down. One mom formula feeds, one mom co-sleeps, one lets her kids watch TV. None of this is what matters. Do they love their children? Do they kiss boos boos and wipe runny noses? Are they doing the best they can to take care of their families? I’m pretty sure that most often the answer is yes. St. Therese reminds us that God made each of us unique, “The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not take away the perfume of the little violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy. If all flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose her springtime beauty, and the fields would no longer be decked out with little wild flowers.” We are all God’s children, but we are all different and have varying ideas of how to do things. Don’t make someone else feel bad because they don’t do things like you would, and don’t let it get you down if someone implies that your way is wrong. How can we raise lilies and daisies and wildflowers if we all do everything the same? St. Therese also writes in Story of a Soul, “You must not set yourself up as a judge, that is God’s right alone, your only mission is to be an angel of peace.” If a fellow mom does seem to be struggling, or comes to you in a time of need, please respond with love and not judgement. Be an angel of peace to her. Your response of kindness and love could make all the difference in her life at that moment. We are all in this together, we are meant to lift each other up, and who better to help us on our path to heaven than women sharing our vocation?
Live simply and for God alone. “Because your soul is very simple; but when you are perfect you will become more simple still. The nearer one approaches God, the simpler one becomes.” St. Therese gives us a beautiful reminder that our lives don’t have to be crazy. Like I mentioned in the point above, it is not about competition. God doesn’t ask us to throw over-the-top birthday bashes or make sure that our babies are enrolled in the most elite music class, or that our older kids participate in every extracurricular. I’m not saying there is anything inherently wrong with these things by any means, and it is definitely important for our kids to be involved in activities, but if you feel like you’re drowning in the activities you have taken on for your kids, or you find that at the end of the day you have made no time for God, then it’s probably time to refocus. It’s more important to spend time eating and praying with your family at the end of the day than to be scarfing down dinner every night after late night dance and soccer and band practices and dropping into bed exhausted. It’s more important to teach your children to be grateful for what they have and to help those with less than to make sure they have expensive clothing and are the best at everything. The modern world makes us feel like if we don’t let our children participate in every single activity and strive to make them the best at every single activity, then we are somehow lesser parents. Who cares what the modern world thinks, let’s care more about what God thinks. Let’s care more about getting our kids to heaven than to the Olympics. Let’s care more about making sure they are friends with Jesus than friends with the popular kids. If you feel like you are in over your head and can’t find a minute to breathe, ask God to help you simplify, ask Him to show you where to start. There is nothing He wants more than a real relationship with you and your family.
St. Therese is such a lovely example to us as mothers, and a great friend to have on our side during our journey through life. We can’t all be martyrs and missionaries, but we can all love our husbands and our children and show them that love in a million little ways, and that is just as pleasing to our Lord.