The Little Way

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

I began my study of Carmelite Spiritual Theology at an early age – five years old. For seven years I faithfully attended weekly Tuesday night sessions. Admittedly, I daydreamed or even slept through many of the talks, but keep in mind that I was only five or six. Without consciously knowing it, I was being imbued with a profound vision of “The Little Way to union with God.” Every Tuesday night my parents and I attended the Little Flower Novenas at Saint Cecilia Church. Fathers Albert Dolan, Ronald Gray, and Quentin Duncan told the story of Thérèse of Lisieux. Father Albert and Father Ronald knew all of St. Thérèse’s sisters and visited them in France several times. They came back to Englewood and shared with the congregation their memories and observations. Gradually, I began to understand the meaning of Thérèse’s life and writings.

—Fr. Ashley Harrington

The Little Way

Father John Russell, who lived here at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Tenafly for many years, was a noted expert on St. Thérèse. He explained that Thérèse realized she could only do little things for God. Great gestures of faith were beyond her life in a cloistered convent. Littleness was part of h

A young St. Therese of Lisieux

er self-identity. She spoke of the splendid beauty of a lily or a rose. People loved to gaze upon these spectacular flowers. She also pointed out that fields are filled with a thousand little wildflowers. Seldom are these individual wildflowers noticed. But, she said, if you stop and pick one of these flowers and look carefully, you can see how stunningly beautiful they are. And, why wouldn’t they be? They are made by God. Thérèse saw herself as one of these little flowers—not noticed, but beautiful because she was created by God.

She also realized that her little ordinary acts of love and sacrifice—a smile, a prayer, a silence, if done for God—are magnificent. This is called The Little Way. The Little Way is simply living in the presence of God each day, using every ordinary moments to give glory and honor to God.

The Little Way teaches that everyone—even individuals who don’t have extraordinary talents and abilities—can live a life that utterly delights God. What is so wonderful about this spirituality is that all of us can use it to glorify God as we live our lives. We elevate our daily actions by being aware that God is present to us. Knowing that God is present, we cannot help but realize that God is working through us and our deeds. The “little nothings” of daily life become in God’s eyes beautiful acts of love.

Now that I am nearly 80 years old, I realize that Thérèse’s simple message served me well all these decades. Knowingly and unknowingly, over the years I used the power of The Little Way. I knew a smile, a look, a note, a phone call, a silent prayer, a lit candle—yes, all had power. All had the power to heal and impart life to others and all had the power to bring me closer to God.

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