Many people looked up to him, both with admiration and jealousy. Coming from a powerful family, he became a ‘figure’ quite early in his life. He would be surrounded with people who were always ready to carry out his commands. Besides, his appearance was of a ‘fashion model’, very attractive looking. His business was successful. In brief, he belonged to a rich-handsome-lucky type in the society. In others’ eyes, he was of ‘high class’. When he opened his mouth, one only expect to hear a ‘yes sir’ reply. A quick signal of his eye would be an order that needed to be carried out right away.
She was a very normal person with normal dreams. Day by day, she would fullfil ‘odd jobs’ or works with no honorable titles. Her life was quietly spent in a little town in the middle of nowhere. Of course she also had a dream of flying high, but this flying high dream lied in a very casual-looking philosophy: Doing little things with a great love. Hence she would bend down to pick up a needle, a piece of trash with a profound sincerity of heart. When others were upset with her, she would be patient with them. In others’ eyes, she never appeared superior to them. When she opened her mouth, there was nothing scary. When she greeted them, only a smile bloomed on her face. Her eyes only communicated gentleness and sympathy.
If you compare him and her, who would you think is of a greater stature? Please keep your ‘vote’ and allow me to continue the story.
There is an event that everyone on earth has to experience. People say that this event makes everyone ‘equal’. In my humble opinion, it would help evaluate the stature of a person. This event is called…funeral.
The day he died, his family sent his obituary to the television. Since he was famous, several newspapers announced his death. People felt bad for him because his early death prevented him from enjoying his great wealth. Meanwhile, the wetchedly poor did not talk about it much for they never were part of his high class world. He died without being able to take with him anything or sharing with them anything. He led a life of laboring and storing up possessions but when the eyes were closed, the hands could not hold. Despite the media’s announcements and people’s discussions, after a few days, things died down and fell into the past. Life was back to the normal rhythm. That’s it.
The day she departed from this world to move on to the next, no news was heard on the television or from the newspaper. There were only tears of love and gratitude flowing from the eyes of those who knew her. She had really touched their lives. Her departure could be called early but her time on earth was very well spent. While everyone shed their tears, she was all joyfully entering into the happiness with her Lover, whom she had always longed to meet. Then from this little town, her reputation began to spread out to the whole world. It’s amazing that only a few people knew her when she was on earth, but when she returned to God she could touch and change innumerous hearts. Her words before her departure came true: “I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth.” Her earthly life was simple but the heritage she left is a treasure. This treasure is the message that has reached the innermost of people in all ages: “Whoever you are, you do have a Father whose love for you knows no limit. This Father is God. When you truly have Him in your heart and let Him embrace you in His heart, your happiness is sure. This kind of happiness surpasses all other kinds. That which makes you great is not of doing big projects but of doing all things, no matter how little they are, with a great love.”
We all know her life story. She, a young woman present on earth for only 24 years, has lived and will live in the history of humanity to the end by her consecrated heart for love. She has become “the greatest saint of modern times.” (according to Pope Pius X) Her secret of happiness has created her greatness. This secret is quite simple: Throw onself completely in the loving heart of the heavenly Father, just as a child does. She was accurate when discovering that the true stature lies in God and not in the human vanity. Concretely, though her family was rich, she chose to leave wealth behind so as to advance in love of God and others. Dear friend, there have been and will be many people from different walks of life in different countries who experience more peace, joy and meaningfulness in their life thanks to knowing her. I myself have also benefited a lot from her. I thank her!
Dear friend, we have been talking just a little bit about Therese of the Child Jesus. There are still many things that we can learn from her so that our life may be more loving, and so more happy.
Joseph Viet, O.Carm.
(Written after my trip to Lisieux July 21, 2011)