St. Therese's Little Way Lenten Guide
Ash Wednesday I come to sing the mercies of the Lord. On the first page of her autobiography, Thérèse writes that her story is a tale of God’s mercies. Recall the many mercies you have experienced. Begin this season with gratitude.
Thursday after Ash Wednesday Love attracts love. Near the end of her story, Thérèse speaks eloquently of love. She acknowledges that she is able to love only because Jesus has first loved her. Acknowledge the love Jesus has placed in your heart as the source of your own acts of love.
Friday after Ash Wednesday It is in my weakness that I glory and I expect each day to discover new imperfections in myself. For many, Lent is about the quest to be more perfect. Thérèse freely admitted she was not perfect but was counting on God’s merciful love. When you sense your imperfection, ask Jesus to borrow from the rich mine of God’s mercy.
Saturday after Ash Wednesday True glory is that which will last eternally, and to reach it, it isn’t necessary to perform striking works but to hide oneself and practice virtue in such a way that the left hand knows not what the right is doing. At Lent’s beginning, Thérèse’s observation about hiding one’s good works is an appropriate caution. Keep your resolutions to yourself. Bask in God’s merciful love.
FIRST WEEK OF LENT: SEEK OUT YOUR IMAGES
Sunday Just as the sun shines simultaneously on the tall cedars and on each little flower as though it were alone on the earth, so Our Lord is occupied particularly with each soul as though there were no others like it. Consider what flower or tree best describes your soul. Reach up to the sun in your prayer.
Monday Thérèse had vanished as a drop of water is lost in the immensity of the ocean. Jesus alone remained. Allow every experience with water—as cleanser, refreshment, relaxation—to remind you of Jesus.
Tuesday God is more tender than a mother. Recall a happy experience of being mothered by someone. Imitate that tenderness to another.
Wednesday I feel the vocation of the WARRIOR, THE PRIEST, THE APOSTLE, THE DOCTOR, THE MARTYR.Name your spiritual calling. Pray within that calling—as warrior, priest, apostle, doctor, or martyr.
Thursday I am a little brush that Jesus has chosen in order to paint His own image in the souls . . . entrusted to my care. What is your favorite image of Jesus? Use that image to inspire your prayer.
Friday I had offered myself . . . to the Child Jesus as His little plaything. I told Him . . . to use me like a little ball of no value which He could throw on the ground, push with His foot, pierce, leave in a corner, or press to His heart if it pleased Him. What “plaything” might you be for the Child Jesus? In prayer, picture yourself entertaining Jesus.
Saturday One feels that to do good is as impossible without God’s help as to make the sun shine at night. Bask in the sunlight literally or figuratively. Experience the divine warmth and energy.
SECOND WEEK OF LENT: MEASURE YOUR LITTLENESS
Sunday I applied myself to practicing little virtues, not having the capability of practicing the great. Choose a small challenge: to smile, to be silent, to be thankful.
Monday God cannot inspire unrealizable desires. I can, then, in spite of my littleness, aspire to holiness. Focus on a virtue to which God is calling you. Seek opportunities to express it.
Tuesday Little children are as pleasing to their parents when they are asleep as well as when they are wide awake. Extend your night prayers. Experience yourself cradled by God as you close your eyes in sleep.
Wednesday I look upon myself as a weak little bird. . . . I have only an eagle’s EYES AND HEART.Imagine yourself as a wren. Hide yourself, as the psalmist says, in the shadow of God’s wings.
Thursday The elevator which must raise me to heaven is Your arms, O Jesus! And for this I had no need to grow up, but rather I had to remain little.Thérèse saw herself as too small to climb the “stairway of perfection.” She invites you to surrender strenuous effort and allow yourself to be lifted by—and to—the Lord.
Friday You can see that I am a very little soul and that I can offer God only very little things.Nothing is so small that it escapes heavenly notice. Like Thérèse, choose not to complain about petty annoyances.
Saturday I am but a poor little thing who would return to nothingness if Your divine glance did not give me life from one moment to the next. Thérèse sees herself as a little bird, nourished by the Eucharist. Visit the Blessed Sacrament.
THIRD WEEK OF LENT: FIND WAYS TO PRAY
Sunday If the big feasts were rare, each week brought one that was very dear to my heart, namely Sunday! What a day Sunday was for me! It was God’s feast day, and feast of rest. Observe a day of rest. Thérèse was confident that God loved her just as much at rest as awake.
Monday Sometimes I would try to fish with my little line, but I preferred to go alone and sit down on the grass. . . . Without knowing what it was to meditate, my soul was absorbed in real prayer. I listened to distant sounds, the murmuring of the wind, etc. Thérèse’s childhood experience can be yours. Prayerfully attend to the sounds of God’s creation.
Tuesday When I saw all these beauties very profound thoughts came to life in my soul. I seemed to understand already the grandeur of God and the marvels of heaven.Thérèse is speaking of the Swiss mountains and lakes. Visit a beautiful natural setting and drink in the beauty created by God.
Wednesday It is especially the Gospels that sustain me during my hours of prayer, for in them I find what is necessary for my poor little soul. Use the Gospels to inspire your prayer. You, too, will find in them what you need.