“My Life is but an instant, an hour that passes by; a single day that slips my grasp and quickly slides away. O well, you know, my dearest God, to love You, I only have today.” St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
The bleak winter days were interrupted by a Little Flower- a ‘Little Flower of Jesus’ that is, when Mother Maria Christine organized a pilgrimage to visit the National Shrine of St. Thérèse in Darien, IL on Thursday, February 25. With a winter storm arriving the day before, we were nervous that this much-anticipated journey would be canceled. But the Lord was smiling upon us as the sun peaked out of the clouds to illuminate our way, as 40 Residents, Sisters and staff began our trip.
Fr. Berhardt (Bernie) Bauerle, O. Carm., Director of the Shrine, met us as we arrived. We first went to the chapel where he explained to us about the history of the Shrine. As he spoke about St. Thérèse’s life, he pointed out how her life is depicted in the stain glass windows and in the beautiful wood carving in the front of the chapel. This carving is the largest wood carving of a religious nature in the United States.
Our next stop was the museum. According to the Shrine’s website, they have the largest and best collection of Little Flower relics and memorabilia outside of Lisieux, France. It was inspiring and very interesting to listen to Fr. Bernie speak about the treasured relics as we walked through the museum.
Some of the treasures included the original statue of St. Thérèse commissioned in the 1920s, the original map St. Thérèse drew of North America at age 12, the original oil painting of St. Thérèse painted by her sister Celine and a replica of her bedroom, which included her original bed and a drawing of Jesus.
At 11:30 a.m., we joined a capacity crowd of about 200 for Mass. After a delicious lunch at the adjacent Carmelite Spiritual Center, Fr. Bernie gave us a talk on the spirituality of St. Thérèse.
St. Thérèse had a short life that ended at 24, but her wisdom and faith rivals the most aged theologians and scholars. Her insight that ‘God does not want us to do great things, only that we do little things with great love’ is as simple and within our reach, as it is powerful. Renewed, refreshed and feeling a little closer to one of our favorite Saints, we headed Home… to show our love to God, by living out each day, doing good in little ways ….