The secret of happiness
Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap
The sweetness of her name shows the inner sweetness of her heart. Hers was not the sensual sweetness which is manipulated by the pathological way of seeking and giving love in worldly terms. Contrarily, hers was a sweetness which stemmed and led to God’s heavenly throne.
Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, whose feast day as on October 1, lived only 24 years, precisely atthe conclusion of the 19th century. Hers was an extremely simple and hidden life. In her famous autobiography, titled The Story of a Soul, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux gives us some clues as to how we can access to real happiness.
Some of us may pester themselves and, consequently, make other people’s lives, besides theirs, utterly miserable. For what reason? For the sheer purpose of not accepting themselves the way God accepts them. They want things, or even graces, which God, in his wisdom and goodness, designed for them not to have in order that He may facilitate their union with him, the way they dictate. For these unhappy people the happiness they are eagerly looking for can only be found if they humbly and lovingly submit themselves to God.
“I had wondered for a long time why God had preferences and why all souls did not receive an equal amount of grace […] Jesus saw fit to enlighten me about this mystery. He set the book of nature before me and I saw that all the flowers He has created are lovely. The splendour of the rose and whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of its scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. I realised that if every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness and there would be no wild flowers to make the meadows gay.
It is just the same in the world of souls — which is the garden of Jesus. He has created the great saints who are like the lilies and the roses, but He has also created much lesser saints and they must be content to be the daisies or the violets which rejoice His eyes whenever He glances down. Perfection consists in doing His will, in being that which He wants us to be.
I also understood that God’s love shows itself just as well in the simplest soul which puts up no resistance to His grace as it does in the loftiest soul. Indeed, as it is love’s nature to humble itself, if all souls were like those ofthe holy doctors who have illumined the Church with the light of their doctrine, it seems that God would not have stooped low enough by entering their hearts. But God has created the baby who knows nothing and can utter only feeble cries. He has created the poor savage with no guide but natural law, and it is to their hearts that He deigns to stoop. They are His wild flowers whose homeliness delights Him. By stooping down to them, He manifests His infinite grandeur. The sun shines equally both on cedars and on every tiny flower. In just the same way God looks after every soul as if it had no equal. All is planned for the good of every soul, exactly as theseasons are so arranged that the humblest daisy blossoms at the appointed time”.
How peaceful it was for Thérèse to accept in joy that she was not meant by God to be that splendid rose or theradiant white lily! She was happy to be a “tiny flower”. Because she realized that in God’s garden tiny flowers, although seemingly insignificant, make a huge difference indeed!
The important thing for her was to espouse the little way by confiding herself to Jesus arms. She wrote: “It is your arms, Jesus, which are the lift to carry me to heaven, And so there is no need for me to grow up. In fact, just the opposite: I must stay little and become less and less”.
If I entrust myself in Jesus’ arms would I not be happier than I am now?
Jesus I trust in you!