The Little Way, the Incarnation and the Passion

Today is the feast day of St. Therese of Lisieux according to the liturgical calendar of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. The “Traditional Latin Mass” calendar, in other words. I mentioned in the “Little Flower and the Story of Her Soul,” that today I’d write something on her Little Way.

Commonly understood, her Little Way is the application of the Gospel to everyday situations. You do everything with love and humility. You seek and find God in the ordinary. The keys to understanding are “love” and “humility.”

Jesus did not seek greatness. He was a poor, itinerant preacher who associated with the dregs of society: hookers, drunks, lepers, the poor, the outcast and government officials. To quote St. Paul in his Letter to the Phillipians 2:6:

“For this understanding in you was also in Christ Jesus: who, though he was in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be seized. Instead, he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and accepting the state of a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, even the death of the Cross.

And that is a key part of understanding how the Little Way is the Applied Gospel.

Jesus did not exalt His divinity; He never used it as an excuse to avoid “being little,” for He always humbled Himself in service to His people.

And this was from the beginning of His Earthly life; for He descended to Earth not as a fully grown human male or as a mighty warrior-king or firebrand prophet. No, God became Little, a humble, innocent baby, subject to and dependent upon His human parents.

God defined and established the Little Way by the very act of His Incarnation; nearly 1,900 years later He raised up St. Therese to bring that fact to life in modern times in a new way, applicable by all.

I said above that the keys to understanding are “love” and “humility.” True love implies self-sacrifice. You give of yourself for the other without regard as to the cost to yourself. Humility (or Littleness) is accepting yourself as you are, in the role God planned for you.

God was Little; and as the John the Evangelist tells us, “For God is love.” (1 John 4:8)

God’s Littleness was expressed in His Incarnation; His Love in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ Jesus.

Therefore, the Little Way replicates the Incarnation by means of our becoming “Little” like Jesus did when He entered Mary’s womb, and the act of doing “little things” such as our daily tasks and duties with great love requires us to sacrifice our self-will and self-love. This, in turn, replicates the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus.

The Little Way therefore combines in our daily lives the mission of Our Lord in His Incarnation and Passion.

So, we finite, limited creatures can be Christ-bearers to others by living out our daily existence in simple humility. Just in doing our little daily tasks with love and humility. Not ever thinking greatly of ourselves, no self-importance. Just by being Little.

From simplicity comes such great things. Who can tell what impact some”little” thing you do do might have on someone?

Scripture quotes courtesy: Sacred Bible: Catholic Public Domain Version

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