SPIRITUAL CHILDHOOD

A Study Of Saint Teresa’s Teaching

Vernon Johnson

 

CONTENTS

PREFACE

I.       THE FATHERHOOD OF GOD

II.      LOVE (1)

III.     LOVE (2)

IV.     THE MERCIFUL LOVE OF GOD

V.      HUMILITY (1)

VI.     HUMILITY (2)

VII.    HUMILITY (3)

VIII.  CONFIDENCE (1)

IX.     CONFIDENCE (2)

X.      SELF-SURRENDER

XI.     THE VALUE OF LITTLE THINGS

XII.    SUFFERING (1)

XIII   SUFFERING (2)

XIV.  SUFFERING (3)

XV.   OUR LADY (1)

XVI.  OUR LADY (2)

XVII. THE SHOWER OF ROSES

 

PREFACE

Love and suffering. These three words, better than any others, sum up the life of Saint Teresa of Lisieux. To the natural man, when stricken, love and suffering seem totally incompatible. The Christian answer is that so far from being incompatible these two are inseparable and that love is, in fact, made perfect in this world through suffering. We see this focused to a point upon the Cross. The Cross reveals the love of God as inseparably woven with suffering. Suffering is seen to be the expression of the Divine Love precisely because to reconcile men to himself through suffering and to make peace through the Blood of the Cross was the whole object of that Love. That is why in a stricken suffering world the Cross has brought healing to millions of souls and will continue to do so as long as this world lasts.

This mystery of love working through suffering did not end with the Cross, it is continued in the world today through the individual members of the Church. In the human body each member is united to the head, and in so far as it is thus united it is sound in itself and ministers to the well-being of other members. So it is with the Church, Christ’s Mystical Body; each member is united to him, its Head, and in so far as it surrenders itself to his redeeming work of love through suffering, so far does it share in the work of its own redemption and also in the redemption of all other members.

    God has willed that we as members of the Mystical Body should thus fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ. Although he does not need us at all, he has given us the privilege of carrying on his life and being “other Christs”. It is part of his plan that his love should flow through us to other people and that our sufferings when united to his should be redemptive. We are not here to criticise his plan but we can all see that it is an amazingly beautiful one. If only we did not forget it when we were being hurt! When we think of God, and what he is, the idea of being not only allowed but asked to “help” him makes us dizzy with pride and prostrate with humility.

Saint Teresa, seeing all this, realised that nothing in the way of suffering and sacrifice was too small for God to use, and so gave him everything, with the result that his love streamed through her and she has saved countless souls. This is in brief her “Little Way”. In the following pages we shall see her putting it-into practice.