“O Mary, if I were Queen of Heaven and you were Thérèse, I would want to be Thérèse so that you might be Queen of Heaven!!!” (Saint Thérèse of Lisieux).
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux was a beautiful writer. During her short life, she wrote scores of beautiful poems to Our Blessed Mother and to God Himself.
I was speaking about this poetry the other day with one of my sisters who has studied a little of that poetry at university in recent months and what she has learned is that Saint Thérèse’s poetry grew in beauty as her illness grew in severity.
I recently read the last autograph of this Great Saint, written in her failing, frail hand on a beloved holy card of Our Lady of Victories on 8 September 1897, which was shortly before her death…
This would be her last written poem and her last written prayer, and it went simply like this…⠀
“O Mary, if I were Queen of Heaven and you were Thérèse,
I would want to be Thérèse so that you might be Queen of Heaven!!!”
There – written in a shaking hand on a few short lines on a small rectangular card – I can see the beautiful product of the smallness of this saint!
And the idea expressed in the poem is beautifully simple, that one cannot help but be moved. In her poem , Saint Thérèse says that even if she were great enough to be the Queen of Heaven herself, she would surrender her own place to Our Blessed Mother, because she loved Our Blessed Mother so much!
The last written words on this earth from such a soul reveal her smallness. And there is such beauty in those words and such a beauty in her smallness that it becomes magnificent and I cannot stop my tears…
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux is not the only person who was fixated with smallness – for smallness can do magnificent things!
The Jesuit priest, Luis Ruiz Suarez, who was born in 1913 was exiled from Spain to China and the other parts in the East due to his faith. During his exile and until his death in 2011, he worked for the poor and was called “Luk Ngai” in Cantonese, which means “Father of the Poor”. When he died, in 2011, he was responsible for 145 leper colonies and hospices for people with mental disabilities, AIDS and HIV and the poor – and he refused to retire from his work, even when he was in his late nineties... Once, a journalist told Father Luis that he was less well-known than Saint Mother Terese of Calcutta, and He replied, “Who cares if they know me? The important thing is that they know Jesus. I do all this for God. He knows!”
His smallness is magnificent as well – because he joined through his work to God!
And these examples of humility remind me of the magnificent smallness of the Blessed Mother of Christ….
After all, what could be smaller than a mother and wife who lived in a tiny village two thousand years ago? She was so small that her words are barely recorded in the Bible. In fact, we are often told in Sacred Scripture, that Our Blessed Mother kept Her sorrows inside Her own heart…
“When His parents saw Him, they were astonished. His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have You treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for You.’ ‘Why were you searching for Me?’ He asked. ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in My Father’s house?’ But they did not understand what He was saying to them. Then He went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But His mother treasured all these things in her heart.” (Luke 2:48-51).
And those words stay in my mind as I reflect on this Fifth Joyful Mystery – “the finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple” – for we are told that Our Blessed Mother “…TREASURED all these things in her heart”.
For these things that She TREASURED were SORROWS. And while some of her sorrows were relatively small – a misunderstanding of Her Child’s intention, a fear of losing Her Son and Her God – others among them were monstrous – the suffering of Her Son on Calvary.
But the smallness of Our Blessed Mother is that She did not JUDGE those sorrows that she received, instead she TREASURED them. It takes a very small soul to be able to do such a thing. For a small soul has no room to JUDGE God’s will – only to OBEY it. And Our Blessed Mother recognised those sorrows for what they were – the WILL OF GOD – TREASURES afforded Her from God…
And so, as I reflect on the magnificent SMALLNESS of the Queen of Heaven, and the beautiful words of Saint Thérèse, I, myself, am inspired to pray…
“O Mary, if I were Queen of Heaven and you were Sarah,
I would want to be Sarah so that you might be Queen of Heaven!!!”
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.