Thursday, October 10, 2013
The Catholic Nook: Chaplet of St. Therese and the "Little Way"
I've been thinking a lot about St. Therese lately. Part of it, I suppose is that my spiritual reading is currently focused on her in Shirt of Flame: A Year With St. Therese of Lisieux. When I do spiritual reading, I normally allot a specified time period in the evening to it. I'll devise a page quota so that I don't slack off. What I'm finding with this book, though, is that I'm so into it that I use it in the prime "reading as I lay happily in bed" time slot. That's pretty major for a non-fiction book, quite an achievement really. This is when I usually read a romance novel involving autumn weather, race car drivers, or cowboys.
And last night I pulled my Kindle out really hoping to see something from St. Therese that "spoke" to me. I had had, let's just say, a *challenging* day. As you can imagine, being a librarian means that I deal with people a lot. And sometimes, as we all know, people aren't so nice. I had a patron yesterday who was so rude I was forced to break out The Librarian Is Being Stern With You look. As a child, I used to be afraid of loud, obnoxious people. No longer. I don't cherish opportunities to deal with them, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. If you are going to march over and attempt to verbally abuse me, I am not going to stand for it, no sir. It only took 30+ years of life lessons to teach me that I don't have to allow anybody to treat me that way. It actually is a disservice to the abuser in question to not let them know that their behavior is out of line and unacceptable. How can they ever try to do better if nobody lets them know that they are acting like a jackass? Forgive my language, but sometimes you've got to call it like you see it. I'm not going to yell back or drop to their level by disrespecting them, but I *am* going to be firm in my response to them. And if they persist, I am going to ask them to leave.
And so yesterday morning, I had one of *those*. I'm actually quite proud of how I handled it, but the whole thing left me shaky and contemplative. This guy (who was very clearly an extreme case) aside, I've been dealing with a lot of students lately, some of them being wonderful experiences, others being quite challenging and annoying. It got me to thinking: am I doing all that I can to stay upbeat in my approach to interacting with them, to stay charitable at all times? On the latter, I can say "yes" without question. I am always charitable to people, even when they are unkind to me. But on the former, I know that I struggle. And not just with the students. I work for my state, and at times things get a bit...bureaucratic. This can lead to disillusionment and downright crotchedyness (new term: officially coined). It's easy to complain a lot about some of the things we deal with here at work, and I have become aware of the fact that the more I complain, the worse I feel about the situation.
Hence, yesterday was a good opportunity for self-reflection and it tied directly into St. Therese's Little Way. How can I do small things with great love and offer them up, the way that she did in the convent? I certainly did offer up my experience yesterday, but there are so many other small opportunities that I just internally whine about rather than try to be more spiritual in my approach. As I read Shirt of Flame, I came to this reflection of author Heather King in the chapter discussing Therese's handling of the painful physical and mental decline of Louis Martin, her father:
"I began to see the value of refraining from criticizing and complaining. The goal isn't to masochistically endure conditions that we could change, if we were willing to make the effort. The goal is to adopt a general policy of not complaining about things that can't be changed, not because we enjoy being rigidly ascetic but because complaining about our private sorrows - traffic, the cost of living, our health, our endless suffering - is not helpful. I began to notice how, when someone called me to 'vent,' I felt as if I myself needed an oxygen tank when I got off the phone."
Yep. Spoke to me. I knew that St. Therese was looking out for me. :) It was nice to have something positive to take away from a very difficult day. Hopefully I won't have to deal with Rude Guy again anytime soon, but just in the students I see and chat with each day, and in the way I view the hoops we have to jump through here at work sometimes, I can do better in my attitude.
And so this got me to thinking about asking for St. Therese's intercession more often. Obviously, she is a woman who speaks my language. :) The photo at the top of this post is a gorgeous St. Therese chaplet designed by Carm at unbreakablerosaries. The chaplet has 24 beads, one for each year of St. Therese's short life. There is one additional bead on the "drop" near her medal, and on this you request: "St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Patroness of Missions, pray for us." A Glory Be is recited on each of the other 24 beads in thanksgiving for St. Therese. It is customary to pray this chaplet for a traditional nine day novena.
This is a chaplet that I do not own. Shocking. Clearly, I need to remedy this situation.
I'll be talking more about St. Therese on October 23rd, our Catholic Book Club day, when I review Shirt of Flame. If you'd like to join me in reading, please hop on the bandwagon now, I'd love to have you. :) Heather King mentions another book that has my curiosity piqued, The Hidden Face: A Study of St. Therese of Lisieux, by Ida Friederike Gorres. Yep, that may make it's way to my Kindle posthaste.
*Image from http://patroncatholicsaints.blogspot.com/2010_02_08_archive.html