St. Therese of Lisieux

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2014/10/03 at 12:00 AM

 This past week the Church celebrated the feast day of one of Her most popular saints: St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Many of us know her as the Little Flower.

 While this cloistered Carmelite lived only a short 24 years on this earth, and all of it in relative obscurity, she is perhaps one of the most well known saints of all time – and certainly one of the most important saints of modern times – and for good reason.

 In her spiritual autobiography called Story of a Soul, St. Thérèse wrote extensively on the virtue of charity and her vocation to be love in the heart of the Church.

 One of the things that the Little Flower teaches us is that the Church has a heart burning with love. This love in the heart of the Church is what moves all of her members to act.

 St. Thérèse opined that, “if love ever became extinct, apostles would not preach the Gospel and martyrs would not shed their blood.”

 And so we, who make up the Church, must keep the virtue of charity burning within us! Charity – love – must be the animating force that impels us as we seek to live out our lives as Christians.

 As St. Paul writes to St. Timothy in our 2nd reading, we must “stir into flame the gift of God,” which is not a “spirit of cowardice, but rather of power and love and self‐control.”

 As many of you know, the month of October is Respect Life month. And as in years past, an ecumenical group within our city is running a 40 Days for Life Campaign, in which people gather to pray at local abortion mills in the hopes of closing them down.

 Last week I went with many of you to the Latrobe abortion mill, and unfortunately there was a very vulgar and hate‐filled woman harassing us as we prayed.

 In those moments when we come face to face with such people, it’s very easy to develop an “us vs. them” mentality. Personally, I often feel great temptations toward anger. But anger is exactly what we need to avoid!

 As I reflect more on Pope Francis’ recent interview, I wonder if this might be part of his point. In his interview the Holy Father gave us this great image of the Church as a “field hospital.” Truly, we cannot tend to the wounds of others if we are angry or hate them.

 Without a doubt we need to work for an end to abortion and other elements of the Culture of Death like same sex unions, contraception, euthanasia, etc. But as we do, we must try to avoid the polemics that lead us to demonize our opponents.

 As we listen to the evil propaganda of the supporters of the Culture of Death or have experiences with people like the hateful woman at the abortion mill, it’s easy to think that we have nothing in common with those with whom we disagree on the issues of life.

 Yet we do have something in common; something very fundamental: we are all sinners. As your pastor, this is something I pray you never lose sight of. All of us are sinners; all of us are in need of God’s mercy.

 Therefore, we must have compassion on our enemies. If we are members of the Church, then we are the doctors and nurses in the spiritual field hospital of the Church. As the Holy Father said, we must try to meet people in their woundedness.

 My experience as a priest has shown me that those who sin by participating in any way in the Culture of Death are often the most wounded people in our society.

 If you contravene the natural ordering of the marital act through sins like same sex relations or contraception, or even more egregiously, if you participate in the sin of abortion, you are sinning in a way that goes against very fundamental aspects of our human nature. At our core, we are ordered toward procreation and life. This is how God created us – and we are fearfully and wonderful made!

 When we sin against procreation or life, we become less human!

 Yet, as awful as the wounds from these sins are, my experience as a priest as also taughtme that these wounds can be healed by God’s grace – most especially the grace wereceive through the Sacraments. So we must do all we can to help people receive grace.

 When people fall into these terrible sins, the Church must be the place they turn to forhelp. She should never be an obstacle to a sinner’s healing. So we must meet people intheir woundedness with honesty and compassion – for both are necessary for healing.

 Meeting people in their woundedness does not mean excusing their sin. Our model fordealing with our fellow sinners is Jesus and His interaction with the adulterous woman.

 Jesus was compassionate and even saved her from her persecutors, but He didn’t fail to tell her to repent. He said to her, “Woman, has no one condemned you? . . . Neither do Icondemn you. But go and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:10‐11)

 This must be the role of the Church in society – and not just the priests and bishops, butall of us! We must all reach out compassionately to those enmeshed in sin, gentlytending to their wounds with the healing balm of charity and the bandages of truth.

 At the same time, we must also be that prophetic voice in the world that fearlessly and courageously speaks the truth about the inherent dignity of man and the grave evils ofthe Culture of Death – all without demonizing those caught up in the Culture of Death.

 In short we must hate the sin with a ferocious tenacity, while loving the sinner with allthe tenderness we can muster.

 Sound difficult? It is, but if our hearts are burning with charity and our minds and willsare intent on doing the will of God, then all things are possible.

 Through the intercession of St. Thérèse and especially of Our Lady, may each of ourhearts be turned into burning furnaces of charity so that we may attend generously to our fellow sinners caught up in the evil snares of the Culture of Death.

06 October 2013

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:

  1. I like Sta Teresa de Avila
    Correo electronico generado desde un BlackBerry de movistar.

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