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Dream of a better world? Follow the advice of St. Therese of Lisieux

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Want to do great things and change the world but don’t know how to go about it? Let this saint guide you.

On the last page of her diary, St. Therese of the Child Jesus left an observation that we should all heed. She was in a state of exhaustion when she made it and she begged Jesus to draw her into His love like iron to a magnet. Later, while meditating on the story of Martha and Mary in the Gospel, she found herself admiring the attitude of Mary sitting at the feet of our Lord “listening to his sweet and fiery words.” 

St. Therese observed that “all saints know (this) and perhaps most of all those who have filled the world with the light of Evangelic doctrine. Is it not from prayer that Saints Paul, Augustine, John of the Cross, Thomas Aquinas, Francis and Dominic and so many other illustrious friends of God extracted this divine science that fascinated the greatest of geniuses?” It is prayer that allowed them to accomplish great things.   

The key to success of any great project is …

“The Almighty gave them Himself, and Himself alone as a fulcrum,” emphasized St. Therese, “to leverage prayer, which ignites with fire of love, and this is how they have elevated the world, so the militant saints today elevate it and the future saints will elevate it too, until the end of times.” 

But how can we go about turning these great projects into reality? St. Therese provides us with the key to success: we all need to rely on prayer. In other words, the more we want to do, the more we will have to submerge ourselves in something, which gives the impression of inaction: the act of praying. The more we want to act, the more we have to rely on God. The more eager we are to do things, the more it becomes necessary to take time for the Lord.

Our fervor gives “flavor” to our prayer

However, let us not forget about fervor! Aside from the joy of spending time in the company of “the One who loves us,” putting all of our fervor into prayer means that nothing can be done without Him. For when we pray, we draw strength from the Lord. In silence, we learn that it serves no purpose to run around the world doing great things if we have not first taken time to confide in the One without whom nothing is possible. 

Very often, what those embarking on great projects lack is the fervor of prayer and the perseverance in action. For fervor gives a prayer its intensity, without which it would turn into an obligation — a soul-less routine. Fervor gives heart and soul to prayer, transforming it into a vital breath – an act of faith, a moment of joy. Without it, there is a chance that prayer would be abandoned, for no one wishes to be bored or waste his or her time. Fervor is one of the many faces of love that we bear for our Lord. It compels us to come and contemplate Him during the time of prayer, to worship Him and confide in Him, so He reveals to us his will.

Great ideas develop in prayer

The courage to face danger and confront an uncertain future comes from prayer. St. Therese wished to change the world, and she was more successful in this than many others. She did not make great speeches on the necessity to transform it. She did not gather any committees to project what would happen if people did this or that. She deeply understood the heart of the Lord. She responded to His love with hers. She put all of her love that she drew from prayer and her heart into the small things that made up her daily life. She placed equal amounts of fervor in the love she had for God and for her sisters. 

This is the path she has indicated to all of us. We should not stray from it. If we go too fast, we might miss the turn and lose our way without ever accomplishing the dreams of youth. So there is one thing we should ask of the Lord: fervor in prayer. The rest will be given to us on top of it.

Brother Alain Quilici

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