I was delighted when a woman at the St. Katharine of Siena Prayer Group asked if I could do two talks on St. Therese on two consecutive weeks for their prayer meeting. I immediately accepted and inquired when the talks would take place. She asked if the following Thursday, July 19th, would be too soon! I replied that that was fine. That left only three days until the talk, so I began tailor-making a talk that I had given some months before to a Third Order Carmelite Group in Philadelphia to suit the needs of my new audience.
Maria and I arrived at the church early on the 19th and there were only a few people there tuning up the music. The prayer meeting was held in a side chapel of the main church where the tabernacle containing the Blessed Sacrament was located. It was a perfect place to praise God! When enough people had arrived, 40 minutes of praise and worship commenced and was followed by my 20 minute talk entitled, “The Little Way of St. Therese and the Experience of Prayer”.
I began the first talk by briefly describing the story of my conversion to faith in 1989 and my subsequent conversion to the Catholic Church on the Easter Vigil Mass in 1991. I proceeded to give definitions for the various types of prayer from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and how God is the end and goal of the Little Way of St. Therese. God’s nature of love, mercy, and divine condescension were discussed and I gave the foundational verses from Scripture that Therese utilized to develop the Little Way. Lastly, I described how the Little Way is primarily an attitude or disposition of spirit and not simply “doing little things for God” and how this disposition was summed up beautifully in Therese’s 1895 Oblation to Merciful Love. The talk concluded with 5-10 minutes of questions from the audience. It was such a blessed evening that nobody could have imagined that it was just a few short hours before a lunatic in Colorado would open fire in a movie theater killing 12 people.
By the time of the second talk on July 26th I knew the format and felt very comfortable. It was a packed house with roughly twice as many people turning out as the previous week, including two nuns and a Catholic priest. Many of the late arrivals entered the prayer meeting soaked to the skin from the torrential rain outside. Flashes of lightning came through the stained glass windows of the chapel and acted as a sort of lights show to accompany the praise music. When the time for my talk came once again, I put up my picture of St. Therese and began speaking from the lecturn. I discussed the content of Manuscript B, the gem of Therese’s writings and a great exposition of the Little Way, and talked about the Parable of the Little Bird. The presentation came to a climax with the apex of the Little Way – confidence in God.
I was very edified by the entire experience and by the very warm reception that me and my family received from the prayer group. They were very attentive during the presentations and asked intelligent and interesting questions following the talk. One of my friends owns a tripod and generously videotaped both talks and hopefully I can put the videos on the website at some point. Luckily the heavy rain had subsided by the time we left.