My Grandmother turns 91 today! I called her on the phone this morning to wish her a Happy Birthday and to talk about her upcoming birthday party tomorrow. She walks with a cane now and forgets things more frequently, but all that just comes with the territory when someone crosses the threshold of her 10th decade. Overall, she is doing remarkably well.
After all, a lot has changed since Grandma was born in 1921. A loaf of bread cost 10 cents then, a man’s suit cost $21.50 at Sears and Roebuck, and one could buy a furnished apartment in NYC for $3,000. Inflation has certainly taken a toll!
Warren G. Harding was President and Benedict XV was Pope when Grandma was born. She likes to tell the story that her mother used to say that she was the only one of her eight children born in an institution. She was referring to a hospital – not a mental institution! Grandma’s seven siblings were all born at home.
Just two weeks before Grandma was born, Pope Benedict XV promulgated the Decree on the Heroicity of the Virtues of the Venerable Servant of God, Therese, on August 14, 1921 stating, “In spiritual childhood is the secret of sanctity for all the faithful of the Catholic world. There is a call to all the faithful of every nation, no matter what their age, sex, or state of life, to enter wholeheartedly into the Little Way which led Sister Therese to the summit of heroic virtue. It is our desire that the secret of sanctity of Sister Therese of the Child Jesus be revealed to all our children.” (Intro. to Story of A Soul, p. xii) It is noteworthy that the Holy Father not only held Therese up as an example of an exemplary life, but he also exhorted all Catholics to follow the Little Way as a route to holiness. This statement, in a way, foreshadowed the declaration of St. Therese as a Doctor of the Church 76 years later!
I have found the Little Way of St. Therese to be a perfect path to God in my own life. I have learned how to have greater and greater confidence in God over the years as I entrust myself more into His loving hands. I have also learned that the more I trust in God the more He requires of me. St. Therese herself walked on the path that she taught to the Church and knew that it was a direct route to God. When her sister, Mother Agnes of Jesus, was tempted to think she could not get to heaven, Therese exhorted her, “You must say to God: ‘I know very well that I’ll never be worthy of what I hope for, but I hold out my hand to You like a beggar and I’m sure You will answer me fully, for You are so good!” (St. Therese of Lisieux – her last conversations, p. 221) That is true confidence in God!
I recall today that my Grandmother has been there for me my entire life and that St. Therese has played such an important role in my life over the past two decades. I am truly grateful for the influence of these two loving women in my life. Happy Birthday Grandma!