Therese’s “little way” of “making love the mainspring of every action”

Saint Therese of Lisieux underscores that we stray from the path of holiness when we take our eyes off of Jesus. this is a fundamental spiritual maxim that St. Teresa of Avila was fond of repeating:”don’t take your eyes off of Jesus.” Therese states: “i resolved never to let my soul wander from the gaze of Jesus, so it could sail peacefully towards the shores of heaven” . Like the apostle Peter, we begin to sink when we take our eyes off of Jesus.

Therese understands that so many of the activities we do in life are boring and hum-drum. Nevertheless, with each present moment – no matter what we are doing – we have the opportunity to grow in grace and holiness by performing our duties faithfully and for the love of God. The essence of her sanctity, as John Beevers points out, is in the realization that great love, not  great deeds, is what makes us holy. This is Therese’s “little way,” and it involves the recognition that God is present in every moment of our lives no matter how insignificant our lot in life may be. 

Each present moment is an opportunity to grow in holiness, this especially when we are motivated by the love of God. 

Some scholars note a similarity here between Therese’s spirituality and Jean Pierre de Caussade’s theology of the “sacrament of the present moment” (Reference: Introduction of Abandonment to Divine Providence, audio Cds, Ignatius Press). 

Another great French spiritual writer, Father Lallemant, once said: “The smallest measure of holiness, the least action that increases holiness, is to be preferred before scepters and crowns. Whence it follows, that by losing everyday opportunities of doing so many supernatural actions, we incur losses of happiness inconceivable in extent….”

Thomas L. Mulcahy, M.A.