The Little Flower and Big News
I wonder… If television were available in her day, would St. Thérèse of Lisieux have appeared on TV? (There’s a reason for this wondering. Keep reading.) Since she was a cloistered nun, I’m guessing that she wouldn’t have. Then again, Mother Angelica appeared on TV for decades and even began the world’s largest Catholic cable and satellite network, EWTN. So maybe Thérèse of the Child Jesus would have had her voice and image broadcasted, had that option been available and she was asked to do so. After all, she wrote and starred in plays in her convent where her fellow sisters captured her image in posed photographs, and, at the behest of her superiors, Thérèse made a record of her life in a book. In her lifetime, she was considered fairly ordinary by her fellow nuns. It was really the love of her familial sisters in the convent that ensured that her face and words would live on after her death in the minds and hearts of Catholics all around the world.
My life is very little. Limited by a severely disabling disease, I don’t have the accomplishments of normal life: no degrees, no employment, no marriage, no children. I can’t even accomplish physical independence — no brushing of my own teeth, no dressing or feeding myself. Some have mistakenly thought that this littleness of mine makes me a humble, saintly person. It certainly does not. Just ask my loving family! Although I have even been publicly compared to Thérèse of Lisieux (the earthly person, not the Saint), I would never make this comparison myself. It isn’t excessive humility or false modesty that makes me uncomfortable with such a comparison. It is clear knowledge of who I am — not only willful and a bit self-indulgent (traits which Thérèse seems to have had and battled herself) but also haunted by doubt and lacking in piety, lacking in trust.
There is a spiritual reluctance in me that often seems stronger than my spiritual willingness. I am, after all, just like you, just like every human being living on Earth: a work in progress. Will any desire I may have for holiness triumph over my desires for earthly pleasure and security? Will yours? God only knows.
What I know is that I am a person who loves beauty and seeks truth. I have always enjoyed expressing myself through the written word and dreamed of becoming a published author. But I lacked courage to do anything about it. Since I was nearly forty, I’ve been documenting my journey of faith and consecration to the Sacred Heart in this blog. With the encouragement of readers, I finally put some spiritual reflections together into a book called It’s Good to Be Here, which was accepted for publication by Sophia Institute Press. For almost a year now, I’ve been helping to market the book, being interviewed on radio and once in print. My life has grown busier and more complicated, but I haven’t gotten any bigger. I’m still little.
Sometimes, I feel much too little for all of this. I have no formal training in writing or public speaking beyond what I received in high school, and I have no professional experience in anything at all. I’ve never had a job or even the responsibility of managing a household or raising children. Having attention focused on me isn’t much new, of course, being the smiling “girl in a wheelchair” all of my life.
But what is expected of me?
That’s the question.
Today is the feast day of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and I have chosen it for the announcement of some big news in my little life. On October 7th and 8th (1:30 PM Eastern), I will be making a television appearance as a guest on At Home with Jim and Joy on EWTN! This is exciting, most definitely, and a bit terrifying. Quite scary, when I think of people’s expectations. As I battle my fears, I hope that my spiritual doubts and mistrust will melt away in the face of my willingness to do whatever God wants me to do. Sadly … I don’t think that they will. I think these are afflictions that test my faith and love, like fires to burn away impurities.
You see, there is still a great deal of self-centeredness in me, pride that sometimes pops through and makes me say “I’ve got this” even though I know I don’t. If I’ve been successful in any of my previous interviews, it’s because God’s got me, it’s because of the Holy Spirit and whatever gift of gab God has given me. I don’t prepare what I’m going to say ahead of time, rather letting the conversations develop as they will. This TV interview is going to be different, but I’m still putting all of my confidence in the Holy Spirit.
Hmmm … that does sound kind of like trust … doesn’t it?
This reminds me of what I have always said about my writing: it’s how I process and learn. It’s how God teaches me. Like this blog, I truly believe that the book that I have written is meant for me, more than for anyone else. The words are for my own spiritual growth and benefit, reminders of tiny glimpses of glory that I’ve been given in the ordinary, and if anyone else benefits as well, then that’s just gravy. (And I do love gravy.) Perhaps, the interviews are also for my benefit, to help me to grow in trust and in faith — not faith in myself as a worthy person to deliver God’s message. God no. But faith in God that He knows what He’s doing.
I am a child in the hands of my Creator.
I am little.
Christ, my Lord, I ask for Your protection from expectations of me that are too big and from declarations about me that do not fit.
(And St. Thérèse, please pray for me, that I will learn to truly practice your little way!)
Note: If you would like to watch my interview and don’t get EWTN on your TV, go to EWTN.com/tv/watch-live at 1:30 PM Eastern on October 7 and 8.
© 2020 Christina Chase
Christina Chase View All
Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.
Well, Christina, whatever next!
I’ve never seen EWTN let alone the programme you’ll be appearing in, but if you are familiar with the show, then not preparing IS preparing. The interviewers set the agenda, perhaps quite sketchily. Or maybe they have a producer talking into an earpiece, ‘Ask about so-and-so,’ You are in their hands and you’d best trust them. I doubt they are shock jocks!
I really hope it all goes well. Will you be in a studio or at home? I hope they come with good sound equipment and don’t rely on the phone system. A few radio interviews have been spoilt that way including one with Marilynne Robinson who was altogether too quietly spoken, even when I tuned in for the podcast.
I’d better ‘shut up, man’ before I get you all unserene about things you cannot change. Enjoy yourself!
Thankfully, the appearances will be via video chat, through Skype, because of the coronavirus precautions. (This actually works out quite well for me, because travel to the studios in Alabama would have been very physically demanding.) We did a test and the quality was very good. As my desk is in front of windows, I’m hoping for cloudy weather so I don’t have to put up heavy shades to keep me from getting washed out on camera! And, yes, they are very kind, compassionate, and joyful people, so I am in good hands!
Hoping you never “shut up, man” (giggling), I thank you for your continuous encouragement!
I’m so glad that you will be appearing on Jim and Jou RETN! I watch them all the time. Yes, you are such an inspiring person and deserves all this accolade bestowed on you, because the world needs to hear it especially in this day and age.
Yes yes’ you were sent here at the right time
Thank you, Joan, for your ongoing support! ❤
What courage you have Christina! I love your faith and trust in God and I know that this is what drives you. You give hope and purpose to not only other people who have disabilities, but to all of us when difficulties are on the horizon.
I understand a little if your daily struggles. My brother caught polio in both legs when he was five and he is now 76. We prayed the rosary as a family daily for his many surgeries.
My daughter-in-law (Kristine) just turned 45 and was diagnosed a week ago with MS. She has never practiced any faith in her lifetime. Oh how she will need Jesus to walk this with her. My son, Adam, has begun to attend Mass again. I pray that she will find God.
Thank you for inspiring us to be all that we can be. That’s all Christ asks of us.
Wishing you success and blessings.
Thank you for your encouragement, Polly! I am continually amazed, more and more, by how God can work through someone as little and limited as I am. My heart goes out to you and your family, especially dealing with your daughter-in-law’s diagnosis. I will pray for all of you, especially that she and your son may find and receive the divine healing of faith, strength, and love.
In the peace of Christ,