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
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.