A young woman growing up in France many years ago wanted to be a priest. She heard God calling her to go out and work in his vineyard. In her holy love for God she could think of nothing greater than celebrating Holy Mass and giving the Body and Blood of the Lord to His people.
She found upon inquiring, however, that it was a certain teaching of the Church that the priesthood could be conferred only upon men. Therese did not respond to this news with anxiety but rather with authentic faith. She did not leave the Church in anger when she became aware of this difficult teaching. Neither did she found her own "church" so that she could have things as she wanted. She continued to live as a faithful daughter of the Church and to discern her vocation.
She later became a cloistered Carmelite religious, living a strict regimen of prayer, community and poverty closed within a convent for the rest of her life. God heard her yearning for greatness and she imitated Him by becoming a great saint, perhaps the greatest of the 20th century, dying a sacrificial death at the age of 24 by offering the pain of her tuberculosis for the missions and for the sanctification of priests.
Today, on October 1 throughout the world and every year on this date, the Church celebrated the feast of Saint Therese of Lisieux, now a doctor of the Church for her teaching on the "little way" of faith. No man or woman, she taught, no matter how insignificant he or she may believe themselves to be, is denied greatness in God who pours out the infinite graces of love through Christ in the Church for all. Even the smallest and least noticeable things can be done with great love. Therese found the greatness that she desired in and through the Church, bearing fruit in a life of holiness rewarded by eternal union and joy with God in heaven. Her "little way" of holiness, "to be love in the heart of the Church", our mother, gave her the happiness of serving the Lord she had mistakenly sought in a gift He did not intend for her.
It is the fruit of love that God seeks from all of us, no matter our vocation. The Church is the vineyard of the Lord in which all of us find this fruit which brings great peace here and now as a foretaste and promise of eternal life.
All of us are called to find our own roles within the Body of Christ. All of us are called to pursue God's will with the same assurance as this very young woman, insignificant in the sight of the world whether as priest or religious, married man or woman, or consecrated single.
"Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God."
Through the power of Christ's death and the love and Resurrected life he confers in the fruit of the Eucharist, His Body and Blood, this young woman has become so great as today to move millions to love and serve the Lord in the Church, the heart of which is the love of Jesus Christ, great enough to embrace and sustain us all.
"whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,
if there is any excellence
and if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.
Keep on doing what you have learned and received
and heard and seen in me.
Then the God of peace will be with you."