Meditation 4: Not Feeling Overly Noticed

A Meditation Novena in the Footsteps of St. Thérèse

written by Fr. Todd Arsenault, LC

Meditation 4:
Not Feeling Overly Noticed

Recounting her special trip to Rome on pilgrimage to see Pope Leo XIII, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, having for some time promised Jesus to be his little plaything in the form of a little ball to do with as he will, wrote: “At Rome, Jesus pierced his little plaything; he wanted to see what there was inside it and having seen, content with his discovery, He let his little ball fall to the ground and he went off to sleep. What did he do during his gentle sleep and what became of the little abandoned ball? Jesus dreamed he was still playing with his toy, leaving it and taking it up in turns, and then having seen it roll quite far he pressed it to his heart, no longer allowing it to ever go far from his little hand.”

She had just made her petition to Pope Leo XIII to enter Carmel at 15 years old and he didn’t say a definitive “yes” which left her suffering emotionally though she said she was at peace within, and confident things would work out since the Pontiff’s answer seemed favorable to her desire, though not directly. Thus, she writes about this attitude of hers toward Jesus having her as his little plaything. This helps her to remember her smallness, insignificance, and poverty, being totally dependent on God and totally open to his will for her life. Jesus doesn’t forget us!

Perhaps in our own life, we have felt forgotten or unheard at work, by a spouse, or a friend–even God–and it hurts. We aren’t alone, and the Lord who lived these sensations will help us.

Scripture passages for reflection: John 1:10-14 & Luke 2:1-7 (birth of Jesus)

Look at Our Lord Jesus coming into the world as a child and not being received except by Mary and Joseph and a few others. The author of life, the light of the world, the great I AM in the flesh, comes into our midst and he is not received to the point of there being no room in the inn for him to be born. He comes in poverty! What emotions, thoughts, reactions does this evoke in my soul? How does this speak to my heart regarding the fact that as a child of God, I am called to the same standards as Jesus: persecution, cross, and disregard?

How is this similar to the disposition of God himself who offers himself to us as our Savior knowing that not all would accept or believe in him? Now reflect on St. Thérèse offering herself as a little plaything (a little ball) to Jesus. In her own simple yet profound way, she is offering herself as a sacrifice to the Lord to please him, to respond affirmatively to her acceptance and belief in him. What is in my heart?

What virtue do I see St. Thérèse hinting at in the way she expresses Jesus taking up the little ball again? Often in the sacraments, we receive special acts of love in the moments we least expect it and are most ready to receive it. Jesus wants us to know we are loved and that he will always protect us even if it seems we’re abandoned for a time.

Colloquy: Jesus, you call me to follow you even though you remain hidden at times. You call me to follow in love, in faith, and in trust in a way that my whole person is caught up in you and not in making my identity be based upon being noticed or appreciated in and by the world. The logic of your divine love is not in appearances but goes to the deepest part of my heart calling me to renounce myself to be yours alone. Grant me this grace to abandon myself completely to your will. Amen.

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