Friday, 1 October 2021 : Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of Missions (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of the great Patroness of Missions, St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as St. Therese of the Child Jesus. St. Therese was a Carmelite nun who was remembered for her great piety and faith, her commitment to the Lord and her great writings and contributions to the Church. As such, she was greatly revered by many people who were touched and inspired by her examples and holy life, even though she had a relatively short life when she died at the very young age of twenty-four.

St. Therese of Lisieux was born as the daughter of the now Saints, St. Louis Martin and St. Marie-Azelie Guerin. The family of St. Therese of Lisieux was a very devout Catholic family, and her parents were truly great role models as Christians and as dedicated and loving parents to their children. Although they were not rich, but they led a happy and pious life together as a family, which eventually saw not just St. Therese joining the religious life as a nun, but in fact all of the five daughters of St. Louis Martin and St. Marie-Azelie Guerin who survived to adulthood all joined the religious life.

St. Therese had always been frail and weak since when she was born, and as she grew up, she was brought up in a very pious and devoted environment as her family observed the daily attendance at the Holy Mass every morning, the regular practice of fasting and abstinence as well as the daily and regular recitation of the Divine Office and other prayers, which her family always never failed to do, as well as numerous charitable efforts and works, which influenced the young St. Therese greatly. This would become one of the main inspiration for her to join consecrated life.

St. Therese then expressed her desire to join the religious life since a very young age. After she has lost her mother at the age of just four and a half years old, his father took care of her and her other sisters, and sent her to be educated by Benedictine nuns. Her desire to dedicate herself to the Lord became only stronger and as her own sisters also joined a Carmelite convent, especially one who was particularly close to her, this led to St. Therese expressing even greater desire to follow the Lord.

All the challenges that she had to face did not deter St. Therese from doing her best to seek entry to the religious life, and it was told that in one occasion on one Christmas Midnight Mass, she experienced a great spiritual experience that she later on described as a complete conversion experience. It was a moment of great significance as she overcame her previous troubles and spiritual troubles of having lost her mother at a very young age as well as other troubles and the sickness she had.

That also further deepened her spirituality and commitment to God as she continued to persevere in her desire to be a consecrated nun, which was eventually led her to Rome, as the Pope, then Pope Leo XIII met her in a personal audience in which she uttered her great desire to join the Carmelites. The Pope told her to obey the will of the Carmelite superiors and to entrust herself to the will of God, that if it is indeed God’s will, then she would be able to enter the Carmelite Order. Eventually, she did manage to enter the convent, by the arrangements authorised by the local bishop.

St. Therese spent her life afterwards in great piety and commitment to God, while still enduring both physical and spiritual trials and difficulties. Yet, all these did not dampen her spirit and enthusiasm as she continued to persevere through prayer and strict discipline throughout her life as a Carmelite and she wrote down her experiences of receiving visions and other spiritual experiences that she lived through. She was also then known for her famous ‘Little Way’ which also earned her the name of the ‘Little Flower of Carmel’.

What is this Little Way that St. Therese of Lisieux proposed, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is that we do not have to do great things in order to attain the glory of Heaven. Rather, our good works and our living by our faith is measured by the small little actions we do each day and every moments of our lives. Little by little, small effort bit by bit, we will eventually get there, and we will find our way to the Lord if we continue to persevere in our faith and remain faithful to God. This is what we have been called to do through the examples of St. Therese of Lisieux, her faith and exemplary life.

To the very end of her life, St. Therese of Lisieux dedicated herself to a life of prayer, and her many writings and works inspired many who had read them and come to know about her life and her devotion to God. Her immense popularity among the faithful, even long after her passing is credited with numerous conversions among the people and one of the reason why she was named as the Patroness of Missions. And we should be inspired to follow in her examples and her virtues and dedication to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we have heard the great detail of the life of this most wonderful and renowned saint, we are all then called to reflect on our own way of life. Are we all willing to follow in her good examples and are we all capable of committing ourselves to a life of total giving and service to God as St. Therese of Lisieux had done? And we have to realise that we often do not have to do many amazing and wonderful things in life. What we have to do is to reach out to others around us even through very small actions and gestures in life, that by our exemplary life we may lead more and more of our fellow brethren to the salvation in God.

As Christians we are all called to action, to dedicate ourselves to the Lord and to His cause and works in our world today. We are all called to be the beacons of His light and truth in our darkened world, and as we see how the shining faith of St. Therese of Lisieux had been an immense source of hope and light to all who witnessed and seen her life examples, we too should do the same in our own lives. Can we contribute our efforts even in the smallest way we can, to glorify the Lord by our lives?

May the Lord continue to help and strengthen us, and may He guide us in our journey throughout life so that we may always ever draw closer to Him in each and every moments of our lives. May God bless us in our every good works and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 1 October 2021 : Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of Missions (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 18 : 1-5

At that time, the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Then Jesus called a little child, set the child in the midst of the disciples, and said, “I assure you, that, unless you change, and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble, like this child, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and whoever receives such a child, in My Name, receives Me.”

Friday, 1 October 2021 : Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of Missions (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 131 : 1-3

O YHVH, my heart is not proud nor do I have arrogant eyes. I am not engrossed in ambitious matters, nor in things too great for me.

I have quieted and stilled my soul, like a weaned child, on its mother’s lap; like a contented child is my soul.

Hope in YHVH, o Israel, now and forever.

Friday, 1 October 2021 : Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of Missions (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 66 : 10-14

Rejoice for Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her. Be glad with her, rejoice with her, all you who were in grief over her, that you may suck of the milk from her comforting breasts, that you may drink deeply from the abundance of her glory.

For this is what YHVH says : I will send her peace, overflowing like a river; and the nations’ wealth, rushing like a torrent towards her. And you will be nursed and carried in her arms and fondled upon her lap. As a son comforted by his mother, so will I comfort you. At the sight of this, your heart will rejoice; like grass, your bones will flourish.

For it shall be known that YHVH’s hand is with His servant, but His fury is upon His enemy.

Thursday, 1 October 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of all Missionaries and the Missions (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the promises of God’s salvation which He made to His servant Isaiah, in our first reading passage today, with the comforting words that God will once again cherish and bless His people, which by the time of Isaiah had faced much difficulty and many trials, and how God will bless them all and make them whole again.

And the fulfilment of these prophecies had been made through Christ, the Saviour of the world, of whom Isaiah spoke extensively about. And God has called on all of us to come to Him and to gather in His presence and receive from Him grace and peace forever. But unfortunately, many of us rejected Him, ignored His call and turned a deaf ear to His pleas to seek our reconciliation with Him.

That is why, in our Gospel today, we heard the Lord gathering little children to Himself and told all of His disciples that unless they were to be like those little children in their faith and in their lives, they would have no place in the kingdom of Heaven. And this came right after the disciples were arguing and debating among themselves on who was the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven and amongst Christ’s disciples and followers.

The Lord therefore reminds them all that to be His followers we must be humble, make ourselves small and insignificant, for it was our hubris and ego that had led us to our downfall. It was our desire for power, influence, worldly glory, fame, wealth that led us to a path of disobedience and wickedness, and thus these made us to commit sin against God.

And it is not easy for us to be faithful as the Lord had called us to be, to be like little children in our faith, whose faith are pure and without strings attached to worldly desires and temptations. Often, we have too much in mind to be able to focus our attention on God, unlike those little children, whose attention can be wholly centred on Him, as they have not yet been affected by all sorts of worldly matters and concerns.

This is where perhaps we should look upon the examples set by our famous saint of the day, whose life and philosophy embody exactly this call for us to be ‘childlike’ in our faith. St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as St. Therese of Child Jesus and as the ‘Little Flower of Carmel’, was a Discalced Carmelite nun who has been very popular during her life and especially more so after her passing. She inspired many people by her virtuous life and was renowned for her ‘Little Way’.

St. Therese certainly did not have an easy life or vocation as a religious, as she was often sickly in her youth, although she was indeed brought up in a loving and devout family. Family tragedy struck early as her mother passed away when she was still a very young child. And St. Therese was also bullied and often suffered in school. She endured all these patiently and with faith.

When one of her elder sister joined the Carmelite nuns, St. Therese was devastated but this in itself led her to desire to join the Carmelites as well. She was often told that she was still too young and her poor health also made it difficult. St. Therese also began to experience spiritual visions which would be more frequent later in her life. It was then on the Christmas Eve of the Year of Our Lord 1886 that she experienced a complete conversion of her soul.

From that point onwards, St. Therese began a new journey of faith, overcoming her sensitivities and self desires, a victory over the desires of the flesh and body, and dedicating herself ever more to God. As she eventually entered the Carmelite monastery after several more years of trials and struggles, and throughout her later time as a postulant and novice religious sister, being devoted and dedicated to the Lord.

And the hallmark of her faith and idea is known as the ‘Little Way’ in which St. Therese put forward the view that in order for us to follow God, what we really ought to do is to be faithful to Him in all things, even in the simplest and smallest of actions. We are called to be faithful through simple and little actions in life. This is what we all need to do, in order to be faithful as Christians.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, from what we have just heard about St. Therese of Lisieux today, and from the reflections of the Scriptures, all of us are reminded to be faithful to God at all times, and to do this through our lives, each and every day of them. Often we have ignored these as we are too busy pursuing worldly ambitions and desires, and by temptations we faced, we have been lured away by desire to walk down the wrong path in life.

This is why we are called to be like little children in our faith, to be genuine in our faith and dedication in God, be more humble and reject all the temptations of ego, pride, ambition, greed and desire among others. This is not something easily done as we are often surrounded by all these every moment of our lives, and unless we make a concerted effort to resist those temptations we will falter and fall into sin.

And in addition to that, we often remain passive and inactive in our Christian life because we thought that we cannot do anything significant in the matter of our faith. And this is where we are wrong, as even little actions and commitments are part of that journey of faith, and all of our little actions and contributions combined together, will become a great effort indeed. That is why we really have to embrace God’s call to be witnesses of our faith and as missionaries to spread the Good News of God by our dedication and actions in life.

Let us all therefore strive to be faithful to God at all times, in every little actions we do in our lives, that by following the examples of St. Therese of Child Jesus, the Little Flower of Carmel, we may indeed become truly committed to God and no longer ensnared by the temptations in life. May God help and guide us in this journey, and bless us in our every good endeavours for His greater glory, now and always. St. Therese of Lisieux, pray for us all! Amen.

Thursday, 1 October 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of all Missionaries and the Missions (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 18 : 1-5

At that time, the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Then Jesus called a little child, set the child in the midst of the disciples, and said, “I assure you, that, unless you change, and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble, like this child, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and whoever receives such a child, in My Name, receives Me.”

Thursday, 1 October 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of all Missionaries and the Missions (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 131 : 1-3

O YHVH, my heart is not proud nor do I have arrogant eyes. I am not engrossed in ambitious matters, nor in things too great for me.

I have quieted and stilled my soul, like a weaned child, on its mother’s lap; like a contented child is my soul.

Hope in YHVH, o Israel, now and forever.

Thursday, 1 October 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of all Missionaries and the Missions (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 66 : 10-14

Rejoice for Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her. Be glad with her, rejoice with her, all you who were in grief over her, that you may suck of the milk from her comforting breasts, that you may drink deeply from the abundance of her glory.

For this is what YHVH says : I will send her peace, overflowing like a river; and the nations’ wealth, rushing like a torrent towards her. And you will be nursed and carried in her arms and fondled upon her lap. As a son comforted by his mother, so will I comfort you. At the sight of this, your heart will rejoice; like grass, your bones will flourish.

For it shall be known that YHVH’s hand is with His servant, but His fury is upon His enemy.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of all Missionaries and the Missions (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we mark the beginning of the Extraordinary Mission Month as promulgated by Pope Francis earlier last year and it is fitting that this month of October begins with the feast of the Patroness of all Missionaries and Missions, namely St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as St. Therese of the Child Jesus, a great visionary and saint, and through her many excellent writings, a great Doctor of the Church and inspiration to all of us.

St. Therese of Lisieux was a Discalced Carmelite nun who was renowned for her ‘Little Way’ or the ‘Little Way of St. Therese of Lisieux’, which is why she was also known as the ‘Little Flower of Jesus’. St. Therese of Lisieux faced a lot of difficulties during the early years of her life and in embracing her calling into religious life as even though she was raised in a pious and virtuous family, her parents being just recently canonised as saints as well, St. Louis Martin and St. Marie-Azelie Guerin, but she had a frail condition and health.

Nonetheless, this did not stop St. Therese of Lisieux from listening to God’s call and embracing her calling, which in a way inspired her own family to also embrace their calling, as eventually the siblings of St. Therese of Lisieux also embraced and committed themselves to religious life like St. Therese had been. She received many visions throughout her life, from the Lord and His blessed Mother Mary, both before and after she joined the religious life.

That was how she began to journal her experiences and wrote extensively about those spiritual experiences and her thoughts, which made her own incredible piety and devotion to God even more amazing. She spent a lot of time praying for priests and many of the people whose faith were weak and lukewarm, hoping that through her prayers those people would be fortified further in their own faith and devotion to God.

And despite the tough circumstances and conditions she had to bear as a member of the strict Carmelite order, and the bullying and challenges she actually experienced during her years in the service of God, St. Therese continued to devote herself to God ever more strongly through prayer and through her love for her community, and by her examples and inspiring faith, eventually many would be strengthened in their own faith and others became converts through her many works and writings.

Truly, this is the essence of what missionary work is all about, and the Lord in our Gospel passage today wants to remind us of both our obligation as Christians as well as how we should approach this responsibility we now have in being witnesses of our faith and as missionaries of the Gospels of Christ. We must not be afraid to embrace God with all of our strength and love Him with all of our abilities as St. Therese of Lisieux had done.

And we should not think that it is impossible for us to devote ourselves just because we think that we are unworthy or incapable of doing what our holy predecessors had done. To be a good missionary does not need us to do great and wonderful deeds, or to perform miracles and doing seemingly superhuman feats. We tend to think too much, worry too much and have too many things in our minds and in the end, our fears, worries and uncertainties will become our undoing.

In today’s Gospel and also through the life and philosophy of St. Therese of Lisieux, we are all called to change our mindset and perspective of life, in how we should devote ourselves to the Lord. We are called to reflect on what it means for us to welcome the Lord like that of little children and how to love Him like those children had loved Him. A children’s love and faith are pure, and they are pure because they have not yet been corrupted by worldly desires and thoughts.

Therefore, our love for God must also be pure and unconditional just as how He Himself has loved us first. God has not reserved or held back His love towards us at all, and He gave us everything through Christ, His Son, Who suffered grievously and died on the Cross for the sake of our salvation. And as St. Therese of Lisieux famously put in her ‘Little Way’ as I mentioned earlier, that is for us to be faithful to God, it does not need us to be great or to do superhuman feats.

Rather, what we need to do, according to St. Therese of Lisieux, is to become small and humble, recognising our faults and shortcomings that we may empty ourselves of ego, pride and desires so that we may truly be able to love God and give ourselves to Him wholeheartedly, and doing this in a manner that we take a small, little step one at a time, and not a giant leap. Ultimately, all those small little steps will add up together and become a great progress for us in our journey of faith.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all called today to be missionaries of our faith, to become the witnesses of Christ, in every little and small things we do in our lives, in everything that we say and we do, in all of our interactions with our fellow brethren, that we should commit ourselves to the path of righteousness and do only what pleases God from now on. Let us all be inspirations for one another and encourage one another to live more faithfully from now on.

May the Lord continue to bless us all and guide us in our journey of faith, and may He empower us all to live more courageously in His presence. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of all Missionaries and the Missions (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 18 : 1-5

At that time, the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Then Jesus called a little child, set the child in the midst of the disciples, and said, “I assure you, that, unless you change, and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble, like this child, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and whoever receives such a child, in My Name, receives Me.”