Have I mentioned how much I love all of Father Jacques Philippe’s writings? I do think I’ve quoted him here from time to time. If you’re looking for profound, deep, power-packed yet practical and down-to-earth spiritual writing — Father Philippe is the author for you. And each of his books is short and sweet — another bonus for busy moms!
I’m reading his latest book, The Way of Trust and Love – A Retreat Guided by St. Thérèse of Lisieux, printed by Scepter. There is also a Kindle version available. Oh, and Sacred Heart Books and Gifts also carries this and most of Philippe’s books in print version, at a discount. Linda has such great taste in books!
My favorite spiritual book for over 20 years has been I Believe in Love: A Personal Retreat Based on the Teaching of St. Thérèse of Lisieux by Father Jean C. J. d’Elbée. After disliking St. Therese as a young girl because she was syrupy sweet and melancholic, I wholeheartedly embraced her since I was in my 20s. She is definitely my favorite saint, due mainly to how Father d’Elbée really captured The Little Way and showed how Confidence and Trust is what I really needed. I was failing so often, and trying to pull myself up by my own bootstraps. No need anymore, because Jesus loves me not in spite of my failing but because of my failings!
It was this book that helped me pick my husband. When we first met, he asked for some recommendation for spiritual reading for Lent, so I mentioned this book. He read it, and loved it — and I knew he was the right man for me!
So fast forward to the present. I have enjoyed all of Father Philippe’s books. The underlying theme in all his books is The Little Way, or Way of Trust and Love. The Way of Trust and Love most clearly defines it, and it is as rich as I’m not even finished and I find myself pondering just a small sentence for a week or so. I find this book echoes and even goes deeper in some areas as I Believe in Love.
To share a few quotes, here is Father’s introduction of what is The Little Way:
So what is this little way? It is the spiritual journey undertaken by Thérèse, a genuine path to holiness, but a path accessible to everyone, so that nobody can get discouraged, not even the littlest, the poorest, or the most sinful–so that everyone can discover a path of life, of conversion, open to him or her.
He shares the background that she was looking for an elevator to take her straight to Jesus.
Where could she find this elevator? Where did Thérèse go to look for it? To the Bible.
This is worth noting. Thérèse had a great love for Holy Scripture. All the lights that guided her along the way, all her great spiritual intuitions, she found in Scripture. Every time a question came up that upset her a little, she went to the Bible to find the answer. She received astonishing lights that enabled her to acquire a deep understanding of the Scriptures….
The Bible is not a privileged possession of Protestants: all believers, absolutely, must be nourished on Scripture. It is particularly vital for today, and we should ask St. Thérèse to obtain this grace for us. We live in a world with a lot of confusion and many contradictory messages…Only God’s Word, passed on to us in a special way in Scripture, has the necessary depth, clarity, and authority to help us find our way. Only Scripture enables us to discover the truth, not as something abstract, but as God’s presence in our lives and the very specific way he offers us day after day.
True, Scripture is sometimes enigmatic and hard to interpret. However, if we spend at least ten minutes a day reading it, meditating on it, and praying about it, it will speak to our hearts. We should never let a day pass without taking some minutes to read and pray about a text from the Bible such as the readings for that day or a psalm….
His little parenthetical remark really struck me:
To express her gratitude she once again makes use of the Bible, quoting from Psalm 71 (we will never find anything better than the psalms to express our praise):
I’ve been thinking how rich are the Psalms. I love praying the Divine Office, and I just am amazed on how these prayers, written centuries ago echo my heart’s prayer to God. The Psalms ARE perfect prayers!
Finally, my reading today was on humility, on what it is and what it isn’t. Such powerful words that really struck home:
People sometimes have a false idea of humility. Real humility isn’t condemning or despising ourselves, saying scornfully to ourselves, “You’re worthless, you’re useless.” Just the opposite: it is accepting ourselves peacefully as we are–our littleness, physical limitations, psychological weaknesses, lack of courage or virtue, the difficulty we have in praying, all the wretchedness present in our lives, whether physical, mental, or even spiritual. Being humble means consenting to our inner poverty. First of all, recognizing it, because sometimes we don’t want to face it, but above all accepting it!
With a bit of clear thinking, we can manage more or less to see our inner poverty. But accepting it is more difficult. We would all like to be more intelligent than we are, stronger, better-looking, more virtuous, more spiritual, more this, more that, in any and every sphere of our lives. We can easily get discouraged by the way we are.
Now, very often what prevents God’s grace from acting in depth in our lives, and is therefore a kin of sin, is this failure or refusal to accept ourselves as we are: our past, our mistakes, our physique, what we are on the human level, our psychological make-up, our weaknesses, and all the rest.
So well put! How often do I feel discouraged by my lacks — not losing weight, not organized, not disciplined, my school year and prayer life in the hopper.
So that’s a little taste of the writing. It’s all very applicable to MY life and I’m so grateful to St. Therese and Father Philippe.
Another reason St. Thérèse is a favorite saint in our family? We were engaged to be married on October 1, her feast day! It was a deliberate choice of Dh, and a very fond memory for me.