The real reason we went to France was to go on pilgrimage to Lisieux.  We got to go to the monastery in which St. Therese of Lisieux spent her years as a nun.  We spent the day there, praying and talking with the kids about her.
    We named Annie “Anne Therese” because of Therese of Lisieux.  Therese is a doctor of the Church.  She is acclaimed as having stated wisdom that far exceeds normal wisdom.  Her main message is that what God appreciates and values is not great things, but rather even the smallest of things, done with great love.  This is a statement, reflecting and exposing the heart of the Gospel, that has profoundly shaped my life.
    Therese also states things in a most extraordinary way.  She talks about loving Jesus in a way that takes my breath away.  It would be scandalous if it were not so perfect.  She says, for example, that Jesus wearies of hearing our cries and then watching us walk away.  Instead, she wants to be the person who loves Him better than anyone on earth.  So, she says, she will love Him, take care of Him, and not dump her miseries on Him.  She will be a person whom He can take comfort and repose in.  This is almost wrong to my mind–but the truth in it is more than profound.
    Years ago, Ron and I wrote our own novena to Therese, asking for the job at the University of Dallas.  The job was unlikely to get, by a long shot.  When Ron got it, we have always thanked God and attributed Therese’s prayers for us as the probable cause.
    Furthermore, the University of Dallas is what brought us to Rome.  We would never, ever have made a trip like that except for it being a work trip for Ron.  So, to say thank you both to God and to Therese for her prayers that made all this possible, we traveled to Lisieux.  Oh, what a joy!!
   For me, it was a powerful prayer experience to be there.  It was shocking–they say that to go on pilgrimage, blessings can be given by God to the one who has labored to arrive at the holy site.  Goodness, this proved to be true for me.  My prayer life has been quite transformed by the visit.  A huge block that I had has been removed, and peace of a certain kind given.
    God wants us to have good friends, holy friends.  God wants us to stick close to His people.  They rub off on us, and we become like the company we keep.  Being friends with Therese is one of the best things about our life.  It is the smartest thing we can do for ourselves!
    Thank you, God, for your holy people who show us how to love you better!
    Happy Feast of Mt. Carmel (one day late)!