Love in the Heart of the Church
Friendsday Wednesday: Thérèse Edition is a special one indeed. I am so pleased to introduce to you a woman that has taught me a great deal about prayer, women's ministry, Theresian spirituality, and how to make delicious soup! This holy lady has gone from being my classmate's mom, to a co-worker, and now, I am so blessed to call her a friend. Her recommendations (including Shirt of Flame) and example have taught me a great deal about the Little Flower, and I hope her story of friendship will inspire you to learn more about Thérèse. Without further ado, here is Robin Hebert.
Friends in Christ are the best friends,
I consider Thérèse to be my friend. As in all friendships, it seems we found each other. I needed her little way of loving and she needed me to be a part of her vast army of souls that would “love Jesus as he had never been loved before (Story of a Soul).” And as with all friends, we have a lot in common: As children, we each lost a parent, placing us both on the path to being drawn by God’s merciful love; we both struggled with feelings of abandonment, emotional sensitivity, the need to please—all issues of codependency; we each took on the ministry of praying for others; we both found solace in community. The Book of Isaiah, which helped to form her Little Way became, for me, the doorway to my love of Scripture long before Thérèse and I became friends. And key to both of us was The Imitation of Christ. My own discovery of the life-changing book in a tiny chapel in Mexico sealed forever my friendship with Thérèse. (The sweet story can be found in my book, When Women Pray). I have never looked back.
Walking alongside her these many years, Thérèse has taught me so much—the essence of prayer for one thing. For her, “prayer is a surge of the heart, a simple look to heaven, a cry of recognition and of love embracing both trial and joy (Story of a Soul).” I rely on that surge of heart every morning as I pour over the daily scripture readings. And every time I am inclined to feel badly about myself, she seems to sweetly remind me that my weaknesses are an asset, not a liability, because God in His mercy will make up for my deficiencies. Mostly, like two classmates pouring over the material for our upcoming test, she’s tutored me in the science of love. There simply isn’t a day when I don’t reach for God’s vast river of love, as she modeled, to love the “unlovable”. In fact, through her example, I have discovered that my entire vocation—as wife, mother, minister, friend—is to love. (Isn’t it all of ours?) And like Thérèse, I want to be love in the heart of the Church. She awakened me to that calling.
I’ve been talking to my little friend a lot this week, drawing on the strength and graces of my “Consecration to Merciful Love” which I made in June, 2016. I had prayed these words: “Merciful Father, relying on the prayers and example of St. Thérèse, my sister in the way of humble confidence, I, Robin Hebert, choose, with the help of your grace, to strive with all my heart to follow the Little Way. And so, I firmly intend to fight discouragement, do little things with great love, and be merciful to my neighbor in deed, word, and prayer….”
My Novena Rose Prayer is one of Miss Robin's favorites.
It's tough not to give into discouragement these days in the midst of natural disasters and incomprehensible acts of violence. (Is it no accident that her feast day was the day of the massacre in Las Vegas?) But like images from the Hubble telescope, there really is brilliant colorful light in the vast penetrating darkness. We must draw hope from the brightness of her light that continues to shine all these years, indeed the Light of Jesus.
Looking forward, then, I pray with Thérèse as to what doing little things with great love and mercy would look like in the midst of a world that seems to be falling apart. It’s really not hard. It’s the little things that count! This morning I am praying for the victims and their families in Las Vegas, and for the healthcare workers too. I’m praying that Puerto Rico quickly gets the emergency help they desperately need. I will look for little deeds of mercy throughout the day—to listen more intently, to place a special birthday card in the mail to my friend who recently lost her husband, to reach out to “my neighbor” as prompted by the Spirit.
Thomas Merton saw Thérèse as the greatest saint in the church for 300 years. His discovery of her confirms my own experience: “The saints are not mere inanimate objects of contemplation. They become our friends, and they share our friendship and reciprocate it and give us unmistakable tokens of their love for us by the graces we receive through them (The Seven Story Mountain).” If you haven’t already made it a habit of praying to her, I suggest you begin now. And if she isn’t already, she will surely become your friend, too!
Robin Hebert is a mother of four, stepmother of two, and grandmother of twenty. She is passionate about living a simple, prayerful, balanced lifestyle. When not coordinating marriage ministry at Our Lady of Wisdom in Lafayette, LA, she enjoys sipping bourbon with her husband Easton in their beautiful yard, teaching people about Thérèse, and making the world's best salsa + ginger snap cookies. Robin is past national president of Theresians of the U.S. and has been a member of her Theresian "Open Heart" community for thirty-three years.
Ladies! Would you like to join Miss Robin on Retreat in January?
Check out the flyer below for information!