A Girl that Changed My Life: Way of Love

As a boy of fourteen years old, the life of one girl moved mine more than any other—showing me the way of love. The girl is Thérèse, from the little city of Lisieux in Calvados, France. She is popularly known as the Little Flower, Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus. To her, I owe an early exposure to what it means to take love as one’s primary vocation. And to her, I dedicate today’s daily reflection as we celebrate her Feast Day (October 1); providing you—my reader—an example to consider. 

First Experience 

Freshly enjoying the first love of a personal encounter with the Lord, I started to look for more models of faith. The first that drew me in was Mother Mary—the Blessed Virgin. However, her story belongs to another class of influence, and I would pass on it for another time. 

The second was Thérèse. She has remained my closest spiritual companion in the journey of the interior life. 

I came to know Thérèse through conversations with fellow teens with whom I formed spiritual and rewarding fellowship. I wonder how the carelessness and nerviness of teenage life could have developed into a solid foundation of the love of God without the support from peers who share mutual passion for the Lord. Shortly after, I discovered Thérèse more in her work.

Getting to Know Her

One of the best ways to know a person is to listen to them talk. One of the truest accesses into people’s interior being is to glean the musings of their inner self through their words on parchment paper or digital pages. 

Uttered words carry an aspect of the utterer. Scribed words translate those utterances across ages. The Lord says, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). 

Words matter. The utterances of the heart matter the most. So, I had to go to the access code into the heart of this beautiful girl who seemed to draw me into a relation of a unique kind. I felt we were kindred spirits. 

The Story of a Soul

I purchased her autobiography—The Story of a Soul, the Tan Books version. It was a big dent in the budget for a little boy in a small high school in a rural village in a town in Imo State, Nigeria. But, for what one loves, one would be ready to spend anything to have it. The Lord’s Parable of the Pearl of Great Price (Matthew 13: 45-46) hints at this loyalty that requires sacrificing everything to purchase a pearl of great price. 

I did not regret the cost, and have never regretted knowing this woman. Instead, when I started to read, I realized how much I had to learn. I also learned how much the soul was attracted to the same concerns.

I simply fell in love with the love this little nun had for the Lord. Her vocation, she says, “is to love.” For her, it included “real love for the most ugly and inconvenient things.” Love without boundaries. This rocked everything for me. 

Then a year after—when the Lord brought me to a more profound encounter of mystic intimacy—I realized the words that kept popping into my head, and on my lips were: “Lord, I want nothing else but to love.” …

Unlike the empiricists’ idea of love—bound only to impressions of the physical world—true love lives beyond material things. And the full measure of it isn’t us, but the one who has loved us first—God. The vocation to love is measured by Love itself—God. Hence, true love is the life of God in us. Agape expresses it well.

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3-New Volumes by Fr. Maurice Emelu

Fr. Maurice Emelu

Father Maurice Emelu, Ph.D., is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Orlu in Nigeria and the Founder of Gratia Vobis Ministries. An assistant professor of communication (digital media) at John Carroll University, USA, Father Maurice is also a theologian, media strategist, and digital media academic whose numerous works appear on television networks such as EWTN. As he likes to describe himself; “I am an African priest passionately in love with Christ and his Church.”

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