St. Therese and the Charism of Wisdom and the Little Acts of Love – The Letters of St. Therese of Lisieux with Fr. Timothy Gallagher
In this conversation, Fr. Gallagher reflects on St. Therese’s “charism of wisdom” and her “little way” as compassionate, often hidden, expressions of love.
Here are some of the various texts Fr. Gallagher refers to in this episode:
I remember an act of charity God inspired me to perform while I was still a novice. It was only a very small thing, but our Father who sees in secret and who looks more upon the intention than upon the greatness of the act has already rewarded me without my having to wait for the next life.  It was at the time Sister St. Pierre was still going to the choir and the refectory. She was placed in front of me during evening prayer. At ten minutes to six a Sister had to get up and lead her to the refectory, for the infirmarians had too many patients and were unable [29r °] to attend to her. It cost me very much to offer myself for this little service because I knew it was not easy to please Sister St. Pierre. She was suffering very much and she did not like it when her helpers were changed. However, I did not want to lose such a  beautiful opportunity for exercising charity, remembering the words of Jesus: “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, you do to me.” 335 I offered myself very humbly to lead her, and it was with a great deal of trouble that I succeeded in having my services accepted! I finally set to work and had so much good will that I succeeded perfectly. Each evening when I saw Sister St. Pierre shake her hourglass I knew this meant: Let’s go! It is incredible how difficult it was for me to get up, especially at the beginning; however, I did it immediately, and then a ritual was set in motion. I had to remove and carry her little bench in a certain way, above all I was not to hurry, and then  the walk took place. It was a question of following the poor invalid by holding her cincture; I did this with as much gentleness as possible. But if by mistake she took a false step, immediately it appeared to her that I was holding her incorrectly and that she was about to fall. “Ah! my God! You are going too fast; I’m going to break something.” If I tried to go more  slowly: “Well, come on! I don’t feel your hand; you’ve let me go and I’m going to fall! Ah! I was right when I said you were too young to help me.”Finally, we reached the refectory without mishap; and here other difficulties arose. I had to seat Sister St. Pierre and I had to act skillfully in order [29v °] not to hurt her; then I had to turn back her sleeves (again in a certain way), and afterward I was free to leave. With her poor crippled hands she was trying to manage with her bread as well as she could. I soon noticed this, and, each evening, I did not leave her until after I had rendered  her this little service. As she had not asked for this, she was very much touched by my attention, and it was by this means that I gained her entire good graces, and this especially (I learned this later) because, after cutting her bread for her, I gave her my most beautiful smile before leaving her all alone.
Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life: The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”. For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit his website: frtimothygallagher.org