This story was first presented at “This too shall pass: Stories of hope, victory and community,” an Instagram Live event hosted by Ever Eden Publishing and Radiant magazine in order to comfort people during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
My dearest Sister, St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face,
The past few weeks, the whole world has been asked to enter into solitude. It feels, in some ways, like our lives have been put on hold. We are living in uncertainty and isolation, surrounded only by our immediate household dwellers. Yet, I cannot help but reflect on the ways that my life intersects with your very own life in these moments.
Your parents, Sts. Zelie and Louis, after being denied entrance into religious life which they initially desired, ran the household of your youth like a cloister. You and your siblings entered into prayer daily and a relationship with Jesus. During this time of home-dwelling, show us how to model our homes into a cloister with Jesus at the foundation.
After losing your mother at a very young age, you battled illness and entered into a deep depression that was miraculously cured by gazing upon the Blessed Mother. During our “season of loss,” teach us to turn our vision to the Blessed Mother in our depression. Model for us how to lean into the arms of Mary and welcome her to wrap her mantle around us as our protector.
There were times throughout your life as a child, and during your life as a sister, that you were isolated apart from your family members. Teach us how to be present to those who we cannot be with in these moments of quarantine.
You spent your adolescent years longing to enter the cloister, which you saw as your heaven on earth. You trusted and God prevailed on your behalf, allowing you to enter the cloister at 15. You spent the second half of your life longing to be “born into heaven.” Remind us, during our yearning, to long for our heavenly reward. Teach us what to yearn for during these moments of repentance and fasting from the world.
When you experienced conflict with the other sisters in the cloister, you embraced them as friends. Taking the blame for mistakes and kissing the floor at the feet of those who were offended. Show us how to take the fall for other’s mistakes. Ask God to grace us with the patience to be charitable toward those who we might struggle with in proximity.
I recall the time that influenza struck your cloister and you cared with courage for those who lay dying. I ask you to be with our healthcare workers and medical professionals during this time. Implore Jesus with me, asking him to give them the strength, courage and protection to care for those who are ill.
Many of us can no longer receive Jesus in the holy Eucharist, even on Sundays. You know what it is like to long for the holy Eucharist. Out of awareness of your soul, often there were times that you did not receive holy Communion. You rejoiced at the times that your spiritual director allowed you to receive Jesus for an entire week. The time that there was a shortage of hosts, Jesus proved his love for you by giving you two hosts. Help us to realize during this absence of holy Communion, that Jesus is here with us. Show us how to make our hearts and souls homes for Jesus and to long for him.
Thérèse, you said that you wanted to spend your heaven doing good on earth. Now, in this moment, is your prime. Enter into our cloisters. Turn our homes from places of isolation into places of encounter with Our Heavenly Prince. Help us to see our isolation as an invitation to encounter the Lord more deeply in our lives.
You yourself died the slow, painful death of tuberculosis. Take the hand of those who lay dying and point them to their heavenly reward. You rejoiced at the “good fortune” of your suffering. Teach us to embrace death as our entrance to our eternal rest in Jesus. Accompany us through these painful moments and show us the way to allow Jesus to transform our world from a place of isolation to a place of heaven on earth, a place of indwelling love.
Your little sister in Christ,
Stacey Huneck and her husband, Phil, live in Indiana where they grew up, but they also love to leave their goldendoodle behind and explore the world. She is pursuing her Master of Arts in Theology from the University of Notre Dame while serving as a high school youth and young adult ministry coordinator at her parish. She also writes for Springs in the Desert, an infertility ministry.