Driving home from work, I was listening to ‘St Therese of Lisieux: the Story of a Soul’, enchanted to hear the Little Flower edify upon working with souls. Deeper in scope yet similar in style, I admired the connection of her words to the training provided by the Hospice of the Western Reserve. The Hospice stressed over and over that my agendas and ideas must be abandoned. I must approach the patients with no intent nor plan. As a volunteer, I provide fellowship, allowing my role to develop in accordance with the needs and desires of the patient. The patient is the one granted control. I acquiesce not only to the administration of the Hospice, yet even above that, the patient is the one to determine the role I will play in their life. I adapt and cater to the needs of the patient. Kindly, caringly, and with compassion, I bow to the patient’s demands. To be of service is to listen and understand. The feeling grows stronger that I will be working with children. To be honest, I realize it is a great responsibility, yet I became so consumed with the conviction I called my superior, leaving a message for her to seek out a child, one who has no father, informing her I prayed intently upon her words emphasizing the need for men to work with boys from broken homes. God continues to astound. I absolutely never thought of working with a young boy dealing with terminal illness. My superior’s insight points me in such a direction. I accept the challenge, absorbed within the emotion: the faith, hope, and charity; knowing God will perform spectacular things through me, knowing I will be deeply hurt.
Read the words of the Little Flower from her autobiography, comprehending their relevant coalescence.
From the moment I entered the sanctuary of souls, I saw at a glance that the task was beyond my strength. Throwing myself without delay into Our Lord’s Arms, I imitated those tiny children, who, when they are frightened, hide their faces on their father’s shoulder, and I said:
“Dear Lord, Thou seest that I am too small to feed these little ones, but if through me Thou wilt give to each what is suitable, then fill my hands, and without leaving the shelter of Thine Arms, or even turning away, I will distribute Thy treasures to the souls who come to me asking for food. Should they find it to their taste, I shall know that this is due not to me, but to Thee; and if, on the contrary, they find fault with its bitterness, I shall not be cast down, but try to persuade them that it cometh from Thee, while taking good care to make no change in it.”
The knowledge that it was impossible to do anything of myself rendered my task easier. My one interior occupation was to unite myself more and more closely to God, knowing that the rest would be given to me over and above. And indeed my hope has never been deceived; I have always found my hands filled when sustenance was needed for the souls of my Sisters. But had I done otherwise, and relied on my own strength, I should very soon have been forced to abandon my task.
From afar it seems so easy to do good to souls, to teach them to love God more, and to model them according to one’s own ideas. But, when we draw nearer, we quickly feel that without God’s help this is quite as impossible as to bring back the sun when once it has set. We must forget ourselves, and put aside our tastes and ideas, and guide souls not by our own way, but along the path which Our Lord points out.