Memorial of Saint Therese of Lisieux, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Therese of Lisieux changed Thomas Merton’s life. Recalling when he first read about her, Merton wrote that “She became a saint, not by running away from the middle class […] She kept everything that was bourgeois about her and was still not incompatible with her vocation.” Her taste in art and music, her hobbies, the things that made her smile–whatever she could keep in the convent, she did. Even some of the good desires she had that weren’t quite compatible with life in a convent she simply gave a new focus. So while she couldn’t be a missionary and live within her convent walls, she could still pray for missionaries all over the world. When she entered her new life, her old life was not destroyed, but transformed.
We can often forget that God wants to transform our lives instead of destroy them. This can make conversion far more terrifying than it should be. The only thing God wants to destroy is the sin. Everything else we have came from God to begin with.Some our our desires and abilities will be given a new focus, like Therese praying for missionaries, or Thomas Merton using his writing abilities to talk about God and the spiritual life. Some of our traits we just learn how that this, too, is a way of serving God, like Therese’s sense of humor. Everything will be changed, but not everything will be destroyed.