THE THIRD DAY (Chapter 3)
The Little Flower and Childlikeness
Two classes of people really best understand Christ; children and
saints. They understand Him, no doubt, because they have so much
in common with each other and with Him.
Who can ever forget Christ among the children, begging the
Apostles to suffer them to come unto Him, holding them against his
heart, restoring a dead boy to his mother, a dead girl to her
father, hearing from their childish throats on Palm Sunday the
cries of welcome and triumph which were refused Him by His
priests and people?
Their innocence was attracted by His perfect purity, and their
simple hearts were humble enough to adore, as they were
unspoiled enough to recognise, His supreme attractiveness.
So when the saints remembered that He said, "Unless you become
as little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven,"
they strove to learn from childhood its purity of soul, its
instinctive and trustful love, its complete sinlessness, its
simple trust and faith.
We behold our Little Flower first as an exquisite child,
fair-haired, blue-eyed, the little queen of her home, who walked
into the heart of her family, as later she was to walk into the
heart of the whole world. Almost from the start she was a flower
in God's garden, a little white tea-rose lifting its blossom in
a smile to God.
Innocence, which is precisely what makes childhood so charming,
she never for a moment seriously lost, and from the dawn of
reason she visualised herself, with naive confidence, as the
little playmate of the Holy Child.
While other children dreamed daydreams of fairies and nursery
heroes, she dreamed that she was playing with Jesus. She was
"Jesus's little toy," to be tossed about, flung aside, and
maltreated during the day's play, but to be held tight to the
heart of the tired Infant when he fell asleep.
Into her religious life she carried that same exquisite
childlikeness. Her virginal innocence grew more lovely with the
years, and the sweet simplicity of her youth developed as she
became more and more the model of what Christ meant by those who
become as little children.
Did she fall asleep at her prayers, weary as she was with the
strain of a Carmelite's day? "A father loves his child asleep
quite as much as awake, and my Heavenly Father loves His little
child even when she cannot hold up her head for sleepiness." Let
others kiss the feet of the crucifix; with the gallant
confidence of a child she kisses the sacred cheeks.
She had a child's humility about her own abilities,
counterbalanced by a child's confidence in the ability of its
father. "I can do nothing, but my Father can do all. I am only a
Little Flower, and He is the great Gardener."
No wonder that Christ humoured her simple childlikeness and by a
beautiful miracle sent her snow to make her happy on her
She longed to be a white bride of the white Christ against a
background of fresh snow, and though the day was warm, the snow
fell, and she smiled as she saw her childlike wish fulfilled.
Yet the sweet childlikeness of the Little Flower is only a
notable instance of what has been the childlikeness of all the
saints. They had a child's confidence and faith in their
As God's children they knew their limitations, but they trusted
implicitly in the power of their Father. And always they had
that gay buoyancy of spirit that marks youth.
No saint ever grows really old. So we see St. Peter, rugged,
mature man though he was flinging himself like a schoolboy into
the sea to swim to the risen Christ.
We watch the boyish St. John dashing like a sprinter across the
city on news of Christ's resurrection.
St. Francis of Assisi, when his father cannot understand his
special mission of poverty and flings him out in the world,
throws, with childlike logic, his very garments at his father's
feet and turns to his Heavenly Father for food and clothing
The ever youthful Ignatius loved to "play soldier," and
pretended that the Society of Jesus which he was forming was
really a flying squadron riding out to battle for the King. In
the midst of his Summa, St. Thomas paused to sing gaily the
hymns he had composed to Our Saviour; and St. Bernard, engrossed
as he was with crusades and the establishment of monasteries,
loved to act as Mary's troubadour.
No wonder the happiest people in the world, as they are the
holiest, are the saints, who have kept the innocence and
confidence and enthusiastic joy of youth.
St. Therese lived twenty-four years, but to us she will always
be a child, the Little Flower of Jesus, that she loved to
Just because she is a child in innocence and faith, our age
needs her so badly. Once more God has used the weakness of
children to confound the strength of the worldly-wise.
Sin blushes in the presence of this unsullied child, as sin
always hides itself from the presence of youthful innocence.
Once again a little child has led them, these moderns so proud
of pitiful achievements, so careless about sin, back to the Babe
"Unless you become as little children." The words were meant for
us as truly as they were meant for the Little Flower. We need so
very badly the innocence of childhood and its instinctive hatred of evil. We need the humility of children, for we must not forget that in God's sight we are only children whose prayer must ever be "Our Father, who art in Heaven."
We need the simple faith of children who know that the word of
one they trust is worth more that all the laboured arguments and
reasoning of those who have not earned that trust. And our
hearts, grown hard in life's fierce struggle for existence, need
the gentleness and tenderness of that childlike love, which made
St. John rest his head confidently on the Saviour's breast and
Mary Magdalen be quite content to sit at His feet and look at
Him and love Him.
The world is not lost so long as it loves children. And one who
really loves the Little Flower will inevitably find himself
close to the Babe of Bethlehem.
The Novena Prayers for Day 3
Three Hail Marys in honour of the Little Flower for the
intention of the novena.
Let us pray:
St. Therese, little playmate of the infant Jesus, teach us, we
beseech Thee, the virtues of childhood. We know that only those
who become like little children can enter the kingdom of heaven
or deserve on earth the love of the Lover of Children.
We know that simple faith, an unquestioning trust in the
goodness of our Father, filial love, and innocence of soul are
the virtues which make us, as they made the saints, dear to the
heart of Christ.
Obtain for us, then, we pray thee, these beautiful virtues of
children and the saints. If we have sinned and grown old because
of sin, ask the Infant Saviour, Who forgave the repentant Peter
and the returning Magdalene, to work in our souls the miracles He
worked in theirs.
If we have kept our souls innocent ask Him to look upon us
with the loving protection which He showed to the beloved St.
John and the virgin St. Cecilia. We, too, wish to be children in
faith, hope, love, and innocence, and to deserve the smile of
the Infant Christ.
Strengthen the virtues of childhood in the souls of those whom
we love or for whom we are making his novena. Obtain for us the
special favours we are asking during this novena.
(Here pause and silently mention the special graces or blessings
you are seeking through the novena.)
V. We fly to thy protection and intercession, O Little Flower
R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray:
O Lord, Who has said, "Unless you become as little children you
shall not enter the kingdom of Heaven," grant us we beseech
Thee, so to follow the footsteps of the virgin St. Therese in
humility and simplicity of heart that we may obtain the rewards
of eternity. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.
End of Chapter 3