Leaven Blog

Saints aren’t superheroes

by Moira Cullings

Saints aren’t superheroes.

In fact, they’re often some of the most flawed followers of Christ.

But God uses their weaknesses not only to give us role models we can actually relate to, but he also turns their shortcomings into something incredible.

My favorite example of this is many people’s favorite saint — Therese of Lisieux.

St. Therese is most known for her “little way” and is admired for her small acts of sacrifice and kindness — ones that often went completely unnoticed.

These are the same acts that a lot of us find extraordinarily difficult.

That may seem silly because acts so small appear fairly trivial. But in the moment, how easy is it to patiently listen to someone tell a story without interrupting, or to give up your own comfort to make someone else more relaxed?

Often, we immediately think of ourselves and have the urge to fulfill our own desires, rather than intentionally putting someone else’s happiness above our own.

The way St. Therese lived her life is the perfect inspiration for when we have trouble during those times.

But what’s often unspoken about St. Therese is the terrible struggles she went through for a good chunk of her short life.

Many know of her burden of tuberculosis that eventually took her life when she was just 24.

But her interior struggles were possibly even more demanding than her physical suffering.

As a child, St. Therese was known to throw fits of anger when she didn’t get her way. She took everything to heart and when things didn’t happen the way she wanted she felt miserable.

When she got older, temptations about the faith consumed St. Therese’s mind. In her autobiography ‘Story of a Soul’ she describes a “darkness” she often felt all around her.

That darkness caused her to doubt the existence of God and the meaning of her life.

St. Therese, like many of us, also struggled with her prayer life and devotions.

Although she said she loved the Blessed Mother, she had “a lack of fervor” when it came to reciting the rosary and found it difficult to focus on the mysteries.

Understanding the trials this great saint went through and realizing she was able to maintain a strong faith throughout is remarkable.

Hopefully, we can begin to look at saints like Therese not as foreign figures who went above and beyond the call of a holy life, but ones who struggled just like us but did everything they could to keep the faith and serve the world.

About the author

Moira Cullings

Moira attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park and Benedictine College in Atchison. She majored in marketing, minored in psychology and played center midfield for the women’s soccer team. Moira joined The Leaven staff as a feature writer and social media editor in 2015. After a move to Denver, Moira resumed her full-time position at The Leaven and continues to write and manage its website, social media channels. Her favorite assignment was traveling to the Holy Land to take photos for a group pilgrimage in 2019.

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