Week 1, July 31 – August 6
St. Therese of Lisieux
Thank you for being part of this Prayer Campaign! We begin today even as Kickoff Weekend is several weeks away. In the coming 100 days, we will pray for each ministry, each kid, each teen, each parent, each adult, each minister, and all the ways we hope to bring them together through our Faith Life Ministry. You will meet saints and explore Scripture along the way. But today, we begin simply. Let us pray...
Come Holy Spirit, help us to find the right people at the right time for the right roles to encourage, equip, and inspire our families, kids, teens, and adults. Jesus, open our minds and hearts to who you are in each sharing and small group guide. Let every person who comes here, young and old, realize and acknowledge that they are known and noticed by you, our Heavenly Father. Help us to recognize that we are known and seen by you. Help us to care about our Faith Life Ministry as much as you do. Amen.
Each week we will introduce you to a saint or portion of Scripture. This week we meet St. Therese of Lisieux. Therese was born in 1873 and had no fame during her life. She got special permission to join a Carmelite Convent at age 15 and died of tuberculosis at 24. After her death, one of the Carmelites discovered Therese's handwritten loose-leaf journal composed of candlelight, full of quips and thoughts on incredibly ordinary life. The Story of a Soul, Therese's autobiography born from those papers, is now one of the bestselling Christian books ever. Let us pray with St. Therese today...
Father, thank you for the stories all those who participate in Faith Life are telling with their lives. Help us sit up and take notice. Help us to be somebody who makes everybody feel like
somebody. Like Therese taught us, each person has a story worth telling. Remind us that you take delight in their stories and ours. Amen.
Therese was far from perfect. She had what others called "frightful tantrums" when she couldn't have her way, rolling on the floor and being so overcome she almost choked. Like our youngest children in Gather, Therese often didn't have a reasoned response. She may not have understood everything, but Therese knew from a young age that Jesus loved her. Not only did she know who she was but whose she was, and that's why she petitioned to enter the Carmelite Convent at the age of 15. While not all young people are called to religious life, we want every child to know as Therese did about the Heavenly Father who made them and loves them. So, let us pray...
Jesus, you said to let the children come to you. Please use us to make that possible! Help us build Gather - The Domestic Church at Home, a ministry that helps parents know they are loved. Let us help them bring that love of and for Jesus to their children. Let us not forget that GATHER is where it all starts for Faith Life here at St. Mary's. Amen.
We want St. Mary's to be part of every kid's story. We hope kids love their church so much that they bring their parents back and invite their friends. The prayers of elementary-age kids may be simple, but they are pure and powerful. St. Therese described prayer as a "surge of the heart" that "expands the soul." Kids can have that experience, and that's what we hope to provide for our kids in CLOW - Children's Liturgy of the Word --a chance to hear God's stories, apply them to their world and pray them back to Heaven. Through that special message meant just for their age group, in CLOW, they will learn that they can trust God no matter what...
God, you have given us all we need to know, love, and serve you. By sharing your Word in CLOW, we hope our kids can see the world with your eyes and heart. Keep us faithful to all you teach us. Let our hearts surge and our souls expand so we can encourage the same thing to happen to the kids you entrust to our care. Amen.
Therese had many sources of anxiety: Her childhood included the death of her mother at a very young age, bullying at school, a sensitive exterior, suffering from tuberculosis, and scruples, which is a form of religious OCD. She could have given in to despair, but she
constantly chose Christ and chose hope. So many of our students struggle as they reach their teen years, and our Middle Schoolers in "J" Walkers - Jesus Walkers need a place to feel accepted and loved. These years are where faith can be caught or discarded...
Jesus, we see how Therese leaned into you as her world sometimes grew dark. Our preteens can relate to her struggles. We want to point to you always as our source of hope. Your response to our troubled hearts is powerful and swift. We lift up our Middle Schoolers to you today. Amen.
Therese entered the Carmelites at 15 years old. If that seems young, it is. She made a special application and even went to Rome to get her bishop's blessing so an exception could be made for the minimum age. Therese had a strong sense of purpose and calling even in her teens. For High Schoolers at St. Mary's, PathFinders is a chance to find their purpose and calling, to think and talk about their expanding world, and to know they are never alone in their search for meaning. It is also an opportunity to serve those in the community when a need arises...
Lord, we have our teenagers on our minds today. They are capable of so much! Work through PathFinders and to encourage, challenge, and pray with High Schoolers at St. Mary's. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, both teen and adult alike, with your direction and protection. Amen.
Little things make a big difference. Therese's entire life was little things--washing the dishes, praying the rosary, doing the laundry, taking a walk, writing a journal by candlelight. But she found joy in ordinary things and understood the importance of them. In SMALL GROUPS for adults, we bring the weekly message from the church into our daily lives. Meeting weekly for a short time with other adults and running from 4-6 weeks at a time seems like a little thing, but it can make a big difference. Suppose we can show everyone that they have a story worth telling, a God who knows and notices them and that carving out a little time each week to meet with friends at church is worth their effort. In that case, we can give them a foundation for lasting faith. So, we pray for our adults in Small Groups...
Jesus, you had a small group with your apostles. We want to follow your strategy and allow our adults to share their faith with friends. If they can form strong relationships and talk about
you during the weekly time, we trust you will change their lives and help them to love being here. Put us to work making that happen.
Therese is the patron for missionaries, which seems odd given that she was a cloistered nun who died at age 24, having traveled very little in her life. Yet her message has lived far beyond her death, and it is simply this: Love God in little ways. She worked as a sacristan by taking care of the altar and the chapel; she served in the refectory and the laundry room; she wrote plays for the community's entertainment. Again and again, she showed up for her sisters physically and emotionally. That's what we ask of our ministers as they serve in Faith Life-- show up in the lives of our young people...
Jesus, you commanded us to go to every nation but also to our own neighbors. We pray for 100 ministers to serve in Faith Life ministries this year as missionaries--their mission field is our parish community. Its mission is to share your Good News with families, kids, teens, and adults in Small Groups. We trust you will provide the people and the plan. May our ministers flourish in their mission. Amen.