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“She was the greatest healer of modern times.” — The Venerable Pope Pius XII

“She was the greatest saint of modern times.” — Pope Saint Pius X

“The Little Flower demonstrated the power of love.” — Flannery O’Connor

Why can’t U.S. third parties fly? How do they manage to not take off during these times?

With more than two million visitors a year, the Basilica of Saint Therese in Lisieau, France is the second largest pilgrimage site after Lourdes… where the waters of the grotto there are considered healing, and have drawn over 200 million people since 1860.

Flannery O’Connor, the much-heralded and deeply devout Roman Catholic writer, didn’t have many good things to say about the miracle baths at Lourdes, but she made a very big deal about Edith Piaf being cured of blindness as a seven-year-old girl in 1922 following a pilgrimage to the grave of Therese, who was at the time not yet formally canonized.

Her Story of a Soul is quite a work of art and spiritual communication, and Barbara Stewart, writing for the New York Times, referred to her as the Emily Dickinson of Roman Catholic sainthood in her 1999 “A Link to the Quiet Little Life of Saint Therese.”

Both O’Connor and Saint Therese wrote their final creative words under extreme physical hardship, to say the least. Therese stopped writing in the first days of 1897. her pencil falling from her hand as she wrote her last word, the same word with which she ended all three of her work’s manuscripts: love.

Love, as all the Christian writers I love profess (Thomas Merton, Walker Percy, Dorothy Day, C.S. Lewis, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Flannery O’Connor, G.K. Chesterton et alia) must be manifested with the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth the heartbeats even if we are beaten down by going against the grain of what is popular in the midst of our horrid momentum, the secular-driven madness of today.

We have had enough of immorality and the mockery of ethics, goodness, faith and honesty. Haven’t you? And if you’ve had it up to here with that, I ask you to consider that that will not be rectified by continuing to bounce off of secular paradigms, parameters or anything of the sort. If that’s what you’re currently doing. Some segue into faith — something other than secular presumptuousness and solutions — is going to be required among concerned citizens wanting to make a difference.

And on that note, I am obliged to say that it’s long past the time when all social and environmental activists should be helping loved ones and neighbors and strangers to see the damage they are doing to themselves with the entertainment they embrace… for starters. Other avenues for helping others to self-educate and raise themselves above our collective pitiful place in the universe at present… I’ll be glad to share with readers, upon request. But do consider getting down with others about what they sit down to regularly over dinner and/or during bouts of late night sleeplessness. Consider it a window of opportunity, if you will. The will to confront loved ones who are — unaware — all caught up with the self-serving American mantra of “Do Your Own Thing, Especially With Regard To Entertainment On One’s Leisure Time” has be asserted, silence on that to end… or we will.

I’m trying here to encourage action that’s desirable and possible in the personal sphere. To avoid putting yet another article on the table for your kind consideration… which goes nowhere.

It is time to acknowledge in action — not just with intellectual affirmation — that light-hearted superficiality has done us no good… when that outlook is exclusive or one’s primary view.  When the foundations of social life are corroded, what  ensues are battles over conflicting interests, new forms of violence and brutality, and obstacles to growth of a genuine culture of care for the environment. This should, I trust, make sense — it must! — without having to engage in unproductive debates among family members at Thanksgiving (or with anyone at pretty much any time)… over whether or not capitalism is compatible with sustainability and decency.

St. Therese of Lisieux invites us to practice the little way of love, not to miss out on a kind word, a smile or any small gesture which sows peace and friendship. An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness across the board. In the end, a world of exacerbated consumption is at the same time a world which mistreats life in all its forms.

Love, overflowing with small gestures of mutual care, is also civic and political, and it makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world.

Love for society and commitment to the common good are outstanding expressions of a charity which affects not only relationships between individuals but also macro-relationships, social, economic and political ones.

It is obvious that the mainstream political parties in most of the nations on earth are not founded on a culture of care, and I submit that in the U.S. not even any of the third parties fit that profile. Today they are — you can tell from their language, aims, and attitude toward opposition — much too far away from the spirit of St. Therese of Lisieux.

Richard Martin Oxman is the founder of the Oxman Collective, which includes Rachel Oxman, Annapurna Tosca Sriramarcel, Rachel Olivia O’Connor and Valleria Ruselli, all dedicated to turning readers away from an exclusive interest in documentation and/or traditional forms of demonstrations, encouraging civic engagement which follows fresh paradigms. He has been an educator for over half a century, and he can be reached at aptosnews@gmail.com; he’d welcome the opportunity to elaborate. This piece is dedicated to a  correspondent who is struggling with the question of when kindness turns into weakness.

 

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