We all know that it can be really difficult to live out the Catholic faith in today’s world! The daily pressures to live for yourself, money and every passing pleasure can be louder than the gentle and loving call of Jesus. But living for Christ is possible and brings with it immense peace and joy. It sometimes takes a role model, example or inspiration to get yourself on the right path. For many in the Diocese of Pueblo, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the patron of the diocese is that model, example and inspiration.
What if ... there’s another way of living?
Here are testimonies of two of our friends who lived and are living the Catholic faith. One who lived with autism, cerebral palsy and died from cancer embodied the Little Way. The other is a woman who looks to St. Thérèse for her daily guidance as a mother and wife.
Sarah Michelle Madison
An interview with Deacon Richard and Mary Jo Madison, about how their daughter Sarah lived the Little Way.
Living an intentional life
Sarah was a happy baby with an infectious smile that can be seen in photographs throughout her life. She showed signs of early developmental delays that were of concern and was diagnosed with autism and cerebral palsy at age 5.
Sarah lived a very active and healthy life. She began volunteering at St. Benedict Catholic Church at age 4, changing votive candles. Her volunteering expanded to visiting the homebound and helping in the office when asked. After graduating from high school, she attended the adult with special needs program at Starpoint.
Sarah was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma in May 2018. Over the next nine months, she spent half of her days in the hospital undergoing aggressive chemotherapy, radiation and countless other medical procedures. Sarah showed tremendous courage and lived her faith as an intentional disciple of Jesus through it all.
On Feb. 14, 2019, a terminal diagnosis was given for Sarah. She continued to live her life to the fullest — volunteering and attending Mass. During the last three and a half months of her life, Sarah received 166 visitors. During these visits, as she did her entire life, she shared her love, joy of her Catholic faith and inspired those who came to see her.
A simple life of love and caring for others
Due to effects of her autism, Sarah never learned to read or write. This did not stop her from showing intelligence few possess in living a very simple life of love and caring for others. Yes, she knew if you were the bishop, priest, teacher, a student, etc., yet none of this mattered to her. In Sarah’s eyes, you were a son or daughter of God. Everyone received the same level of love and attention.
Sarah lived the life of love that our Lord Jesus showed us how to live. Attending her first Mass just weeks after her birth and her last Mass just weeks before her death, Sarah absorbed the word of God and lived the Gospel truth in her own little way until her last breath. Sarah would from time to time ask to pray morning and evening prayer with her father. During her battle with cancer, asked him to pray at her bedside.
Making a True Connection with Others
This was her “Little Way” — her way of connecting. Society labeled Sarah “special needs” — she was anything but “special needs” and showed all who knew her that everyone was special.
Bishop Stephen Berg expressed it so well during his homily at her funeral Mass. He pointed out she was uniquely accepting, so curious about the details and activities of all those around her. Asking important questions, forming a larger picture and establishing a relationship — she connected us to ourselves.
Her questions were simple: “What’s your favorite color?” “What are you going to eat?” “What do you drive?” “What are you doing tomorrow?” They made us think about ourselves and helped us forget about the nonsense of this world.
She only cared about making a connection, making a communion of mind and spirit. Her questions show us the love Jesus gave and how to give that love to everyone we meet.
Accepting God’s Plan, Placing Our Trust in Jesus
The Madisons said, “The three of us never questioned or challenged God’s plan, even with Sarah’s cancer diagnoses, praying, ‘Thy will be done,’ and ‘Jesus, I trust in you.’ Our prayer for our brothers and sisters of the Diocese of Pueblo and beyond is that each person accepts God’s plan for them, placing all their trust in Jesus Christ. We hope and dream that everyone will live lives of the true love Jesus gives, the true love Sarah showed to everyone she met; and that they ask Sarah to intercede for them, bringing all their troubles, fears, worries, questions and dreams to her.”
An Intercessor the World Desperately Needs
Upon her death, inspired by the Holy Spirt, Bishop Berg’s leadership team made the bold request of God that Sarah would be a special diocesan intercessor. Sarah remained pure and child-like her entire life; a 20-year gift sent to show us how to live simple love-filled lives, accepting everyone for the gift they are, as sons and daughters of God. Living this way — the Little Way — would honor her and make the positive change many are seeking in our world today.
Una entrevista con una esposa y madre acerca la vida de El Pequeño Camino de Santa Teresa en su familia.
El camino de Teresa, el camino de la paz
La familia Estrada está compuesta por Luis, Erika, Alberto, Kevin y Diego. Erika nos dice: La primera vez que escuché de Santa Teresa fue cuando estaba a punto de hacer mi Primera Comunión. Quería ser como ella a pesar de que no sabía mucho sobre su historia, simplemente porque inspiraba paz.
Viviendo cada momento con amor
El Pequeño Camino de Santa Teresa influye en mi vida al aprender a vivir cada momento con amor, a no perder la fe y la esperanza en Dios, sin importar las enfermedades o los desiertos que podamos atravesar en nuestras vidas. En mi vida cotidiana, tanto en alegrías como en penas, trato de no preocuparme demasiado por el problema que no puedo resolver al instante. Reconozco que de repente puedo olvidar cómo seguir El Pequeño Camino de Santa Teresa.
La sabiduría espiritual es posible a cualquier edad
La vida cotidiana con la familia basada en la espiritualidad y el amor que nos presenta Santa Teresa, la vivimos al aceptarnos como somos, sin tratar de exigir algo que beneficie a uno u otro, sino pensando en cada uno. La paciencia con la que Santa Teresa vivió su enfermedad me enseña a estar tranquilo en todo momento y, sobre todo, a estar alegre. Su muerte a una edad tan joven me enseña que no es necesario envejecer para alcanzar la plenitud de la sabiduría espiritual.
Recordando el camino de Santa Teresa
El momento en que viví y apliqué El Pequeño Camino de Santa Teresa en mi propia vida fue cuando estaba muy enferma. Apenas podía moverme de mi cama. Recordé la dedicación de Santa Teresa a la vida espiritual. Ella me ayudó a ser fiel en mi enfermedad, continuando con la oración y leyendo la Palabra de Dios. Eso es lo que me despierta todos los días y me motiva a seguir adelante.
El padre, un ejemplo de todas las cosas
La forma en que Santa Teresita fue guiada por sus padres para vivir una vida de santidad y espiritualidad me inspira a instruir a mis hijos en una vida de oración y rendición. Hacer lo que haces en tu vida con amor y ofrecérselo a Dios. Del mismo modo, no los obligo a hacer lo que hago en mi vida de preparación evangélica; Les doy tiempo para encontrar el camino espiritual a seguir, como Santa Teresa, pero sin dejar de pedirle al Espíritu Santo que los guíe en su viaje. La mejor guía que un padre puede enseñar, en mi opinión, es con caridad, humildad, amor, servicio y oración.