.- Not long before he resigned, Pope Benedict XVI had written several times about the need for evangelization of the rapidly growing “digital continent” of social media.
This got Katie Moore and Lindsay Olson thinking. Both have devotions to St. Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897), a cloistered Carmelite nun whose “little way” of finding God in everyday life inspired Pope John Paul II to the point that he declared her a doctor of the Church.
As publicist and marketing coordinator, respectively, for Image Books in Colorado Springs, Moore and Olson have been big fans of a book from the late Bishop Patrick Ahern, “Three Gifts of Therese of Lisieux” (Image), and were inspired with the idea to see if they could draw attention to St. Therese by getting #LittleWay to trend on the social media platforms of Twitter and Vine on Feb. 4, dubbed “The Day of the Little Way.”
“We like to think that Twitter is a tool that St. Therese would love because it is a simple, small way we can share our faith, potentially with enormous reach,” Olson said. “It’s 140 little — but powerful — characters. ‘The Day of the Little Way’ will call the shepherds forward (for the digital continent). Instead of hiding in the wings, Catholics be front and center on social media.”
Olson pointed out how Pope Francis continued the Twitter account @Pontifex started by Pope Benedict XVI, which with the push of a button reaches millions of followers around the world. . . . and that is before any retweets.
“Our hope for ‘The Day of the Little Way’ is that Catholics everywhere will recognize this powerful tool for their faith, and that they’ll choose to actively live their faith by the example of St. Therese in a little way on Twitter and Vine,” Olson said.
Participants will be asked in their posts to share stories of kindness from a stranger or a time when charity was practiced on another. They can also post, using the hashtag #LittleWay, their favorite quote from St. Therese, a passage from Bishop Ahern’s book or just a personal prayer.
In his book, former New York Auxiliary Bishop Ahern called St. Therese “a saint for our times.”
“It really hits on the fact that Therese is relatable, even in modern times,” she said. “St. Therese had a simple, yet powerful, faith that was rooted in her unconditional love for God. Her faith serves as a beautiful example of how we should all strive for sainthood.”
Moore said the #LittleWay event is in part a tribute to Bishop Ahern’s love for St. Therese.
“Bishop Ahern was always looking for new ways to share that love with others,” she said.
In “Three Gifts of Therese of Lisieux,” Bishop Ahern, who died in 2011, identified three gifts of St. Therese that were meaningful to him: her universal appeal, her conviction and her “little way.”
“It was his hope that these gifts would provide inspiration to others who are seeking to find more meaning in their faith and their journey to find God,” Moore said.
“The Day of the Little Way” also excites Olson and Moore because they are not sure what to expect when Feb. 4 arrives.
“One of the powerful things about Twitter is that you never know who you’re reaching when you Tweet,” Olson said.
One story of a stranger’s kindness that Moore can share occurred once when she was praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament in an adoration chapel. A stranger approached her and asked her to step outside, proceeding to give her a rosary.
“What he didn’t know was that I had been praying about a difficult decision and was looking for some kind of sign to let me know that I was on the right track,” she said. “This small gesture had a powerful impact on me because it reminded me of the closeness of God. I knew then that God wouldn’t abandon me in my time of need and that, if I remained open to His will, He would help me make the right choice.”
Olson recalled how, while once working in a public library, a man brought his son to her desk with a stack of DVDs that the son had stolen. The father went on to explain that he had been in prison for 10 years and missed out on key years for raising his son, but he did not feel it was too late to help him.
“He said, ‘I screwed up, but I’m here now and I know where the wrong path leads. I found the Lord in jail, ma’am, and he saved me,’” Olson recalled. “Now it’s my job to show that love to my son, even if it’s hard sometimes. I love my son. I want him to act like a man who is proud of himself. So he’s here to say he’s sorry for stealing. And I’m here to say I’m sorry to him for missing those 10 years.”
Moore and Olson suspect there are millions of such “hidden” stories out there that have not been told. They hope that, on Feb. 4, the digital continent will be awash in them.
Interested participants in “The Day of the Little Way” can learn more on the publisher's website.
Posted with permission from The Colorado Catholic Herald, official publication of the Diocese of Colorado Springs.