“How do you live out the Little Way in your vocation as a university student?” — The Little Way Magazine additional content
This is an extension of the "How do you live out the Little Way in your vocation as a university student?" article printed in The Little Way Magazine (Fall/Winter 2017).
Malcolm Anderson: I believe that living the Little Way in any vocation is a matter of constantly refocusing on what we would call at St. Therese the “Duty of the Moment.” That is, prioritizing my responsibilities and acting accordingly, attending to each the best that I can. This means two things for me: first, discerning what I should be doing as a student at any given time, whether that be studying, attending classes, or going out for a drink and being social, which can sometimes be even more difficult to prioritize. Second, part of my duty of the moment is making sure that I am conducting myself in a way that allows me to do these things to the best of my ability. This includes most importantly weekly mass and daily personal prayer, but also simple lifestyle choices such as regular exercise, getting to bed at a reasonable time, and keeping myself, my stuff, and my room organized and tidy. I'm not saying that I do all of this perfectly, but these, for me, are the key elements of practically living the Little Way in university, or simply life in general. 1) prioritize your responsibilities and be present to each one to the best of your ability, and 2) live a lifestyle that is conducive to this goal.
Matthew Rachinski: During my time at St. Therese Institute, I realized that the beauty of Therese’s conclusion “My Vocation is Love!” lay in the fact that such a conviction can be applied to any scenario, and any vocation. In my time since transferring from St. Therese to St. Stephen’s University, I have further contemplated what my own vocation to love entails, and have concluded that everything in my life––every person I encounter, every place that I live, every task I am assigned––is entrusted to me by God to love well. I am called to love simply, but also loyally. In my continued journey to live the Little Way and the Duty of the Moment, I am continually reminded and convicted by Catherine Doherty’s words: “Preach the Gospel with your life, without compromise.”
Shaun Fowler: Life as a university student provides so many avenues to use what God has given me. One of my prayers has been, “Lord, please increase my interest in what I study, help make the connections relevant to yourself and let wonder come.” I believe that living the little way of St. Thérèse in university is likened to her missionary spirit. She is the patron of missionaries, but lived in a convent, and was of fragile health. When she did convent laundry, she took the material in front of her and renewed it to clothe her sisters, the chapel and many linen articles used for everyday life. Likewise I take my relationships and the subject matter and seek to make the connections to my faith, and unfold it all until it is like linen that may cloth this world’s people, institutions and daily life of society. Not everything is academic wrestling, but living and connecting with others in university is one of the best parts. I have found that like St. Thérèse, the kindness of Jesus, is my guiding star. This is needed when dealing with many ideas and perspectives that seem so contrary to simple truth and wisdom, but found believable and promoted by others. St. Thérèse said, “Kindness is my only guiding star. In its light, I sail a straight route. I have my motto written on my sail: “To live in love.”
Anaïs Perrault: I see my vocation to be a university student as time God has given me to really intentionally learn about the world in which we live, to understand the human person a little more, and to discover the glimmers of God shining through all of it. For me living the Little Way as a student has imaged the simplicity of a daughter depending on her Father for providence. I have never considered myself an academic or intellectually inclined so this reliance comes somewhat naturally. It flows from a need for God to give me the desire to learn, to help me understand, to not be utterly overwhelmed by the state of things, and for help in the day-to-day assignments. I have come to see time as my meeting place with God, which is both a reminder to focus on the task in front of me and a consolation that God is near. Amidst the craziness of due dates there is also the rest of life. Trying to balance relationships and physical and emotional health on top of academics is both a challenge and a joy which I sometimes do well but more often don’t. So mercy in all things, for every stumble along the way. God is happy to meet our little hands reaching up for help.
Emily Price: How do I live the Little Way as a University student? That’s a tough question because, a lot of the time I’m not sure that I’m actually living it that well. I do my best to plan my days and schedule my assignments but sometimes, life runs away from me and all I can do is trust that somehow, if I can just keep trying to do the next most loving thing, everything will turn out the way that it was meant to. As a student, I have really had to learn what God’s mercy looks like when the rubber hits the road. When I fail to get out of bed on time or I get distracted and lose precious time that could have been spent working on an assignment I have two options: I can either pummel myself emotionally for having messed up or I can turn to God, recognize my littleness and ask for the desire and the grace to do better. For me, living the Little Way of St. Therese is being mindful of the fact that in God’s eyes, I am just a little toddler still learning how to walk. I don’t quite have control over my legs yet and so I fall again and again and again. But that’s not really what matters most. The single most important thing that I can do in a day is to try one more time. I can try again to be patient with my fellow students or to have compassion on someone who is struggling. I can try again, even if it’s just for twenty minutes, to re-focus and pound out another 500 words for the paper that’s due tomorrow. And if I am tired because I stayed up too late the night before, I can try again to go to bed before 11pm. I don’t always succeed but I just can’t give up because God hasn’t given up one me and he never will. He loves me too much.
Serena Mercier: Living out the Little Way in the time and place that God has called me to, which is right now as a university student, means learning to do each and every task, no matter how simple it may seem, with great love. I have been coming to recognize that no matter how small the actions, they can all be given to God for his glory and for the salvation of souls if done with a heart full of love. The assignment that I don’t want to sit down and write, the conversation in the lunch line that I want to disengage from, the classmate who asks for extra help, all these seemingly mundane things can become an outpouring of grace if humbly accepted and done with great love. Another thing I am learning is how small and weak I am when I try to do everything on my own. My own strength will always fail me if I am trying to get all my assignments and tests done by myself. Inviting God into the equation and relying on his strength to accomplish each and every task that he sets before me is the only way to complete the work he has set out for me. In my day to day life right now, living the little way to the best of my ability means simply trying to do the next loving thing and having confidence that God will pick up the pieces that I drop and am too weak to pick up myself.
Meagan Gruninger: The Little Way of St. Therese has made all the difference to me in studying at SSU. Before I knew about the Little Way (and let’s be honest, even now,) I struggle with being too hard on myself and others, which translates into how I see God. St. Therese corrects this for me. She says: “God is better than you think.” Being a student has come with the constant theme of self-mercy, meaning letting go of expectations of myself and learning to love myself as I am, imperfections and all. The Little Way helps me to appreciate myself as a human and of being in tune with myself, that sometimes an assignment will be done not as well as possible because I need to sleep or be social (to have fun!) St. Therese helps me to be thankful for my limitations and teaches me how precious my little offerings of them are to God. The Little Way has taught me that it is possible to have friendship with God and friendship with myself. This loving of myself means that I can be in a better headspace to be able to do my readings and work because I am not in fear and not in a cyclone of thoughts which beat myself up. The Little Way has taught me self-love, which translates in me feeling more peaceful and more loving toward others, and lastly, being better able to receive God’s love. Together with Catherine Doherty, I can now believe with great relief, “That with God, every moment is a moment of beginning again.”
Cole Hergott: I am a Student Strength Coach Intern at trinity Western University, which gives me plenty of opportunity to practice The Little Way. I must constantly humble myself and serve the athletes. The biggest way in which I have practiced the Little Way is in the small things, like cleaning up an athlete’s weights, vacuuming and cleaning the gym, and helping put weight on the bar for the athletes. The Little Way has taught me that I am not above doing these seemingly unimportant task, and these little things are in fact what are most appreciated by the athletes, and I find great joy in them as well.
Alex Pulvermacher: In 2016, after a year of formation at St Therese, I decided to put my analytical mind to work by entering the engineering program at the U of S. During my school and home life, I live the Little Way by remaining attentive to others, leaving time in my busy schedule for helping my friends study, washing the dishes, or barbequing deer steak for my roommates. While remaining open to others, I continue to work hard in in my studies, earning grades not for my own glory, but for the glory of God!