When asked to comment on this, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) remarked: '...it is a fact that the choice of "little things" and "little people" is characteristic of God's dealings with humanity. We see this characteristic first of all in the fact that God chooses the earth as his theatre of action, this grain of dust in the universe; and in the fact that there Israel, a virtually powerless people, becomes the vehicle for his own action; and again in the fact that a completely unknown village, Nazareth, becomes his home; finally, in the fact that the Son of God is born at Bethlehem, outside the village in a stable. All of this is consistent' (God and the World, p. 213). Francis and Th r se Great 'Little' Saints expresses how this 'characteristic of God's dealings' with men and women is at the heart of the spiritual life of Francis of Assisi and Th r se of Lisieux. If Baptism plunges us into the Paschal Mystery of Christ, this man of the thirteenth century and this woman of the nineteenth expressed its energy of dying to self and rising to life in Christ through a path of littleness. The Poverello, 'Little Poor One', wanted his brothers and sisters to live among their peers by a comparative adjective minor (lesser) that would challenge them always to be the least. Centuries later Th r se recognized herself as a 'little flower' and described her journey of the spiritual life as the petite voie (little way). Both chose that same characteristic of God's dealing with our humanity to deal with his divinity. This book pursues growth in an awareness of being little, of focusing on the little people, the little things, and the little actions of daily life This is the challenge of being lesser before others as we are before God Such is the energy of Francis and Th r se that needs to be revitalized so that the hands of those of us in the twenty-first century may join theirs in making the world a new Bethlehem.
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