St. Therese of Lisieux and Why Yoga is Really Kind of a Catholic Thing to Do

March 9, 2011 at 10:50 pm (Faith) (, , , , , )

First, a couple of disclaimers.

One, I have no evidence that Saint Therese of Lisieux ever practiced yoga. In fact, I highly doubt that, growing up as she did in late nineteenth century France, Saint Therese had ever even heard of yoga, let alone extolled its benefits.

Two, until quite recently, I was not the biggest fan of the “Little Flower” as she is known. She seemed to me to be a little bit of a goody-two shoes, frankly (which admittedly is a funny thing to think about a saint) and a little too sweet and too holy for real life.

I’m kind of coming around on Saint Therese though, and yoga is partially responsible. Saint Therese is probably best known for her “little way,” a path to holiness through the ordinariness of daily life. Everything Saint Therese did, she offered up to God not just in prayer, but as prayer. This has real resonance for me, as I go through my day, putting away dishes, washing bathrooms, making the school run, etc. How beautiful to give meaning and heft to those mundane activities, to say to God as I vacuum, “Dear Lord, I am doing this in loving prayer for Henry – please heal his pulled groin.” What a better use for my energy than, “Ugh, I can’t believe I’m doing laundry AGAIN.” So lately I’ve been giving Saint Therese a second look. (She’s one of only three female “Doctors of the Church” – I don’t know, it might come up on Jeopardy.)

Now check out this program I heard on the radio about yogi Sean Corne. (There’s a video too, of her demonstrating “body prayer” which is incredible – her breath sounds like the ocean tides.) In the yoga classes I’ve attended I’ve heard any number of philosophies of yoga but I hadn’t ever heard anyone mention offering up one’s yoga practice for a specific intention before, as Sean does here, talking about offering up her practice for her dad who was battling cancer, or for a broader petition like healing the environment. I totally love the idea. It’s so Catholic and it makes such sense – it reminds me of Saint Therese and her little way.

So there you have it – yoga as prayer, scrubbing toilets as prayer. Prayers, prayers everywhere. Not a bad way to start Lent. Happy Ash Wednesday.

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Here we are again. Again.

March 8, 2011 at 10:17 pm (Faith) (, , , , )

So today is Fat Tuesday, which I am celebrating by trying to clean out my kitchen cupboards. We’re not exactly feasting, although I don’t know what Sam has on tap for dinner, but we are having all sorts of weird meals today, (snack was just crispbread and string cheese and raisins) as we try to get ready for our move this Saturday.

New House

New House

As you can see, our new house isn’t quite finished. As in, I was super excited to see the functioning toilet this past weekend, since I had started to think we were going to be using the Porta-Potty outside.

With all the craziness of a home renovation, a move, and the thousand other commitments on our books (i.e., life) it has been hard to think about God lately. (Sorry, God.) So once again, I’m grateful to the church calendar which will once again smack me in the head tomorrow, and remind me to work out my salvation a little bit more.

I’ve said before that I like Lent, and it occurs to me as I walk through the stripped down rooms of the new house that this Lent might be a particularly good one. I’m hopeful anyway. After all, Lent is a time to pare back the distractions and to make a little more room for God. Our new Spartan accommodations might facilitate that process a little bit.

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