I found this precious little book I think I used my freshman year of college. I used it in prayer time occasionally. It is called "Simply Surrender - Based on the Little Way of Therese of Lisieux". It is one of those little books that has a reading and reflection for every day of a month. I opened it up and I found this little part that was particularly precious to me. St. Therese says, "If we are to attain great sanctity, it is important that we receive direction right from the start. I never forget that since my earliest childhood there have been voices drawing me on, teaching me how, in spite of my weakness, to sing here below the canticle of love that I desire to sing throughout eternity. I think about my birds. I had a canary which sang beautifully, and also a tiny linnet of which I was especially fond, having adopted it straight from the nest. From morning till night the little bird heard only the joyous trills of the canary. One day it tried to imitate them, no easy task indeed for a linnet! It was delightful to follow the efforts of the poor little thing, for its sweet voice found great difficulty in accommodating itself to the vibrant notes of its master; but to my great surprise the linnet's song became in time exactly like the song of the canary. 'I bless thee Father, because you have hidden these things fro the wise and prudent and have revealed them to the little ones.' You have deigned to stoop down and instruct me gently in the secrets of your love."
God used his natural creation to speak to Therese and she listened. The example of the birds is full of much hope. That little linnet actually started to sing like the canary! The linnet was not "made" to do that. It wasn't because of its natural ability, but the canary was its only teacher so through desire, practice, and perseverance it conquered the tune of its master. How precious to think of one's soul like the linnet and Jesus like the canary. My flesh tells me it is not possible to reach such high goals of sanctification, but with Christ as the master, it is!
Some of the key elements I see in the story of the birds is that the linnet did not distract itself with other linnets. He knew nothing else but the natural song of the beautiful canary. The second element is that the linnet probably because of its "littleness" didn't even know it wasn't made to sing like a canary. It probably didn't even know it was not a canary, for its only other bird companion was the canary. He didn't have other linnets to compare himself to. He didn't have other linnets telling him he was just a linnet who cannot sing like a canary.
I can apply this to myself. I, like the small linnet, should only compare my soul to that of my soul's Master, Jesus. I cannot compare or be distracted by another souls failures or accomplishments. I must only be accountable to where Jesus wants my soul to be. The linnet also holds the qualities of the "childlikeness" Christ calls us to. If a young child who hasn't learned to swim yet, goes to a pool the parent says,"You can swim. Come in the water with me. Your can swim, but I must teach you first." The trusting child will proceed. With practice, he swims. The child, like the linnet, learns to swim because of the good parent who teaches and instructs. The child believed it could be taught to swim because of the confidence and trust he has in the instructor, the parent. Like a child with a parent, or the linnet with the canary, our souls must try to be confident like this, never doubting that it cannot fulfill this song of love sung by our Creator. When we practice and persevere to mirror our God, He can then take our measly, small efforts and the outcome far surpasses what we would have achieved on our own. What confidence that linnet had. It never even knew it wasn't "made" to sing like a canary.
Furthermore, just as Therese found the linnets efforts so pleasing and endearing, so our Father finds our efforts when made like that of the purity of a child. The efforts should be for the Father alone. The linnet was not trying to impress other birds. It just heard the beautiful song of the canary and fell in love it. So much so, it worked hard to sing in the same way. And, it did!
Jesus, help me to mimic your perfect song of love, especially in my home behind closed doors. For there, my song is the most pleasing to you.
St. Stella, St. Therese pray for me.