Great change can start with small acts of love

When Marie Francis Martin was 10 years old, her father offered her painting lessons. Marie loved art and dreamed of painting beautiful masterpieces. But before she could accept the lessons, her older sister interrupted. “Marie doesn’t have the talent needed for painting lessons,” she said.

The small girl was livid—of course she had talent! Of course she could paint! But rather than object, she decided to offer up the lessons as a sacrifice. She decided to endure the criticism, in order to know Jesus more closely. Years later she would write: “I still wonder how I had the fortitude to remain silent.”

A few years later, Marie had become a religious sister—Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus. In her Carmelite convent, she was assigned to work in the laundry. Sister Thérèse hated working in the laundry. A careless sister worked across from her and constantly splashed water in her face. With all her might, Sister Thérèse wanted to wipe her face and correct her companion. Instead, she endured the water and worked harder—in order to learn to love.

When Sister Thérèse died at the age of 24, she was universally regarded as a saint. In 1921, Pope Benedict XV declared her a saint: St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower of Jesus. We celebrated her feast day on Monday. St. Thérèse believed in a little way to heaven: she denied her will, she trusted the Lord, she strove to do small things with great love. In her autobiography, St. Thérèse wrote that “far from being like those great souls who from their childhood practice all sorts of macerations, I made my mortification consist solely in the breaking of my will, restraining a hasty word, rendering little services to those around me without making anything of it, and a thousand other things of this kind.”

Offering to Jesus the small sacrifices of each day can have a tremendous effect. Trusting that our love, manifested in small acts, will produce great fruit, is the key to the little way. Each time we skip a meal, or give up a seat, or hold our tongue, and we offer that to Jesus Christ—we have participated in the suffering of the Cross. And so we will participate in the Resurrection.

Last week the Church began the 40 Days for Life—a period of 40 days of prayer and sacrifice for an end to abortion. Offer your sacrifices, these 40 days, for an end to abortion. Give the Lord your sufferings, however small they might be, with great love. Participate in prayer, fasting and witnessing to the dignity of human life. Most especially I urge you to spend an hour in prayer in front of an abortion clinic—parishes across the archdiocese are uniting for this effort. We will end abortion if we unite ourselves to Jesus Christ in the small sufferings of our lives.

On Oct. 3 the Archdiocese of Denver will celebrate a Rosary and Mass for Our Nation and Our Leaders, celebrated by Father Andreas Hoeck. I pray you will attend this liturgy at 5 p.m. in the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Like St. Thérèse, when we offer our sacrifices in union with our prayers, great things can be accomplished. Great change is needed in our nation. We can help to bring it forth. Let us begin with small acts of great love.

COMING UP: Team Samaritan cyclist goes ‘Everesting’ for the homeless and hungry

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When it comes to the daily sufferings of those who are homeless, there’s nothing like a 29,029-foot bike ride to keep things in perspective.

That’s exactly what Corbin Clement will be doing this Saturday, June 19, with a couple of his riding buddies as they attempt an “Everesting” ride to raise money for the Samaritan House homeless shelter in Denver. Starting at Witter Gulch Road in Evergreen, the three riders will climb Squaw Pass Road to a point in Clear Creek County and ride back down the hill for over eight laps, which amounts to roughly 190 miles in distance and the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing – hence the name “Everesting.” Their goal is to complete the feat in 20 hours or less.

Oh, and they can’t sleep. It is, indeed, just as crazy as it sounds. Those who aren’t avid cyclists might be wondering, “How in the world do you train for something like this?” 
“For training, it’s been just more or less ride as much as possible,” Clement told the Denver Catholic. “The training is structured around endurance, and that’s of course what Everesting is. It’s just a lot of peddling. So, a lot of my training so far has just been trying to ride as much as possible and ride longer high elevation rides.” 

In March, an Irish cyclist set the world record for Everesting when he completed the feat in six hours and 40 minutes. Clement isn’t trying to set a record, but regardless, it’s quite a feat to undertake, even for a seasoned athlete like him, whose pedigree includes snowboarding and rock climbing. 

“Our ride will be the same thing, but it’ll be pretty different,” Clement said. “We don’t have any sort of special bikes or super focused diet or a really regimented plan or a crew that’s very well-instructed on how we’re going to tackle this. I’ve read a couple of things to just kind of make it into a party — have friends come out to support you, get people to join you on certain laps…that’s kind of the approach we’re taking.” 

Clement has already raised $5,200 for Samaritan House, with a current goal of $8,000. This is Clement’s first year riding for Team Samaritan, but his dad, Kevin, has ridden for the team for several years. When his dad offered to give him an extra kit and uniform, Clement accepted, but didn’t want to take it without doing something help the cause. He could’ve simply opted for a nice ride in the countryside, but he chose to do something a bit more challenging.  

Corbin Clement used to experience the challenges that homeless people face on a daily basis when commuting through downtown Denver to work on his bike. This Saturday, he will raise money for Samaritan House homeless shelter by “Everesting,” a 190-mile bike ride that is the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing. (Photo provided)

“For some reason, the Everesting idea popped into my head,” he explained. “I think it’s one of those things that has a little bit of shock value for people who hear about it. It’s certainly something that’s gained more popularity and visibility in the last couple of years with endurance athletes. I wanted to choose something that would actually be a challenge for myself and something that I’d have to work towards.” 

Clement currently resides in Utah, but he used to live in Denver and commute by bike to work every day. During those rides to his office, which was located near Samaritan House, he would pass many homeless people and have conversations with them. This experience was also a motivating factor for his Everesting attempt for Team Samaritan. 

“It’s very different when you’re on a bike versus in a car because you’re right there,” Clement said. “If you stop at a stoplight and a homeless person is on the corner, whether or not they’re panhandling or something like that, you hear the conversations, or you’ll have a conversation with them. There are things you smell or you hear or you see that you just never would if you were in a car. So, it kind of made sense, too, with the biking aspect. It’s part of my community that I’ve lived and worked in for a very long time.” 

Clement’s Everesting attempt is one event in a series of endurance event’s he’s doing over the summer that culminates with the Leadville 100, a single-day mountain bike race across the Colorado Rockies. In that race, he will be riding to support young adults diagnosed with cancer by raising funds for First Descents.  

Both causes are near to Clement’s heart, and he said that while his Everesting attempt will be a form of “suffering,” it pales in comparison to what the homeless face day in and day out. This is ultimately why he’s riding and raising funds for Team Samaritan. 

“Any time we see a homeless person or people who have to live on the streets,” Clement said, “That is true suffering — true endurance — with no end in sight.” 

To learn more about Corbin’s fundraising efforts or to donate, click here.