Wednesday, October 1, 2008

St. Therese of Lisieux: "The Little Flower"

If I were to recommend one book besides the Bible that every Christian should read, it would be Story of a Soul, the autobiography of St. Therese. So many lives have been changed by this simple Carmelite nun who died 111 years ago yesterday. She is one of only three women to be declared a "doctor of the Church". She is one of only two Western saints (the other being St. Francis of Assisi) to be recognized as a saint by the Eastern Orthodox Churches since the split with the Roman Catholic Church. She has been called by popes "the greatest saint of modern times." But what is so remarkable about this frail little nun who died at the age of 24?

What is so remarkable is how unremarkable she was. She didn't possess any great skills, or have any great knowledge. What she did was simply to love- and to love to her heart's fullest. In Story of a Soul, she outlines what she calls her "little way", her "elevator" to Heaven- by doing small acts of great love. This is how she advanced in holiness; she did not preach in the streets, travel to distant lands (although she is patroness of missionaries), or perform great miracles (while she was on earth). She simply loved Jesus in all the actions of her daily life. She recognized that something as simple as a smile when you didn't feel like smiling could be as heroic as any martyrdom. She saw that the Lord does not look so much at our actions as He does the love with which we do them. St. Therese is proof that ALL of us can be saints, by showing love to others in our daily lives.

There's a whole lot I could write about Therese, being that she is my favorite saint. But I think I'll just give you some quotes from her:

Prayer is, for me, an outburst from the heart; it is a simple glance darted upwards to Heaven; it is a cry of gratitude and of love in the midst of trial as in the midst of joy! In a word, it is something exalted, supernatural, which dilates the soul and unites it to God.

Even now I know it: yes, all my hopes will be fulfilled... yes... the Lord will work wonders for me which will surpass infinitely my immeasurable desires.

Love!...that is what I ask...I know but one thing now - to love Thee, O Jesus! Glorious deeds are not for me, I cannot preach the Gospel, shed my blood...what does it matter? My brothers toil instead of me, and I, the little child, I keep quite close to the royal throne, I love for those who fight.

I know of one means only by which to attain to perfection: LOVE. Let us love, since our heart is made for nothing else. Sometimes I seek another word to express Love, but in this land of exile the word which begins and ends (St. Augustine) is quite incapable of rendering the vibrations of the soul; we must then adhere to this simple and only word: TO LOVE.

But on whom shall our poor heart lavish its love? Who shall be found that is great enough to be the recipient of its treasures? Will a human being know how to comprehend them, and above all will he be able to repay? There exists but one Being capable of comprehending love; it is Jesus; He alone can give us back infinitely more than we shall ever give to him.

St. Therese is such a wonderful example and I have a great love for her. If you don't know about her, read her book because you will experience the love of Christ through it. St. Therese, pray for us!


Kevin A. said...

By the way, most of this was from a blog I posted a couple of years ago, and I just brought it over here. FYI.

Michele-library204 said...

great book