Saint Therese of the Child Jesus
of the Holy Face
To celebrate the 90th anniversary today of the canonization of St. Therese, which took place on May 17, 1925, the Web site of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux has posted photographs from 1925 of the canonization celebrations at Rome and at Lisieux. Please click to see the interior of the Lisieux Carmel decorated for the canonization of the young woman who, only 28 years before, had walked these halls as a hidden member of this little community. See also the exterior of St. Peter's Basilica, illuminated with lamps for the first time since 1870, and photos of the canonization ceremony taking place in the interior.
To recreate the events of May 17, 1925 still more vividly:
Read a description of the canonization of St. Therese in John Beevers' book Storm of Glory. (Thanks to Hathitrust for digitizing it).
St. Therese always longed to visit the Holy Land, and she corresponded with the Carmel in Jerusalem. How fitting that her Carmelite sister, Mary of Jesus Crucified (Mariam Baouardy), together with three other 19th-century nuns, is being canonized in Rome today. Read Pope Francis's homily in which he speaks of Sister Mariam as "a means of encounter with the Muslim world." May these two women join with all the saints in interceding for peace in Palestine and throughout the whole world.
Please read my English translation of the press release from the Shrines of Alencon and Lisieux reporting that Pope Francis has approved the healing of little Carmen as the miracle necessary for the canonization of Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin. This communique, issued March 18, 2015, contains information about Carmen's healing never published before.
Read the full English text of Pope Francis's homily at the end of which he announces the Jubilee Year of Mercy - March 13, 2015
An English translation of the homily
Pope Francis delivered
at a penance service in St. Peter's Basilica
on Friday, March 13, 2015,
the second anniversary of his election as Pope.
Thanks to Vatican Radio.
At the end he announces the extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy
The penitential liturgy
This year as last, as we head into the Fourth Sunday of Lent, we are gathered to celebrate the penitential liturgy. We are united with so many Christians, who, in every part of the world, have accepted the invitation to live this moment as a sign of the goodness of the Lord. The Sacrament of Reconciliation, in fact, allows us with confidence to draw near to the Father, in order to be certain of His pardon. He really is “rich in mercy” and extends His mercy with abundance over those who turn to Him with a sincere heart.
"God is rich in mercy"
To be here in order to experience His love, however, is first of all the fruit of His grace. As the Apostle Paul reminds us, God never ceases to show the richness of His mercy throughout the ages. The transformation of the heart that leads us to confess our sins is “God's gift”, it is “His work” (cf. Eph 2:8-10). To be touched with tenderness by His hand and shaped by His grace allows us, therefore, to approach the priest without fear for our sins, but with the certainty of being welcomed by him in the name of God, and understood notwithstanding our miseries. Coming out of the confessional, we will feel God’s strength, which restores life and returns the enthusiasm of faith.
The gospel of the woman who washed the feet of Jesus
The Gospel we have heard (cf. Lk 7:36-50) opens for us a path of hope and comfort. It is good that we should feel that same compassionate gaze of Jesus upon us, as when he perceived the sinful woman in the house of the Pharisee. In this passage two words return before us with great insistence: love and judgment.
The loving woman receives the judgment of mercy
There is the love of the sinful woman, who humbles herself before the Lord; but first there is the merciful love of Jesus for her, which pushes her to approach. Her cry of repentance and joy washes the feet of the Master, and her hair dries them with gratitude; her kisses are pure expression of her affection; and the fragrant ointment poured out with abundance attests how precious He is to her eyes. This woman’s every gesture speaks of love and expresses her desire to have an unshakeable certainty in her life: that of being forgiven. And Jesus gives this assurance: welcoming her, He demonstrates God’s love for her, just for her! Love and forgiveness are simultaneous: God forgives her much, everything, because “she loved much” (Luke 7:47); and she adores Jesus because she feels that in Him there is mercy and not condemnation. Thanks to Jesus, God casts her many sins away behind Him, He remembers them no more (cf. Is 43:25). For her, a new season now begins; she is reborn in love, to a new life.
This woman has really met the Lord. In silence, she opened her heart to Him; in pain, she showed repentance for her sins; with her tears, she appealed to the goodness of God for forgiveness. For her, there will be no judgment except that which comes from God, and this is the judgment of mercy. The protagonist of this meeting is certainly the love that goes beyond justice.
Simon the Pharisee, on the contrary, cannot find the path of love. He stands firm upon the threshold of formality. He is not capable of taking the next step to go meet Jesus, who brings him salvation. Simon limited himself to inviting Jesus to dinner, but did not really welcome Him. In his thoughts, he invokes only justice, and in so doing, he errs. His judgment on the woman distances him from the truth and does not allow him even to understand who guest is. He stopped at the surface, he was not able to look to the heart. Before Jesus’ parable and the question of which a servant would love his master most, the Pharisee answered correctly, “The one, to whom the master forgave most.” And Jesus does not fail to make him observe: “Thou hast judged rightly. (Lk 7:43)” Only when the judgment of Simon is turned toward love: then is he in the right.
No one can be excluded from the mercy of God
The call of Jesus pushes each of us never to stop at the surface of things, especially when we are dealing with a person. We are called to look beyond, to focus on the heart to see how much generosity everyone is capable. No one can be excluded from the mercy of God; everyone knows the way to access it and the Church is the house that welcomes all and refuses no one. Its doors remain wide open, so that those who are touched by grace can find the certainty of forgiveness. The greater the sin, so much the greater must be the love that the Church expresses toward those who convert.
A Holy Year of Mercy
Dear brothers and sisters, I have often thought about how the Church might make clear its mission of being a witness to mercy. It is journey that begins with a spiritual conversion. For this reason, I have decided to call an extraordinary Jubilee that is to have the mercy of God at its center. It shall be a Holy Year of Mercy. We want to live this Year in the light of the Lord's words: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (cf. Lk 6:36)”
This Holy Year will begin on this coming Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and will end on November 20, 2016, the Sunday dedicated to Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe – and living face of the Father’s mercy. I entrust the organization of this Jubilee to the Pontifical Council for Promotion of the New Evangelization, that [the dicastery] might animate it as a new stage in the journey of the Church on its mission to bring to every person the Gospel of mercy.
I am convinced that the whole Church will find in this Jubilee the joy needed to rediscover and make fruitful the mercy of God, with which all of us are called to give consolation to every man and woman of our time. From this moment, we entrust the Holy Year to the Mother of Mercy, that she might turn her gaze upon us and watch over our journey.
From Vatican Radio (subtitles added)
Watch Pope Francis announce an extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy to begin on December 8, 2015 - video with English subtitles
To begin your preparation for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, please watch this 2:29 video with English subtitles; see Pope Francis proclaim the Year of Mercy. He announced it at the end of his homily for the Fourth Sunday of Lent.
Pope Francis's message for Lent 2015 quotes Saint Therese of Lisieux: "My desire is to continue to work for the Church and for souls"
Pope Francis's Lenten message offers St. Therese of Lisieux as an example of how the saints are not indifferent to us:
The prayers of the Church on earth establish a communion of mutual service and goodness which reaches up into the sight of God. Together with the saints who have found their fulfilment in God, we form part of that communion in which indifference is conquered by love. The Church in heaven is not triumphant because she has turned her back on the sufferings of the world and rejoices in splendid isolation. Rather, the saints already joyfully contemplate the fact that, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, they have triumphed once and for all over indifference, hardness of heart and hatred. Until this victory of love penetrates the whole world, the saints continue to accompany us on our pilgrim way. Saint Therese of Lisieux, a Doctor of the Church, expressed her conviction that the joy in heaven for the victory of crucified love remains incomplete as long as there is still a single man or woman on earth who suffers and cries out in pain: “I trust fully that I shall not remain idle in heaven; my desire is to continue to work for the Church and for souls” (Letter 254, July 14, 1897).
We share in the merits and joys of the saints, even as they share in our struggles and our longing for peace and reconciliation. Their joy in the victory of the Risen Christ gives us strength as we strive to overcome our indifference and hardness of heart.
[from the Vatican Web site]
Read Pope Francis's message for Lent 2015 in full. And read the letter the Pope cited from St. Therese (her last letter to her spiritual brother, Father Adolphe Roulland) at the Web site of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux.