St. Therese of Lisieux shared with her whole family a passionate love for Jesus in the Eucharist.
- At age 22 Therese recalled in the language of mystical union the experience of her First Holy Communion. (Web site of the archives of the Carmel of Lisieux)
- She remembered participating in religious processions on the great feasts:
"I loved especially the processions in honor of the Blessed Sacrament. What a joy it was for me to throw flowers beneath the feet of God! Before allowing them to fall to the ground, I threw them as high as I could, and I was never so happy as when I saw my roses touch the sacred monstrance."
(Read more about Therese's childhood experience of the great feasts of the Church at the Web site if the archives of the Carmel of Lisieux).
- In 1887, before leaving on the pilgrimage to Rome, 14-year-old Therese spent a few days in Paris with her father, St. Louis Martin, and her sister Celine. Before departing from Paris, all the pilgrims were consecrated to the Sacred Heart in the crypt of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Montmartre. Later Therese sent her gold bracelet to be melted down to form part of the monstrance pictured above, which was used for the perpetual adoration of the Eucharist. How happy she must have been to think that the substance of the little bracelet that once touched her wrist was so near her Eucharistic Lord. I thank the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Montmartre for permitting "Saint Therese of Lisieux: A Gateway" to display this photograph, which was taken in 2012 when, to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Therese's visit in 1887, her reliquary was venerated at Montmartre for several days.
- Although Therese's understanding, experience, and theology of the Eucharist continued to grow and develop throughout her short life, it was already well formed when she was only sixteen. In May 1889, during her novitiate, she received a letter from her nineteen-year-old cousin, Marie Guerin (later Sister Marie of the Eucharist). In Paris to visit the great 1889 Exposition, Marie, a young girl from the provinces, was troubled by her reaction to the nude statues in the exposition, and wrote to Therese suggesting that she could not receive Communion in that condition. On May 30, 1889, the 16-year-old novice answered with the prophetic wisdom given by the Holy Spirit:
Oh, my darling, think, then, that Jesus is there in the Tabernacle expressly for you, for you alone-, He is burning with the desire to enter your heart ... so don't listen to the devil, mock him, and go without any fear to receive Jesus in peace and love!. . . ,
Your heart is made to love Jesus, to love Him passionately; pray so that the beautiful years of your life may not pass by in chimerical fears.
We have only the short moments of our life to love Jesus, and the devil knows this well, and so he tries to consume our life in useless works ....
Dear little sister, receive Communion often, very often. . . . That is the only remedy if you want to be healed.
(LT 92, to Marie Guerin, May 30, 1889), from The Letters of St. Therese of Lisieux, Volume I. Washington, D.C.: Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, 1982, pp. 568-569. I repeat: if you know Therese only through her Story of a Soul, great graces await you in her letters).
In 1910 Msgr. de Teil, the vice-postulator for Therese's cause, showed this letter to Pope St. Pius X, the Pope who gave us frequent communion, and said to him "This little sister has made a commentary in advance on Your Holiness' decree on frequent communion." "Est opportunissimum! Est magnum gaudium por me!" ["This is most opportune! This is a great joy to me"], cried the Pope. He ended "We must hurry this cause." Ibid., p. 569. At the Web site of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux, read the full text of Therese's letter to Marie Guerin about the Eucharist.
May our love for the Eucharist continue to grow and deepen, and may the transformation it brings us express itself not only in adoration and in frequently joining with the Christian community to celebrate the Eucharist but also in satisfying, with Jesus, all the hungers of the human family.