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St. Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Evangelical Path to Holiness - September 26, 2017

 Banner with photo of Therese displayed on the bell tower of the Basilica at Lisieux. Photo credit: Peter and Liane Klostermann

Saint Therese of Lisieux,
Doctor of the Evangelical Path to Holiness

21. In the conclusion of his Encyclical Letter Redemptoris Missio, which explains the permanent validity of Christ's missionary mandate, John Paul II states:

    The call to mission derives, of its nature, from the call to holiness. …The universal call to holiness is closely linked to the universal call to mission. Every member of the faithful is called to holiness and mission. …The missionary spirituality of the Church is a journey towards holiness.14

Thérèse of Lisieux transformed this doctrine into a lived experience. As a result, she was proclaimed Universal Patroness of the Missions, together with the great apostle Saint Francis Xavier. Her experiential doctrine is of great relevance to the new evangelization. She entered Carmel to reach holiness by means of the contemplative life: "God made me understand my own glory would not be evident to the eyes of mortals, that it would consist in becoming a great saint."15 

From the beginning she was convinced that she entered Carmel not to flee from the world, but to enter it more profoundly. Her spiritual experience was not a search for a refuge from a hostile world, but a conscious offering of herself as a martyr.

22. "Today a renewed commitment to holiness …is more necessary than ever. …It is therefore necessary to inspire in all the faithful a true longing for holiness, a deep desire for conversion and personal renewal in a context of ever more intense prayer and of solidarity with one's neighbor, especially the most needy."16 Therese of Lisieux admirably unites holiness and mission within her own personal vocation. Her authentic contemplation commits her to evangelization. Thus, she unequivocally proposes a Gospel way of witnessing to the good news and of proclaiming it in response to the challenges of modern times.

By emphasizing that the heart of holiness is love, Therese helps to close the gap between contemplation and action, because love unites both. She entered the contemplative life to become more effective in her apostolic life. In this way, she revolutionized the relationship between asceticism and mysticism. She emphasized the kind of asceticism that consists in evangelical self-denial lived one day at a time. For this reason, she preferred service to others more than corporal mortification: welcoming others, understanding them, forgiving them, being helpful, and standing in solidarity with them. These are great practical lessons in spirituality for the new evangelization.

 - excerpted from Therese, A Doctor for the Third Millennium, the joint pastoral letter written by the Carmelite superiors general,  Fr. Camilo Maccise, O.C.D. and Fr. Joseph Chalmers, O. Carm., when Therese was named a doctor in 1997.  For the footnotes, please follow the link to the complete document. 


Posted on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 at 08:48PM by Registered CommenterMaureen O'Riordan | CommentsPost a Comment

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