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 Saint Therese of the Child Jesus

of the Holy Face

"St. Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of Personal Wholeness" - October 7, 2017

 

Therese Martin in February 1886, aged thirteen

Saint Therese of Lisieux,
Doctor of Personal Wholeness

 

23. Thérèse of Lisieux, like anyone else, was subject to the human condition. From a psychological viewpoint, [we can say that] she underwent a liberating process that led her both to accept herself, and also maturely to accept her own limitations.

The internal tensions, spiritual wounds, and all sort of other influences at work in our world make it hard for people to become fully persons. Thérèse of Lisieux, too, was shaped by her family, social, and religious environment with its limitations and imperfections. She learned to accept them, and, in doing so, she liberated herself from them to become, with God's grace, a free person: one who discovered the faithful and merciful God of Jesus Christ. Therese teaches us to profit from everything so that we may grow and mature, both as human beings and as Christians.

24. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face struggled to overcome all that hindered her from being herself. On the way to human maturity, she experienced trauma at the death of her mother. It deeply affected her.17 Her love for God, and friendship with him, awakened in her a liberating process that enabled her to use all these influences to achieve personal wholeness.

Her fourth through fourteenth years were a painful period in her life. She had problems in school where she felt some were antagonistic toward her. Then her sister and second, mother, Pauline, entered Carmel. As a result of this separation, she became seriously ill. It was a psychosomatic illness. Later on she was tormented by scruples.18

All these sufferings were due to her hypersensitivity: "When I began to cheer up, I'd begin to cry again for having cried."19 She lived trapped in a vicious circle, not knowing how to escape.

It was not until Christmas Eve, 1886, that she was healed of her hypersensitivity and began to walk in the way of love and of surrender to Jesus. From this time on, she was free of those interior bonds, able fully to enjoy life and to take pleasure in studies, in contacts with others, in nature and travel, and other good things.

25. Family and social problems torment many men and women today and cause them anguish and anxiety about the future. Thérèse of Lisieux shows them how to welcome into their lives the love of God and love for others and, by doing so, turn to their advantage the fear caused by the uncertainties of the day. Knowledge of a God who is a merciful Father and who surrounds all of us with his love and providence brings us peace and joy. Thérèse presents to a world sick with fear and anguish the therapy of love of God and confidence in him and of service and commitment to others. She has discovered the profound truth that a merciful God wants to give himself fully to all those who open themselves to him, and she has passed that truth on to us.

 - 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 Saturday, October 7, 2017 at 10:48PM by Registered CommenterMaureen O'Riordan | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

"St. Therese of Lisieux at School, Part 4," the fourth of four articles written for The Far East in 1934 by a Benedictine nun who taught Therese. October 1, 2017

The Little Flower at School
 

by One of Her Teachers
 

The Last Article on St. Thérèse, Schoolgirl… Translated from the Account Written Specially for The Far East by a Nun of the Benedictine Abbey, Lisieux, Who had the Little Flower in Her Class
 

[Fourth of a series of four articles published in The Far East, June 1934, pp. 6-9.]


With thanks to the Missionary Society of St. Columban, I present this fourth of a series of four articles about the school life and First Communion of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, written by one of the Benedictine nuns who taught Thérèse. These articles were commmissioned by "The Far East" in 1934 to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Thérèse's First Communion (May 8, 1884).  For decades the articles lay forgotten in the archives.  I'm most grateful to the Columban Missionaries and to The Far East for permission to publish the series on "Saint Therese of Lisieux: A Gateway."  This article concudes the series.

St. Therese and her sister Celine (reproduced in The Far East by special permission of the Carmel of Lisieux)

Thérèse received the sacrament of Confirmation on the fourteenth of June following her first Communion.  She herself tells how seriously she prepared for the coming of the Holy Ghost.  During the short retreat preceding the ceremony she was remarkable for her great recollection as she studied, with devotion, the gifts of the Holy Ghost and questioned her catechism mistress about them.

And now Thérèse has finished her two years in the classe violette.  She is no longer a mere child.  January, 1885, will see her reaching the age of twelve – practically the half of her short life.

She will have only eighteen more months in the Abbey school.  And during that time she is to be under the care of – myself!

When school reopened in October, 1884, little Thérèse Martin entered the classe orange which was entrusted to me.  [The various classes were distinguished by belts of different colors.  The orange class was the second highest.  See The Far East for April. – Ed.]  It gave me real pleasure to number her among my pupils.  In her reputation for great industry, intelligence and blameless conduct there was much to awaken the interest of a young teacher.

A Teacher’s Memoirs

Hitherto I had seen Thérèse only at a certain distance.  Now I could observe her more closely.

I was not deceived in my expectations.  This Benjamin of the class – she was not yet twelve, while her companions were girls of thirteen and fourteen – had no difficulty in keeping pace with the studies.  At once, in fact, she distinguished herself by her successes.

Every week a decoration was awarded which the pupil wore at the belt of her uniform.  A silver decoration was given for obtaining first place in the test, a silver gilt for getting a hundred per cent.  The latter was also the reward, at the end of the month, for the pupil who for four consecutive weeks had worn the silver emblem.

Handwriting exercise of St. Thérèse as a schoolgirl. Her name “T. Martin” is written on the upper right, and the date, “Monday, 8 February" on the upper left. Feb. 8 fell on a Monday in 1886. The text includes the following: “Why fear death if one has lived well enough to have no fear of the consequences? Love and then do all you desire. To suffer or to die, Lord!”

It was very rarely that Thérèse did not win one or the other of these decorations.  She always knew her lessons very well; her tasks were done with exactness and serious application; her copybooks showed words done to perfection.  The thought of God never left her.  At the head of all her exercises she wrote the letters J.M.J.T., for “Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Teresa.”  Sometimes she added, F.P.A.P.Y., that is, Francis, her second baptismal patron, Paul and Agnes, patrons of her sister Pauline, who in the Carmel has become Mother Agnes of Jesus.  The meaning of the last two initials is not known.

At this age Thérèse was still very simple and childlike in her ways.  But she had beautiful ideas and it is worth remarking how in compositions she always brought in a devotional thought about the supernatural.

Her Difficulties

As we have said, she was weak in spelling and especially in arithmetic.  How many times she cried over problems!  On the other hand, it was a pleasure to hear her recite one of La Fontaine’s fables, she did it so naturally and with such expression.  She shone in history and geography.

Thérèse studied none of the accomplishments such as drawing, etc.  In her autobiography, however, we can see how she longed to take lessons in drawing like her sister Céline, and what a heroic sacrifice she offered to Jesus in this matter.  Later on, in the Carmel, God was pleased to make up to her for this.  All at once Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus became an artist whose work is truly charming.

In a word, Thérèse was a highly interesting pupil.

We must not hide the less pleasing aspect of her character as it then was.  Let us hasten to add that the defect of which we speak was the only one.

A Weakness

Thérèse was an excessively sensitive child. It was distressing to see how readily and how freely her tears would flow.  Has she not admitted this herself, with deep humility?  “Tears were almost habitual with me at that time,” she writes, “I would cry not only for big reasons but also for the very least…. Then I would cry for having cried.  My extreme sensitiveness made me simply impossible.  All attempts to reason with me were fruitless.  I could not rid myself of this wretched defect…. A little miracle was needed to make ne grow out of this weakness all at once.”

Oratory of Souvenirs, Benedictine Abbey School Formerly the oratory of the Children of Mary. Here are kept her Child of Mary medal, the kneeler she knelt on when receiving her First Communion, the prie-dieu she used in the gallery of the chapel (seen here draped with the white cloth) a composition of hers, etc.This miracle of grace took place on Christmas night, 1886, but by then Thérèse was no longer our pupil.

This is what would happen.  In spite of all her efforts, it might occur that Thérèse did not come first in a test.  What a shock!  What was the matter?  Our Thérèse would melt into tears and it was impossible to console her.  The same thing would happen if her marks were only fair or if the Mistress raised her voice slightly and seemed displeased with her – a rare enough occurrence, as her conduct was exemplary.

This imperfection gave me an opportunity of noticing her fundamental strength of soul for, despite the distress that gave rise to these copious tears, she remained always amiable and calm.  She never sulked.  She would weep silently, offering no excuses for herself.

How pained I was, upset at seeing her grieve so much.  I tried to correct this failing of hers, which her schoolmates criticized with the sharp intolerance of their years.  I even gave her a little scolding for it, but Thérèse was not by nature one to be brought on by severity.  I realized this very clearly, for the only result of my remonstrations was to make her tears fall still more copiously.  One had rather to win her by reasoning; to this, because of her innate common sense, she would respond more readily.

This recollection of having once scolded her who was later to win universal admiration would be very painful to me, if I did not remind myself that in some small degree I was the instrument of God’s goodness.  He wanted her to become perfect.

Never have I thought that the tears of Thérèse were the product of self-love or ambition.  She imagined that she would be less pleasing to God and that her father would be disturbed, when her marks did not come up to expectations.  Céline has confirmed us in this.

The following incident shows how these tears really arise from excessive delicacy of conscience.

“Prompting”

Wishing to keep the pupils from answering for one another or whispering the answers to classmates who did not know their lesson, I had said that to do this was not only out of order but further that this breach of discipline might lead the Mistress into error and give rise to an unintentional injustice.  Since Thérèse always knew her lesson perfectly, she had happened to transgress in this matter pretty often.  Now she saw herself at fault.  The catechism Mistress, to whom she confided her troubles of conscience, had great difficulty in reassuring and consoling her.  This example sheds light on these lines of the autobiography:  “My scrupulosity finished by making me ill and I had to be taken from school at the age of thirteen.”

It was indeed at this time that the Lord permitted His child to be assailed by scruples, the dreadful malady that for two years caused her a painful martyrdom.  They began during the retreat in preparation for the solemn renewal of First Communion, on May 21.  During these three closing months of the school year, however, her studies showed no adverse effects from her suffering condition.  Under the eyes of God alone, through her constant fidelity to grace, her soul had progressed in light and in love; she had been given strength to bear the cross.

Thérèse carried off the first awards and was loudly applauded on the day of the distribution of prizes.  It was a legitimate recompense for her constant application to study, and it gave her all the more pleasure since God had seen fit to deprive her of it in previous years, when, because of her long absences from school, she was unable to compete.

What more have I to say of our little Thérèse?  Certainly there is nothing extraordinary to tell…. But how admirable were her candor, her simplicity, her piety, her constant faithfulness to duty!  Her angelic purity gave her a heavenly expression.  To her the supernatural seemed almost to come naturally.  There was, consequently, never anything affected about her.  She had a very keen mind, not above a little roguishness at times.

Bark of tree on which St. Thérèse carved the letters B/M; crucifix before which she cried during a catechism lesson on venial sin; her grammar.

 To satisfy the desire of someone who wanted a souvenir from her, she took the notion to cut with her penknife the letters  in the bark of a lime tree.  The person for whom this novel souvenir was intended could never get the explanation of it, no matter how she persisted with her enquiries.  Since then, the lime tree has been cut down but the piece of bark has been kept in the oratory of souvenirs.

I must confess that I showed myself rather strict towards Thérèse.  Knowing that she was worshipped at home, I wanted to counterbalance this, for her own good.  I also wanted to ward off those little jealousies that her constant successes in her studies were likely to arouse.  I trust that she forgives me now.

Interior Suffering

During the following year her trial continued.  Thérèse Still carried the heavy cross of scrupulosity.  No one who has felt the weight of that cross will find it hard to understand that under such conditions study and school life, with all that it demanded, far from alleviating only increased the burden.

I recall that very often the child’s features betrayed a sadness that surprised me, because I thought that she was very happy.  Nevertheless, she was still a model pupil but her health was visibly beginning to fail.  She had continual headaches and as a result her absences from school became very frequent.  Another sorrow weighed upon her affectionate heart.  Her beloved Céline, president of the Children of Mary, having completed her studies very successfully at the close of the previous school year in July, no longer kept her sister company at school.  It was only with difficulty that the little girl became used to her absence.

Thérèse had one consolation, however.  In 1882, on May 31, she had received the red ribbon of the Sodality of the Holy Angels.  On December 14, 1884, the sodalists voted to make her a counsellor.  On the following February 2, Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, she joined, as an aspirant, the sodality of the Children of Mary.  We shall see how highly she valued this privilege.

Thérèse Leaves

M. Martin, deciding that his little daughter was no longer physically able for the regular classwork, resolved that she should finish her education by means of private tuition in town.  Accordingly at Easter, 1886, Thérèse stopped coming to school.  To completer her studies in the normal course she would not only have had to finish that year but to spend two more in the classe bleue.  Her leaving at the earlier date, regrettable though it seemed at the time, facilitated her in preparing to enter Carmel at the age of fifteen.

Our dear Thérèse, however, had not departed from our school for good.  We had the happiness of seeing her again, though only in passing.

Sodality Candidate

She had the disappointment of leaving without receiving the blue ribbon and the cherished medal of the Children of Mary.  Solemn receptions into the sodality took place only twice a year – on December 8 and on May 31.  Consequently she came now to Mother St. Placide and asked the favor of being received as a Child of Mary.  Mother Directress was delighted with this request from Thérèse, of whom, she was always so fond, but her reply could only be that she would consult the president and counsellors of the sodality.  This was the first time that such a case – that of a girl who had already left the school – had come up and it would create a precedent.  It was to be expected, therefore, that at first there should be some hesitation.  But it was not for long.  Mother St. Placide gave utterance to a prophetic sentence that dispelled all misgivings.

“I don’t believe,” she told the counsellors, “that you will ever have any reason to regret having admitted Thérèse Martin into the sodality.”

One condition, however, was imposed.  Since the aspirant’s health did not permit her regular attendance at school, she was asked to come at least twice a week.  There was nothing out-of-the-way in this stipulation, as any of our past pupils might return to the Abbey to follow the lessons in needlework, drawing and painting and the like, which were given in the afternoons.

Thérèse readily agreed.  She writes, however:  “I must admit that it cost me something of an effort, on account of my great shyness.”

Accordingly we saw her among us again – twice a week, from one o’clock until five.  Once more we quote her own words, telling how she spent her time on these occasions.

Before the Tabernacle

“I worked away silently, until the end of the lesson, and then, as no one took any notice of me, I would go up in the gallery of the chapel and stay there until Father called for me.”

More notice was taken of her, however, than she suspected.  Some of the more serious-minded pupils were observing her modest recollection admiringly and without venturing to speak to her, tried at least to catch her eye and attract her smile of greeting – a smile so sweet that it was indelibly impressed on one’s memory.  Without her knowing it, she was even followed up to the gallery by one companion, who writes her impressions as follows:  “She was praying there, utterly lost in God.  Kneeling in the centre of the gallery, directly opposite the Tabernacle, she looked like an angel.”

Thérèse herself has written, “In this quiet visit I found my one consolation.  Was not Jesus my only Friend?  To Him alone could I speak.”

A few days before May 31 the voting for admission to the two sodalities took place, with the chaplain and Mother Directress presiding.  Needless to say, Thérèse Martin was among those chosen for membership in the Children of Mary.

The ceremony of reception took place in the Abbey chapel. That hallowed chapel with its precious memories of First Communion.  How happy Thérèse was, to be received as a Child of Mary in the same place and before the same altar where two years earlier she had consecrated herself to the Blessed Virgin.

After her reception Thérèse came to the Abbey only on every first Sunday of the month, to attend the conference given by the chaplain in the oratory of the sodality.  All the sodalists who had left school came to these meetings until they married.

At length the time came when Thérèse was to realize her great desire of entering Carmel at the age of fifteen.

Her entrance was set for April 9, and one afternoon she came back to her old school to say goodbye.  For her affectionate heart this was indeed an occasion of genuine suffering, foreshadowing the anguish, now imminent, of the final parting from her dear ones at home.

Farewell Visit

She went quickly from one classhall to another, meeting the Mistresses.  Most of them were unaware that this visit was to be her last.  She overlooked no one.  Her last meeting with me was as follows.

We were then having the quarterly tests and I was examining the pupils orally.  Suddenly, turning around, I saw a tall girl beside me.  It was Thérèse Martin.  How she had changed!  Her long curly tresses were done up in a knot on her head; she wore a dress of rather grown-up design.  No longer had she that charmingly childish appearance.

“Thérèse!” I said, in surprise, adding in regretful tones:  “You have put up your hair!”

Smiling mysteriously, she answered in that slow-speaking little voice of hers:

“Yes, Mother.”

Forthwith Thérèse realized that I knew nothing of her plans.  I asked her to wait until I had finished questioning my pupil.  We then went out to the head of the stairs close by.

A Last Meeting

Our conversation was short.  She seemed a little embarrassed and so was I.  On leaving, she embraced me affectionately.  As for what we said, alas, I cannot recall it now.

A little later, Thérèse met a lay-Sister and said to her:  “I have just seen Mother ―.  She has no idea that I have come to say goodbye.  I wanted to tell her but I simply could not get the words out.  I was afraid I would break down.  She will be so sorry when she hears the truth.”

The dear child was not mistaken.  I was very much grieved at the thought of not seeing her any more.  But I admired her strength of character.  She had completely mastered her excessive sensitiveness.

From a Letter Written by St. Thérèse as Postulant In December 1888 Sister Thérèse wrote from the Carmel to her former teacher at the Abbey school, Mother St. Placide, thanking her for a letter announcing the approaching golden jubilee of the Children of Mary Sodality and gratefully recalling her First Communion and Consecration to the Blessed Virgin tracing the seed of her vocation to it. The following is a reproduction of the concluding paragraph. Translation: Likewise please do not forget to give my greetings to my happy companions i.e. on the day of the jubilee celebration whose little sister in Mary I still remain. Adieu, my dear Mistress. I hope that in your holy prayers you will not forget her who is and will ever be your grateful child, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus Postulant, Discalced Carmelite

While she was a postulant and then a novice, several of her former schoolmates went to see her.  Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus welcomed them heartily and asked affectionately for all the nuns.  Naturally she was inspected from head to foot and questioned all about her life as a Carmelite.  The little Sister had lost none of her delightful simplicity and she satisfied her visitors’ curiosity in her own charming way.  During the visits she kept the hourglass, as well as her workbasket, at her side.  She kept sewing as she chatted and observed strict guard over her eyes – a fact which did not escape her edified friends.

She took the black veil on September 24, 1890.  The newly professed Sister, henceforth hidden away in the cloister of Carmel, had now disappeared from our eyes and her history was to be ours no longer.

In the year following her happy death, her autobiography, the Story of a Soul, came to reveal to us the hidden treasure that we had once possessed.  The book was read enthusiastically both by the children preparing for First Communion and by the pupils and alumnae during the annual retreat.  The splendid volume was given as a prize; to read it was a coveted privilege.  The poems of St. Thérèse were also greatly enjoyed and the girls would love to sing them on their walks.  Thus among our pupils St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus wrought the beginnings of an apostolate that was soon to embrace the whole world.

(THE END)

(This concludes the series of four articles, special to The Far East, written by Mother …., of the Abbey of Notre Dame du Pré, Lisieux, France, and translated by the editor.  Mother …. Is one of the surviving teachers of the Little Flower.  The first article in the series appeared in March.  The May article described the First Communion of St. Thérèse in the Abbey chapel, May 8, 1884.  Back numbers of The Far East containing the earlier articles are still available.)

 

Editor's Note: this article originally appeared in the March 1934 issue of The Far East (U.S.A. edition).  It is reprinted by “Saint Therese of Lisieux: A Gateway” atwww.thereseoflisieux.org with permission from the Missionary Society of St. Columbanat www.columban.org  Permission is granted to duplicate this article in whole for sharing in groups, but not to republish it; please include this notice of acknowledgement. 

To learn more about the Columban Missions, or to send a thank-offering, please visit

Special thanks to Linda Smith, who typed this article for publication, and to Scott Smith, who formatted the print-friendly version you may download. 

Posted on Sunday, October 1, 2017 at 09:28PM by Registered CommenterMaureen O'Riordan | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Make a virtual pilgrimage to the infirmary where St. Therese of Lisieuxdied on September 30, 1897

Infirmerie VF from Carmel de Lisieux on Vimeo.

At 7:20 p.m. on September 30, 1897, 119 years ago, St. Therese died in a little infirmary on the ground floor of the Carmelite monastery in Lisieux.  In honor  of the anniversary of her death, visit this little room courtesy of the film, and, while there, pray for your special intentions and for the dying, that they may enter into life with Therese.

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 | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Experience of God's Love Expressed in Communion and Service

"St. Therese Doing the Dishes," by Brother Mickey McGrath, OSFS for Trinity Stores. Purchases through this link support the Web site.Saint Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Experience of God's Love Expressed in Communion and Service

18. Experience is the key in a technical and scientific world. Everything must be experienced, seen in some way. Christian spirituality is no exception to this trend. Experience and testimony are fundamental in the Christian life, being particularly important today when we see a reaction against an exaggerated intellectualism in matters of faith and religion. Despite the danger of subjectivity and a certain spiritual infantilism, this search for experiences cannot be rejected out of hand. Spiritual experiences are a source of knowledge and of a deeper revelation of God.

Thérèse of Lisieux is a teacher of an authentic experience of God that contains within itself a commitment to following Jesus. She teaches us about the experience of contact with the Word of God, the meaning of the community that Christ communicates to us and the necessity of giving a real response guided by love.

19. Spirituality in the church today tends to stress the communion of all in Christ and in the Spirit. We need to place all the gifts we have at the service of the community of believers. The main lines of the experience and doctrine of St. Thérèse can be clearly seen in this dimension of today's spirituality of evangelization. She lived for the Church, the Body of Christ. She desired to live all possible vocations in the Church so that she could bear witness to the Gospel and proclaim it to the most distant places on earth until, while meditating on chapters 12 and 13 of the first letter to the Corinthians, she discovered her vocation and mission in the church: "Jesus, my Love …my vocation, at last I have found it. …My vocation is love! Yes, I have found my place in the Church and it is You, O my God, who have given me this place; in the heart of the Church, my Mother, I shall be Love. Thus I shall be everything, and thus my dream will be realized."12

20. Thérèse strongly centered her life on God as the only absolute. She conversed with him in prayer that took into account the needs of her brothers and sisters. Inspired by this encounter, she devoted herself to others and lived her vocation for the salvation of the world. In Manuscript C, Therese gives a precious direction for an authentic spirituality committed to the new evangelization:

    Just as a torrent, throwing itself with impetuosity into the ocean, drags after it everything it encounters in its passage, in the same way, O Jesus, the soul who plunges into the shoreless ocean of Your Love, draws with her all the treasures she possesses. Lord, You know it, I have no other treasures than the souls it has pleased You to unite to mine.13

Thérèse was convinced that the authenticity of our love for God is demonstrated in the quality of our love for others. This conviction has truly influenced the spirituality of our century, particularly in the area of commitment to evangelization. Her experience and doctrine have taught Christians that the dimension of fraternal love opens us to ever new and wider horizons, like the concentric ripples in a pond set in motion by the impact of the love of God. The first circle reaches those nearest us. The wider circles embrace the whole of humanity. Confidence and surrender to God, our Father-Mother, are in Therese of Lisieux the source of fraternal charity and the apostolate. They give love expression by the way they seek to share with all the good news of salvation.

Thérèse of Lisieux translated into life the Gospel's demand for service to those of least importance in the world's eyes and those who are poorest. In them we discover the face of Christ (cf. Mt 25:31-45). God reveals himself to them in a special way (cf. Mt 11:25-27). We must be ready to give our lives for others in the service of God, like Christ, who asked the Father to take away, if possible, the chalice of suffering, but who nevertheless clearly accepted his Father's will and desired to fulfill it. 

 - 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 Saturday, September 23, 2017 at 09:49PM by Registered CommenterMaureen O'Riordan | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint