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 Saint Therese of the Child Jesus

of the Holy Face

Entries in World Youth Day (3)

Meditation on "Therese, a Doctor for the Third Millennium," the 1997 circular letter to the Carmelite Family about the proclamation of St. Therese as a Doctor of the Church


Statue of St. Therese near the entrance of the Lisieux Carmel

As we draw near to the 20th anniversary of the day (October 19, 1997) when Pope John Paul II proclaimed St. Therese a Doctor of the Church, I invite you to reflect on the joint pastoral letter written by the general superiors of the two branches of the Carmelite family, Fr. Camilo Maccise, O.C.D. and Fr. Joseph Chalmers, O. Carm.  Because the letter is extremely rich, we will look at it in sections.  If you want to read the whole letter at once, you may do so, thanks to the Carmelites of Eldridge, Iowa, at "Therese: A Doctor for the Third Millennium."  I am most grateful to the nuns of the Eldridge Carmel for making this meditation feasible. 

The authors introduce their letter by evoking the Pope's announcement at World Youth Day, August 24, 1997, that he would name St. Therese a Doctor of the Church in October.  They then give a brief history of the movement and process of Therese's doctorate, and spend most of the letter reflecting on the significance for the women and men of our times of her being named a doctor.  Today, please meditate on their introduction: 

Dear brothers and sisters in Carmel:

1. Little over a year ago, we wrote to you to reflect upon the message of our sister, Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, on the occasion of the centenary of her death. We had no idea then that we would be writing another circular letter about her so soon. This time it is to consider the meaning and significance of the title Doctor of the Church, which, as Pope John Paul II announced recently in Paris at the International Gathering of Youth, he will officially bestow on her in Rome on October 19, 1997, International Mission Sunday.

2. On the morning of August 24, at the closure in Paris of the International Gathering of Youth, the Pope described the character and doctrine of our sister and the motives for declaring her a Doctor after a "careful study" and many petitions received from the Universal Church. He called Thérèse of Lisieux a young Carmelite who was filled with the love of God, who offered herself completely to this love, and who knew how to practice love of neighbor in the ordinary things of daily life. She imitated Jesus as she sat at the table of sinners, his brothers and sisters, so that they would be purified by love, since her ardent desire was to see everyone enlightened by faith. She discovered, the Pope continued, that her vocation was to be love in the heart of the Church, and she walked the "little way" of children who take refuge in God with bold confidence. The core of her message is her child-like attitude, which can be proposed to all the faithful. "Her teachings, a veritable science of love," are the radiant expression of her knowledge of the mystery of Christ and her personal experience of grace. She will continue to assist the people of today and the future to understand better the gifts of God and to spread the good news of infinite love.

3. The Pope called her: "a Carmelite and an apostle, a teacher of spiritual wisdom for numerous consecrated and lay persons, patroness of the missions." He mentioned that she "occupies a place of primary importance in the Church, and that her doctrine merits finding a place among the most effective." He concluded by stating that he wished to announce the Doctorate of Thérèse of Lisieux during the gathering of the youth since she, a young saint, so close to our times, has a message particularly suitable for them. In the school of the Gospel, she leads the way towards Christian maturity for young people, "calling them to unlimited generosity and inviting them in the heart of the Church to be apostles and ardent witnesses of Christ's love." He prayed, along with the young people, to Thérèse of Lisieux that she may lead the people of this age along the way of truth and life. He ended his discourse with these words: "With Thérèse of the Child Jesus, let us turn to the Virgin Mary, whom she honored and prayed to with child-like confidence during her life."

Archbishop Pontier invites all Catholics in France to a day of prayer and fasting on Friday, July 29, 2016 after the murder of Father Jacques Hamel

Mgr Georges Pontier, archbishop of Marseille and President of the Bishops' Conference of France, invited Catholics to a day of fasting and prayer Friday, July 29.

“From Krakow, where I learned of the unthinkable and horrible drama of Seine-Maritime [the section of Normandy where the terrorist attack took place this morning], I want to convey to the family of Father Hamel, to the parish of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, and to the Archbishop of Rouen the assurance of my closeness and my prayer and solidarity.  This tragedy, which occurred in a church, shakes up and disturbs all the French people.

I thank all those who, in their diversity, have expressed their friendship to the Catholic family.

We have various feelings in such moments as these.  We know, however that one of them, fraternity, dear to our country, is the way that leads to lasting peace. Let's build it together.

I invite all the Catholics of France to participate in a day of fasting and prayer for our country and for peace in the world this Friday, July 29th.

Here in Krakow, with all the French bishops present, I invite the youth of our dioceses and our movements to live the Way of the Cross with Pope Francis for this intention. We follow Christ in his victory over hatred, revenge, and death.

It is our light and hope.

Mgr Georges PONTIER

Archbishop of Marseille

President of the Bishops' Conference of France

(translated with thanks from the Web site of the Catholic Church of France).

Let's show our solidarity with the suffering people of France by joining them in this day of prayer and fasting on Friday.

To meditate on the life story of Fr. Jacques Hamel, please see "Jacques Hamel, 85, a beloved French priest killed in his church" in the New York Times.

Posted on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 at 10:04PM by Registered CommenterMaureen O'Riordan in , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

World Youth Day pilgrims to see the exhibit "Therese of Lisieux: burning with love" in Rio de Janeiro

The exhibit "St. Therese of Lisieux, or burning with love" will be part of the Youth Festival of World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janeiro.  This exposition, organized by the Carmel of Lisieux and the Association of the Friends of Therese and of the Carmel of Lisieux, drew seven million visitors at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris last summer.  The trip to Brazil for World Youth Day, of which St. Therese is co-patron, is its first visit to the New World.

See the exhibit (set up at Notre Dame) in the film below:


The exposition consists of 36 photographic panels designed to show the different kinds of love Therese experienced:

  • love for her family (her environment, family, the Blessed Virgin, the Carmelite Order, the saints, and, of course, Jesus – child, suffering, and risen);
  • love for the people of her time;
  • love for people beyond this earthly life.

The goal of the exposition, as translated from the Web site of Notre-Dame Cathedral:

The exhibition is designed to be shown in places of solitude and of distress – prisons, hospitals, retreat houses, public places … to show the extraordinary fruitfulness of the life of Thérèse with her double message of hope. The exposition wants to tell us, on the one hand, that Thérèse is a source of graces and of abundant consolation to all who suffer and who call upon her; and, on the other hand, that no life, however poor and limited it may be, is necessarily wasted – that is the life of Thérèse herself, who had always suffered, and who died at the age of 24 years (1873-1897), in the Carmel where she had withdrawn.

Please see the PowerPoint of this exposition created by World Youth Day (with thanks to

Where to see the exposition:

The exposition will be held in the Praça do Conhecimento at Morro do Alemão.  World Youth Day reports that more information may be available at the WYD Media Center.