Sunday, September 30, 2007

Saint Therese of Lisieux

Tommorow begins a wonderfully full month of beautiful feast days! One of my all time favorite saints is Saint Therese of Lisieux, whose feast day is October 1. Therese was the youngest of 5 sisters who was spoiled and pampered by her pious family.

In spite of the intense love she experienced as part of her upbringing, her young life was not without tragedy. Her mother died of breast cancer when Therese was 4 years old. Her oldest sister, Pauline, became her second mother, but entered the Carmelite cloister 5 years later. Therese was so devastated, that she fell ill, and was thought to be near death. When she heard her sisters asking the Blessed Mother to pray for a cure, Therese looked up at the statue of Mary in her room and noticed Mary smiling at her. She was instantly cured.

Her next 2 sisters, Marie and Leonie, were the next to join the convent. Therese was left alone with her sister Celine and her father. She was her father's favorite, and didn't help out with any of the housework. If she had any inkling that she was being criticized for anything, she would burst into tears.

Therese was interested in following her sisters into the convent, but others questioned her ability to handle the cloistered life because she couldn't even handle her own emotional life. She turned to Christ and prayed for help.

The Christmas when Therese was 14, she returned from Midnight Mass, and went upstairs with Celine to put away their hats. Most children of 14 had long outgrown the French custom of putting out their shoes on Christmas Eve to be filled with gifts, but not Therese. Her father came to the bottom of the stairs, looked at her shoes that were waiting to be filled for presents and said, "I am glad this is the last year I will have to do this."

Celine looked at Therese and waited for the inevitable outburst that never occurred. Christ had answered Therese's prayer by coming into her heart and doing something that she herself could never have done. He kept her calm and filled with His love. She deliberately descended the stairs and exclaimed over the gifts, thanking her father as if she had never heard what he said. From that day on, she never forgot her "Christmas Conversion" experience.

The following year, after having to go the bishop and the pope for permission, Therese entered the convent where she died at the age of 24.

She is often seen as a sometimes sickeningly sweet saint, but she is a model for us Christians in the West who have been given so much, but still must turn to Christ for the will to be generous and gracious instead of spoiled and pouting in the face of all our blessings.

Her "little way" is the perfect way to God for those of us who feel that we are not called, do not have the opportunity, or the wherewithal to do "big things" for God. She literally "offered up" her everyday annoyances to Christ to grow closer to Him.

Her death of tuberculosis came after a struggle with a "Dark Night of the Soul", similar to, although not nearly as long as the one Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta has recently been revealed to have suffered.

The picture above is a photograph of the actual statue that was in Therese's room when she was cured of her illness in May of 1883 from

Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, the Little Flower, Pray for Us!


SuzyQ said...

Saint Therese of Lisieux is my all time favourite saint also.
I have just finished reading "The eagle and the Dove" A biography of Saint Therese of Lisieus and Saint Theresa of Avila. Their lives were such inspirations and living expressions of Gods love.
THankyou for this post:0)

Telesia said...

I have just found St. Dymphna - what a powerful saint she is too. I have had a wonderful answer to through this lovely saint.

But St. Therese has been in my life for many years now and - she has taught me a great deal about God and His mercy; this has been a source of consolation in those difficulat times. She is such an approachable saint - such a friend!

I have enjoyed reading your post tonight - happy feastday!
God bless you, May St. Therese obtain may blessings for you, Telesia

Dymphna (4HisChurch) said...

Thank you Suzy and Telesia. I'd love to read "The eagle and the Dove" especially since I don't know nearly enough about St. Theresa of Avila.

And, yes, St. Therese is such an approachable saint--great way to describe her!

Divine Mercy said...

you can read my account of the statues of Saint Therese smiling at me at a Catholic Mom in Hawaii's blog under her post about Saint Therese.
copy and paste the link i put here into your browser. my account is in her comments section of that post.

Dymphna (4HisChurch) said...

Wow, beautiful story! :)

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"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

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