Wednesday, October 01, 2008
St. Therese the Little Flower
Today is the feast of St. Therese of Lisieux. Normally pictured in the black habit and brown cloak of the Carmelites with a cross and roses, Therese was the originator of "The Little Way"--offering up all her daily trials and annoyances to God. She was not a visionary. She was not a mystic, nor was she a missionary (although she longed to be one.) She was a little girl from France who loved the Lord.
In spite of being seen as a syrupy-sweet, old fashioned saint, Therese, in some ways, was very modern. Living after the advent of photography, we have pictures of her from her childhood through her years in the convent.
She also struggled, as a child, with being spoiled. She was the youngest of 5 daughters and indulged by her parents and siblings. Her mother died of breast cancer when Therese was only 4 and she was showered with love from her 4 sisters and from her father.
She writes of a conversion experience at the age of 14. After excitedly running in after Christmas Midnight Mass to see what gifts had been left in her shoe (a local custom) she overheard her father tell her sister, "Thank goodness that's the last time we shall have this kind of thing!" Her sister was sure that tears and hysterics would follow. Instead, Therese experienced, in that moment, a conversion. Jesus entered her heart and she swallowed her pride and her tears and gratefully thanked her father for her gifts as if she had never heard him complain.
She entered the Carmelite convent after her sisters Pauline and Marie, at the tender age of 15. Her conversion had given her the strength to ask repeatedly for special permission to join--even from the Pope!
Saint Therese is a saint of the everyday. She is a saint who endured everyday trials for the love of Jesus. She endured false accusations in the convent, which she bore without complaint. She endured dry periods in prayer, when she quipped, "Jesus isn't doing much to keep the conversation going."
She is someone who went through many of the trials that we go through every day, yet clung to Jesus through it all.