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.


Cygnus said...

I went to elementary school and sang in the choir at the Shrine of the Little Flower in Baltimore. It's a gorgeous and huge church, but it's slowly decaying as the population of the parish dwindles. The school has already closed its doors.

I also remember singing a hymn to St. Therese written especially for our parish.

Dymphna (4HisChurch) said...

Oh, that's neat!

Marilena said...

as you know, she is one of my most favorite saints! i must recommend her autobiography, story of a soul.
wonderful saint, wonderful book!

Dymphna (4HisChurch) said...

I've got to read that book one day soon!

Anonymous said...

That's the first photo I've seen of her.

Thank you!

Dymphna (4HisChurch) said...

There are many photos of Saint Therese. It's fascinating to see photos of saints!

Dymphna's favorite quotes

"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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