Friday, October 01, 2010

St. Therese of Lisieux

Today is the feast of St.Therese of Lisieux--a very special saint.

She is seen by many as a syrupy-sweet childlike (even childish) saint for whom union with God came easy. But that is far from the truth.

Carmelnet has a very insightful article on the true spirituality of St. Therese, which was a great contrast to the tendencies of her time.

First, let's talk about her Little Way.  Therese used many diminutive words in talking about her relationship with God.  She called herself a "little ball", a "little hermit", a "little boat" and a "little drop of dew".  Far from focusing on her own immaturity, her spirituality sees God as the initiator and nurturer of the relationship and director of her faith. God cares enough to start the friendship with someone as "little" as Therese. Far from approaching him as "The Great Oz", we can run to God as a happy child runs to her beloved parent.

As a very small child, at the behest of her sister, Pauline, she used good deeds as a way to approach God and grow spiritually.  As an adult, though, she rejected that form of spirituality for a more mature faith based on love alone.  "In the evening of this life, I shall appear before You with empty hands," she said, "for I do not ask you, Lord, to count my works."  There is no anxiety about being "good enough" for Therese knows she is "little" and God is Love.

This love-based faith was radical and counter cultural in its time.  France was still under the affect of Jansenism which focused on original sin and God's wrath.  Having just lost the Franco-Prussian war, the image was quite tempting to many in France at the time.

Theresa, however, found that her experience of God was very different.  She learned from the scriptures and from her family that God was love.  As she grew spiritually, she realized that nothing she could do would ever be able to earn her a place in heaven or placate the angry God of the Jansenists.  Instead, she realized, God was merciful and loving, and all she had to do, was to love Him back.

In this way, she is very much a spiritual mother to Saint Faustina.

We need St. Therese's radical trust in God now more than ever.  Many, many people are turning away from the God they think they know, when really they have been taught about a Jansenistic God and not the merciful, loving God at all.

Far from being a Victorian, old fashioned saint, St. Therese is a true saint for our own time.

The picture above is of St. Therese playing St. Joan of Arc in a play she wrote and directed.  Doesn't she look like someone who would make a good friend?


Anonymous said...

had a wonderful visit with the Little flower last year at cardiff

Dymphna said...

Wow! What a privilege! I love your cat picture!

Ginny said...

My favorite Sainto

Dymphna said...

Mine too, Ginny.

TACParent said...

She's one of my favorite. But you already knew that.

Dymphna said...

Yes! :)

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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