Wednesday, October 1, 2014

St. Therese of Lisieux

Life can be lonely and suffering can seem unbearable. Loved ones will die, your body will slowly shut down and your you will experience disappointments in your personal and professional capacities. These are the inevitabilities of out existence. And yet we are shocked. When such things arise, we lash out and blame anything that we can, our friends, our family, Our Lord even.

How freeing it is to trust in Our Lord, trust in His design and His plan.

If we want an example of perfect discipline, perfect obedience...there are few examples outside of the gospel that even compare to that of St. Therese of Lisieux. The Carmelite nun, who accepted every and all misfortune with complete trust and humility, is the antithesis of everything our modern age posits when it comes to faith and matters of the soul. 

Born in 1873, to parents Blessed Marie-Aziele Martin and Blessed Louis Martin, Therese was a lively child who grew in vocation as she moved into adolescence. This was in spite of her many ailments in illnesses, which seemed only to bring her closer to the love of God. In Novemeber 1887, Therese went to Rome and pleaded with Pope Leo XIII to allow her to enter the convent, a sign of the surety in the 15 year old. She became a Carmelite a year later. 


Between then and 1897, Therese lived a life of quiet consecration to Our Lord. A brave, intelligent and humble soul who faced the difficulties of life with the utmost bravery. At the time of her death, the young would be saint had perfected an approach known simply as 'The Little Way', involving doing each and every small act of a day's work with love and with gratitude to God. No act was too small or too great to offer to Our Lord, no difficulty too tough a burden not to overcome. 



This young woman, who wanted to be forgotten about in death, has become a beacon of Our Lord's faith throughout the world. She converted many to the faith during World War I, with many French soldiers who carried her cards converting to the faith after reporting a young nurse helping them on the battlefield (who bore a striking resemblance in all cases to St. Therese). 



From a personal perspective, during my own long struggle with anxiety, I found her autobiography Story of A Soul to be better medicine for my health than anything given to me by a doctor, any talks with counsellors or any piece of artistic expression. It was a simple affirmation of the truth by a living witness to it. Therese is one of the great mystics our time along with St. Padre Pio, in exercising simplicity she became a Doctor of the Church, a lofty position few of the most serious intellectuals could ever hope to attain. As Our Lord said, 'he who exalts himself will be humbled, he who humbles himself will be exalted'.  If you are ever at your loneliest, ever at your most disillusioned with other people or with yourself, pick up this book or download it for free online and immerse yourself in the words and deeds of this incredible young lady. Drop into a Carmelite Church if you ever get the opportunity as I did regularly last year when I was living near one, and draw strength from being in the company of Our Lord in the tabernacle. Or even just pray. As she did, simply and surely to Our Lord in all confidence. 


I pray that St. Therese may bring the comfort and faith to you that she has brought to me and countless others!




Skip to 5:56 for footage of St. Therese's relics visiting Ireland



Pope Benedict speaks about St. Therese's spirituality

Fulton Sheen speaking about St. Therese : Part 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkEwQLl8bUI
                                                                   Part 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvbfIKJnO6c

Story of a Soul pdf http://www.olmc-mission.org/storyofasoul.pdf

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