Thursday, May 10, 2012

Calling Doctor Therese! Paging St. Therese!

"We live in an age of inventions.  We need no longer climb laboriously up flights of stairs.  And I was determined to find an elevator to carry me to Jesus, for I was too small to climb the steep stairs of perfection.  So I sought in Holy Scripture some idea of what this lift I wanted would be, and I read, 'Whoever is a little one, let him come to me' (Lk 8:16).  I also wanted to know how God would deal with a 'little one' so I searched and found:  'As one whom a mother caresses, so I will comfort you, you shall be carried  . . . ' (Is 66:12-13) Ah!  Never did words more tender and more melodious come to give joy to my soul.  It is your arms, Jesus, which are the elevator to carry me to heaven.  So there is no need for me to grow up.  In fact:  just the opposite.  I must become less and less." - St. Therese of Lisieux, Story of a Soul

So many of us in this Community have been helped by our beloved St. Therese.  If you would like to share how St. Therese's little way of great love has been a blessing to you as you seek to grow in deep love of our Lord, please do so in the comments, inclusive to sharing links to posts you have on this great saint.

Patricia, whose profile name at I Want to See God is "littlesoul2" has written meany beautiful posts especially on
St. Therese's Act of Oblation to Merciful Love.  

Recently she was sharing and teaching me more about St. Therese in the comment box to one of her posts.  If you do take the hyperlink that is to the offering itself.  There is a series of beautiful posts leading up to it that you may want to review first.  You can see all of them if you hit St. Therese in the tag cloud at the bottom of her blog page.

Many of us are drawn to St. Therese, and even Fr. Gaitley in Consoling the Heart of Jesus uses her as an example of how all of us little souls can follow her example of love to grow in holiness.  Not to discourage anyone from following her Little Way of Great Love for fear of suffering, but rather to help us appreciate her great love for Jesus and souls more, I wanted to share with all of you what Patricia taught me.

Regarding St. Therese, you are absolutely correct about the great trials she suffered, and the many trials which all of those who truly wish to love Our Lord will no doubt encounter. Therese used to pray, “Jesus, make me resemble You.” Because, the beloved of Jesus seeks to be like her Divine Lover…she too is “thirsty” for souls, and desires to unite any sufferings God permits in her life to those of Jesus to “help” win souls for Him.

Therese, wishing to leave ALL to God’s Will did not desire to ask for greater suffering, (as some Saints have done), but rather to accept whatever joys and sorrows the Will of God destined for her. Her genius, inspired by the Holy Spirit, was to say to God, through her Act of Oblation, that she wished to live her entire life as “one act of perfect love”….her life would be the “holocaust,” and God’s Love would be the Fire. She begged Him to consume her unceasingly, so that she would become a “martyr to Your Love, O my God.” She desired that the “waves of infinite tenderness” rejected by others would flow into her, and God’s Heart would be relieved of this Love “locked within.” Her great grace was to believe so confidently in His Love…the immensity and tenderness of It, and His “need” to find someone to receive it. But again, if we are to have this deep love relationship with Jesus, He will share with us His Passion..the greatest expression of His Love… but our suffering will have untold merit, because it will be so intimately united with His Own.

Therese spent the last 18 months of her life, enduring a horrendous trial of faith…she even wrote out the Creed in her own blood. In addition, she suffered immensely from the pains of tuberculosis which caused her unbearable agony, and the Prioress at the Carmel would permit no morphine or any pain medication recommended by the doctors.

She truly resembled her beloved Jesus in His experience of abandonment and torture on the Cross. She clung to Him in her darkness and pain and died making an act of love…”Oh, I love God, I love You!”

Thank you, Patricia!  I told you that this was so beautiful it would help others, and this is my attempt to share it.

There has just been a book published by a survivor of sexual abuse, Dawn Eden, that also gives beautiful insight into the wisdom of our beloved doctor of the church, St. Therese.  While trying to find an image for this post I stumbled on a review of her book that included the following beautiful and helpful excerpt from Chapter 4.  Reflecting on it gives me a glimpse of how St. Therese came to find joy and peace in the midst of suffering.

The Love that Transforms:Learning the true meaning of spiritual childhood with St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Most of what we know of St. Thérèse (1873–1897), a nun of the Carmelite convent at Lisieux, France, is from The Story of a Soul, a collection of autobiographical writings. In 1895, Thérèse began the work in obedience to an order given by the prioress of her community, Mother Agnes, who happened to be her real-life sister Pauline. Mother Agnes had enjoyed hearing Thérèse speak of her childhood memories and wanted to have a permanent record of them.

Thérèse, although only twenty-two, was already well advanced on the path to holiness at the time she began her autobiography. She saw her sister’s order as an opportunity to "begin to sing what I must sing eternally: ‘The Mercies of the Lord.’"

With those words, Thérèse shows us the proper role of memory. Memory is not to be feared; it is to be purified in the white heat of divine love. As divine love’s light enters into the wounds left by past sorrows, we come to realize how the divine mercy carried us even during the times of our lives when we felt abandoned by God.

That is why, in the opening pages of her autobiography, Thérèse stresses that she is thankful for the gift of remembrance: "God granted me the favor of opening my intelligence at an early age and of imprinting childhood recollections so deeply on my memory that it seems the things I’m about to recount happened only yesterday."

Her memories were inseparable from her gratitude for divine providence. All the things that had happened to her, whether pleasurable or painful at the time, were now visible to her only through the light of God’s loving plan for her life. This is a saint who, even while enduring the most intense physical sufferings on her deathbed, was able to say, “everything is a grace” and really mean it.
As she continues her story, it seems Thérèse stresses her gratitude partly to steel the reader for the many childhood sufferings she will recount. One could say, in a sense, that she sees her life as the story of a soul who went from suffering without God to suffering with God.

Of course, as Thérèse would be the first to say, God is never truly absent from us.However, we can will to deny him entrance into our heart. When we hold onto resentment that our own will is not being done, we become locked in a solitary prison of self-pity.

Thérèse herself experienced the interior pain of this prison. The key that freed her is what she wants to share with us: the realization that, to the degree that we can say “Not my will, but thy will be done,” suffering can become the foundation for a closer union with God. Thérèse spoke of this during her final illness: “I have suffered very much since I have been on earth, but, if in my childhood I suffered with sadness, it is no longer the way I suffer. It is with joy and peace."

Excerpted from My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints by Dawn Eden. Copyright 2012. Ave Maria Press Notre Dame, IN. All rights reserved.


  1. St there is my favorite saint. In fact, as a convert, she was my first saint that I had a devotion to. And I have received some of her roses. I will have to post about that sometime. Great article!

  2. Oops. Auto correct spelling got me! St. Therese is what I meant, of course!l

  3. Colleen, what a beautiful, comprehensive post on St. Therese! Thank you for making her better known..especially her Act of Oblation to Merciful Love. If anyone is interested in making this same Oblation, there is no preparation necessary, although consulting one's confessor or spiritual director would be a prudent thing.

    Also, this is a wonderful time to consider such an Offering to Jesus, as Therese herself was inspired on Trinity Sunday to make hers, and did so a few days later. There are many beautiful Feasts coming up which would be especially appropriate to do this.

    And Colleen, thank you for your kindness and graciousness in mentioning the articles about Therese on my blog.

    I know she will reward you with many roses (seen or unseen :) , for writing such a beautiful piece in her honor.