SAINT TERESA OF LISIEUX [1873-1897]
FEAST: 1 OCTOBER
Sometimes, when I read spiritual treatises my poor little mind soon grows weary, I close the learned book, which leaves my head splitting and my heart parched, and I take the Holy Scripture. Then all seems luminous, a single word opens up infinite horizons to my soul I see that it is enough to realize ones nothingness, and give oneself wholly, like a child, into the arms of the good God I rejoiced to little because only children, and those who are like them, will be admitted to the heavenly banquet. (From a letter of St. Teresa of Lisieux)
AMONG the most beloved saints of all time is Teresa (Thérèse) of Lisieux, often called The Little Flower. Born in Alençon, France, to parents whose holiness is now being considered worthy of canonization, Teresa was the youngest daughter, adored by every one in the family, including her four sisters who all became nuns.
The death of the mother of Teresa when she was only four years old was traumatic. She clung to her older sisters and women relatives. When her favorite sister entered the Carmelite Order, Teresa had what some would term a nervous breakdown. Her illness was overcome by a vision of the infant Jesus.
This supernatural experience imprinted on the soul of the girl a great devotion to the Holy Child Jesus and a spirituality of childlike faith. On a pilgrimage to Rome, although primed to be respectful and quiet, Teresa burst forth with pleas to the pope to give her permission to enter Carmel early at age fifteen. Finally, a little later, she was admitted. Although little Teresa was much loved by the Sisters, her Carmelite experience was filled with interior trials and aridity. The fact that her beloved father was paralyzed with stroke and endured a mental breakdown as well was further cause for heroic sufferings. She would have liked to leave her enclosure to comfort him in his agony, but since she was a cloistered nun, it was not allowed in those days.
So mature was the soul of this young girl, she was made novice mistress in her early twenties. What she taught the other nuns and later the world through her autobiographical account was how to offer up minute annoyances and difficulties. She surrendered these to Christ and to intercession for the Church, especially for missionary priests. She claimed this was a little way that small souls without the stamina of a St. Teresa of Avila and other prophetic saints could use to become holy and to please Jesus.
After a most painful death at age twenty-four, the account of her life sent out first only to other Carmelites and later published caused her to be loved and admired all over the world. What is more, as she had promised, showers of roses, in the form of supernatural phenomena and special graces, seemed proof indeed that the infant Jesus loved little Teresa abundantly and wished to affirm by miracles the efficacy of her little way. Because of the profusion of roses that are sent as a sign to those who ask for the prayers of St. Teresa, she is considered the patroness of flower-vendors.
For your life. When reading the dramatic lives of some saints, we may think that our circumstances and talents are so different that we can never imitate these heroines. St. Teresa of Lisieux teaches us that we can be united with God by offering Him each moment of our daily lives. That simple offering can be a means to the holiness for which we long.
Short Prayer: Heavenly Father, You promised Your Kingdom to the little ones and the humble of heart. Give us grace to walk confidently in the way of Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus, so that we may see Your eternal glory. Amen.
Note: The text is taken from Ronda De Sola Chervin, Treasury of Women Saints, Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines: St. Pauls, 1994, pages 16-17.
Daily Marriage Tip for October 1, 2012:
October is Respect Life Month. We are reminded to value all human life and creation, especially the unborn, the poor and the vulnerable. Talk with your spouse and consider making a donation of goods, time or money to a group that helps those in need.