Who was St. Therese of Lisieux?
St. Therese of Lisieux, Therese Martin, was born at Alencon, France, on 2 January 1873.
What I am most drawn to about St. Therese is her courage, tenacity, and her “Little Way.” She died at the young age of 24, from tuberculosis. Her manuscripts were published after her death and she would later be canonized as a Doctor of the Church, by Blessed John Paul II.
There is a wealth of literature written about St. Therese and her “Little Way” remains today, an inspiration on the spiritual journey and testimony to all those who suffer and undergo the trials of this life.
When we undergo trials we often ask where is God in all this?
Why is this happening to me?
What is the meaning of suffering?
How can I pray in times of trial?
Everybody Has a Story
Everybody, every soul – has a story. Our stories shape our way of thinking, being, and most importantly our relationship with God. Historically, storytelling helped to pass on important information, skills, insights, and in the Christian tradition the story of the Life of Christ.
Family Story-Telling Traditions
I am sure you can recall your Mother or your Father telling you a story that you have never forgotten? A funny story, an important story about your family heritage, a story of a difficulty overcome, a struggle resolved or a tragedy endured. Perhaps you read a story that greatly impacted you, a story that moved you and inspired you…
The Story of a Soul
One of my favorite stories and spiritual writings is The Story of a Soul, written by Father John Clarke. This is the autobiography of St. Therese’s life, written just before her death. It is translated from the original manuscripts written by St. Therese.
Spiritual Insights from The Story of a Soul.
The “Little Way”
Therese describes her spirituality as her “Little Way.”
Father Clarke notes that when St. Therese explains her “Little Way” she uses texts from the Old Testament. We will find themes in both the Old and New Testament of spiritual childhood and also that of spiritual maturity. I think it is important to highlight both of these themes, because St. Therese’s “Little Way” is not a sentimental notion in which one reverts to a childlike state of being. I see in her writings a deep sense of the presence of God, a humble faith, and courage to trust God through her “Little Way.“
“Whoever is a little one, let him come to me” Proverbs 9:4
What does “become like little children” mean?
A little child wants to learn and seeks ways to imitate his parents. Little children are full of joy, simplicity, and desire to learn new things. Children take small steps when they are learning to walk – it’s a process and skill that takes time to master. Babes drink milk before solid food – there’s a progression and a certain procession…
As little children we had that childlike trust in our parents. We completely depended on them for our food, water, and most of all for nurturing us – for love…
This spiritual childhood, then, must not merely focus on childlike qualities but also on trust and dependence in God’s grace. God’s grace is a free and generous gift and our response, our cooperation so to speak, is at the heart of her “Little Way” …..there is a mutual exchange of love. If “everything is grace” as Therese taught, then may God show us endless mercy – because I for one have much work to do!
It’s an arduous journey for sure – but maybe we can pray to St. Therese who wrote about singing eternally of the … “The Mercies of the Lord.”
Therese’s “Little Way” shines like a beacon of hope in our modern world. It does not in any way detract from the gospel message but shows us with great humility that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
A Shower of Roses
I do not intend to delve into the biography of St.Therese but merely share my experience of St.Therese and how she interceded for me in my own life.
There are some great resources on the internet for further reading about St. Therese and Carmelite spirituality. I will add some book references as I update this page. Here are just a few links to pages that I personally have enjoyed visiting.
If you would like me to add your website or link for consideration please email or leave a comment.