Thursday, April 14, 2005

St. Therese of Liseux

St. Therese of Liseux

St. Therese, also known as St. Therese of the Child Jesus, or the Little Flower, was born in France in 1873. She joined the Carmelite sisters of Lisieux in 1889 when she was only 15. She proclaimed that her vocation was love. She had a burning love for Jesus and a missionary zeal which she exercised, not by travelling, but by her constant prayers. Her autobiography, "Story of a Soul," is a spiritual classic that has led countless souls to love Jesus more deeply.

Her motto was "Love is repaid by love alone." She lived out Jesus' words that we must become like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven. She was simple, humble, trusting, prayerful and willing to suffer with Jesus through her health problems. She died at the young age of 24 on September 30, 1897. Her feast day is celebrated on October 1st.

St. Therese teaches us to love God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength. She also teaches us that we can grow in holiness through the ordinary things that we do each day, if we do them with love and united with Jesus. She also wrote poetry, prayers and plays to glorify God. She had a very special love and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus.

She loved to meditate on the Our Father, taking comfort in the wonderful truth that God is our tender Father who loves us so much. She discovered that she could save souls through the cross, by uniting her sufferings with Christ's sufferings for souls. She was truly a contemplative soul, rising above passing things to dwell in spirit with Christ.

She taught that it was not important what position we hold in this life; what was important was the way that we occupy the place we have been given by God. She believed that Jesus directs even the smallest events in our lives and we are instruments of God, who guides us and invites us to be led by him.

For her the only true and lasting glory was everlasting glory. To receive this glory we need not strive to appear spectacular to others, but only humble ourselves before God (cf. Lk 14:11). She taught that God is not so much concerned with the length of our lives, but the love that we have. "He looks only at love," she wrote.

St. Therese is truly our beloved sister in Jesus and she will help us to grow in love of God and others if we ask her to pray for us. She has been called "the greatest saint of modern times" by Pope Pius X (1903-1914). This is the wonderful truth of the communion of saints: we are spiritually united with the saints in heaven and can benefit from their prayers, example and writings. St. Therese of Liseux, pray for us.

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