Today, October 1st, is the feast day of St. Therese of Lisieux, who is one of most celebrated Catholic Saints of all time! Catholics honor saints because of the virtuous and selfless ways that they consistently lived their lives. We don’t worship them, but we do ask them to pray for us and help us along on our faith journey. Saints are our good friends…they are “best friends” with God, so they know God’s heart better than anyone!
St. Therese was born in 1873 with the name Marie-Francoise Therese Martin, and was the 9th and youngest child of Louis Martin, watchmaker, and Azelie-Marie Guerin, lacemaker. After her mother’s death from breast cancer when Therese was 4 years old, the family moved to Lisieux, France. At the age of 15, Therese entered the Carmelite order to become a religious sister. She died at the age of 24 from tuberculosis. She was canonized in 1925 and was named a doctor of the Church in 1997. She is one of three women doctors of the Church, along with St. Terese of Avila and St. Catherine of Sienna. She is known as St. Therese the Little Flower or St. Therese of the Child Jesus.
I am currently re-reading her autobiography titled, The Story of a Soul. I have been so inspired by her wisdom and how she always tried to have trust and complete self-surrender to God in both the small and big things in her life. She wanted to be known as the “little flower” of Jesus, a humble and simple follower, who always sought out the warm rays of God’s love in every moment, through self-sacrifice and giving to others. She used visual imagery so beautifully for describing the love of God. She describes how in her mind she would present to Jesus a beautiful flower for every good deed that she performed….and then at the end of the day she would have the biggest and most beautiful bouquet to present to Our Lord! That, to me, is a very tangible and accessible way to try to be closer to the heart of God! I love some of her descriptions of “Jesus’ garden of souls”,
“I understood how all the flowers He has created are beautiful, how the splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the Lily do not take away the perfume of the little violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose her springtime beauty, and the fields would no longer be decked out with wild little flowers……..Perfection consists in doing His will, in being what He wills us to be……Just as the sun shines simultaneously on the tall cedars and on each flower as though it were alone on the earth, so Our Lord is occupied particularly with each soul as though there were no others like it. And just as in nature all the seasons are arranged in such a way as to make the humblest daisy bloom on a set day, in the same way, everything works out for the good of each soul.”
I want to share an excerpt from a poem written by St. Therese, titled “The Little Flower’s Prayer to Mary” . I had recited a line in this poem during a very heart wrenching moment this past May, just before praying the rosary with my rosary group friends while standing around the bedside of our friend Angie Hegele, who was very courageously passing away from breast cancer. Angie had a strong love and devotion to Our Blessed Mother, as well as to St. Therese, and I have no doubt that she is with them both now!
in this harsh exile,
I want to live always with you
and follow you every day.
I am enraptured by the contemplation of you
and I discover the depths of the love of your Heart.
All my fears vanish under your Motherly gaze,
which teaches me to weep and rejoice!
Like St. Therese, may we learn to blossom where God has put us and realize that “Love is repaid by love alone!”