St. Thérèse of Lisieux
" THE GREATEST SAINT OF OUR TIMES "
St. Thérèse entered the cloistered French Carmelite convent at 15 years old. Her one trip prior to entering was with her father and sister on a 2-week pilgrimage. She lived in a space about the size a few city blocks until she died at 24 years old of tuberculosis.
Yet she is known as the “greatest saint of modern times” (Pope Piux X). She is one of the four female Doctors of the Church. She is the principal patroness of all missions and missionaries. Over 900 books have been written about her life and spirituality, due to her popularity to people of all
nations and cultures.
Date of Birth:
January 2, 1873
Date of Death:
September 30, 1897
Entrance into Carmel:
April 9, 1888
May 17, 1925
Evangelical Spiritual Childhood
The Congregation of Mary, Queen have her as our guide for Evangelical Spiritual Childhood.
The Little Way
“The Little Way” describes St. Thérèse’s deep spirituality. It is a total trust in God like a child trusts his father or like our Beloved Child Jesus trusting His Father. St. Thérèse believed this to be the easiest and fastest way to heaven. She called it her “elevator” to heaven. She believed it to be a way for all people, ordinary and imperfect, to get to heaven. Her inspiration came from scripture: “Whoever is LITTLE ONE, let him come to me!” (Proverbs 9:4)
It is better described in her own words:
“The elevator which must raise me to heaven is Your arms, O Jesus! And for this I had no need to grow up, but rather I had to remain little and become this more and more.” (SS, 207-8)
“It is to recognize our nothingness, to expect everything from God as a little child expects everything from its father… I’ve always remained little, therefore, having no other occupation but to gather flowers, the flowers of love and sacrifice and of offering them to God in order to please Him.” (St. Thérèse of Lisieux: Last Conversations, 135)
Transfer of Suffering into Love
St. Thérèse is known for her offering of sufferings and struggles for love especially to save souls. She learned to see suffering as a grace in which she can be closer to God, to suffer as He suffered. She went even further by offering herself up for His Love.
In her own words:
“To offer oneself as a victim to Divine Love is not to offer oneself to sweetness and to consolation
but to every bitterness, for love lives only by sacrifice. And the more a soul wills to be surrendered
to Love, the more must she be surrendered to sacrifice” (SS)
“Jesus does not ask for great actions but only abandonment and gratitude… Offer to God
sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. See, then, all that Jesus is asking from us. He has no need
of our works but only of our love.” (SS, 187-189)
SS Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux. 3rd edition. Trans John Clarke, OCD. Washington, DC.: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1996.