• 01 Oct 20

Oct 1 - “St. Thérèse of Lisieux” © icon by Br. Robert Lentz, OFM. Happy Feast Day St. Thérèse!

Until recent times it was difficult to find a Catholic Church without a statue of Thérèse of Lisieux. While statues seem less in vogue since Vatican II, this saint remains one of the most popular in the Roman Church. On one level she accomplished next-to-nothing in her brief life. When she died of tuberculosis at the age of 24, the prioress of her monastery wondered what she could possibly write in the obituary that would be sent to the other Carmelite monasteries. On a deeper level, Thérèse helped revolutionize modern Christian concepts of holiness.

She came from a bourgeois family and was a spoiled child. When two of her older sisters entered the local Carmelite monastery, she made up her mind to follow them. She received special permission to enter monastic life when she was only 15. Her remaining nine years were spent washing laundry, sweeping corridors and struggling to stay awake during meditation. After developing tuberculosis, she was appointed mistress of novices. The superior of the monastery also ordered her to write an account of her life, which has become one of the most widely read books on spirituality in modern times.

Thérèse described her vocation as simply LOVING -- loving God and the world. Whereas many Christians had often suspected that being holy meant only something dramatic in the past -- being eaten by lions, sitting for fifty years on top of a pillar, whipping oneself daily -- Thérèse believed that doing one’s ordinary work was quite enough, provided all was done with love. She strove in every way to identify herself with the people of her time. On a deeper plane this sharing was manifested in spiritual suffering, when she lost all sense of God’s presence in her life during her last few years. She continued to embrace everything with generous love, including her fatal illness, in spite of the spiritual aridity that she felt. This darkness and aridity finally lifted in her last few minutes, and she died in ecstasy. She is depicted with roses as a symbol of the prayers she promised after her death.