Thursday, October 1, 2009

Today is Saint Thérèse of Lisieux's Feast Day

Today's the feast day of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, AKA Thérèse of the Child Jesus, "the little flower".

Therese Martin was born January 2, 1873, in Alencon, France. She was the youngest of nine children, five of whom lived to be adults. This was 'the good old days' - but living today isn't risk-free either. Two of my six children didn't make it to birth, and we just about lost their mother when the youngest died. But that's getting off-topic.

Therese Martin didn't 'make headlines' in her career as a Carmelite nun - although she did manage to get accepted at an unusually young age. It wasn't until after her death that it became clear that this undersized French nun was one of God's 'special forces.' (August 26, 2009 - I'll get back to that 'dark night of the soul' thing and "the little flower" later)
"...Therese of the Child Jesus or 'The Little Flower' soon came to mean a great deal to numberless people; she had shown them the way of perfection in the small things of every day...."
(Lives of Saints)
It didn't take her fellow-Carmelites long to realize that they had someone a bit off the norm in their young novitiate.
"...'From her entrance she astonished the community by her bearing, which was marked by a certain majesty that one would not expect in a child of fifteen.' So testified her novice mistress at the time of Therese's beatification. During her novitiate Father Pichon, a Jesuit, gave a retreat, and he also testified to Therese's piety. 'It was easy to direct that child. The Holy Spirit was leading her and I do not think that I ever had, either then or later, to warn her against illusions.... What struck me during the retreat were the spiritual trials through which God wished her to pass.'..."
("Lives of Saints")
Saint Thérèse of Lisieu was a slight woman, and the Carmelite convent she lived in got cold in the winter. On her death-bed she confessed that dealing with winter's cold was the physical ordeal she felt the most: which is impressive, since she also had tuberculosis.

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux didn't, it seems, have much of a "dark night of the soul" - a time of spiritual dryness experienced by some saints. And by some people who haven't been officially recognized as saints.

On the other hand, by the time she was dying, "the little flower" was said:
"...'I have reached the point of not being able to suffer any more, because all suffering is sweet to me.'..."
("Lives of the Saints")
"Suffering is sweet"?! I know: That sounds crazy. Part of the problem in understanding - or explaining - saints is that they're focused on God. Not on whatever's 'now and wow' in the culture.

Writing about another nun named Therese (Teresa, anyway - a variation, I believe, on the name), I discussed the difficulty people immersed in contemporary culture can have, understanding lives of the saints. I think that what's experienced by many saints can be compared to the sort of training given to soldiers in special forces. Not everybody's cut out for it.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta was - and I suppose is - thought to be a fraud and/or an atheist in some circles, because she went through a possibly-record-length dark night of the soul. (August 26, 2009)

From the looks of it, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux had the same sort of training: but being the sort of saint she is, approached it in a different way. If there was only one kind of saint, I suppose we could have gotten along with just one of them.

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux found something that's been around since the beginning of the Church, and helped the rest of us see it.
"...She discovered the little way of spiritual childhood and taught it to the novices entrusted to her care...."
("The Life of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux")
It's the Matthew 18:2-4 thing: "...Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Most Christians have heard that verse. Saint Thérèse lived it: and taught others how to live it.
"...'My mission - to make God loved - will begin after my death,' she said. 'I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses.' ... In 1997, Pope John Paul II declared St. Therese a Doctor of the Church - the only Doctor of his pontificate - in tribute to the powerful way her spirituality has influenced people all over the world...."
("St. Therese, 'the little flower' ")
As far as I can see, "the little way" isn't a matter of make-believing that we're less than what we are. It's recognizing that we're not more than what we are - and that God doesn't expect us to do anything more than what we can.
"...The Church was to recognize a profound and valuable teaching in 'the little way'- connoting a realistic awareness of one's limitations, and the wholehearted giving of what one has, however small the gift...."
("Lives of the Saints")
By now, it's October 1, 2009: the feast day of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.
"..."What matters in life," she wrote, "is not great deeds, but great love." Therese lived and taught a spirituality of attending to everyone and everything well and with love. She believed that just as a child becomes enamored with what is before her, we should also have a childlike focus and totally attentive love. Therese's spirituality is of doing the ordinary, with extraordinary love...."
("St. Therese, 'the little flower' ")
A tip of the hat to nerdwriter, on Twitter, for reminding me of this feast day.

No comments:

Like it? Pin it, Plus it, - - -

Pinterest: My Stuff, and More


Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store

Popular Posts

Label Cloud

1277 abortion ADD ADHD-Inattentive Adoration Chapel Advent Afghanistan Africa America Amoris Laetitia angels animals annulment Annunciation anti-catholicism Antichrist apocalyptic ideas apparitions archaeology architecture Arianism art Asperger syndrome assumptions asteroid astronomy Australia authority balance and moderation baptism being Catholic beliefs bias Bible Bible and Catechism bioethics biology blogs brain Brazil business Canada capital punishment Caritas in Veritate Catechism Catholic Church Catholic counter-culture Catholicism change happens charisms charity Chile China Christianity Christmas citizenship climate change climatology cloning comets common good common sense Communion community compassion confirmation conscience conversion Corpus Christi cosmology creation credibility crime crucifix Crucifixion Cuba culture dance dark night of the soul death depression designer babies despair detachment devotion discipline disease diversity divination Divine Mercy divorce Docetism domestic church dualism duty Easter economics education elections emotions England entertainment environmental issues Epiphany Establishment Clause ethics ethnicity Eucharist eugenics Europe evangelizing evolution exobiology exoplanets exorcism extremophiles faith faith and works family Father's Day Faust Faustus fear of the Lord fiction Final Judgment First Amendment forgiveness Fortnight For Freedom free will freedom fun genetics genocide geoengineering geology getting a grip global Gnosticism God God's will good judgment government gratitude great commission guest post guilt Haiti Halloween happiness hate health Heaven Hell HHS hierarchy history holidays Holy Family Holy See Holy Spirit holy water home schooling hope humility humor hypocrisy idolatry image of God images Immaculate Conception immigrants in the news Incarnation Independence Day India information technology Internet Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Japan Jesus John Paul II joy just war justice Kansas Kenya Knights of Columbus knowledge Korea language Last Judgment last things law learning Lent Lenten Chaplet life issues love magi magic Magisterium Manichaeism marriage martyrs Mary Mass materialism media medicine meditation Memorial Day mercy meteor meteorology Mexico Minnesota miracles Missouri moderation modesty Monophysitism Mother Teresa of Calcutta Mother's Day movies music Muslims myth natural law neighbor Nestorianism New Year's Eve New Zealand news Nietzsche obedience Oceania organization original sin paleontology parish Parousia penance penitence Pentecost Philippines physical disability physics pilgrimage politics Pope Pope in Germany 2011 population growth positive law poverty prayer predestination presumption pride priests prophets prostitution Providence Purgatory purpose quantum entanglement quotes reason redemption reflections relics religion religious freedom repentance Resurrection robots Roman Missal Third Edition rosaries rules sacramentals Sacraments Saints salvation schools science secondary causes SETI sex shrines sin slavery social justice solar planets soul South Sudan space aliens space exploration Spain spirituality stem cell research stereotypes stewardship stories storm Sudan suicide Sunday obligation superstition symbols technology temptation terraforming the establishment the human condition tolerance Tradition traffic Transfiguration Transubstantiation travel Trinity trust truth uncertainty United Kingdom universal destination of goods vacation Vatican Vatican II veneration vengeance Veterans Day videos virtue vlog vocations voting war warp drive theory wealth weather wisdom within reason work worship writing

Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.