Thérèse of the Child Jesus: I Am Not Always Faithful, but I Never Lose Courage Tuesday, Oct 1 2013 

St.-ThereseIt pleases Jesus to lavish His gifts on certain souls in order to draw yet others to Himself; in His Mercy He humbles them inwardly and gently compels them to recognize their nothingness and His Almighty Power.

Now this sentiment of humility is like a kernel of grace which God hastens to develop against that blessed day, when, clothed with an imperishable beauty, they will be placed, without danger, on the banqueting-table of Paradise.

Dear little sister, sweet echo of my soul, Thérèse is far from the heights of fervour at this moment; but when I am in this state of spiritual dryness, unable to pray, or to practise virtue, I look for little opportunities, for the smallest trifles, to please my Jesus: a smile or a kind word, for instance, when I would wish to be silent, or to show that I am bored.

If no such occasion offer, I try at least to say over and over again that I love Him. This is not hard, and it keeps alive the fire in my heart. Even should the fire of love seem dead, I would still throw my tiny straws on the ashes, and I am confident it would light up again.

It is true I am not always faithful, but I never lose courage. I leave myself in the Arms of Our Lord. He teaches me to draw profit from everything, from the good and from the bad which He finds in me.

He teaches me to speculate in the Bank of Love, or rather it is He Who speculates for me, without telling me how He does it – that is His affair, not mine. I have but to surrender myself wholly to Him, to do so without reserve, without even the satisfaction of knowing what it is all bringing to me….

After all, I am not the prodigal child, and Jesus need not trouble about a feast for me, because I am always with Him. I have read in the Gospel that the Good Shepherd leaves the faithful ones of His flock in the desert to hasten after the lost sheep. This confidence touches me deeply.

You see He is sure of them. How could they stray away? They are the prisoners of Love. In like manner does the Beloved Shepherd of our souls deprive us of the sweets of His Presence, to give His consolations to sinners; or if He lead us to Mount Thabor it is but for one brief moment … the pasture land is nearly always in the valleys, “it is there that He takes His rest at midday” (Cant. 1:6).

Thérèse of the Child Jesus (1873-1897): Letters of Saint Thérèse to Her Sister Celine, 16.

Thérèse of the Child Jesus: We Possess the Truth, for Our Beloved Dwells in Our Hearts Sunday, Mar 3 2013 

St.-Therese“I went down into the garden of nut-trees to see the fruits of the valleys, and to look if the vineyard has flourished, and the pomegranates were in bud. I know longer knew where I was: my soul was troubled because of the chariots of Aminadab” (Canticle of Canticles 6:10-11).

There is the true picture of our souls. Often we go down into the fertile valleys where our heart loves to find its nourishment.

And the vast fields of Holy Scripture, which have so often opened to yield us richest treasures, now seem but an arid and waterless waste.

We no longer even know where we stand. In place of peace and light, all is sorrow and darkness.

But, like the Spouse in the Canticles, we know the cause of this trial: “My soul was troubled because of the chariots of Aminadab.”

We are not as yet in our true country, and as gold is tried in the fire so must our souls be purified by temptation. We sometimes think we are abandoned.

Alas! The chariots – that is to say, the idle clamours which beset and disturb us – are they within the soul or without?

We cannot tell, but Jesus knows; He sees all our grief, and in the night, on a sudden, His Voice is heard: “Return, return, O Sulamites: return, return, that we may behold thee.

[…] Jesus calls us that He may look upon us at leisure. He wills to see us; He comes, and with Him come the other two Persons of the Adorable Trinity to take possession of our soul.

Our Lord had promised this, when, with unspeakable tenderness, He had said of old: “If anyone love Me he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make Our abode with him.”

To keep the word of Jesus, then, is the one condition of our happiness, the proof of our love for Him; and this word seems to me to be His very Self, for He calls Himself the Uncreated Word of the Father.

In the Gospel of St. John He makes the sublime prayer: “Sanctify them by Thy word, Thy word is truth.” And in another passage Jesus teaches us that He is “the Way and the Truth and the Life.”

We know, then, what is this word which must be kept; we cannot say, like Pilate: What is truth?” We possess the Truth, for our Beloved dwells in our hearts.

Often this Beloved is to us a bundle of myrrh. We share the chalice of His sufferings; but how sweet it will be to us one day to hear these gentle words:

You are they who have continued with Me in My temptations, and I dispose to you, as My Father hath disposed to Me, a kingdom.”

Thérèse of the Child Jesus (1873-1897): Letters of Saint Thérèse to Her Sister Celine, 18.

Thérèse of the Child Jesus: It is Happiness to Bear Our Crosses, and to Feel Our Weakness in Doing So Monday, Oct 1 2012 

St.-ThereseMy dear little Céline – Jesus offers you the cross, a very heavy cross, and you are afraid of not being able to carry it without giving way.

Why? Our Beloved Himself fell three times on the way to Calvary, and why should we not imitate our Spouse?

What a favour from Jesus, and how He must love us to send us so great a sorrow!

Eternity itself will not be long enough to bless Him for it.

He heaps his favours upon us upon the greatest Saints.

What, then, are His loving designs for our souls?

That is a secret which will only be revealed to us in our Heavenly Home, on the day when “the Lord shall wipe away all our tears” (Matt.5:48).

Now we have nothing more to hope for on earth – “the cool evenings are passed” – for us suffering alone remains!

Ours is an enviable lot, and the Seraphim in Heaven are jealous of our happiness.

The other day I came across this striking passage: “To be resigned and to be united to the Will of God are not the same; there is the same difference between them as that which exists between union and unity; in union there are still two, in unity there is but one.”

Yes, let us be one with God even in this life; and for this we should be more than resigned, we should embrace the Cross with joy.

[…] Jesus is “a Spouse of blood” (Exodus 4:25). He wishes for Himself all the blood of our hearts.

You are right – it costs us dear to give Him what He asks. But what a joy that it does cost!

It is happiness to bear our crosses, and to feel our weakness in doing so.

Céline, far from complaining to Our Lord of this cross which He sends us, I cannot fathom the Infinite Love which has led Him to treat us in this way.

Our dear Father must indeed be loved by God to have so much suffering given to him.

It is a delight for us to be humbled with him. I know that by humiliation alone can Saints be made, and I also know that our trial is a mine of gold for us to turn to account.

I, who am but a little grain of sand, wish to set to work, though I have neither courage nor strength.

Now this very want of power will make my task easier, for I wish to work for love. Our martyrdom is beginning …

Let us go forth to suffer together, dear sister, and let us offer our sufferings to Jesus for the salvation of souls.

Thérèse of the Child Jesus (1873-1897): Letters of Saint Thérèse to Her Sister Celine, 3 & 4.

Thérèse of the Child Jesus: To Know Him as He Knows Himself, and to Become Ourselves Divine Tuesday, Jun 26 2012 

St.-ThereseYou are right – life is often burdensome and bitter.

It is painful to begin a day of toil, especially when Jesus hides Himself from our love.

What is this sweet Friend about?

Does He not see our anguish and the burden that weighs us down?

Why does He not come and comfort us?

Be not afraid…. He is here at hand. He is watching, and it is He who begs from us this pain, these tears….

He needs them for souls, for our souls, and He longs to give us a magnificent reward.

I assure you that it costs Him dear to fill us with bitterness, but He knows that it is the only means of preparing us to know Him as He knows Himself, and to become ourselves Divine!

Our soul is indeed great and our destiny glorious. Let us lift ourselves above all things that pass, and hold ourselves far from the earth!

Up above, the air is so pure … Jesus may hide Himself, but we know that He is there.

My dearest sister, do not let your weakness make you unhappy.

When, in the morning, we feel no courage or strength for the practice of virtue, it is really a grace: it is the time to “lay the axe to the root of the tree” (Matt. 3:10), relying upon Jesus alone.

If we fall, an act of love will set all right, and Jesus smiles.

He helps us without seeming to do so; and the tears which sinners cause Him to shed are wiped away by our poor weak love.

Love can do all things. The most impossible tasks seem to it easy and sweet.

You know well that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, as at the love with which we do them.

What, then, have we to fear? You wish to become a Saint, and you ask me if this is not attempting too much.

Céline, I will not tell you to aim at the seraphic holiness of the most privileged souls, but rather to be “perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Apoc. 21:4).

You see that your dream – that our dreams and our desires – are not fancies, since Jesus Himself has laid their realisation upon us as a commandment.

Thérèse of the Child Jesus (1873-1897): Letters of Saint Thérèse to Her Sister Celine, 1 & 2.

John Paul II: Trinitarian Doctrine of St Thérèse Friday, Nov 6 2009 

Even though Thérèse does not have a true and proper doctrinal corpus, nevertheless a particular radiance of doctrine shines forth from her writings which, as if by a charism of the Holy Spirit, grasp the very heart of the message of Revelation in a fresh and original vision, presenting a teaching of eminent quality.

The core of her message is actually the mystery itself of God-Love, of the Triune God, infinitely perfect in himself.

If genuine Christian spiritual experience should conform to the revealed truths in which God communicates himself and the mystery of his will (cf. Dei Verbum, n. 2), it must be said that Thérèse experienced divine revelation, going so far as to contemplate the fundamental truths of our faith united in the mystery of Trinitarian life.

At the summit, as the source and goal, is the merciful love of the three Divine Persons, as she expresses it, especially in her Act of Oblation to Merciful Love.

At the root, on the subject’s part, is the experience of being the Father’s adoptive children in Jesus; this is the most authentic meaning of spiritual childhood, that is, the experience of divine filiation, under the movement of the Holy Spirit.

At the root again, and standing before us, is our neighbour, others, for whose salvation we must collaborate with and in Jesus, with the same merciful love as his.

Through spiritual childhood one experiences that everything comes from God, returns to him and abides in him, for the salvation of all, in a mystery of merciful love. Such is the doctrinal message taught and lived by this Saint.

John Paul II (1920-2005): Divini Amoris Scientia, 8 (on the declaration of St Thérèse of the Child Jesus [1873-1897] as a Doctor of the Church).

Thérèse of the Child Jesus: Suffer…Offer…Raise… Tuesday, Nov 3 2009 

St.-ThereseIn the time of the law of fear, before the coming of Our Lord, the prophet Isaias, speaking in the name of the King of Heaven, could say: “Can a mother forget her child? And if she could forget, yet will not I forget thee” [Isa. 49;15]. What ecstasy in that promise!

Ah! And we who live under the law of love, how can we fail to pout to profit the loving advances our Spouse makes to us? How can we fear One “who lets himself be held by the hair of our neck?” [Cant. 4:9].

So we must learn to hold Him prisoner, this God who makes Himself a mendicant for our love. In telling us that a hair can work so great a marvel, He is showing that the smallest actions done for us are the actions which win His heart.

Ah! If we had to do great things, how much to be pitied we should be!… But how fortunate we are, since Jesus lets Himself be held by the smallest!…

You have no lack of small sacrifices, my dear Léonie, is not your life made up of them? I rejoice to see you with such a treasure before you, especially when I realise that you know how to put it to profit, not only for yourself but even more for souls.

It is so sweet a thing to aid Jesus by our slight sacrifices, to aid Him to save the souls He has redeemed at the price of His blood, souls which await only our help not to fall into the abyss.

It seems to me that if our sacrifices are hairs to hold Jesus prisoner, so are our joys; to make them so, it is enough that we are not concentrated in a selfish happiness but that we offer our Spouse the small joys He sows in life’s path to win our souls and raise them to Him.

Thérèse of the Child Jesus (1873-1897): Collected Letters of St. Thérèse of Lisieux translated by F.J. Sheed (London: Sheed & Ward, 1972), pp. 241-2.