by Jean M. Heimann, M.S. Theology
October 1st is the feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, a saint who is very dear to my heart. Over the years, she has been a close friend and a powerful intercessor for me.
Let me share a little about one of my favorite saints with you and why she is so special to me.
I first learned about St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus when I was 15 years old, a sophomore in a Catholic high school. In English class, her autobiography, Story of a Soul, was one of the options on our required reading list. As I read her love for Jesus and learned of her "Little Way", I couldn't help but admire and desire to emulate this beautiful saint, who expressed so much joy in the midst of suffering. I cheered when this young woman who was my age when she acted with such strong faith and determination and did the forbidden, speaking out when she was told to remain silent, pleading with the Pope to let her enter Carmel. I was fascinated with the poetic way she expressed herself (being a poet myself), her love for flowers, her deep insights into the faith, her strong love for God and for others, and the humor she interjected into her personal anecdotes.
When I was preparing for my Oblature with the Community of St. John several years ago and going through a dark night of the senses, I entered the refectory at the monastery and was met by a very large and reassuring portrait of St. Therese. I later learned that she is one of the secondary patrons of the Community, which was founded by Fr. Philippe, a Dominican from France.As I was losing my own "French - American" family at this time (my parents to their eternal reward), St. Therese was helping me surrender my loss and was leading me to another family, in many ways similar to my own. It was the family of St. John, whose main charism is that of love.
Through her intercession, St. Therese has worked many mini miracles for me, as well as for others to whom I have entrusted to her. One of these miracles involved a dear friend, Therese, from my Community, who was miraculously healed of a cancerous tumor through the intercession of St.Thérèse. Her healing is described in detail in my short story, "Joy in the Midst of Suffering," which is contained in Elizabeth Ficocelli's anthology, Shower of Heavenly Roses.
St. Therese was the subject of my Master's thesis in theology and one of my main intercessors throughout graduate school. She is the one who encouraged me when things got tough. Thank you, dear St. Therese!
I want to tell you what it is a special privilege to have someone in Heaven who cares so much about our most intimate needs – someone who can speak to us so powerfully by being an example of love through her missionary spirit – the spirit of love which profoundly impacted the world from her cloistered monastery walls.
What is her secret? Therese is known for her "Little Way." In her search for sanctity, she realized that it was not necessary to accomplish heroic acts, or "great deeds", in order to attain holiness and to express her love of God. It is her humble and simple, yet profound way of loving God through small acts of love and sacrifice offered up to Him.
She tells us: "Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love."
It is a formula that any one of us can follow. It is the formula that Blessed Teresa of Calcutta followed and just look how God worked in her to bring others to Him.
© Jean M. Heimann, September 2013.
Patron: florists; foreign missions; missionaries; pilots; against tuberculosis; AIDS sufferers; illness; loss of parents; Australia; France; Russia; Diocese of Fairbanks, Alaska; Diocese of Fresno, California; Diocese of Juneau, Alaska; Diocese of Pueblo, Colorado.
Symbols: roses; discalced Carmelite nun holding roses; Carmelite nun with roses at her feet; Carmelite nun holding images of the Child Jesus and Holy Face of Jesus; Carmelite nun holding a crucifix and roses; book.
Miraculous Invocation to St.Thérèse of the Child Jesus
O Glorious St. Thérèse, whom Almighty God has raised up to aid and inspire the human family, I implore your Miraculous Intercession. You are so powerful in obtaining every need of body and spirit from the Heart of God. Holy Mother Church proclaims you "Prodigy of Miracles... the Greatest Saint of Modern Times." Now I fervently beseech you to answer my petition (mention here) and to carry out your promises of spending Heaven doing good upon earth... of letting fall from Heaven a Shower of Roses. Little Flower, give me your childlike faith, to see the Face of God in the people and experiences of my life, and to love God with full confidence. St. Thérèse, my Carmelite Sister, I will fulfill your plea "to be made known everywhere" and I will continue to lead others to Jesus through you. Amen.
My favorite quotes from St. Therese:
“Time is nothing in Your eyes, and a single day is like a thousand years. You can, then, in one instant, prepare me to appear before You."
“Oh! How sweet is the way of Love! How I want to apply myself to doing the will of God always with the greatest self-surrender!”
“Jesus does not demand great actions from us but simply surrender and gratitude…See, then, all that Jesus lays claim to from us; He has no need of our works but only of our love.”
“I thank You, O my God for all the graces You have granted me, especially the grace of making me pass through the crucible of suffering. It is with joy I shall contemplate You on my the Last Day, carrying the scepter of Your cross.”
“For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and love, embracing both trial and joy.”
“Our Lord needs from us neither great deeds nor profound thoughts. Neither intelligence nor talents. He cherishes simplicity.”
“How happy I am to see myself imperfect and be in need of God’s mercy.”
“We can never have too much confidence in the good God who is so powerful and so merciful. We obtain from Him as much as we hope for.”
“Prayer is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trial as well as joy.”
“Oh my God, You have surpassed all my expectations.”
Oh! no, you will see...it will be like a shower of roses. After my death, you will go to the mail box, and you will find many consolations.
~ Saint Thérèse on June 9, 1897 after Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart told her we would be very sorry after she died.
An exhibit on the life and inner flame of St. Therese of Lisieux
Pope explains what St. Therese of Lisieux can teach Christians about spirituality
St. Thérèse of Lisieux speaks of St. Cecilia
Pope Benedict: St. Therese of Lisieux and the Little Way