Saturday, October 20, 2007

For Writing Class this Week

St. Therese of the Child Jesus

In 1873 in Liseux France, Louis and Zelie Martin gave birth to a ninth child and named her Mary Therese. When Therese was only four, her mother died. Choosing Pauline as her "little mother" after her own mother's death, Therese became very close to her older sister. When Pauline joined the cloistered Carmelite order, Therese was understandably devastated, and soon fell ill. Terrified by hallucinations and burning with fever, Therese lay in danger of death. Her anxious family, in an almost constant state of prayer, moved the statue of the Lady of the Smile into the sickroom. Suddenly instead of the monsters that had been tormenting her for weeks Therese saw a beautiful woman, smiling gently. Therese was miraculously cured. Despite her sadness at Pauline's departure, Therese was drawn to the Carmelite order, and when another sister Marie also entered the order, Therese was drawn even closer. As a young teen Therese began her quest to enter Carmel, but over and over, she was refused. Finally at the age of fifteen Therese’s peaceful battle was won and she entered the convent. A number of years later, after her sister Celine had also joined the Carmelites, Therese contracted tuberculosis. She tried valiantly to conceal her sickness and played her part well enough that to some it seemed that she was faking her illness, but in 1897 tuberculosis took her life. Thanks to the numerous miracles attributed to the Little Flower, her beatification took place much earlier then was usual, in 1923, and canonized only two years later.

The Little Flower’s spiritual beauty did not mature in one simple spurt, but slowly bloomed over the course of her life, as the Great Gardener watched over her and gently guided her to Sainthood. Therese learned to pray at the age of two and to perform sacrifices at three. By the age of eleven frequent prayer at ordinary tasks had become a habit. Yet Therese was still very much a child. Then at fourteen she experienced what she called her Christmas Conversion, and the childish teen became a woman. Although Therese wanted to be a missionary and a martyr, after entering Carmel she realized this calling was not readily available for cloistered nuns. So she prayed instead. She prayed for the missionaries whom she could not join, she did her chores without complaining, and with these and other small sacrifices she earned her way to heaven. Outwardly she was plain, she did nothing that seemed exceptional to anyone, but her soul was growing more and more beautiful with each tiny chore. It is this little way of hers that shows us holiness is within our reach, and tells us, with more then just words, that anyone can be a saint.

In 1929, the young woman who considered herself so weak, and whose dream of becoming a missionary and martyr was never fulfilled, was proclaimed Patroness of Foreign Missions. She shared this high honor with St. Francis Xavier. Eighteen years later in 1947, this same young woman was made Patroness of her country of France, along with the saint she had always looked up to so much, St. Joan of Arc.

Great deeds are forbidden me. I cannot preach the gospel nor shed my blood- but what does it matter? My brothers toil instead of me and I, a little child, keep close by the throne of God and I love for those who fight. Love proves itself by deeds. I will scatter flowers, perfuming the Divine Throne, and I'll sweetly sing my hymn of love. These flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least of actions for love.

1 comment:

poetbdk said...

Have you seen the pictures of St. Therese dressed up as St. Joan of Arc for her play about her? I have them posted at Have you seen the pictures of St. Therese dressed as St. Joan of Arc? I have them posted at St. Therese and St. Joan of Arc

Let me know what you think of the picture with the crosses in her eyes. It is pretty amazing.