Thursday 30th October 2014

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Reconnecting With Mary . . . St Thérèse Of Lisieux: A Best-Loved Saint

July 10, 2014 Featured Today No Comments
stthere

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY

Part 1

This is the first of two articles on the life, death, and influence of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. She was born at Alençon in Normandy, in northern France, on January 2, 1873, to Louis and Zélie Martin, the last of nine children. She lived a very hidden life in the Carmelite convent at Lisieux, entering at the early age of 15 and dying when she was only 24, in 1897.
After her death, devotion to her grew at a prodigious rate and still, to this day, she is one of the most well-loved saints in the Church. She became posthumously famous particularly through her very influential autobiography, The Story of a Soul, and also through her profound spirituality, that of the “Little Way.” This seeks divine union not through rigorous mortifications but by offering up the small sacrifices and sufferings of life to God, in a spirit of self-oblation.
Many graces and miracles were obtained through her intercession, and she was beatified in 1923, and canonized by Pope Pius XI only two years later. Pope Pius X (1903-1914) had called her the greatest saint of modern times, an astonishing accolade for one who had lived such a hidden life.
Her parents were very devout, and her father, Louis Martin, had wanted to become a religious, but this was not possible due to difficulties with Latin, and so he settled on a career as a watchmaker. Zélie too had wanted to become a religious, but finally became a lacemaker. They met early in 1858, and married only three months later. Initially, they had decided to live a life of continence together, but following advice from a priest, they embraced the marital state fully and eventually had nine children, of which five daughters survived.
Apart from Thérèse, three of her elder sisters, Marie, Pauline, and Céline, became Carmelite nuns while the other sister, Léonie, became a Visitandine nun.
Both parents sought to pass on their strong Catholic beliefs to their children, who were brought up firmly, but with great love and affection. Thérèse, the youngest, was the particular favorite of her father, who called her his “little queen.” Her parents attended daily Mass very early in the morning, observed the feasts and fasts of the Church, and prayed that one of their children would become a saint. In fact Louis and Zélie exhibited all the signs of sanctity themselves in the selfless manner in which they lived, and in the way they brought up their large family. They were beatified at the behest of Pope Benedict XVI by José Cardinal Saraiva Martins, the papal legate, in October 2008, in the Basilica at Lisieux.
Thérèse was close to her other sisters but particularly Pauline, the second daughter, especially after the early death of their mother from breast cancer, in 1877, at the age of 45, when Thérèse was only four. Ultimately, when Thérèse entered the Carmel of Lisieux, Pauline was there to welcome her as prioress of the community. After Zélie’s death, the family moved to Lisieux to be near her brother’s family, the Guerins.
Thérèse was strong-willed, even stubborn, as a child, which was a cause of concern to her mother, so she was encouraged to make little sacrifices as a way of conquering her self-will. After her mother’s death, though, she became somewhat shy and withdrawn. The family members were very close, however, and the eldest daughter Marie tried to take the place of her mother as head of the household, even though she was only 13. It became Pauline’s task to give the younger girls religious instruction, until she entered the Lisieux Carmel when Thérèse was nine.
Her sisters’ vocations stimulated a strong desire to emulate them, but Thérèse continued her education at the Benedictine convent of Notre-Dame-du-Pre, where she was not particularly happy due to harassment from fellow pupils and her reserved nature.
The loss of Pauline to Carmel was a big blow to Thérèse, and she became seriously ill, only recovering in May 1883, when a statue of the Blessed Virgin smiled at her. In Thérèse’s own words, “Mary’s face radiated kindness and love.” In May 1885, Thérèse entered a period of scrupulosity for a year and a half, which was so trying that she later described it as a type of martyrdom.
Marie entered Carmel in October 1886, and that Christmas, after Midnight Mass, Thérèse reached a decisive turning point in her life. Thanks to a special grace, she was able to put her childhood fears behind her, and her sadness since the time of her mother’s death, and devote herself completely to loving God. She later described this moment as her “conversion.”
The next summer, in May 1887, when Thérèse was 14, she told her father that she too wanted to enter Carmel. He broke down in tears at this news, but recovered himself and plucked a little white flower and gave it to her. She understood this was symbolic of her life, and how God had preserved her for Himself.
She applied to Lisieux Carmel for entrance but was turned down because of her age. Later that year, however, Louis took Thérèse and her sister Céline on a pilgrimage to Rome. They arrived there on November 20, 1887, and were able to take part in a general audience with Pope Leo XIII. When Thérèse’s turn came to approach the Pope, she knelt before him and asked the favor of being allowed to enter Carmel at the age of 15. He replied that she should do what the superiors decide, and that she would enter if it was God’s will.
Events on the pilgrimage had taught her about the dangers of the world, from which she had hitherto been sheltered, and she returned to Lisieux more determined than ever to become a Carmelite. Finally, in April 1889, she was allowed to enter the Carmel, and became a postulant while only age 15, taking the name Thérèse of the Child Jesus.
She immediately felt a great sense of peace, a peace which in the main stayed with her to the end of her life, despite all the trials and difficulties she would have to endure. She adhered to the Carmelite rule with great exactness, and although her two eldest sisters were already installed in the Carmel, Thérèse deliberately kept her distance from them, denying herself the pleasure and support of their company; she generally only saw them during recreation.
She ended her postulancy in January 1889, and then became a novice taking the brown Carmelite habit. From this point on she tried to intensify her life of prayer, especially for priests, and to practice the virtues in numerous little ways. Thérèse also read the works of St. John of the Cross, the great Carmelite reformer of the 16th century, deriving much benefit from them.
She developed, too, a devotion to the Holy Face of Christ during her novitiate, that face bruised and swollen during His Passion, and at the ceremony of taking the veil, she added the words “and of the Holy Face” to her name in religion, to become Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face. Here in this name we have a synthesis of the spiritual focus of her life: to be humble and little, like the Child Jesus, but also to be one with Him in his sufferings.

+    +    +

(Donal Anthony Foley is the author of a number of books on Marian Apparitions, and maintains a related web site at www.theotokos.org.uk.)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Angola: Catholic Priest Refutes Criticism of Church Practices

Lubango — The Southern Huila province?s Lubango city emeritus archbishop, Zacarias Kamwenho, rejected as false the claim that Catholic Christians worship images. Speaking on Sunday in the Muxima Diocese, in Lubango, the archbishop explained that Catholic Christians worship God instead,…Continue Reading

Ave Maria School of Law Wins Its HHS Mandate Case in Federal Court

The Obama Administration has suffered another defeat in its quest to force Catholics and people of faith to pay for abortion-causing drugs, as required by the HHS Mandate. Today the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida came down…Continue Reading

Catholic Educators Appeal to Obama Administration for Relief from HHS Mandate

Today a coalition including The Cardinal Newman Society, leaders of Catholic schools and colleges, and the expert attorneys of the Alliance Defending Freedom told the Obama administration that its latest rule mandating insurance coverage for sterilization and contraception, including abortion-causing…Continue Reading

Toronto schools hosting ‘LGBTQ’ conference for students as young as 11

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is hosting three student conferences within the span of eight days for the purpose of LGBTQ activism.  The conferences, which have been organized in collaboration with Jer’s Vision, will take place on October 28,…Continue Reading

The Synod and the Media: Culpable Naïveté or Shrewd Calculation?

Upon becoming director of media relations for the American bishops in late 1969, I quickly made a crucial discovery about my new employers. With just a handful of exceptions, the bishops were painfully naïve about the news business, yet convinced…Continue Reading

Chaldean Catholic patriarch suspends 10 priests, including 1 from El Cajon

SAN DIEGO – The head of the Chaldean Catholic Church has suspended 10 priests, including one from El Cajon. Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako issued a decree a month ago, demanding the priests return to Iraq or be suspended. Wednesday…Continue Reading

Retired Pope Says Interreligious Dialogue No Substitute For Mission

VATICAN CITY – Retired Pope Benedict XVI said dialogue with other religions is no substitute for spreading the Gospel to non-Christian cultures, and warned against relativistic ideas of religious truth as “lethal to faith.” He also said the true motivation…Continue Reading

California Forces Churches to Directly Fund Abortions, Churches Refuse to Comply

To the dismay of California’s people of faith, the California Department of Managed Health Care has reclassified abortion as a “basic health service” under the Affordable Care Act and ordered all insurance plans in the state to begin covering surgical…Continue Reading

Relax. God’s Still In Charge.

It’s an enormous challenge to maintain pristine doctrinal purity while at the same time respond to the experiential, personal, and difficult needs of married couples and families. Behind every arcane discussion of gradualism and natural law there are parents and…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: The “Relatio Synodi” Is “A Significant Improvement Over The Text Of The ‘Relatio Post Disceptationem'”

In a third short interview with CWR, conducted by e-mail late yesterday, Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, offers his impression of the Relatio Synodi, comments on reports that the Synod has…Continue Reading

Synod Final Document Reaffirms Church Teaching

The final document of the Extraordinary Synod was released Saturday as the Synod Fathers voted to approve all 62 paragraphs, but with three paragraphs not receiving the normally required two-thirds majority vote. The three paragraphs, which in the past would…Continue Reading

Catholic Synod: Gay Rights Groups ‘Disappointed’

Catholic gay rights groups say they are disappointed after bishops rejected proposals for wider acceptance of gay people, which had the Pope’s backing. The call to “accept and value” homosexuals was in a draft report, but failed to win the…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

'From our friends at The Foundry'


Today . . .

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Writes Personal Ordinariate Of Our Lady Of Walsingham

ben1

(Vatican Radio) Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has sent a message to the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, which was established for former Anglicans in England in 2011.  The message was on the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict’s apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, which was released on November 4th 2009. The Pope Emeritus was responding to a letter he received…Continue Reading

Pope At Audience: The Church Visible And Spiritual

pope650

(Vatican Radio)  “Often, we hear people say: the Church doesn’t do this …the Church doesn’t do that!’ ‘Tell me who is the Church? – ‘Well the Church is the priests, the bishops, the Pope …’ We are all the Church! All of us all of us Baptized! We are the Church, the Church of Jesus’”. This was the message at…Continue Reading

Pope At Angelus: Love Of God And Neighbour Are Inseparable

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with pilgrims and tourists gathered in St Peter’s Square beneath the window of the Papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican on Sunday. In remarks ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, the Holy Father offered some reflections on the Gospel reading of the day, which was taken from Gospel…Continue Reading

Pope At Santa Marta: Called To Be Children Of Light

(Vatican Radio) At morning Mass on Monday Pope Francis said that a conscientious examination of our words will help us understand whether we are Christians of light, Christians of darkness or Christians of grey areas. Reflecting on the First Reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, the Pope said men are recognizable by their words. By inviting Christians to…Continue Reading

Pass-Fail Grading: For The Professors’ Benefit?

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK S.M. writes to offer some observations about the proposal to introduce a “pass-fail” grading system for freshmen at Princeton University. The possibility of doing that was discussed in the October 9 edition of First Teachers. He sees the idea as a “form of grade inflation that is solely intended to accomplish…Continue Reading

Contemporary Culture Encapsulated In A Single Sentence

By DONALD DeMARCO It is remarkable how much a single sentence can reveal about the temper of a culture, even when its author is trying to be withholding. Jacalyn Duffin, a historian and practicing hematologist, is the author of History of Medicine (University of Toronto Press, 2000). It is a 243-page tome that was produced…Continue Reading

Synod Document Of October 13, 2014

By JOHN F. KIPPLEY (Editor’s Note: John F. Kippley is the author of Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality and other books and articles. With his wife Sheila, he is a coauthor of Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach and cofounder of NFP International. This commentary appeared on his blog [johnkippley.com] of…Continue Reading

Elite Judges Think The Highest Judge Never Will End Their Misrule

By DEXTER DUGGAN Today people worry about globe-trotting terrorists, the transmission of the deadly Ebola virus, and the way contagions can cross borders when the government insists borders must be open for everyone’s alleged benefit. Meanwhile, unaccountable U.S. judges continue their contagion of immorality, as if God’s judgment never will come, maybe in little germs,…Continue Reading

Chilling Free Speech

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO Earlier this week, the federal government’s National Science Foundation, an entity created to encourage the study of science — encouragement that it achieves by awarding grants to scholars and universities — announced that it had awarded a grant to study what people say about themselves and others in social media. The…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Temples Of The Holy Spirit

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Feast Of The Dedication Of St. John Lateran In Rome Readings: Ezek. 47:1-2, 8-9, 12 1 Cor. 3:9c-11, 16-17 John 2:13-22 Today we celebrate the feast of the dedication of a church building that many people have never heard of and also have no idea of its significance. In Rome, there are four major basilicas; the…Continue Reading

Message Of The Extraordinary Synod Of Bishops . . . We Ask You To Walk With Us Toward The Next Synod

(Editor’s Note: Below is the text of the concluding message of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, held October 5-19. This message was released on October 18. (See Fr. Kevin M. Cusick’s column in this issue, p. 2B, and the front page for reporting and commentary on the separate final document of the Extraordinary Synod.) + + +…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Redefining Marriage: Not About The Kids And The Picket Fence

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Following the Extraordinary Synod and the rollback on confusing language about same-sex attraction and the divorced and remarried in the final version of the Relatio Synodi document, the predictable reactions are coming in. Those who continue to hold Church teaching that marriage is only between a man and a woman are labeled as “bigots,” while…Continue Reading

Debunking The Sola Scriptura Myth… True Tradition And False “Tradition”

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 4 A classical objection: What Catholics call the “Apostolic Tradition” is just a human tradition, which Jesus clearly condemned in the Gospel, when He said to the Pharisees, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?…So, for the sake of your tradition you have made void the…Continue Reading

Public Revelation Vs. Private Revelation

By DON FIER Our previous installment ended by citing a pair of remarkable verses from the Letter to the Hebrews, verses that concisely summarize God’s divine pedagogy, His master plan of divine Revelation: “In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by a…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Wolfgang

By CAROLE BRESLIN October 31 has come to be yet another Christian holy day corrupted by our secular society. All Hallows Eve, Halloween, is now celebrated with emphasis on evil and horror. Corn mazes with frightening objects around the corner, haunted houses to terrify even the bravest of persons, glorification of vampires, and decorations of death and witches — these…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Anthony Mary Claret

By CAROLE BRESLIN St. Anthony Mary Claret has something in common with at least three other saints. Like St. Peter Claver, he was born in northeastern Spain — over 200 years later. Like St. Pio of Pietrelcina, when he heard Confessions, he frequently could read the souls of the penitents, asking them about a sin that they had not confessed.…Continue Reading

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading