I have found my place in the Church and it is You, O my God, who have given me this place; in the heart of the Church, my Mother, I shall be Love. Thus I shall be everything, and thus my dream will be realized.
St. Therese of Lisieux
It’s been said that in these current times, more churches have been named after Saint Therese than any other saint, thereby showing her incredible popularity. An amazing phenomenon, especially considering the fact that she lived a very short life as a cloistered Carmelite nun, hidden within the confines of a monastery.
And yet this 24-year-old is now, not only co-patron of France, and the missions, but one of only 33 Doctors of the Church, with an entire spiritual doctrine popularly known as “The Little Way”. She is someone whom Pope Pius XI refers to as a “master of the spiritual life” and of whose spirituality Pope Pius XII said “This Way, conceived under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is suitable for learned men, for those who, like the apostles, are responsible for souls, as well as for the lowly and the unlearned.”
Quite remarkable when you think about it.
But with all of that, I have to be honest (and I’m ashamed to say this), when I first came to know about her, I wasn’t particularly attracted.
Unfortunately she was initially portrayed to me as this rather saccharine, flowery saint; someone who was, well, a little clueless about people and life in general, someone to whom I really couldn’t relate.
I held on to this rather unfortunate viewpoint until I met a wonderful Benedictine priest, who was not only devoted to her, but treated her as one of his dearest friends, and who corrected my false impressions of her.
He showed me not this wilting flower, but a towering oak, a giant in the spiritual life, someone who truly understood the vicissitudes of life and the workings of the human heart. Her Little Way has become a highway for so many, for those of us who daily struggle along, and even for saints, like Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.
Therese’s Way of Spiritual Childhood, a way of trust and absolute surrender, of confidence and total abandonment to God, has opened the door for so many into the Spiritual life. This simple, and yet incredibly profound, doctrine has helped to make a deep spiritual life accessible to all.
Though it wasn’t our initial intention to launch this blog on her feast day, as is usual with the Holy Spirit and His ways, it was a brilliant move! Who better to be our ‘launch day’ patron than a fellow contemplative who burned with such zeal for souls. I feel certain if she were here today, she would be blogging away!