St. Therese entered the Carmel of Lisieux at the young age of 15. Due to her profound wisdom, her superiors requested she write an autobiography. In 1896 she noticed the first symptoms of tuberculosis and died on 30 September 1897 at the age of 24. Her autobiography was published one year later and titled, “Story of a Soul.” Pope John Paul II said “It was translated along with her other writings into roughly 50 languages and has made Thérèse known in every part of the world, even outside the Catholic Church. A century after her death, Thérèse of the Child Jesus continues to be recognized as one of the great masters of the spiritual life in our time.” St. Pius X said that she is “the greatest Saint of modern times.”
In his homily at the Mass for the Proclamation of St. Therese as the 33rd Doctor of the Church, John Paul II said, “In her zealous love for evangelization, Therese had one ideal, as she herself says: “What we ask of him is to work for his glory, to love him and to make him loved” (Letter 220/). The way she took to reach this ideal of life is not that of the great undertakings reserved for the few, but on the contrary, a way within everyone’s reach, the “little way,” a path of trust and total self-abandonment to the Lord’s grace. It is not a prosaic way, as if it were less demanding. It is in fact a demanding reality as the Gospel always is. But it is a way in which one is imbued with a sense of trusting abandonment to divine mercy, which makes even the most rigorous spiritual commitment light. Because of this way in which she receives everything as “grace,” because she puts her relationship with Christ and her choice of love at the center of everything, and because of the place she gives to the ardent impulses of the heart on her spiritual journey, Therese of Lisieux is a saint who remains young despite the passing years, and she is held up as an eminent model and guide on the path of Christians as we approach the third millennium.”
St. Therese thought of herself as “the Little Flower of Jesus.” She talks about this in her autobiography saying, “Jesus set before me the book of nature. I understand how all the flowers God has created are beautiful, how the splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not take away the perfume of the violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy. I understand that if all flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose her springtime beauty, and the fields would no longer be decked out with little wild flowers. So it is in the world of souls, Jesus’ garden. He has created smaller ones and those must be content to be daisies or violets destined to give joy to God’s glances when He looks down at His feet. Perfection consists in doing His will, in being what He wills us to be.”
Since 30 September 1897 she has been showering us with roses. “My mission – to make God loved – will begin after my death,” she said. “I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses.”
St. Therese of Liseux – The Little Flower. Her doctrine is so soft and sweet. And yet, after reading her, reflecting on her, praying with her… even harboring her in the depths of one’s soul, the Christian encounters not a naïve, dainty word play, but a heart of iron and a soul aflame with the Love of God!