Monday, October 01, 2012

The Little Way

Today is the feast of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, also known as Thérèse of Lisieux; she is a Doctor of the Church, which is a liturgical title given by the Catholic Church to its greatest theologians who are not also martyrs. She was born on January 2, 1873, and she died of tuberculosis at the age of 24. From The Story of a Soul, her major theological work:

Full sweet is the way of Love. It is true one may fall and be unfaithful to grace; but Love, knowing how to profit by everything, quickly consumes whatever is displeasing to Jesus, leaving in the heart only a deep and humble peace. I have obtained many spiritual lights through the works of St. John of the Cross. When I was seventeen and eighteen they were my only food; but, later on, and even now, all spiritual authors leave me cold and dry. However beautiful and touching a book may be, my heart does not respond, and I read without understanding, or, if I understand, I cannot meditate. In my helplessness the Holy Scriptures and the Imitation are of the greatest assistance; in them I find a hidden manna, genuine and pure. But it is from the Gospels that I find most help in the time of prayer; from them I draw all that I need for my poor soul. I am always discovering in them new lights and hidden mysterious meanings. I know and I have experienced that "the Kingdom of God is within us." Our Lord has no need of books or teachers to instruct our souls. He, the Teacher of Teachers, instructs us without any noise of words. I have never heard Him speak, yet I know He is within me. He is there, always guiding and inspiring me; and just when I need them, lights, hitherto unseen, break in. This is not as a rule during my prayers, but in the midst of my daily duties. Sometimes, however, as this evening, at the close of a meditation spent in utter dryness, a word of comfort is given to me: "Here is the Master I give thee, He will teach thee all that thou shouldst do. I wish thee to read in the Book of Life in which is contained the science of love. . . ."

The Science of Love! How sweetly do these words echo in my soul! That science alone do I desire. Having given all my substance for it, like the Spouse in the Canticles, "I think that I have given nothing." After so many graces, may I not sing with the Psalmist that "the Lord is good, that His Mercy endureth for ever"?

I find myself struck by the sentence, "This is not as a rule during my prayers, but in the midst of my daily duties."

4 comments:

  1. MrsDarwin10:45 PM

    This is a very meaty quote, and makes me think that I really ought to read Story of a Soul.

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  2. branemrys12:46 AM

     Most of it is more indirect than this, but there are quite a few good things in it. It's hard to find a good edition, though.

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  3. Arsen Darnay7:50 AM

    Striking words, indeed, to echo MrsDarwin. The consequence of deep experience. They come to us through a book -- so they too have their humble place. But what is in the book must resonate with something in the soul...

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  4. MrsDarwin8:46 AM

    I don't even own a copy, though that doesn't speak to my not having read it -- I own lots of books I haven't read. But I was looking around online, and it seems that the Clarke translation is the most recent and the most accurate.  Apparently his version was the one that started changing the popular perception of Therese as a saccharine plaster statue and brought more attention to her spiritual struggles and dryness. 

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