Sunday, October 01, 2017

Little Flower

Today is the memorial of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church, also known as The Little Flower. She was the youngest daughter of Ss. Louis Martin and Zélie Guérin, born in 1873. She had something of a troubled childhood; her mother died when she was 4, she was heavily bullied at school, she was often sick. However, she improved greatly as she grew older and eventually entered the Carmelite order in 1888. She died at the age of 24, on September 30, 1897, and was canonized by Pius XI in 1925. I find it a somewhat amusing irony that her feast follows immediately after St. Jerome's; they are personality-wise direct opposites in many ways. But they are both Doctors of the Church, and have more in common than one might think.

From a letter to her sister Céline:

October 20, 1888.

MY DEAREST SISTER,—Do not let your weakness make you unhappy. When, in the morning, we feel no courage or strength for the practice of virtue, it is really a grace: it is the time to "lay the axe to the root of the tree," relying upon Jesus alone. If we fall, an act of love will set all right, and Jesus smiles. He helps us without seeming to do so; and the tears which sinners cause Him to shed are wiped away by our poor weak love. Love can do all things. The most impossible tasks seem to it easy and sweet. You know well that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, as at the love with which we do them. What, then, have we to fear?

You wish to become a Saint, and you ask me if this is not attempting too much. Céline, I will not tell you to aim at the seraphic holiness of the most privileged souls, but rather to be "perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect." You see that your dream—that our dreams and our desires—are not fancies, since Jesus Himself has laid their realisation upon us as a commandment.

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