by Clyde Ericson Nolasco
In spite of dying at an early age of 24, St Therese had lived a full life in God.
Born as Marie-Françoise-Thérèse Martin, she was the youngest of the nine children of Sts. Louis Martin and Marie-Azélie Guérin (who were eventually canonized for successfully nurturing the sanctity of their children).
She entered the Carmelite convent of Lisieux at the age of 15 having been refused to enter a year earlier. She followed the footsteps of her sisters who all became nuns. She is also known as the St. Therese of the Child Jesus, St. Therese of the Holy Face and St. Therese the Little Flower.
Her simplicity and the depth of her spirituality is inspiring many, hence Pope Pius X called her “the greatest saint of modern times.”
St. Therese the Little Flower | Photo from Catholic Agency
Inspirations from St. Therese
Unlike other saints, the life of St. Therese was practically simple. Upon entry, she spent 9 years in the convent and died of tuberculosis. A seemingly bland story compared to saints who spent their lifetime being religious or dying as a martyr. But this simplicity makes St. Therese an extraordinary saint.
1. The Little Way. Her Little Way is teaching us to always do small things with great love. In her diary and in her letters, one would read how close she was to God and her secret was, to always have a child-like faith in Jesus. She invites us to always focus ourselves on God rather than on ourselves. Also, to do even the smallest act of service to others with great love. And so she wrote:
“When I die, I will send down a shower of roses from the heavens; I will spend my heaven doing good upon earth”
2. Doctor of the Church. In 1997, St. John Paul II declared St. Therese as a Doctor of the Church. She is one of the only four women saints, third from the Carmelites and the youngest at the time of death. JPII said:
“Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face is the youngest of all the “Doctors of the Church,” but her ardent spiritual journey shows such maturity, and the insights of faith expressed in her writings are so vast and profound that they deserve a place among the great spiritual masters."
3. Patroness of Mission. Though have not left for any mission country, in 1927, Pope Pius XI proclaimed St. Therese the Patron Saint of the Missions alongside St. Francis Xavier, a Jesuit missionary. It was her fervent love for God and zeal to save souls that qualified her. With her missionary heart, she prayed unceasingly rescuing poor souls. She, with these words, have expressed her fervent hope to serve as a missionary:
"In spite of my littleness, I would like to enlighten souls as did the Prophets and the Doctors. I have the vocation of the Apostles. I would like to travel over the whole earth to preach your Name and to plant your glorious cross on infidel soil. But…one mission alone would not be sufficient for me, I would want to preach the Gospel on all the five continents simultaneously and even to the most remote isles. I would be a missionary, not for a few years only, but from the beginning of creation until the consummation of the ages.”
May St. Therese’ humble life inspires us to always consider having a child-like faith, profound relationship with God and zealous passion to save souls for heaven.
Let's pray to St. Therese:
O little St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, who during your short life on earth became a mirror of angelic purity, of love strong as death, and of wholehearted abandonment to God, now that you rejoice in the reward of your virtues, cast a glance of pity on me as I leave all things in your hands. Make my troubles your own - speak a word for me to our Lady Immaculate, whose flower of special love you were - to that Queen of heaven 'who smiled on you at the dawn of life. ' Beg her as the Queen of the heart of Jesus to obtain for me by her powerful intercession, the grace I yearn for so ardently at this moment, and that she join with it a blessing that may strengthen me during life. Defend me at the hour of death, and lead me straight on to a happy eternity. Amen