of the Child Jesus,
(Saint Thérèse of Lisieux - The "Little Flower")
Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Born at Alençon, France on January 2, 1873
Died at Lisieux, France on September 30, 1897
Canonized by Pope Pius XI 1925
Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus, one of the most instantly popular saints of the twentieth century, was canonized less than thirty years after her death at the age of twenty-four.
A principle reason for her great appeal to ordinary Catholics was her "Little Way" to holiness -- her example of achieving sanctity, not through undertaking great deeds, but through personal devotion and dedication. The young nun's autobiography, L'histoire d'une âme (Story of a Soul), written at the command of her prioress, was much admired for its deep spiritual wisdom and beauty. The book presented people with a compelling example of spiritual maturity and piety achieved by an ordinary young girl. An anecdote, that she had promised to send roses as a sign of her intercession led to the affectionate nickname, the "Little Flower". Her shrine at Lisieux, France, is still one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in Europe.
Thérèse was born in Alençon on January 2, 1873 to Louis Martin and Azélie-Marie Guérin. When Thérèse was only four, her mother died, and so her father moved the family to Lisieux, where the five children were watched by their aunt. An older sister, Mary, ran the household and the eldest, Pauline, made herself responsible for the religious upbringing of her sisters.
Pauline later entered the Carmel, an order of contemplative nuns, at Lisieux and Thérèse began to be drawn in the same direction. When Thérèse was fourteen another sister joined Pauline in the Carmel. During the following year Thérèse told her father of her wish to become a Carmelite, and he agreed; but both the Carmelite authorities and the bishop of Bayeux refused to hear of it because of her young age. A few months later she was in Rome with her father and a French pilgrimage. At the public audience, when her turn came to kneel for the Pope Leo XIII's blessing, Thérèse broke the rule of silence on such occasions and asked him, "in honor of your jubilee, allow me to enter Carmel at fifteen". Pope Leo was clearly impressed by the young girl, but he upheld the decision of the immediate superiors. At the end of the year the bishop gave his permission, and in 1888 Thérèse entered the Carmel at Lisieux, taking the name of Theresa of the Child Jesus.
One of the principal duties of a Carmelite nun is to pray for priests, a duty that Sister Theresa performed with fervor. Although she was physically frail she carried out all the practices of the austere Carmelite rule. Yet, photographs taken by her sister within the cloister show Sister Theresa in high spirits in the costume of Joan of Arc for a drama the nuns staged, working happily in the kitchen with other nuns, and in the familiar portrait (above).
In 1893 Sister Theresa was appointed to assist the novice mistress. In 1894 her father died, and soon after her sister Céline, who had been looking after him, becoming the fourth Martin sister to enter the Lisieux Carmel. Eighteen months later, Sister Theresa heard, "as it was, a far-off murmur announcing the coming of the Bridegroom": it was a hemorrhage at the mouth from tuberculosis. Although she had hoped to serve as a missionary, her disease advanced, and the last eighteen months of her life was a time of physical suffering and spiritual trials.
In June 1897 she was removed to the infirmary of the convent where she died on September 30. She was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1923 -- he canonized her in 1925. In 1927 she was named the heavenly patroness of all foreign missions, and of all works for Russia.
Source: Butler's Lives of the Saints Concise Edition. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1985.
O God, who open your kingdom
to those who are humble and to little ones,
lead us to follow trustingly in the little way of Saint Therese,
so that through her intercession
we may see your eternal glory revealed.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.
First Reading: Isaiah 66:10-14
"Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her; that you may suck and be satisfied with her consoling breasts; that you may drink deeply with delight from the abundance of her glory."
For thus says the Lord: "Behold, I will extend prosperity to her like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall suck, you shall be carried upon her hip, and dandled upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; your bones shall flourish like the grass; and it shall be known that the hand of the Lord is with his servants, and his indignation is against his enemies.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 18:1-4
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And calling to Him a child, He put him in the midst of them, and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Novena to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
Poem by St Theresa
All the earth with snow is covered,
Everywhere the white frosts reign;
Winter and his gloomy courtiers
Hold their court on earth again.
But for you has bloomed the Flower
Of the fields, Who comes to earth
From the fatherland of heaven,
Where eternal spring has birth.
Near the Rose of Christmas, Sister!
In the lowly grasses hide,
And be like the humble flowerets, --
Of heaven’s King the lowly bride!
THÉRÈSE MARTIN was born at Alençon, France on 2 January 1873. Two days later, she was baptized Marie Frances Thérèse at Notre Dame Church. Her parents were Louis Martin and Zélie Guérin. After the death of her mother on 28 August 1877, Thérèse and her family moved to Lisieux.
Towards the end of 1879, she went to confession for the first time. On the Feast of Pentecost 1883, she received the singular grace of being healed from a serious illness through the intercession of Our Lady of Victories. Taught by the Benedictine Nuns of Lisieux and after an intense immediate preparation culminating in a vivid experience of intimate union with Christ, she received First Holy Communion on 8 May 1884. Some weeks later, on 14 June of the same year, she received the Sacrament of Confirmation, fully aware of accepting the gift of the Holy Spirit as a personal participation in the grace of Pentecost.
She wished to embrace the contemplative life, as her sisters Pauline and Marie had done in the Carmel of Lisieux, but was prevented from doing so by her young age. On a visit to Italy, after having visited the House of Loreto and the holy places of the Eternal City, during an audience granted by Pope Leo XIII to the pilgrims from Lisieux on 20 November 1887, she asked the Holy Father with childlike audacity to be able to enter the Carmel at the age of fifteen.
On 9 April 1888 she entered the Carmel of Lisieux. She received the habit on 10 January of the following year, and made her religious profession on 8 September 1890 on the Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In Carmel she embraced the way of perfection outlined by the Foundress, Saint Teresa of Jesus, fulfilling with genuine fervour and fidelity the various community responsibilities entrusted to her. Her faith was tested by the sickness of her beloved father, Louis Martin, who died on 29 July 1894. Thérèse nevertheless grew in sanctity, enlightened by the Word of God and inspired by the Gospel to place love at the centre of everything. In her autobiographical manuscripts she left us not only her recollections of childhood and adolescence but also a portrait of her soul, the description of her most intimate experiences. She discovered the little way of spiritual childhood and taught it to the novices entrusted to her care. She considered it a special gift to receive the charge of accompanying two "missionary brothers" with prayer and sacrifice. Seized by the love of Christ, her only Spouse, she penetrated ever more deeply into the mystery of the Church and became increasingly aware of her apostolic and missionary vocation to draw everyone in her path.
On 9 June 1895, on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, she offered herself as a sacrificial victim to the merciful Love of God. At this time, she wrote her first autobiographical manuscript, which she presented to Mother Agnes for her birthday on 21 January 1896.
Several months later, on 3 April, in the night between Holy Thursday and Good Friday, she suffered a haemoptysis, the first sign of the illness which would lead to her death; she welcomed this event as a mysterious visitation of the Divine Spouse. From this point forward, she entered a trial of faith which would last until her death; she gives overwhelming testimony to this in her writings. In September, she completed Manuscript B; this text gives striking evidence of the spiritual maturity which she had attained, particularly the discovery of her vocation in the heart of the Church.
While her health declined and the time of trial continued, she began work in the month of June on Manuscript C, dedicated to Mother Marie de Gonzague. New graces led her to higher perfection and she discovered fresh insights for the diffusion of her message in the Church, for the benefit of souls who would follow her way. She was transferred to the infirmary on 8 July. Her sisters and other religious women collected her sayings. Meanwhile her sufferings and trials intensified. She accepted them with patience up to the moment of her death in the afternoon of 30 September 1897. "I am not dying, I am entering life", she wrote to her missionary spiritual brother, Father M. Bellier. Her final words, "My God..., I love you!", seal a life which was extinguished on earth at the age of twenty-four; thus began, as was her desire, a new phase of apostolic presence on behalf of souls in the Communion of Saints, in order to shower a rain of roses upon the world.
She was canonized by Pope Pius XI on 17 May 1925. The same Pope proclaimed her Universal Patron of the Missions, alongside Saint Francis Xavier, on 14 December 1927.
Her teaching and example of holiness has been received with great enthusiasm by all sectors of the faithful during this century, as well as by people outside the Catholic Church and outside Christianity.
On the occasion of the centenary of her death, many Episcopal Conferences have asked the Pope to declare her a Doctor of the Church, in view of the soundness of her spiritual wisdom inspired by the Gospel, the originality of her theological intuitions filled with sublime teaching, and the universal acceptance of her spiritual message, which has been welcomed throughout the world and spread by the translation of her works into over fifty languages.
Mindful of these requests, His Holiness Pope John Paul II asked the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which has competence in this area, in consultation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with regard to her exalted teaching, to study the suitability of proclaiming her a Doctor of the Church.
On 24 August, at the close of the Eucharistic Celebration at the Twelfth World Youth Day in Paris, in the presence of hundreds of bishops and before an immense crowd of young people from the whole world, Pope John Paul II announced his intention to proclaim Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face a Doctor of the Universal Church on World Mission Sunday, 19 October 1997.
Theresa Movie Link -- DVD's are now available.Saint Theresa Sacrifice Beads -- "A Sacrifice Bracelet is a string of ten beads, which can be pulled and remain in place. As a child, St. Therese of Lisieux carried a small string of beads in her pocket to help her count the gifts she offered to God each day. When Therese would practice a virtue, such as letting someone else have their way, or refrain from a vice, such as gossip, she would secretly reach into her pocket and "pull a bead" to Jesus."
How to make Sacrifice Beads - http://thelittleways.com/how-to-make-sacrifice-beads/
POPE BENEDICT XVI
Wednesday, 6 April 2011
Saint Theresa of Lisieux
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Our catechesis today deals with Saint Theresa of Lisieux, the young Carmelite nun whose teaching of the “little way” of holiness has been so influential in our time. Born and raised in a devout French family, Theresa received permission to enter the Carmel of Lisieux at the tender age of fifteen. Her name in religion Sister Theresa of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face expresses the heart of her spirituality, centred on the contemplation of God’s love revealed in the mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption. In imitation of Christ, Theresa sought to be little in all things and to seek the salvation of the world. Taken ill in her twenty-third year, she endured great physical suffering in union with the crucified Lord; she also experienced a painful testing of faith which she offered for the salvation of those who deny God. By striving to embody God’s love in the smallest things of life, Theresa found her vocation to be “love in the heart of the Church”. May her example and prayers help us to follow “the little way of trust and love” in spiritual childhood, abandoning ourselves completely to the love of God and the good of souls.
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