Therese Martin was born in 1873 in Normandy, France, the youngest child in a family of nine. The family moved to Lisieux after her mother’s death. It was there that she entered the Carmelite convent at age 15 and lived as a cloistered nun. St. Therese of the Child Jesus is also known as the Little Flower.
I have said novenas to St. Therese in years gone by. She is someone I should actually be paying closer attention to these days as she would be a model of how to completely trust God even, and especially, in the little things in life. She had unshakable confidence in God’s great love. She focused not on great deeds, but great love, believing that love is repaid by love alone. Though she only lived for 24 years, her writings are still read today, especially her autobiography The Story of a Soul.
Therese is a favourite saint among both laity and religious. The joy of saying a novena to her is that at the end of it, you may receive a “bouquet” of roses. She knew even before her death that she would spend her heaven doing good on earth by letting fall a shower of roses. Her large following can attest to her work. Many of us have been blessed by her.
She regarded prayer very seriously and simply: For me, prayer is the heart’s impulse, a simple gaze toward heaven. It is a cry of gratitude and love, from the depths of trial as well as the heights of joy. Finally, it is something great, supernatural, that expands my soul and unites me to Jesus. She clearly had a deep relationship with Jesus, one of love and gratitude. She remains a model for us today.
She was nine when she first realized that she wanted to be a nun. At the time, one had to be 16 to enter religious life, but she boldly asked Pope Leo XIII to enter and his response was if God willed it, it would be. The local bishop allowed her to enter at age 15. She suffered during her short life, contracting tuberculosis in 1896. Her last words expressed how much she had continued to love the God who grabbed hold of her heart as a child. This young child became a saint quickly and is one of three female doctors of the Catholic Church.
I think another appeal of St. Therese is that she suffered, much like Mother Theresa did, at some point, an absence of God in her life, and yet she continued to love and serve. This helps us with our own moments when God is silent, when the Light seems dim, and when we wonder why we are forsaken. Her ability to love in small ways despite it all is inspiring. Maybe today we can look upwards and see if she might toss us a rose sometime this week to remind us that God loves us wherever we are at.
What does prayer mean to you?
What small deeds can you do today to show great love?
Jesus, thank you for befriending the Little Flower
and having her blossom still centuries later in our life
leaving her sweet fragrance to grace and bless us
as she reveals your mercy, joy and love for each of us.