Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Little Flower of Jesus, St. Therese

If you could name one of the most popular Catholic saints, who would you name? St. Francis of Assisi, St. Dominic, St. Benedict, St. Theresa of Avila or how about St. Anthony, or St. Theresa of Calcutta. Surely, these are some of the most popular saints among Catholics, but one saint in particular stands out just because she did her ordinary daily duties with great love. Yes, you guess who; St. Therese of Lisieux.

St. Therese was born into a devote family, with five sisters who all entered religious life and parents who have been recently canonized (Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin.) Therese's love for God was strong at a young age, so strong that she sought permission to enter the Carmelite monastery at the age of fifteen. Because she was too young, she was not allowed to enter. However, Therese went on a pilgrimage to Rome and while there sought to ask the Holy Father for permission to enter Carmel. After much perseverance Therese was finally allowed to enter.

During her years in the monastery, Therese grew in wisdom and love of God. In her book, “Story of a Soul,” Therese describes her great desire to become a saint and soar like all the others. She saw the saints as eagles soaring in the highest heavens, but she herself was only a little bird wounded and unable to fly to such heights. Within her desire to become a soaring eagle, Therese learned patience and trust that the Lord would carry her to those heights. She soon discovered the “little way” of holiness. In her little way, Therese mustered up all the love she had for God and neighbor to carry out the daily duties of the monastery with affection and joy. Though there were a few sisters who didn't like her, Therese was known to always greet them with a warm smile.

Today, St. Therese's little way can still help ordinary persons soar to extraordinary heights of holiness and love by continuous reliance on God to carry them to great holiness in small ways. Therese, unlike many other saints, didn't write many books. She didn't found a new congregation, nor did she have the opportunity for higher education. She died at the age of 24 from tuberculosis. Yet she is one of the most popular and well-beloved saints in the church; showing that even in a seemingly ordinary and unimportant life, those who do all things for the love of God will grow in holiness. St. Therese was canonized by Pope Pius XI on May 17, 1925 and is a Doctor of the Church. The church celebrates her life on October 1.