Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, or Saint  Thérèse of Lisieux was born January 2, 1873 in Alençon, France  to pious parents, both of whom were declared venerable by Pope John Paul II.  Her mother died when she was four, leaving her father and elder sisters to  raise her.

On Christmas Day 1886 she had a profound  experience of intimate union with God, which she described as a “complete  conversion.”  Almost a year later, in a  papal audience during a pilgrimage to Rome, in  1887, she asked for and obtained permission from Pope Leo XIII to enter the  Carmelite Monastery (or the Carmel)  at the young age of 15.

On entering the Carmel she devoted herself to living a life  of holiness, doing all things with love and childlike trust in God. She struggled  with life in the convent, but decided to make an effort to be charitable to  all, especially those she didn’t like. She performed little acts of charity  always, and little sacrifices not caring how unimportant they seemed.  These acts helped her come to a deeper  understanding of her vocation.

She wrote in her autobiography, that she  had always dreamed of being a missionary, an Apostle, a martyr – yet she was a  nun in a quiet cloister in France.  How could she fulfill these longings?

“Charity gave me the key to my vocation. I  understood that the Church had a Heart and that this Heart was burning with  love. I knew that one love drove the members of the Church to action, that if  this love were extinguished, the apostles would have proclaimed the Gospel no  longer, the martyrs would have shed their blood no more. I understood that Love  comprised all vocations, that Love was everything, that it embraced all times  and a word, that it was eternal! Then in the excess of my delirious  joy, I cried out: O Jesus, my vocation, at last I have found it...My  vocation is Love!”

Thérèse offered herself as a sacrificial  victim to the merciful Love of God on June 9, 1895, the feast of the Most Holy  Trinity and the following year, on the night between Holy Thursday and Good  Friday, she noticed the first symptoms of Tuberculosis, the illness which would  lead to her death.

Thérèse recognized in her illness the  mysterious visitation of the divine Spouse and welcomed the suffering as an  answer to her offering the previous year.   She also begins to undergo a terrible trial of faith which lasted until  her death a year and a half later.  “Her  last words, "My God, I love you", are the seal of her life,” said  Pope John Paul II.

Since her death millions have been inspired  by her ‘little way’ of loving God and neighbor. Many miracles have been  attributed to her intercession. She had predicted during her earthly life that  “My Heaven will be spent doing good on Earth.”

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, or Saint  Thérèse of Lisieux was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II  in 1997 - 100 years after her death at the age of 24. She is only the third  woman to be so proclaimed, after Saint Catherine of Siena  and Saint Teresa of Avila.

St. Thérèse wrote once, 'You know well enough  that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even  at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them."

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