Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. As I finish up a 9-day novena to her, I am more confident than usual in this saint’s intercession for me. While I love all the saints, and I appreciate their intercession, I rarely feel particularly close to any one saint. I’ve heard many people speak of a special devotion to a certain saint, but I had never really felt that - until recently.
I have always been deeply intrigued by St. Thérèse’s life story. I love to imagine how deeply devoted her family was to prayer. Thérèse followed in her sisters’ footsteps, joining the convent when she was only 15 years old. At first Thérèse was unsure how she would become holy living the lifestyle of a nun since she could not perform great deeds, but she soon realized she could do small things with great love. This inspired her to find another way to holiness – her “little way.” One of my favorite stories of St. Thérèse is how there was a particular nun who really got on her nerves. I guess this nun had a pretty negative attitude. Thérèse countered this negativity with love. She made little sacrifices for her fellow sister that often went unnoticed. She wrote, “My whole strength lies in prayer and sacrifice, these are my invincible arms; they can move hearts far better than words, I know it by experience.” (The Little Way for Every Day: Thoughts from Therese of Lisieux) Even after this little saint’s passing, the difficult sister felt Thérèse liked her the most!
Thérèse’s prayer life is inspiring to me. It was so simple, yet profound. Regarding prayer, she wrote, “I say quite simply to the good God what I want to tell Him, and He always understands me.” (Story of a Soul, Chapter X) She completely trusted in God’s love for her. In fact, her last words were simply, “My God, I love you!”
St. Thérèse died of tuberculosis in 1897 at the age 24. In her short life, she taught us all so much, that Pope Saint John Paul II named her a Doctor of the Church. While I have not read much of her writings, I have read many quotes that inspire me. One of my favorite quotes from St. Thérèse is, “When I die, I will send down a shower of roses from the heavens; I will spend my heaven doing good on earth.” And this is why I have so much confidence in her intercession. She spent her life praying and doing small works of love for others, but she is not done. I have known people who ask Thérèse to send them a rose as an answer to their prayers, and she does! Praying the novena this past week, I have come to understand the beauty and power of the communion of saints. Death may separate us, but we are never far away. Although St. Thérèse was very close to Christ while she was on earth, she is even closer now, which makes her prayers even more powerful.
I have grown to love this Little Flower (as she is sometimes called), and I anticipate a friendship that lasts for many years to come. As we all look to St. Thérèse’s example today and pray for her intercession, let us echo her dying words, “My God, I love you!” in everything we do.