This is a little early but I have been reading a book titled, "Our Lady of the Smile" written by a Franciscan priest - not even a Carmelite. St. Therese was and is loved by so many within the Church. This book was written in 1953 and I believe is out of print. September 24th begins a Novena to St. Therese in order to celebrate her Traditional Feast Day on October 3. I would like to post some little interesting pieces of information on the life of little Therese for all of us to read and ponder while we prepare and do a Novena in her honor. We will begin today with just a brief biography for those unfamiliar with her. Tomorrow I will begin to post little insights into her life from this book “Our Lady of the Smile”, which centers on the devotion the Martin family had to Mary, Mother of Jesus. These little meditations are so necessary at a time when we live so far from God. These thoughts on this amazing saint will obviously contradict the atmosphere of the day. We live in a world of Facebook, artificial intelligence, broken families, addictions of all kinds, a secular world where things matter more than people. St. Therese lived in the late 1800’s when the industrial boom in society led to more and more technology. Yet there were no TV’s, no radios, no internet – very little in the way of distractions from our true purpose in life. Convents and monasteries were full. Family life was filled predominantly with a working dad and a stay at home mom. God and family were important.
St. Therese was a saint I loved and wanted to imitate since grade school. I thank God for this grace because I not only was encouraged by her life and love of God but I felt her prayers as well. Saint Thérèse of Lisieux is one of the most widely known and venerated saints of the Catholic Church. She is popularly called “The Little Flower of Jesus” or “The Little Flower.”
First, I will post a little biography (there is more) of St. Therese for those readers who know very little about her:
Born in Rue Saint-Blaise, Alençon, France in 1873, she is the youngest of the nine children (five of whom survived) of Saint Marie-Azélie “Zélie” Guérin, an excellent lacemaker, and Saint Louis Martin, a watchmaker and jeweler. It is remarkable that Saint Thérèse’s parents, both pious Catholics, are also Holy Saints of the Church, the first ever couple to be canonized together in October, 2015. As a true testament of the couple’s devotion and Catholic upbringing of their children, all five became nuns.
On the day of the Feast of the Assumption in 1888, Saint Thérèse entered the Carmelite Monastery in Lisieux, where her elder sisters Pauline and Marie were also living as Carmelite nuns. Her years in her vocation were lived in much prayer and contemplation, small acts of service and charity, and humility. It was where Saint Thérèse discovered what she called the “little way,” or “petite voie.” It was about recognizing that to become a saint, one need not do great deeds or perform acts of heroism. It was remaining little, while offering every action, no matter how small, as a sacrifice and expression of love for the Lord God. This was the way Saint Thérèse lived the rest of her life in the Carmel up to the young age of twenty-four when she died on 30 September 1897. In her final days, she immensely suffered due to tuberculosis, which she also considered to be part of her spiritual journey.
Much of what is known about Saint Thérèse, to which the beginning of her popularity across the world is attributed, is based on her autobiography, a spiritual memoir- “The Story of a Soul.” Her work rapidly gained recognition among many people after its publication. The “little way” by which Saint Thérèse had trusted Jesus and offered her days and small deeds to be holy sacrifices to God instead of great deeds was instantly appealing to thousands of Catholics. In it, people have found the inspiration to find and desire holiness in their rather ordinary and simple lives. She was canonized a saint in 1925. Because of her influence to so many souls through her writings of this “little way”– she was declared a “Doctor of the Church” and yet she died at the age of 24 and stopped school at the age of 15. Pope John Paul II declared St. Thérèse of Lisieux a Doctor of the Church, on October 19, 1997. He did it 100 years after her excruciating death of pulmonary tuberculosis on September 30, 1897 a death that she had offered to Jesus for the benefit of suffering souls around the world, particularly in the mission lands.
There is so much about St. Therese that I encourage all to read or reread - "The Story of the Soul" by St. Therese. I will post tomorrow a little writing from the book mentioned and hopefully each day before her feast day.
Below is a link for you to print a Novena booklet - other Novenas are found on line.
Our Lady of the Smile, pray for us!
St. Therese pray for us!
Bernadette Porter is a Traditional Catholic, a wife of 41 years with 6 adult home-schooled children and 6 grandchildren. A sincere devotion to Mary, the Mother of God leads me to want to share "The Church's best kept secret" - Mary!