Saint Therese of Lisieux 'The Little Flower'(1873-1897)
St. Therese, "the little flower"
Therese Martin was the last of nine children born to Louis and Zelie Martin on January 2, 1873, in Alencon, France. However, only five of these children lived to reach adulthood. Precocious and sensitive, Therese needed much attention. Her mother died when she was 4 years old. As a result, her father and sisters babied young Therese. She had a spirit that wanted everything.
St Therese, age 14 At the age of 14, on Christmas Eve in 1886, Therese had a conversion that transformed her life. From then on, her powerful energy and sensitive spirit were turned toward love, instead of keeping herself happy. At 15, she entered the Carmelite convent in Lisieux to give her whole life to God. She took the religious name Sister Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. Living a hidden, simple life of prayer, she was gifted with great intimacy with God. Through sickness and dark nights of doubt and fear, she remained faithful to God, rooted in His merciful love. After a long struggle with tuberculosis, she died on September 30, 1897, at the age of 24. Her last words were the story of her life: "My God, I love You!"
The world came to know Therese through her autobiography, "Story of a Soul". She described her life as a "little way of spiritual childhood." She lived each day with an unshakable confidence in God's love. "What matters in life," she wrote, "is not great deeds, but great love." Therese lived and taught a spirituality of attending to everyone and everything well and with love. She believed that just as a child becomes enamored with what is before her, we should also have a childlike focus and totally attentive love. Therese's spirituality is of doing the ordinary, with extraordinary love.
Therese saw the seasons as reflecting the seasons of God's love affair with us. St Therese, age 23 She loved flowers and saw herself as the "little flower of Jesus," who gave glory to God by just being her beautiful little self among all the other flowers in God's garden. Because of this beautiful analogy, the title "little flower" remained with St. Therese.
Her inspiration and powerful presence from heaven touched many people very quickly. She was canonized by Pope Pius XI on May 17, 1925. Had she lived, she would have been only 52 years old when she was declared a Saint.
"My mission - to make God loved - will begin after my death," she said. "I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses." Roses have been described and experienced as Saint Therese's signature. Countless millions have been touched by her intercession and imitate her "little way." She has been acclaimed "the greatest saint of modern times." In 1997, Pope John Paul II declared St. Therese a Doctor of the Church - the only Doctor of his pontificate - in tribute to the powerful way her spirituality has influenced people all over the world.
The message of St. Therese is beautiful, inspiring, and simple.
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Mary Frances Therese Martin, known by all as the Little Flower of Jesus, was born at the Alencon, in the extreme North-West of France, on January 2, 1873, the youngest of nine children that came like nine white flowers from the garden of Louis Joseph Stainslaus Martin and Celia Guerin. These nine flowers were: Mary Louise, Mary Paulina, Mary Loenie, Mary Helen, Mary Joseph Louis, Mary Joseph John Baptist, Mary Celine, Mary Melania Therese Joseph John and Mary Melania Therese died at an early age. Mary Frances Therese was also sick of the pious prayers of her mother that she recovered.
All the surviving girls devoted their lives to God; three of Therese’s sisters joined the Carmelites at Lisieux, and one became a Visitation nun.
At the age of four and a half years, Therese lost her mother. Her father moved thereupon to Lisieux. There the sister of his dead wife was taking care of the children. At an early age, Mary Frances Therese felt a strong inclination to become a Sister; it grew stronger as she advanced in years, and when her father took her along to the city of Rome in the year 1887, the only wish she asked the Holy Father to fulfill was that she might be permitted to enter at the age of fifteen years, the convent of the sisters at Lisieux. When returning to France with her father, she began to prepare herself with greatest earnestness and zeal to join the praying and self-sacrificing army of the Church. On April 9, 1888, Therese entered the convent of the Carmelite Sisters at Lisieux where she spent nine and a half years in the service of God and in the practice of every virtue. She distinguished herself by her ardent love of God and of her neighbor and by her childlike simplicity. She died in the odor of sanctity on September 30, 1897, 24 years old. Her last words were: “My God – I Love Thee.” She was beatified on April 29, 1923 by Pope Pius XI and canonized by him on May 17, 1925.
Saint Therese is a Flower of the garden of God, the Catholic Church, a Flower whose delightful smell has filled the earth from pole to pole and whose fragrance brings comfort to all faithful children of the church.
Her life was such that it can be imitated by everybody, as she said herself: “In my little way everything is most ordinary; all that I do little souls will be able to do likewise.” What she meant by this “little way” is briefly thus stated by her: "It is the way of spiritual childhood, the way of confidence and absolute self-surrender.” In this garden of spiritual childhood she stayed all her life and it is in it that she gathered such an abundance of spiritual fruit, acquired so marvelous a treasure of knowledge which God is fond of revealing to the little ones, and filled her heart with an affectionate love which is seldom found in human life. Never could she rest; for even when weakness or pain made all thought impossible, she still could love. As in the lives of the Blessed Virgin, of St. Joseph and some other Saints there was nothing extraordinary, so it was with St. Therese. To do the ordinary things of every man’s life with great love of God and purity of intention, to converse with God as a child does with his mother and to deal with our neighbors as with Jesus Himself, this is the secret of perfection. This is what Christ taught when He said: “Unless you become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” And “Whosoever shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven.”(Matth. 18, 23-24). She thus expressed “her own little way” in an admirable manner:“I offered myself to the Child Jesus to be His little plaything. I told Him not to use me like a costly toy which children are delighted to look at, but which they do not dare to touch; but use me as He would a little ball of no value, that He might throw to the ground and toss it about, pierce it, leave it in a corner or press it to His heart, if so it was pleasing to Him. In a word, I wanted to amuse the little Jesus and to give myself up to all His childlike francies.” (Histoire d’une ame, chapter 6).
In this little way we are all able to follow her and because of this fact, no Saint in recent times has attracted more the attention of the faithful world than this Little Flower whose attractiveness is due to the childlike way of her sanctity.
Faithful to her promise to let fall a shower of Roses after her death, she has helped thousands of people in both spiritual and bodily needs. It would take volumes to publish all the favors bestowed upon mankind by God because of the prayers of this Saint. Only one of them shall find its place in this little book which was written to spread the devotion to Saint Therese among the English speaking people of the country.
Jeanne Loridan Dassonville was living with her children at Berck, when her youngest child, aged three years, was seized suddenly at the beach with a shivering which preluded a terrible attack of asphyxia. The mother took her child home at once, and in a few hours, as a result of blood poisoning, her little body was covered with dark blotches. At eleven o’clock the same night, the child passed away gently after drawing two deep breaths. The doctor who was present at all risks, tried to have the child, but without success. He declared her dead, as her no longer felt her heart beat.
The mother, in her undescribable grief, made a supreme act of faith, took a relic of Saint Therese and placed it under the pillow of the little dead girl, at the same time, imploring the Saint, to give her back, her darling child.
Till three o’clock in the morning no change was noticed in the child, no movement of heart could be felt and the appearance of death lay on her little face. But at this hour, viz. at three o’clock in the morning, she came back to life and at nine o’clock the girl played, as if nothing had every happened to her.
All that witnessed this extraordinary event were struck with astonishment. The doctor did not know what to say; but he allowed the child to go down and sit at table with the family who preserves a measureless gratitude to Saint Therese.
May she also shower upon you and me, above all other things the most beautiful of all the Roses, that of the love of God.
The following Novena is partly made up of her own words to make it more dear to you. You may make the Novena at any time of the Year. But if you wish to have it before her feast day you start September 25. be an earnest and close flower of the Little Flower, according to the words of the Holy Father: “There is a call to all the faithful of every nation, no matter what may be their age, sex, or state of life, to enter wholeheartedly into the little way which led Sister Therese of the Child Jesus to the summit of heroic virtue.”
“I entreat Thee to let Thy Divine eyes rest upon a vast number of little souls, I entreat Thee to choose in this world a legion of little victims of Thy love.” – Saint Therese.
Source: littleflower.org / tabacocollege.net