St Theresa of the Child Jesus, Virgin – 01 October
September 30, 2016
Born to a pious middle-class French family of tradesmen; daughter of Blessed Louis Martin and Blessed Marie-Azelie Guérin Martin, and all four of her sisters became nuns. Her mother died when Francoise-Marie was only four, and the family moved to Lisieux, Normandy, France to be closer to family. Cured from an illness at age eight when a statue of the Blessed Virgin smiled at her. Educated by the Benedictine nuns of Notre-Dame-du-Pre. Confirmed there at age eleven. Just before her 14th birthday she received a vision of the Child Jesus; she immediately understood the great sacrifice that had been made for her, and developed an unshakeable faith. Tried to join the Carmelites, but was turned down due to her age. Pilgrim to Rome, Italy at for the Jubilee of Pope Leo XIII whom she met and who knew of her desire to become a nun. Joined the Carmelites at Lisieux on 9 April 1888 at age 15, taking her final vow on 8 September 1890 at age 17. Known by all for her complete devotion to spiritual development and to the austerities of the Carmelite rule. Due to health problems resulting from her ongoing fight with tuberculosis, her superiors ordered her not to fast. Novice mistress at age 20. At age 22 she was ordered by her prioress to begin writing her memories and ideas, which material would turn into the book History of a Soul. Therese defined her path to God and holiness as The Little Way, which consisted of child-like love and trust in God. She had an on-going correspondence with Carmelite missionaries in China, often stating how much she wanted to come work with them. Many miracles attributed to her. Declared a Doctor of the Church in 1997 by Pope John Paul II.
St Theresa’s Autobiography
In the Heart of the Church I will be Love
I persevered in the reading and did not let my mind wander until I found this encouraging theme: Set your desires on the greater gifts. And I will show you the way which surpasses all others. For the Apostle insists that the greater gifts are nothing at all without love and that this same love is surely the best path leading directly to God. At length I had found peace of mind.Since my longing for martyrdom was powerful and unsettling, I turned to the epistles of St Paul in the hope of finally finding an answer. By chance the 12th and 13th chapters of the 1st epistle to the Corinthians caught my attention, and in the first section I read that not everyone can be an apostle, prophet or teacher, that the Church is composed of a variety of members, and that the eye cannot be the hand. Even with such an answer revealed before me, I was not satisfied and did not find peace.
When I had looked upon the mystical body of the Church, I recognised myself in none of the members which St Paul described, and what is more, I desired to distinguish myself more favourably within the whole body. Love appeared to me to be the hinge for my vocation. Indeed I knew that the Church had a body composed of various members, but in this body the necessary and more noble member was not lacking; I knew that the Church had a heart and that such a heart appeared to be aflame 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 saw and realised that love sets off the bounds of all vocations, that love is everything, that this same love embraces every time and every place. In one word, that love is everlasting.
Then, nearly ecstatic with the supreme joy in my soul, I proclaimed: O Jesus, my love, at last I have found my calling: my call is love. Certainly I have found my place in the Church, and you gave me that very place, my God. In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love, and thus I will be all things, as my desire finds its direction.