“THE LITTLE FLOWER”
“To strew flowers – it is to offer Thee my griefs,
my joys, my little sacrifices, these are my flowers.
The rose, its petals strewn – true image of the heart
that would each moment immolate itself for Thee.”
These are the words of “St. Therese of the Child Jesus,” and they truly reflect the austere way of life she chose to live. In 1888, when Therese Martin was fifteen years old, she entered the Carmelite Monastery in her small home town of Lisieux, in France. After suffering an agonizing illness with tuberculosis she died in 1897 aged twenty-four. During the nine years she spent in the Carmel Therese practiced her “little way” to sanctity. She was declared a Saint and was canonized in l925.
Therese never missed an opportunity in her daily life to practice humility and sacrifice in order to enter into the heart of Jesus. Her very existence was an offering to Him. Every day was an opportunity to perfect herself in prayer and deed. The Prioress, Mother Marie de Gonzague, wrote the day after Therese’s Profession:
“This angelic child is only seventeen and a half;
yet she has the judgment of a woman of thirty,
the religious perfection of an old and accomplished
novice, and very good self mastery; she is a perfect
Therese loved flowers, especially red roses and pink daisies. She likened herself to a “Little Flower” gathered by Jesus. She gave herself so entirely to Him.
Therese wrote in a letter to her sister Celine:
“I am not always faithful, but I am never discouraged; I leave myself wholly in the arms of my divine Lord;
He teaches me to draw profit from all –both good and ill that He finds in me(St. John of the Cross). He teaches
me to speculate in the Bank of Love, or rather it is He who acts for me without telling me how He goes to work,
that is His affair and not mine; my part is complete surrender, reserving nothing to myself, not even the
gratification of knowing how my credit stands with the Bank.”
Therese was a writer and poet. Her autobiography, “Story of a Soul” has now been read by millions of people worldwide. It has been claimed as a spiritual masterpiece. St. Therese, “The Little Flower” has indeed bloomed in Heaven.
When she was dying one of the Sisters expressed what sorrow she would feel on her death and Therese replied encouragingly,
“Oh no, you will see; it will be like
a shower of roses.”
True to her word, roses keep appearing in peoples lives in fulfilment of prayer. Long after her death, her work continues for the conversion of souls into the heart of Jesus. The example of her “little way” has touched so many.
Quotations from “St. Therese of Lisieux – her last conversations.”
Translated by John Clarke, O.C.D.
“Thoughts” Translated from the French “Pensees”
by an Irish Carmelite.
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