Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By F. K. Bartels

10/1/2014 (1 month ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The regenerative and transfiguring gift of love brings with it all things

Then, nearly ecstatic with 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 proper 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. - St Theresa of the Child Jesus, the Little Flower

Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus: The Little Flower

Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus: The Little Flower

Highlights

By F. K. Bartels

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/1/2014 (1 month ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, saint teresa, saints, the little flower, F. K. Bartels


GLADE PARK, CO (Catholic Online) -- Known as the Little Flower of Jesus, St. Theresa (Therese of Lisieux) was born at Alencon in France, in 1873. She was the ninth child of Louis and Zelie Martin, both saintly parents, who had each desired to consecrate their own lives to God in the religious life when they were in their youth.

Called to a different vocation, Louis and Zelie focused their energy on another lofty vocation: the married life in which parents raise children for love of God, instilling in their hearts true knowledge of purpose and destiny.

Thus raised in a loving home, the ecclesia domestica, the "domestic church" in which her parents carefully nurtured all their children in the womb of Christian virtue and love, St. Theresa's vocation to the religious life manifested itself while she was yet only a young child.

By God's grace, she heard the silent yet persistent call of devotion in her heart, one which drew her toward a life of love, poverty, obedience and self-sacrifice, a life in which she could give of herself completely to her Beloved.

As the whisper in her heart which urged her to commend her life to God increased, seeing no other life for herself but that of the religious life, St. Theresa sought permission to enter the Carmelite Convent at age fifteen, only to be refused by the superior, which brought her as well as her father, who was eager to give his daughter to God, no small amount of suffering. As a result, father and daughter traveled to Rome as two companions on a saintly mission in order to seek the consent of Pope Leo XIII.

The Holy Father, however, preferred that the decision remain in the hands of the superior, who indeed consented only a short time later, on 9 April, 1888. The Little Flower of Jesus was only fifteen. At last the desire of her heart, one placed there by God himself, had been granted, and, St. Theresa, following in the steps of two of her older sisters, joyously entered the convent of Lisieux, a tranquil place of peaceful prayer, silent contemplation, and fervent love of neighbor.

The Little Flower lived that religious life for eleven years; the Gospel life, a life marked by humility, evangelical simplicity, poverty and all the rest; a life of constant growth in holiness, hidden in God, in which incomparable gifts of advanced prayer, contemplation, and mystical union rained from heaven.

Yet, what clearly stands out in her wondrous life of Christian virtue is her trust in God, a trust so great that, as we clearly see in her eagerness to enter the convent, she was able to fearlessly and joyously throw herself at our Savior's feet at such a tender age.

The Little Flower of Jesus: The Vocation of Love

So great was St. Theresa's love for Christ, so strong her desire to give totally and completely, that she longed to die a martyr's death. In her autobiography, written in obedience to her superior and published two years after her death, St. Theresa wrote, "Since my longing for martyrdom was powerful and unsettling, I turned to the epistles of Saint Paul in the hope of finally finding an answer." Yet, on her first reading, she would not find such an answer.

"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."

St. Theresa continued reading until she found what she termed an "encouraging theme": "Set your desires on greater gifts. And I will now show you the way which surpasses all others" (cf. 1 Cor 12:31).

The answer that the Beloved revealed to St. Theresa was love, queen of the virtues: love would be her calling, love her vocation, love her life. It was love that would bring her peace: "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.

"When I looked upon the mystical body of the Church, I recognized myself in none of the members which St. Paul described, and what is more, I desired to distinguish myself more favorably within the while body. Love appeared to me to be the hinge for my vocation. Indeed 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 there blood no more. I saw and realized 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 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 proper 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.
"

The Little Flower of Jesus: Prudent And Wise, Driven To Love To The End

In the Office of Readings -- from the Liturgy Of The Hours, the official and public prayer of the Church -- antiphon in Common of Virgins we read, "Radiant virgin, prudent and wise, you are the spouse of the holy Word of God." St. Theresa displayed profound prudence and wisdom in her trust in God; in her understanding of the holy Catholic Church as a nourishing mother whose life is lived for the sake of her children; in her penetrating grasp of the vocation of love; and in her unwaveringly fervent desire to travel to the farthest end along the path of Christ's will.

St. Theresa of The Child Jesus was, we might say, driven to love. Does this not reflect the life of our Savior? Our God who, driven by a resplendent, divine love beyond understanding, loved us to the very end? Further, it is our Savior who continues to give of himself in Eucharist, received, celebrated and adored by millions upon millions of Catholics around the world each day. That is Love to the end and beyond; Love which is perpetuated for all time, flowing into eternity itself.

The Little Flower of Jesus sacrificed her life for love of souls, for their salvation and entry into the heavenly Kingdom. She gave of herself for the building up of the Church, the People of God and the Mystical Body of Christ, for she saw the magnitude of her Beloved's love for them. That is truly a vocation of love, a love which is bound up in the Supreme Love, our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

St. Theresa died on September 30, 1897. As a result of her sanctity and the many miracles which were accounted to her intercession, the cause for her canonization was introduced only seventeen years later. The Little Flower's life was one of beauty, joy, and wonder, a life which continues to affect members of the Church to this day.

Therefore her death did not mark the end of her vocation of love, but rather sparked a new reality of "beginning" in which she continues to touch souls the world over, inflaming within them her ardent desire to love to the end.

-----

Deacon Fred Bartels serves the Diocese of Pueblo, Colorado, as a member of the Catholic Clergy. He is a Catholic writer who knows his Catholic Faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever receive. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at joyintruth.com

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2014
Lonely people:
That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.



Comments


More Living Faith

Pope says church must extend help to immigrants, 'so that all may be treated as children of God' Watch

Image of The world must now recognize the advantages of migration. Host countries get new workers to meet production needs,

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Speaking to the 300 participants in the Vatican-sponsored World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Migrants, the Pope says that the Catholic Church "is a mother without limits and without borders." He says that the church must welcome and assist all of God's children, ... continue reading


Feast of Christ the King and Advent: What Does it Mean? Watch

Image of The Church really IS the Mystical Body of the Risen Christ. That Body is inseparably joined to the Head. Jesus Christ is alive, he has been raised, and he continues His redemptive mission now through the Church, of which we are members. As we choose to actually live our lives liturgically, not just go through the motions, we can move through life in the flow of the liturgical calendar. We can experience the deeper mystery and meaning of life, now made New in Jesus Christ, the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6,7) Jesus Christ is King! Jesus Christ is meant to become the Lord of our whole lives, and inform the very pattern of how we live them.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

On November 23rd we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. It is one of many opportunities the Catholic Liturgical Church year offers to each of us consider the creature which is called time, receive it as a gift and begin to really live differently. Yet, for ... continue reading


Two bishops dine and dialogue with peace activists

Image of War doesn't decide who is right, just who is left.

By Tony Magliano

During the recent U.S. Catholic bishops fall assembly in Baltimore, two bishops decided to forego the military chaplains dinner sponsored by the U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains Office, and attended instead a simple supper and discussion on peacemaking. On the evening of ... continue reading


'God always forgives, but the earth does not,' Pope warns Watch

Image of The Pope urged the world's leaders to rein in their greed and help the hungry.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A doomsday scenario in which Mother Nature would exact her revenge is possible, even likely, Pope Francis warns. The pontiff was speaking out against the exploitation of natural resources for profit. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Pope urged the world's ... continue reading


Pope Francis' special message: Why Poverty? 'And while we speak of new rights, the hungry remain'

Image of When we give our loaves and fishes to Christ, there is no end to the Good that can come from it.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has asked the world to do more to help those who suffer from hunger and malnutrition. Despite gains made in infrastructure and outpourings of food, too many people with plenty have done too little to help. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - With ... continue reading


How do you raise a good, upstanding child? With daily prayers, weekly church attendance and the knowledge of God Watch

Image of Billy Graham, now 96, has reached out to millions with his joyous words of the truth of God and Jesus Christ.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Reverend Billy Graham, the world famous television evangelist and founder and chairman of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, has said that the reason the world seems to be in such dire straits is that children are not being raised right. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Learning Lessons for Life from Zaccheus and that Sycamore Tree Watch

Image of Zaccheus climbed that tree in order to see the Lord, not to be seen by Jesus. He did not care what the crowd thought of a grown man climbing a tree! He went after the encounter with Jesus Christ with a childlike simplicity and a reckless abandon. Do we?

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The Sycamore tree created a clear line of vision for Zaccheus. It helped him to rise above the crowd and see the Lord clearly. It placed him in the right position for the invitation that would follow. Jesus told him to come down for he was coming to his house! ... continue reading


Jesus Weeps and Calls us to Recognize His Visitation Watch

Image of The Cross, an instrument of torture, will become the sign of peace, for those who find their refuge under its shadow and embrace the One who stretches out His arms to embrace the whole world. There Jesus will deal definitively with the great enemy of peace, the sin which impedes it in each of our lives. With tenderness He looks out from the Mount of Olives and sees the Holy City of Jerusalem. How he loves that City. Then, Jesus weeps. He knows the City will soon be overtaken and destroyed by the armies of Titus. He weeps the tears of Love and cries compassion from His Sacred Heart

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Jesus shows His disciples - and He shows us us, because we are His disciples in this hour - the pattern of living in a continual communion with the Father. He invites them - and He invites us - into this very communion of love which He has with the Father, in the ... continue reading


Children deserve both father and mother, Pope Francis says Watch

Image of Children have the right to be raised by a mother and a father, Pope Francis said, emphasizing that

By CNA/EWTN News

Children have the right to be raised by a mother and a father, Pope Francis said, emphasizing that "the family is the foundation of co-existence and a remedy against social fragmentation." Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - The Pope made these remarks on Nov. 17 at ... continue reading


Here are 10 Very Interesting Facts About the Catholic Church You Probably Didn't Know! Watch

Image of Pope Francis commands the world's smallest professional army.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

How much do you know about the Catholic Church? Here are 10 fun facts you might not know. See how many you know and post your result in the comments! 1.    Vatican City has the highest crime rate in the world! With a population around 500 people and a ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Revelation 14:1-3, 4-5
1 Next in my vision I saw Mount Zion, and standing on ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Psalm Of David] To Yahweh belong the earth and all ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:1-4
1 Looking up, he saw rich people putting their ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 24th, 2014 Image

St. Andrew Dung Lac
November 24: Through the missionary efforts of various religious families ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter