Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By F. K. Bartels

10/2/2011 (2 years 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."

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)

10/2/2011 (2 years 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. Denied that 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.

-----

F. K. Bartels 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 catholicpathways.com

---


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


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2014
Sports:
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.



Comments


More Living Faith

Why do Catholics love the crucifix so much?

Image of The crucifix is an important part of our Catholic identity.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The crucifix is a quintessentially Catholic icon. Although other Christians fondly and proudly display the cross, it is the crucifix that is largely unique to the Catholics. Why is the symbol of the death of Christ so important to Catholics? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


POPE: 'A man who is alone ends up bitter, not fruitful, and he gossips about others' Watch

Image of The pope told the priests that

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"A man who is alone ends up bitter, not fruitful, and he gossips about others." Those are the words of the Pope, speaking out during a meeting with 123 priests working in the Diocese of Caserta along with 19 bishops from Italy's Campania region this past ... continue reading


UPROOTED: Largest displacement of worldwide religious communities reached last year Watch

Image of In the nation of Central African Republic, widespread lawlessness and violence between Christians and Muslims resulted in at least 700 deaths in Bangui in December -- alone.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The year of 2013 turned out to be a very grim year indeed for religious tolerance and diversity. Millions of Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and others representing a range of faiths were forced from their homes on account of their religious beliefs. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


Papal visit to US not confirmed, but archbishop confident

Image of Pope Francis coming to Philly next September!

By Catholic News Agency (News Consortium)

Lets all Pray that Pope Francis comes to visit us here in the United States of America. Philadelphia, PA  (CNA/EWTN) - Reports that Pope Francis will travel to the U.S. for the World Meeting of Families in 2015 remain unconfirmed by the Vatican; however, ... continue reading


Catholic should be a way of life, not just a Sunday thing

Image of Catholic means universal. It's time to apply that to how we live.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

To know the way forward, we must look to the past. As the very first chapter Ecclesiastes tells us, "there is no new thing under the sun," meaning that everything we think of as new is actually old and whatever we can imagine has been imagined, and even tried by those ... continue reading


Let the Holy Spirit Teach us How to Become Prayer Watch

Image of St. Paul wrote to the early Christians in Greece, telling them to pray without ceasing. (1 Th. 5:16-19) They did not live lives of ease, in any sense of the word. They had families, occupations, bills, and yes, difficulties and struggles beyond what many of us could imagine. They also suffered greatly for their faith. Yet, he instructed them to Pray without ceasing. Did he really mean it? I believe that he did.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

When the Spirit dwells in a person, from the moment in which that person has become prayer, he never leaves him. For the Spirit himself never ceases to pray in him. Whether the person is asleep or awake, prayer never from then on departs from his soul. Whether he ... continue reading


Pope Francis meets, blesses Sudanese woman condemned to death for faith Watch

Image of Meriam Ibrahim was sentenced to death for apostasy, but has since escaped her sentence and left Sudan.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has met and blessed the Sudanese woman who was recently condemned to death for her faith. Meriam Ibrahim was condemned to death in Sudan for the crime of apostasy. VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - Pope Francis has met and blessed Meriam Ibrahim at the ... continue reading


MIRACLE IN ENGLAND: God's face smiles over Norfolk, or is it Sean Connery or Karl Marx? Watch

Image of This image is suspected to show the face of God in clouds over Norfolk, however, it may also be the face of Karl Marx or Sean Connery.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The English have long thought themselves special, and a new photograph from Norfolk in England may just prove that God does indeed smile on the English. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Amateur photographer Jeremy Fletcher took an image that shows a face in ... continue reading


Pope Francis to visit Mafia stronghold this weekend Watch

Image of Pope Francis' stance against organized crime is seen as remarkable; the Mafia and the Catholic Church have previously been seen by many as having

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Incensed about the loss of innocent life in his immediate surroundings, Pope Francis plans to travel to the Mafia stronghold of Caserta, near Naples this weekend in an effort to set things right. The murder of three-year-old Nicola "Coco" Campolongo, a boy who ... continue reading


Pope expresses regret with exodus of Christians from Mosul Watch

Image of

By Elise Harris (CNA/EWTN News)

In his weekly Sunday Angelus address Pope Francis mourned the fleeing of the last Christians from the Iraqi city of Mosul, who were told by ISIS forces last week to either convert, pay the Jizya tax or leave. (CNA/EWTN News) - "They are persecuted; our brothers are ... 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, Jeremiah 15:10, 16-21
10 A disaster for me, mother, that you bore me to be ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 59:2-3, 4, 10-11, 17, 18
2 rescue me from evil-doers, from men of violence ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:44-46
44 'The kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 30th, 2014 Image

St. Peter Chrysologus
July 30: St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church ... 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