Wednesday, October 03, 2007

St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and Holy Face

Today's the most beautiful Feast day of my dearest dearest patron, Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and Holy Face! :) Yesterday and today were beautiful days for me. :) There was time (yay!) to go for morning Mass (yay!) and everything was beautiful even amidst all the tests and work that has to be done. I wonder how it must be in heaven. I can't wait. Haha. Pray for me, my dear blog readers, patience really is a necessary virtue.

Now, I'd like to write a little more about St. Thérèse. Here's a link to all I have written about her on my blog. I am sure many of you know a lot about her, after all, she's really really famous =D, "the greatest saint of modern times!" as Pope Saint Pius X said, almost prophetically, way before even St. Thérèse became Saint Thérèse. :) (I mean way before St. Thérèse was canonized.) Thus, I will write more about her prayers and her writings that really characterize and "show-off" what a beautiful most pretty and dear dearest soul St. Thérèse is. Most dear to Jesus and Mary! :)

[All excerpts and phrases etc, taken from various sources, including, The Story of the Soul, St Thérèse of Lisieux By Those Who Knew Her, the 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal, Douay-Rheims Holy Bible etc. etc.]

Her ideal throughout her entire life was simple, direct and heroic: "I want to be a saint." and that was all. Her whole life centred on this one ideal. "I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth." Her beautiful autobiography, The Story of a Soul, changed my life in a way I didn't know possible. Deo gratias et Mariae.

As Saint Paul in his second epistle to Timothy wrote: "For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of prudence." (2 Tim. 1:7) St. Thérèse brought this truth to light for us especially in this modern (or rather now, post modern) world in which we live in. Her holiness, a holiness founded on unshakeable confidence in God and absolute love for Him. Her doctrine of sanctity is enshrined for the ages in her own phrase, "the little way of spiritual childhood." This teaching was not original with St. Thérèse. It was Jesus Himself who taught it. Jesus Himself who urged His followers to become "as little children", as we read in today's Gospel. And today's Epistle is also very very beautiful. This epistle, taken from the old testament (the prophet Isaias) was something special to St, Thérèse during her short but extremely beautiful life. Here it is:

"Thus saith the Lord: Behold I will bring upon her as it were a river of peace, and as an overflowing torrent the glory of the Gentiles which you shall suck; you shall be carried at the breasts, and at the knees they shall caress you. As one whom his mother caresseth, so will I comfort you: and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. You shall see and your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an herb, and the hand of the Lord shall be known to his servants." (Is.66:12-14)

And also, the Gradual of the Mass today is also very very beautiful:

"I confess to Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them to little ones. My hope, O Lord, from my youth." (Mt. 11:25; Ps. 70:5)

What is love?

St. Thérèse explains in her own good way:

Here's an excerpt from a testimony by Sister Marie-Joseph of the Cross, O.S.B. who was the maid and governess under the service of M. Guerin, St Thérèse's uncle, before she joined the Benedictine nuns of the Blessed Sacrament at Bayeaux. She was the 8th witness and she testified this on 12-15 December 1910:

"Shortly after her first communion, when she was about twelve, she used to talk to me about God: how good he was to those who loved him, the love he bore each of us individually. As I did not feel all that much love for him, and said as much to her, she explained that love was not a matter of what you felt but of practising virtue, and that we should always try to please God in the least of our actions, without any attempt to draw attention to ourselves."

When the witness, Marcelline, before she became a nun, told St Thérèse that she intended to become a nun, St Thérèse told her this:

"we must always Love God a great deal, and to prove that love we must make all the sacrifices he asks of us. Don't worry, I'll be praying for you. Love God so that you won't be too afraid of him; he is so kind, really! Remember too to pray for those who do not love him, so that we can convert many souls."

As such, love of God equates love of sacrifice. The true definition of love is:

Love = Sacrifice

Love and Sacrifice are 2 things so interconnected, they cannot be separated. If you say you love someone, you say that you are willing to give your life for that someone. And, how beautiful that love is, so gentle, so warm, so tender, so infinite, that He would give up his life, hanging on something most disgusting, in order to bear the burden of our sins, our iniquities?

God chose St. Thérèse to dramatize this truth, to love and be like "little children", anew, reminding us always that great love, not great deeds, is the essence of sanctity.

What is perfection?

Perfection consists in doing His will, in being that which He wants us to be.

As St. Thérèse wrote in her autobiography.

"Jesus saw fit to enlighten me about this mystery. He set the book of nature before me and I saw that all the flowers He has created are lovely. The splendour of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of its scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. I realised that if every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness and there would be no wild flowers to make the meadows gay.

It is just the same in the world of souls - which is the garden of Jesus. He has created the great saints who are like the lilies and the roses, but He has also created much lesser saints and they must be content to be the daisies or the violets which rejoice His eyes whenever He glances down. Perfection consists in doing His will, in being that which He wants us to be.

I also understood that God's love shows itself just as well in the simplest soul which puts up no resistance to His grace as it does in the loftiest soul. Indeed, as it is love's nature to humble itself, if all souls were like those of the holy doctors who have illumined the Church with the light of their doctrine, it seems that God would not have stooped low enough by entering their hearts. But God has created the baby who knows nothing and can utter only feeble cries. He has created the poor savage with no guide but natural law, and it is to their hearts that He deigns to stoop. They are His wild flowers whose homeliness delights Him. By stooping down to them, He manifests His infinite grandeur. The sun shines equally both on cedars and on every tiny flower. In just the same way God looks after every soul as if it had no equal. All is planned for the good of every soul, exactly as the seasons are so arranged that the humblest daisy blossoms at the appointed time."

Beautiful. Dearest Jesus, help me only to do what Thou wilt want me to do. Thy Holy Will is most perfect.

Saint Thérèse's name in religion was Thérèse of the Child Jesus and Holy Face.

She composed a beautiful prayer in honour of His Most Holy Face:

"Jesus, Who in Thy bitter Passion didst become "the reproach of men and the Man of Sorrows", I venerate Thy Holy Face on which shone the beauty and gentleness of Divinity. In those disfigured features I recognize Thine infinite love, and I long to love Thee and to make Thee loved ...

May I behold Thy Glorious Face in Heaven!"

And here's a beautiful prayer I'd like to add here in this post to dearest St. Thérèse, my patron:

St. Thérèse, the little flower, please pick me a rose from the heavenly garden and send it to me with a message of love. Ask God to grant me the favour I thee implore and tell Him I will love Him each day more and more.

And here's an excerpt from Alone with God by Fr. Heyrmann S.J.:

October 3

St. Thérèse of the Child Jésus and Holy Face

1. In the Mass we read a passage of the Gospel hat is most appropriate to this Saint. It sounds as if Jesus was introducing “Little Thérèse” to the modern world: “Amen I say to you, unless you be converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:3). Thérèse of Lisieux never had any need of being converted: she was a child to the very marrow of the bones; never was she anything else; never did she wish to be anything else. She said, “Even if I were to live many more years, I would take care to remain a little child.”

2. Petition: The grace to grasp the Lord’s doctrine about becoming like little children: may we tread courageously the “Little Way” of St. Thérèse, which she paved and followed so heroically.

I. Little in Appearance

At first sight, and on a superficial estimate, St Thérèse does by no means appear a “grand Saint”. She made no foundations, worked no striking miracles, had no ecstasies, did nothing extraordinary, taught no wonderful doctrine. Her “teaching”, however original and personal it may have been, was exceedingly simple: “My little doctrine,” as she used to say. Nothing in her life, before or after her entrance into religion, could be described as extraordinary. When at the age of 24 she died, a fellow religious is recorded to have observed, “I wonder what one can say about her in her obituary notice.” Of that, God Himself had taken care. At the command of her Superior, she herself had written an account of her life. She did know that God had something to say to the world through her.

Yet, in her own eyes, she was and remained little. God was her Father and she was His child; and of this relation of child to Father she was fully convinced; this fact pervaded her whole life and her spirituality. Her style of writing and her figures of speech are childlike – perhaps they border on the childish; she is a ball with which Jesus plays as He pleases; if she meets an obstacle, she does not dash against it; being small, “she creeps beneath”.

“I am too little to be damned,” she once said humorously, yet very profoundly; her style bristles with diminutives.

If in all sincerity the great St. Paul could think and say that in him “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world, and the things that are contemptible, and the things that are not, that he might bring to nought things that are” (1 Cor. 1:27, 28), then we can readily understand what a poor opinion little Thérèse entertained of herself. But because of this poor opinion God chose to do great things through her.

II. Great in Truth

In this “little soul”, there is nothing that is petty, or childish. She loves to draw her figures of speech from the world of children, but in her spiritual life she is an adult, perfectly mature, and brave, who, like St. Paul, “had put away the things of a child”. Sensible devotion and consolation in prayer, anxiety to calculate what progress one is making or to gather merits she had gone beyond all these trappings of the spiritual life, that she might cling firmly to God’s holy will. “I have only one joy: to suffer for Jesus; and this joy, though not a matter of feeling, still surpasses every other joy … I have found the secret how to suffer in peace and joy: we need only will what God wills.” She was courageous: True courage,” she wrote, “consists in this: to desire the cross, even with dread in your heart, and with internal repugnance, as Jesus in the garden.” Her “Little Way” of total surrender to God in self-forgetting love, comes indeed very close to the “yet a more excellent way”, of which St Paul wrote to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 12:31).

Her zeal for the Missions throughout the world, and the letters she wrote to missionaries, proved the largeness of her heart: from the narrow window of her cell her eyes surveyed the whole world. Pope Pius XI appointed her Patroness of the Missions, together with St. Francis Xavier, the great Apostle of modern times.

III. God’s Work in Her

Little Thérèse was aware that she was a privileged child of God, and that God wanted to give through her a message to the Church. “Mother,” she once said to her Prioress, “you thought you were not imprudent when you told me that God had enlightened my soul, and had given me the experience of mature years. I am too small to grow vain on that account; too small to look for appropriate words to express how humble I am; I prefer to say the simple truth: He that is mighty hath done great things to me.” Throughout life her love of truth and of absolute sincerity was very great. She abhorred whatever savoured of sham, or pretence, or insincerity. To the world, and more still to all who in religion strive after perfection, she has announced the glad tidings that the greatest perfection can be achieved in the humblest surroundings, and in the most complete separation from the world.

Prayer: O Lord, who hast said, Unless you become as little children you shall not enter into the Kingdom of heaven; we ask of Thee the grace so to follow, by humility and simplicity of heart, in the footsteps of the virgin Saint Thérèse, that we may win eternal rewards. Who livest and reignest world without end (Collect of the Mass of today).

(as with St. Thérèse:) O Mon Dieu, comment je T'aime!

Deus propitius esto mihi peccatori

Jesus, Mary, I love Thee; Save Souls!

Jesu mitis et humilis corde, Fac cor nostrum secundum Cor tuum. (ter)

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