St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face 
Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Feast Day: 1 October



Who was Thérèse?

Quotes of St.Therese


St Therese's 
Offering to Merciful Love

Pope Francis and St Thérèse

Poem by St. Therese and prayer


Further Reading

Who was 
Thérèse?
A brief biography:
adapted from www.sttherese.com

Marie-Françoise-Thérèse Martin was born in Alençon, France on 2 January 1873. She was the last of nine children born to Louis and Zélie Martin. Four of the children died before Thérèse was born - Joseph Louis, Joseph-Jean-Baptiste and Mélanie-Thérèse who died in infancy and Hélène who died when she was five. Thérèse and three of her surviving sisters Marie, Pauline and Céline became Carmelite nuns in Lisieux in Normandy a geographical region in the north-west of France. Her fourth sister Léonie entered the Visitandine convent in Caen also in Normandy.

When Thérèse was only four years old her mother Zélie Martin died. After this the family moved to Les Buissonnets in Lisieux, the home where St Thérèse then lived – and described as ‘the gracious nest of my childhood’ - until her entry to the Lisieux Carmel in 1888. It was in Les Buissonnets in 1883 that Thérèse was cured through the smile of the Blessed Virgin Mary of a mysterious illness which had left her seriously ill. It was also here that she received the Grace of Conversion, after midnight Mass on 25 December 1886, about which she wrote in her autobiography ‘I felt charity enter into my soul, and the need to forget myself and to please others’.

From an early age Thérèse wanted to give herself to God; she wrote that ‘from the age of three, I began to refuse nothing of what God asked of me’; she described Céline’s First Holy Communion as ‘one of the most beautiful days of my life’; she became a Child of Mary; she attended daily Mass with her father in the Cathedral of St Pierre in Lisieux. In May 1887 when she was fourteen she asked for and got her father’s permission to enter Carmel. Later that year, she travelled with her father and her sister Céline to Rome where she asked Pope Leo XIII for his permission to enter Carmel at the age of fifteen.

Thérèse became a Carmelite ‘to save souls and to pray for priests’. As a Carmelite nun Sr Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face devoted her life to God. She lived to a large extent in silence and continual prayer and engaged in the work and recreations of the community. She was initially assigned to the linen room and the refectory and later became assistant sacristan and was placed in charge of the novices in 1893. She undertook sewing, gardening, painting of religious objects and was a prolific writer.

All the writings of St Thérèse are infused with reference to God and scripture and with prayerfulness. Her works include religious plays, poems, specific prayers, hundreds of letters from before and after her entry to Carmel and her autobiography which was written at the request of her Prioress and later called "Story of a Soul" in which she articulated her Little Way of Spirituality and her Doctrine of Love. In 1895 St Thérèse made her Act of Oblation to Merciful Love (see below). 

St Thérèse became ill with tuberculosis in 1896 and suffered greatly for almost two years. During this time she also suffered a trial of faith and hope which she offered so that ‘the bright flame of faith’ can shine for those who do not believe. Towards the end of her life St Thérèse said she realized that her mission was about to begin, and she vowed to spend her heaven doing good on earth. She died on 30 September 1897 and was buried in the Lisieux Cemetery on 4 October 1897. Before her canonisation in 1925 the body of St Thérèse was brought to the Lisieux Carmel where today there is a constant stream of visitors and pilgrims to the St Thérèse Shrine. Her Universal Feast Day is celebrated on 1 October each year.





Quotes of St Thérèse


Let us go forward in peace,
our eyes upon Heaven,
the only one goal of our labours.


In the heart of the Church,
my Mother, I shall be LOVE.”

I will spend my Heaven
in doing good upon earth.


More than ever I realise 
that the smallest happenings of
our lives are guided by God.

My God, I choose
all that Thou willest!


We can never have
too much confidence
in the good God.

He is so mighty, so merciful...

              

I wanted to love, 
to love Jesus with a passion 
giving Him a thousand proofs of my love.

Prayer, for me, is an
aspiration of the heart;
it is a simple glance
towards heaven…”

I rejoice to be little,
because only children and those 
who are like them will be admitted
to the heavenly banquet.



St 
Thérèse's Offering to Merciful Love
St. Therese of Lisieux composed her Act of Oblation to Merciful Love on June 9, 1895.

http://www.rc.net/org/therese/q%26a.htm

O My God! Most Blessed Trinity, I desire to Love You and make You Loved, to work for the glory of Holy Church by saving souls on earth and liberating those suffering in purgatory. I desire to accomplish Your will perfectly and to reach the degree of glory You have prepared for me in Your Kingdom. I desire, in a word, to be a saint, but I feel my helplessness and I beg You, O my God! to be Yourself my Sanctity!
Since You loved me so much as to give me Your only Son as my Savior and my Spouse, the infinite treasures of His merits are mine. I offer them to You with gladness, begging You to look upon me only in the Face of Jesus and in His heart burning with Love.

I offer You, too, all the merits of the saints (in heaven and on earth), their acts of Love, and those of the holy angels. Finally, I offer You, O Blessed Trinity! the Love and merits of the Blessed Virgin, my dear Mother. It is to her I abandon my offering, begging her to present it to You. Her Divine Son, my Beloved Spouse, told us in the days of His mortal life: "Whatsoever you ask the Father in my name he will give it to you!" I am certain, then, that You will grant my desires; I know, O my God! that the more You want to give, the more You make us desire. I feel in my heart immense desires and it is with confidence I ask You to come and take possession of my soul. Ah! I cannot receive Holy Communion as often as I desire, but, Lord, are You not all-powerful?Remain in me as in a tabernacle and never separate Yourself from Your little victim.

I want to console You for the ingratitude of the wicked, and I beg of You to take away my freedom to displease You. If through weakness I sometimes fall, may Your Divine Glance cleanse my soul immediately, consuming all my imperfections like the fire that transforms everything into itself.
I thank You, O my God! for all the graces You have granted me, especially the grace of making me pass through the crucible of suffering. It is with joy I shall contemplate You on the Last Day carrying the sceptre of Your Cross. Since You deigned to give me a share in this very precious Cross, I hope in heaven to resemble You and to see shining in my glorified body the sacred stigmata of Your Passion. 
After earth's Exile, I hope to go and enjoy You in the Fatherland, but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for Your Love alone with the one purpose of pleasing You, consoling Your Sacred Heart, and saving souls who will love You eternally.

In the evening of this life, I shall appear before You with empty hands, for I do not ask You, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is stained in Your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in Your own Justice and to receive from Your Love the eternal possession of Yourself. I want no other Throne, no other Crown but You, my Beloved! Time is nothing in Your eyes, and a single day is like a thousand years. You can, then, in one instant prepare me to appear before You.

In order to live in one single act of perfect Love, I OFFER MYSELF AS A VICTIM OF HOLOCAUST TO YOUR MERCIFUL LOVE, asking You to consume me incessantly, allowing the waves of infinite tenderness shut up within You to overflow into my soul, and that thus I may become a martyr of Your Love, O my God! May this martyrdom, after having prepared me to appear before You, finally cause me to die and may my soul take its flight without any delay into the eternal embrace of Your Merciful Love. 
I want, O my Beloved, at each beat of my heart to renew this offering to You an infinite number of times, until the shadows having disappeared I may be able to tell You of my Love in an Eternal Face to Face!

Marie, Francoise, Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, unworthy Carmelite religious.
This 9th day of June, Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, in the year of grace, 1895.



Pope Francis and St 
Thérèse

Since his election in March 2013, Pope Francis has not hidden his love for St. Therese. On the return flight from World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in July 2013, a curious journalist asked him what he was carrying in his hand-luggage. One of the items was a book on St Therese!
On 7th September 2013, Pope Francis called a special prayer service for peace in Syria - and during the vigil in St Peter's square, verses from the poetry of St Therese were used.
We can expect a lot more references to Therese from this Pope, who clearly has great devotion to her!


“Do not be afraid to depend
solely on the tenderness of God as
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux did.”


Pope Francis

The following article is an excerpt from the story “Una rosa bianca da Santa Teresita” by Stefania Falasca, in the March 24, 2013 issue of AvvenireIt is translated from the French and courtesy of the Sanctuaire de Lisieux  and reproduced here with kind permission of Maureen O'Riordan, author,  "Saint Therese of Lisieux: A Gateway"

Anyone who had the opportunity to be in contact with and establish a friendship with Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio knows that he had the habit of enclosing in his letters, no matter how short, . . . a picture of the Carmelite saint, Thérèse of Lisieux.  In this way he wanted to emphasize his personal choice, full of meaning, of the spiritual bond that united them.

At the beginning of his pontificate, we saw Pope Francis give the President of Argentina, Cristina Kirchner, a white rose, a sign of the “little Thérèse” to whom he prays especially.

But why and from where did this fondness for Thérèse begin?

I was wondering about this very thing in Aparecida in 2007.  At the time, I met Cardinal Bergoglio briefly in front of the Brazilian Marian Shrine between meetings of the Preparatory Committee of the final document . . .

He said to me, “Do not be afraid to depend solely on the tenderness of God as Saint Thérèse of Lisieux did, who, for this reason, is a beloved daughter of the Blessed Mother and a great missionary saint.”

 It was [an invitation] to see the Church and her mission [as being] on the road of the “little way” given by his teacher of Spiritual Childhood, the way on which Pope Francis is beginning his Pontificate.

I learned a little later that, when he came to Rome, in between meetings Father would go to pray in front of a statue of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus in a little church run by the Franciscans in Borgo, near the Tiber.

In Buenos Aires also, his veneration of the Patroness of the Missions was well known by his priests, and it was spread particularly in the “villa miserias” [shantytowns, slums] of the Argentine capital [Buenos Aires].

But now let’s get to the roses.   Father Bergoglio had returned to Rome at the end of 2007 for the Consistory.  And with him, the figure of little Thérèse reappeared: ”When I have a problem,” he said to us, “I entrust it to her.  I don’t ask her to resolve it, but to take it into her hands and help me; almost always, I receive a rose as a sign.”

He told how one time, having made an important decision about a difficult question, he put everything in St. Thérèse’s hands.  Some time later, in the doorway of the sacristy, a woman he didn’t know gave him three white roses.

He explained that it was a Jesuit, Father Putigan, who in 1925 spread a prayer seeking the intercession of St. Thérèse.  He then recited a passage from the prayer: “Little Flower of Jesus, ask God to grant me the grace that I place with confidence in your hands.”

In the way he spoke, one felt a sense of his modesty united to a great simplicity, a sincere trust, so much so that I, too, felt moved to imitate him.  In one particular instance, following his example, I invoked the Saint, but, to my great disappointment, I received no roses.  At the first opportunity, I said to him by telephone, “Father, you remember the story of the roses…Well, nothing! Not one rose arrived for me.  Of course, this doesn’t surprise me; I understand…these things happen to those who have already attained a certain level, like you, those who are ‘in good standing.’  No one can say that I’m a model of virtue…”  The Pope was silent.  Then, in a very calm voice, he replied, “That means that she will answer you and grant you a grace greater than the one you have asked for…”  And it was really so.



Poem by St. Thérèse: "My Song for Today"
Prayer for the Feast Day


My Song for Today

My life is but an instant, a passing hour.
My life is but a day that escapes and flies away.
O my God! You know that to love you on earth I only have today!...


Oh, I love you, Jesus! My soul yearns for you.
For just one day remain my sweet support.
Come reign in my heart, give me your smile. Just for today!




Lord, what does it matter if the future is gloomy?
Oh pray for tomorrow, oh no, I cannot!...
Keep my heart pure, cover me with your shadow. Just for today.



There are 14 stanzas total in this poem.
To read the entire poem click here

O God, who open your Kingdom
to those who are humble and to little ones, lead us to follow trustingly in the little way of Saint Thérèse,
so that through her intercession
we may see your eternal glory revealed. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.





Further Reading

St Therese website, including an account of the visit of her relics to Ireland in 2001:
http://www.sttherese.com/

Account of the visit of St. Therese's relics to our Carmel here in Kilmacud in 2001:
Relics visit 2001

Website for the centenary of St Therese in 1997:
http://www.ewtn.com/therese/therese.htm
 
“Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: A Gateway”  with information, mailing list and blog by Maureen O’Riordan:          http://www.thereseoflisieux.org

Society of the Little Flower, spreading devotion to St Therese:
http://www.littleflower.org/

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