Novena to St Therese
22nd - 30th September
Feast Day: 1 October
novena was composed by the nuns of St Joseph's Carmel, Kilmacud. Each
day has been written by a different sister of the community. She has
selected a photo of Therese, a quotation of her choice from the
writings of St. Thérèse and provided a short reflection about it.
The reflections are unedited, just as the Sisters presented them.
novena is unique because it not only highlights the diversity in
the spirituality of Therese, but also the variety of thought in a
modern Carmelite community, and how St. Thérèse can speak to different
people in different ways! We know there will be something in this
novena for everyone, regardless of your situation or state in life.
After reflecting on the given text, the prayer given at the bottom should be recited each day.
pray with and for you as you journey with St. Thérèse for these nine
Quick Links: Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5
Day 6 Day 7 Day 8 Day 9 Feast day
Day 1: 22nd September
|"I have only to cast a glance in the Gospels and immediately I breathe in the perfumes of Jesus' life"
Jesus today for all that you need: He will give you your heart's
desire. His best gift is the one He gave St. Therese - a thirst for the
Word of God. The Scriptures became her Book of Life, there she learned
to be the vibrant, loving Christian, the disciple of Christ, that we
too want to be. She said too: "I
have the vocation of an apostle... but O my beloved, one mission alone
would not be sufficient for me, I would want to preach the Gospel on
all five continents simultaneously... from the beginning of creation
until the consummation of the ages".
Day 2: 23rd September
|"Make me resemble you, Jesus!"
is the shortest of Therese's 21 published prayers. She carried it over
her heart. I took it for my Carmelite motto. It is an exclamation of
love, but also expresses the desire to be transformed into the likeness
of Christ, and to be united with Him. It is a useful aspiration to
refocus wandering thoughts and reaffirm relationship with Jesus.
Day 3: 24th September
|"More than ever I realise that the smallest happenings of our lives are guided by God"
This is one of my favourite quotes from St
Therese, as I find it brings a sense of peace, gratitude and trust in
any circumstance. Therese lived her "Little Way" of confidence and love
day by day and this brought her the assurace that God was like a
devoted parent, "more tender than a mother", watching over her, guiding
and protecting her at every instant. Often we don't see God's hand at
work in our lives until later; but when we look back, aren't we often
amazed at how he was reaching down to us in the tiniest detail?
Perhaps we've been faced with the sad and shocking news of the sudden
death of a loved one; or the unexpected diagnosis of a serious illness;
a missed opportunity; the loss of our job or a frustrating reversal of
our plans. Our world seems to cave in and we wonder how we can possibly
Somehow through prayer we get the enabling grace to accept the new
situation, and looking back we see how it has actually turned out for
the best. We discover that God was waiting to be gracious to us in
these difficult situations and opened up new and undreamed of horizons
of love and growth.
Likewise, in our happy experiences in life,the Lord surprises us with joy; when we open our eyes of trust, like Therese, we can see the tokens of his care, love and guidance, strewn upon our path every day, and we are filled with gratitude.
Today, let us ask
Therese to give us those trusting eyes of a child, to realise that a
Father's love watches over us at every moment of our lives, in sorrow
as in joy, in trials as in peace.
For a few moments, gaze upon this photograph of Therese as a child of eight. For me it is a disarming icon of trust: the unquestioning total trust of a child who knows she is loved and safe in the tender arms of a devoted parent.
Let Therese's peace flow into your heart and soul.... today...
Day 4: 25th September
|"We can never have too much confidence in the good God. He is so mighty, so merciful."
This is my favourite quote from St. Therese's book
"Story of a Soul", as I am always in need of God's mercy. The awareness
of God's countless mercies in my life can only lead to praise and
thanksgiving and renewed confidence in the goodness of God.
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
His mercies never come to an end
They are new every morning
Great is His faithfulness". (Lam 3:22-23)
Day 5: 26th September
desires are nothing; what pleases God in my little soul is that He sees
me loving my littleness and my poverty, the blind hope that I have in
His mercy. Ah! Let us love our littleness, then we shall be poor in
spirit and Jesus will come to look for us. He will transform us in
flames of love."
St. Therese wrote her famous Manuscript B
of a Soul) in response to a request from her sister Marie to put down
in writing her "little doctrine". When Marie read it, she was in awe of
her young sister and said "you are possessed by God" but she wonders
can she be possessed too when she lacks those great desires of Therese
to be love in the Heart of the Church. The above quotation is part of
Therese's reply to her sister. You'll see she doesn't let her, or us,
off the hook!
In this novena, Therese might be saying to us:
God worked marvels for Therese in her life and ever since. When people
pray to her, healings and conversions flow. During this novena, let us
dare to trust in
- Do you know who you are? God's precious son or daughter...
- Are you glorying in your Baptism - realising that the same power which raised Jesus from the dead is at work in you?
- Are you willing to bear with your littleness and frailties so that God's power can be at its best in your weakness?
- Can you trust that Jesus will come to look for us no matter what tangles we have got into?
God's Loving Heart as she did.
Day 6: 27th September
|"Draw me, we shall run after you..." (Cant 1:3)
as a torrent, throwing itself with impetuosity into the ocean, drags
after it everything it encounters in its passage, in the same way, O
Jesus, the soul who plunges into the shoreless ocean of Your Love,
draws with her all the treasures she possesses. Lord, You know it, I
have no other treasures than the souls it has pleased you to unite to
This text says to me that...
The more I try
to give myself completely to Jesus, to 'go with the flow' of his loving
plans for me, the more I can be confident that He will carry along with
me in the flow of His love and care, all I pray for, those I carry in
my heart, indeed all people, known and unknown, especially the most
needy, and all the concerns entrusted to my prayers.
Day 7: 28th September
|"...to please Jesus..."
At a very early age of about seven or eight, I
first met St. Therese. I was at a Mercy Convent in Derry, and one of
the Sisters wrote a beautiful play on the life story of St Therese. It
impressed me enormously at that early age. Though it is now many years
ago, I remember clearly a lovely little girl with long fair ringlets
walking across the stage with her Papa.
Every now and then she would
pick up a straw off the ground. She grew up in a very religious family
in Lisieux in France. She had been told that every tiny act could be
offered out of love for Jesus to please Him. At
every scene we saw her at various stages of her life, sometimes with
her family. She was aware of her faults and struggled to improve them.
It was clear to be seen she was always trying to be good. Jesus became
her great friend, in fact He became the centre of her life.This touched my heart... nearly made me envious even then!
For me the climax came at the last scene when the big grille of Carmel
opened, she knelt down for her Father's blessing. The dream of her life
had come true. She was allowed to enter the enclosure of Carmel at
15... for ever. She desired to give her whole life completely to God.
In 2013 language, this was for me a "wow" moment. She was a real heroine, though I did not know the word at the time. It inflamed my little heart.
Next year I took Therese for confirmation. To love and please Jesus and
save souls was her whole desire. Today I suddenly noticed a rose tree
in the garden. The wind had blown the pink rose petals all over the
green lawn. I felt Therese was showing me what she meant. They were
"little nothings..." as it were... her little Way of Love. In our
modern world anyone of any age, religion, or none... can draw
inspiration from St Therese... a smile, an act of charity, accepting
our failures (as she did), praising God when we don't feel like it,
thanking Him for the beauties of His creation. For her these were the
tiny petals of love offered to please Jesus. Even if in our case only a few times a day. In this Year of Faith, may she help us all to come closer to God who loves us as we are
and is closer to us than our own heartbeat. "I will spend my heaven
doing good on earth". May she send down roses of grace on the whole of
humanity during her novena this year, 2013.
"My vocation is Love"
Years passed since I was 7 or 8 and I
forgot all about my earlier experience. I was no little saint! Therese
turned up again in my teenage years. In Loreto Coleraine, where I was a
boarder for six years, we had a wonderful annual 3-day retreat which
really strengthened my faith and love too of Jesus. So when in my last
two years we read "The Story of a Soul" - "L'histoire d'une ame" in
French class - it rekindled my love for Therese. Actually our French
Inspector (though not a Catholic) loved St Therese and approved
of the book on the syllabus for our Senior/Leaving cert exam. Quite
extraordinary! He asked me at the exam - "what is the other name for St. Therese?". Of
course the answer was "Le petit fleur" - The Little Flower. We read in
class (French) of how St. Therese grew in love for Jesus. In fact He
had become her Tremendous Lover, her Bien-aime, her fiance sou Epoux.
For most of the other girls, it was a bit boring as if she was a bit
over the top! But not for me. It was into my barrow! Gradually I too
felt the call of Jesus to me personally to become a Carmelite. This is
where I have happily been for many, many years.
One last memory, in Paris for some weeks in 1951, three of us
classmates had the joy of living in this beautiful city to brush up our
French. On the last weekend we had booked the train to Lisieux, to
spend the Sunday there. News came through on the radio - Pauline, the
older sister and "little mother" of St Therese died. We were very
privileged to see her laid out in the Carmelite chapel and see her
through the grille. It was a wonderful grace. I marvel now how I saw
then the first Carmelite. Another stepping stone to my entry to Carmel
Kilmacud two years later. May Therese send many more vocations to
Carmel in Ireland. (Read "The Story of a Soul"!)
Day 8: 29th September
|"All is Grace"
This is a recipe for constant return to the
path of Truth and Love,
to which the Lord draws us.
Day 9: 30th September
|"...go to God with confidence and love..."
These are the last words St. Therese
wrote in her autobiography manuscript before the pencil fell from her
hands due to extreme weakness.
I think they sum up her whole life and
message so well.
A few months after writing these words, on this very date - 30
September - she died with the words - "Oh, I love him! My God, I love
To have confidence implies a relationship with another. It means that one can confide
in the other person, that there is total trust. If we are to have
confidence in God like Therese, we must continue to confide to him all
our needs, our joys and sorrows, hopes and fears - not just during a
novena, but always. When we do this, our trust grows, our love grows,
and we too will be able to say: "My God, I love you".
Day: 1st October
|The following contribution was written by a
90-yr-old Sister of our monastery:
"Jesus asks of us all, all, all,
as of the greatest saints..."
The greatest saint of modern times wished to be
called "Petite Therese" or "le Benjamin". She smiled through her tears.
Her last smile was always for a nun who glared across the end of the
That Sister believed they were close friends!
What joy a brave smile can bring.
Soon there could be miles and miles of smiles!
This final reflection in honour of St Therese's feast
day was written by yet another Sister:
"My vocation is love!"
O St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face,
during your life on earth you so ardently desired to remain constantly
at the foot of the Cross to gather the Precious Blood that streamed
down to the ground, and pour it on the souls of all pour sinners.
Remember us particularly in this Year of Faith, when the fruits of our
Redemption are more lavishly granted. Amen.
After the reflection for each day
continue as follows:
Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be...
to St. Thérèse
St Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face:
teach us to follow your little way
of confidence and trust.
Help us to realise that a Father's love watches over us each day of our lives, in sorrow as in joy, in trials as in peace.
Obtain for us the graces we hope for from God's infinite goodness.
St Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, pray for us.