Therese of Lisieux

Three centuries after Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, a young and unpretentious Carmelite nun lived in the Carmel of Lisieux in France: Therese of Lisieux, also called "the Little Flower" (1873-1897). She could have been unnoticed...

Therese was weak (at least that is what she thought) and ill. Therefore, she could not practise severe asceticism. Over years of living a deep inner life, she became increasingly convinced that this was not the way to go.  She had to go another route: the "Little Way".   

The vision of Therese de Lisieux was: we live in a time of great technical discoveries, therefore we don't have to climb stairs. We can just take the elevator. This can be applied to spiritual life too: the arms of Jesus are the elevator. If we trust, we can just enter this elevator.
In daily life, this means that living with God is not so much a matter of making great efforts. The important thing for Therese of Lisieux is to perform daily tasks well, like for example the washing (painting Carmel of Reno, Nevada US). We should perform our daily tasks well, but most of all, we should perform them with love. This is the secret of "Little Flower": love.

At one time she did not know what her vocation really was. Suddenly she had this certainty, deep in her heart. Her vocation was to be love. Her well known words are: "In the heart of the church, my mother, I will be love". (Video: Therese of Lisieux - my vocation

For Therese, this love was not only for God, but for all human beings, nearby or far away. She would have liked to become a missionnary. She loved people, without prejudice nor judgement, not with condescension but equally. She wanted to sit together with sinners, at the same table, and lead them to Light. Sit together, at the same table, like Jesus had done (Matthew 9, 10).

Her faith has been severely put to the test in a dark night of about one and a half year. In this night, she experienced not only a thick and high wall between her and God, but also the temptation to believe in nothingness.

Her deep relationship with Mary, the mother of Jesus, helped her to go through this difficult time and not to abandon the faith. Mary was really a mother for Therese.

This Carmelite nun who died young and could have been unnoticed, has caused a fundamental change, not only in Carmelite life, but in theology too. In the catholic church, she is a saint and Doctor of the Church. Her autobiographical writings are translated into almost all languages.  

Nowadays, Therese of Lisieux has still so much to tell us! But we must accept the romantic writing style of her time and not give up when it seems too sugary. The hard core of her message, being love, brings us closer to God and the humans. It leads us into contemplation and everyone can do it. 

Picture: pond, Carmel of Oirschot - Karmel_Oirschot.pdf

I am like a tired traveller, falling down at the end of his journey... Yes, this is how I feel, but I fall in the arms of God!

(Therese of Lisieux, yellow notebook, septembre 15th, 2 weeks before she died)

A little piece of straw, sign of love:
Therese_of_Lisieux -_Little_pieces_of_straw