Friday, January 02, 2015

Today is the Birthday of Little Therese of Lisieux

"I am resigned to being always imperfect, and I even find happiness in it.  
I keep an eye on myself to see if I can discover any new imperfections." 
- Therese to Mother Agnes of Jesus

Patroness of the no damn good.


She kind of is, you know.  Little Therese really, honestly, truly thought she was the worst of sinners - despite the fact that Jesus preserved her from mortal sin.  Was she just pretending to be humble and account herself as nothing?  Not a few really, really devout Catholics believe that - not just about Therese but other saints as well.  We can think we know so much from studying mystical writers and theologians, but it seems to me rather pretentious to claim to know their conscience, their intimate being before the Divine Light.

Little Therese was fond of saying that she wished to be found at the 'table of sinners'... astonishingly expressing that sentiment in the depths of the dark night, her trial of temptations against the faith before she died. In that abject state, she experienced the faithlessness of the atheist, the bitter taste of rancor and envy of the unbeliever, even the hollow, vacuous, hopelessness of those who hate the faith. Like her Master, "who had not known sin, yet became sin," thus she, who was innocent (as she had been once assured she had never committed a mortal sin), became sin, as it were. Not in the exact same sense of Christ of course, but she shared, or imitated His redemptive suffering in and through that experience... seated with Christ crucified, at the table of sinners. True to her word, there was no attitude of condescension whatsoever - she found herself annihilated and in need of mercy.  That is the secret of St. Therese.

Many people - would-be clients and followers of St. Therese, complain that they lack her innocence, that they lack her love, that all they find in themselves is misery and the awful despair of knowing they are too sinful to attain the heights of sanctity. Yet it is precisely for those of us who find ourselves powerless and unfaithful, "miserated" by our selfish self indulgence and sin, who attract Therese and are most fitted to her little way. We do not have to worry about merit or accomplishments to attract her patronage, or more precisely, to attract the merciful love of God. This is what Little Therese teaches and demonstrates in her little way of confidence and love. It is our misery which attracts the divine mercy. It is our sins and our faults which so attracts God that he sent his only Son to be crucified for our sins. Therefore, who can not trust in merciful love when one is vulnerable enough, humble enough, to be embraced by it? The mystery is so deep, so wide, I can't express it.

“Do not be afraid of holiness, of letting yourself be loved and purified by God. … Let us allow God's holiness be transmitted to us. Every Christian is called to holiness; and holiness does not consist, first and foremost, in doing extraordinary things, but rather in letting God act. It is the encounter between our weakness and the strength of His grace”. - Pope Francis

Fernando Botero

H/T to Angela.  Happy birthday Little Therese! 


  1. "There is one science of which God knows nothing--arithmetic." Therese

    Happy Birthday, Little T!

  2. Beautiful Terry. I can never understand how some see St Therese as saccharine - the depth of her sufferings physical & mental are terrifying. The way she endured & teaches us is simple but not easy.

    1. Simple - a lot of popular hagiographies edit out a lot of her sufferings.

  3. I LOVE that Pope Francis quote!!! And thank you for the whole post - just what I needed to read today! Happy New Year Terry!

  4. Ah ! ! Thank you Terry ! Oh Happy Day to our friend, Therese ! Happy Day to us for her patronage.


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