Sunday, October 2, 2011

On the Feast of St. Therese of the Holy Child and the Holy Face

Stories of St. Therese as told by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (taken from St. Therese: A Treasured Love Story): 

On Living a Perfect Life

...The one thing that interested (the Little Flower) was being perfect, not like everyone else.  When she was a little girl, very small, her older sister Leonie was getting too big to play with dolls.  One day when Therese and her other sister, Celine, were seated on the lawn, Leonie came out with a big basket filled with small dolls with strips of material and small pieces of lace.  And when Leonie laid the basket down, she took a big doll, and she put it on top of the basket, and she said, "Alright, sisters, now choose what you want."

Therese reached out and said, "I'll take everything."

And she said, "This became the rule of my life.  I wanted everything.  I wanted to be perfect.  I wanted to be God's."

You know the only reason we are unhappy, my good people, is because we are not striving enough to be holy as she was, wanting everything.  We are like trapeze artists.  We just let go of one trapeze, and we're still in mid-air, and we haven't caught hold of the other...  and we're not sure we will.  But when there is a resolute will to do everything and bear everything for God's sake, then life becomes happy on the inside.

So this is our first lesson about the Little Flower and a lesson of hope for you.  May we never give up hope.  You are much better than you think you are -- all of you.  You wouldn't be reading this otherwise.  First of all, you are kind, otherwise you wouldn't have bought this book! (Or stopped by to read this blog post!)  Second, you are patient, otherwise you wouldn't have stayed with me this far.  Third, you are charitable.  Fourth, you have a lot of fortitude because you continue along with me.   And so I might go on with all the other virtues.

Now you've got a good start for perfecting your life, so pray now to the Little Flower to not be ordinary!  You know, what is killing the world today is ordinariness.  Flatness.  Dullness.  Want of fire.  We can't be happy unless we are in love, and when we have perfect love, which is the love of God, then we are supremely happy.  You already have this love in great measure.

So then picture St. Therese again on her lawn reaching out for the basket of dolls saying, "I want everything."  And you say you want everything. You want perfect life.  That's what you want, and not for a few more years.  You want truth, not just the truths of literature to the exclusion of science.  You want love, not a love that knows satiety or fed-up-ness.  You want perfect life and perfect truth and perfect love, and that's God.

St. Therese playing St. Joan of Arc
in a play at Carmel
 The way of St. Therese is easy.  It's living the life that you are living now, only making it holy.  You sacramentalize it.

For example, take the water in the baptismal font.  See how the Church uses that as a symbol for cleaning the soul?  The bread is matter that's used to communicate to you the Divine Life in the Eucharist, and oil is for healing in the Sacrament of the Sick.  So your housework, your office work, whatever you happen to do, that's where you start to be a saint.  There.  What the Little Flower gives us is this supreme lesson in contrast with the past.  She's very modern.  There is no need of anyone wearing a hair shirt.  Our neighbors are hair shirts!  Life is a hair shirt!  We have to put up with it.

So if you want to know where you start to be a saint, start right where you are now.  Only, want to be perfect, saying to God, "I want everything.  I want You."  That's love.  That's happiness.

On Her Holy Death

One of the priests who was taking care of (St. Therese) at her death said, "Are you resigned to dying?"

She said, "I don't need any resignation to die, I need a resignation to live."  She said, "I have lived for our Lord, I want to die for Him.  This is my Love, and I want to be with the Beloved."

It was that simple.  What then was her judgment like?  Do you think she went to purgatory?  No.  She said she wouldn't go to purgatory.  That's confidence, isn't it?  That was not pride.  She said, "What is there in purgatory to burn?"

She said, "I have been a victim of Divine Love.  I've burned myself out for Him and, therefore, there will be nothing to burn in me for purgatory."

Her Intercession In Heaven

Now we come to her intercessory power in heaven.  And this is a point where I believe we need deep instruction -- intercession.  We do not mention it enough perhaps, in our sermons and in our teaching, but intercession means pleading for others. Now let me read you some of the last words of the Little Flower about her intercession:

Confidently I count upon not remaining inactive in heaven.  My desire is to still work for the Church and for souls.

You see, she didn't think that heaven was a place of total repose.  She says, "I'm going to work in heaven."

In another place she says, "Because I withdraw from the battlefield, I'm not going to be at rest."

To continue her words:

This I shall ask of God, and I am certain that He will hear me.  If I quit already the battlefield, it is not with a selfish desire of taking my rest.  Suffering has long since become my heaven here below and it is difficult to imagine how it will be possible for me to become acclimatized to a country where joy reigns unmingled with any sorrow.  Jesus must need to transform my soul completely as I couldn't stand eternal bliss.

In other words, she said, "When I go to heaven, I do not lose my interest in this world, I keep it."  Therefore, she became very confident that she would be our advocate and our attorney in the Kingdom of Heaven.  And continuing her thought:

Just now a few notes of distant music fall upon my ear and set me thinking that very soon I shall hear melodies beyond compare.  Yet this thought cannot give me but a moment's gladness.  Only one expectation makes my heart throb.  It is the love that I shall receive and the love that I shall be able to give.  I feel that my mission is now to begin.  My mission is to make others love the good God as I love Him, to give to souls my little way.  I will spend my heaven in doing good upon earth...
Prayers for the Feast Day and Every Day

Morning Prayer of St. Therese

O my God!  I offer Thee all my actions of this day for the intentions and for the glory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  I desire to sanctify every beat of my heart, my every thought, my simplest works, by uniting them to Its infinite merits; and I wish to make reparation for my sins by casting them into the furnace of Its Merciful Love.

O my God!  I ask of Thee for myself and for those whom I hold dear the grace to perfectly fulfill
Thy Holy Will, to accept for love of Thee the joys and sorrows of this passing life, so that we may one day be united together in heaven for all Eternity. Amen.

Miraculous Prayer for the Intervention of St. Therese

O glorious St. Therese, whom Almighty God has raised up to aid and cousel mankind, I implore your Miraculous Intercession.  So powerful are you in obtaining every need of body and soul that our Holy Mother Church proclaims you a "Prodigy of Miracles... The Greatest Saint of Modern Times."  Now I fervently beseech you to answer my petition (describe your petition here) and to carry out your promises of spending Heaven doing good on earth... of letting fall from Heaven a Shower of Roses.  Henceforth, dear Little Flower, I will fulfill your plea "to be made known everywhere," and I will never cease to lead others to Jesus through you.  Amen.

Ways to Observe the Feast of The Little Flower

* Coloring Pages for St. Therese's Feast Day from wonderful Charlotte at Waltzing Matilda -- and her personal St. Therese story to enjoy,  as well!

* Scads of ideas for cooking  on St. Therese's day over at Catholic Cuisine!

* A treasure trove of  celebration ideas can be found over at Shower of Roses!

*  The autobiography of St. Therese, The Story of a Soul, is free, online, here...  And starting at $4.79 here for a hardbound copy.

*And St. Therese: A Treasured Love Story, by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen can be found here.


MightyMom said...

I guess we all have our favorites among the host of saints.

She intrigues me.

GrandmaK said...

Today is my day to celebrate!!! She's been my constant companion (in name and thoughts) for nearly 65 years!!! Thanks be to God!!!! Have a wonderful day!!! Cathy

Lady.Rosary said...

There's always this hope inside to become perfect but unfortunately, most of the times we strive to be perfect because of all the imperfect reasons. We often forget that it is Him that should be the reason. It's the only way we can get closer to St. Therese's life.

Lady.Rosary said...

There's always this hope inside to become perfect but unfortunately, most of the times we strive to be perfect because of all the imperfect reasons. We often forget that it is Him that should be the reason. It's the only way we can get closer to St. Therese's life.

SQUELLY said...

Hey Lisa - it's been a while. Just catching up with all my favourite blogs. I was lucky enough to visit the relics of the little flower in London in 2009. It was really special.


Anonymous said...

I love St. Therese too... Who doesn't? Her simple way of loving God is irresistable. Even though she was extraordinary, she showed us the way "ordinary" people, like most of us, can grow closer to God.

I was passing by because I'm exploring Catholic blogs. After starting my own ( last month, I realized that were probably others similar to connect into... I'm a Catholic wife, mother, teacher and homemaker living in the Middle East with my husband (we've been married for 1 1/2 years), our 8 month old son, and our second little one that's still inside. I love coming across blogs by other Catholic wife and mothers, especially ones with big families - your own is lovely! Looking forward to coming back in the future!