Today, to honor Saint Thérèse of Lisieux on her feast day, we offer some quotes and prayers of hers, with which we hope to gain insight into her spirituality.
Among my treasures is a small book called “Thoughts of the Servant of God Thérèse of the Child Jesus”. The little book may still be available through archive.org, but they are quickly purging the most truly Catholic works from their archives. It seems they find a problem with the content and so must remove them. Hmmm …
And so, today we offer a bit of beauty and wisdom from the Little Flower.
He whose Heart ever watches, taught me that while for a soul whose faith equals but a tiny grain of mustard seed, He works miracles, in order that this faith which is so weak may be fortified; yet for His intimate friends, for His Mother, He did not work miracles until He had put their faith to the test.
Did He not let Lazarus die though Martha and Mary had sent to tell Him that he was sick? At the marriage at Cana, the Blessed Virgin having asked Him to come to the assistance of the Master of the house, did He not reply that His hour was not yet come? But after the trial, what a recompense! Water changed to wine, Lazarus restored to life. . . (Hist. d’une ame, Ch. VI)
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The Lowest Place
The only thing not subject to be envied is the lowest place. It is therefore this lowest place alone which is without vanity and affliction of spirit. Still, the way of a man is not always in his power and sometimes we are surprised by a desire for that which glitters. Then, let us take our place humbly amongst the imperfect, deeming ourselves little souls whom the good God must sustain at each moment.
As soon as He sees us truly convinced of our nothingness and we say to Him: ‘My foot hath slipped: Thy mercy, O Lord, hath held me up.’ He stretches out His Hand to us; but if we will attempt to do something grand, even under pretext of zeal, He leaves us alone. It is enough therefore that we humble ourselves, and bear our imperfections with sweetness: there, for us, lies true sanctity. (Counsels and Reminiscences)
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In a Strange Land
Life is passing, eternity draws nigh; soon shall we live the very life of God. After having drunk deep at the fount of bitterness, our thirst will be quenched at the very source of all sweetness.
Yes, the figure of this world passes away, soon shall we see new heavens; a more radiant sun will brighten with its splendours ethereal seas and infinite horizons … We shall no longer be prisoners in a land of exile; all will be at an end and with our Heavenly Spouse we shall sail o’er boundless waters: now our harps are hung upon the willows that border the rivers of Babylon, but in the day of our deliverance what harmonies will then be heard! With what joy shall we not make every chord of our instruments to vibrate! Today, we weep remembering Sion . . . how shall we sing the songs of the Lord in a strange land? (V Letter to her sister Celine)
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Of Humility, a Peach
The most eloquent discourses would be incapable of inspiring one act of love without the grace that moves the heart.
See a beautiful, rose-tinted peach, of so sweet a savour that no craft of confectioner could produce nectar like it. Is it for the peach itself that God has created this lovely colour and delicate velvety surface? Is it for the sake of the peach that He has given it so delicious a flavour? No, it is for us; what alone belongs to it and forms the essence of its existence is its stone. It possesses nothing more.
Thus is Jesus pleased to lavish His gifts on some of His creatures, that through them, He may draw to Himself other souls. But in His mercy He humiliates them interiorly, and gently constrains them to recognize their nothingness and His Omnipotence. These sentiments form in them, as it were, a kernel of grace, which Jesus hastens to develop for that blessed day when clothed with a beauty immortal, imperishable, they shall without danger have place at the Celestial banquet. (xvi Letter to her sister Celine.)
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We have taken nothing
The Apostles, without Jesus, laboured long– a whole night– without taking any fish. Their toil was pleasing to Him but He wished to show that He alone can give anything. He asked only an act of humility: “Children, have you any meat? And St. Peter confesses his helplessness: “Lord we have laboured all night and have taken nothing.”
It is enough! The Heart of Jesus is touched. … Perhaps if the Apostle had taken a few little fishes the Divine Master would not have worked a miracle; but he had nothing, and so through God’s power and goodness his nets were soon filled with great fishes. That is just our Lord’s way. He gives as God, but He will have humility of heart. (XVII Letter to her sister Celine)
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A novice confided to her that she made no progress and felt quite discouraged.
“Till the age of fourteen,” said Thérèse, “I practised virtue without feeling its sweetness. I wished for suffering but had no thought of finding my joy therein; that is a grace which has been granted me later. My soul was like a beautiful tree whose blossoms no sooner opened than they fell.
“Offer to the good God the sacrifice of never gathering the fruits of your labours. If He so will that during your whole life you feel a repugnance to suffer and to be humiliated, if He permit that all the flowers of your desires and of your good-will fall to earth without fruit, be not troubled. At the moment of your death. He will know well how to bring to perfection, in the twinkling of an eye, beautiful fruits on the tree of your soul.
“We read in the Book of Ecclesiasticus: “There is an inactive man that wanteth help, is very weak in ability, and full of poverty: yet the eye of God hath looked upon him for good, and hath lifted him up from his low estate, and hath exalted his head; and many have wondered at him and have glorified God. Trust in God, and stay in thy place. For it is easy in the eyes of God, on a sudden to make the poor man rich. The blessing of God maketh haste to reward the just, and in a swift hour His blessing beareth fruit!” (Counsels and Reminiscences.)
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“To avoid this calamity I have but to say humbly from the depths of my heart: ‘O my God, I implore of Thee, suffer me not to be unfaithful!’
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On Humility – The Valley
“Oh when I think of all I have to acquire!” exclaimed a novice.
“Say, rather, ‘to lose’. Jesus it is who charges Himself with the care of filling your soul according as you free it from its imperfections. I plainly see that you are taking the wrong road; you will never arrive at the end of your journey.
You wish to scale a mountain and the good God wants to make you descend: He is waiting for you down in the fertile valley of humility.” (Counsels and Reminiscences).
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Of Criticism and Praise
In a moment of temptation and combat a novice received this note (from St. Thérèse : “The just man shall correct me in mercy and reprove me; but let not the oil of the sinner anoint my head.” I cannot be corrected or tried except by the just, inasmuch as all my Sisters are pleasing to God. It is less bitter to be reproved by a sinner than by the just; but through compassion for sinners, to obtain their conversion, I pray Thee, O my God, that I may be bruised by the just souls who are roundabout me.
Again, I beg that the oil of praise, so sweet to nature, anoint not my head, that is to say, enervate not my mind, by making me believe that I possess virtues which I have only with difficulty practised several times.
“O my Jesus! Thy Name is as oil poured out, it is in this divine perfume that I wish to be wholly bathed, far away from the notice of creatures.” (Counsels and Reminiscences)
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The following prayer of Oblation was found in the copy of the Gospels which she carried always close to her heart. We have included a few other of her personal prayers. The citation for the source is at the end of the post.
AN ACT OF OBLATION AS A VICTIM OF DIVINE LOVE
O my God, O Most Blessed Trinity, I desire to love Thee and to make Thee loved–to labour for the glory of Holy Church by saving souls here upon earth and by delivering those suffering in Purgatory. I desire to fulfill perfectly Thy Holy Will, and to reach the degree of glory Thou hast prepared for me in Thy Kingdom. In a word, I wish to be holy, but, knowing how helpless I am, I beseech Thee, my God, to be Thyself my holiness.
Since Thou hast loved me so much as to give me Thy Only-Begotten Son to be my Saviour and my Spouse, the infinite treasures of His merits are mine. Gladly do I offer them to Thee, and I beg of Thee to behold me only through the Eyes of Jesus, and in His Heart aflame with love. Moreover, I offer Thee all the merits of the Saints both of Heaven and of earth, together with their acts of love, and those of the holy Angels. Lastly, I offer Thee, O Blessed Trinity, the love and the merits of the Blessed Virgin, my dearest Mother–to her I commit this Oblation, praying her to present it to Thee.
During the days of His life on earth her Divine Son, my sweet Spouse, spake these words: “If you ask the Father anything in My Name, He will give it you.” Therefore I am certain Thou wilt fulfill my longing. O my God, I know that the more Thou wishest to bestow, the more Thou dost make us desire. In my heart I feel boundless desires, and I confidently beseech Thee to take possession of my soul. I cannot receive Thee in Holy Communion as often as I should wish; but, O Lord, art Thou not all powerful?
Abide in me as Thou dost in the Tabernacle–never abandon Thy Little Victim. I long to console Thee for ungrateful sinners, and I implore Thee to take from me all liberty to sin. If through weakness I should chance to fall, may a glance from Thine Eyes straightway cleanse my soul, and consume all my imperfections–as fire transforms all things into itself. I thank Thee, O my God, for all the graces Thou hast granted me: especially for having purified me in the crucible of suffering.
At the Day of Judgment I shall gaze on Thee with joy, as Thou bearest Thy sceptre of the Cross. And since Thou hast deigned to give me this precious Cross as my portion, I hope to be like unto Thee in Paradise and to behold the Sacred Wounds of Thy Passion shine on my glorified body.
After earth’s exile I trust to possess Thee in the Home of our Father; but I do not seek to lay up treasures in Heaven. I wish to labour for Thy Love alone–with the sole aim of pleasing Thee, of consoling Thy Sacred Heart, and of saving souls who will love Thee through eternity. When comes the evening of life, I shall stand before Thee with empty hands, because I do not ask Thee, my God, to take account of my works. All our works of justice are blemished in Thine Eyes. I wish therefore to be robed with Thine own Justice, and to receive from Thy Love the everlasting gift of Thyself. I desire no other Throne, no other Crown but Thee, O my Beloved! In Thy sight time is naught – “one day is a thousand years.”
Thou canst in a single instant prepare me to appear before Thee. In order that my life may be one Act of perfect Love, I offer myself as a Victim of Holocaust to Thy Merciful Love, imploring Thee to consume me unceasingly, and to allow the floods of infinite tenderness gathered up in Thee to overflow into my soul, that so I may become a very martyr of Thy Love, O my God!
May this martyrdom, after having prepared me to appear in Thy Presence, free me from this life at the last, and may my soul take its flight without delay into the eternal embrace of Thy Merciful Love! O my Beloved, I desire at every beat of my heart to renew this Oblation an infinite number of times, “till the shadows retire,” and everlastingly I can tell Thee my love face to face. Amen.
A MORNING PRAYER
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 fulfill perfectly 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.
PRAYER TO OBTAIN HUMILITY
(Written for a Novice)
O JESUS! When Thou wast a wayfarer upon earth, Thou didst say:–“Learn of Me, for I am Meek and Humble of Heart, and you shall find rest to your souls.” O Almighty King of Heaven! my soul indeed finds rest in seeing Thee condescend to wash the feet of Thy Apostles – “having taken the form of a slave.”
I recall the words Thou didst utter to teach me the practice of humility: “I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also. The servant is not greater than his Lord. If you know these things, you shall be blessed if you do them.” I understand, dear Lord, these words which come from Thy Meek and Humble Heart, and I wish to put them in practice with the help of Thy grace. I desire to humble myself in all sincerity, and to submit my will to that of my Sisters, without ever contradicting them, and without questioning whether they have the right to command.
No one, O my Beloved! had that right over Thee, and yet Thou didst obey not only the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph, but even Thy executioners. And now, in the Holy Eucharist, I see Thee complete Thy self-abasement. O Divine King of Glory, with wondrous humility, Thou dost submit Thyself to all Thy Priests, without any distinction between those who love Thee and those who, alas! are lukewarm or cold in Thy service. They may advance or delay the hour of the Holy Sacrifice: Thou art always ready to come down from Heaven at their call.
O my Beloved, under the white Eucharistic Veil Thou dost indeed appear to me Meek and Humble of Heart! To teach me humility, Thou canst not further abase Thyself, and so I wish to respond to Thy Love, by putting myself in the lowest place, by sharing Thy humiliations, so that I may “have part with Thee” in the Kingdom of Heaven.
I implore Thee, dear Jesus, to send me a humiliation whensoever I try to set myself above others. And yet, dear Lord, Thou knowest my weakness. Each morning I resolve to be humble, and in the evening I recognise that I have often been guilty of pride. The sight of these faults tempts me to discouragement; yet I know that discouragement is itself but a form of pride. I wish, therefore, O my God, to build all my trust upon Thee. As Thou canst do all things, deign to implant in my soul this virtue which I desire, and to obtain it from Thy Infinite Mercy, I will often say to Thee: “Jesus, Meek and Humble of Heart, make my heart like unto Thine.” Amen.
(Saint Thérèse de Lisieux. The Story of a Soul (L’Histoire d’une Âme): The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux (Link)
† . Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.
† . Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy kingdom come! Viva Cristo Rey!
† . Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.
† . St. Joseph, protect us, protect our families, protect our priests.
† . St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Please pray for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary!
~ by evensong for love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, King.
Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin! Give me strength against thine enemies!