ST THERESE OF LISIEUX (1873-1897)
The final patron saint of ‘The Hook of Faith is St Therese of Lisieux, patron of the missions.
Therese Martin was born on January 2, 1873. She was the youngest child of Louis and Zelin Martin. Thérèse felt an early call to religious life, and overcoming various obstacles, in 1888 at the early age of 15, she became a nun and joined two of her elder sisters in the cloistered Carmelite community of Lisieux, Normandy. After only nine years as a Carmelite religious, she died at aged 24, on 30th September 1897 following a slow and painful fight against tuberculosis.
Therese was canonised a saint on May 17, 1925 and declared a Doctor of the Church on October 19, 1997 by Saint John Paul II. She was described by Pope Pius X as ‘the greatest saint of modern times’.
If we were to judge Therese solely on these sparse details, we might be inclined to conclude that there was nothing extraordinary about her. But the life of Saint Therese as reflected in her writings has left a deep and lasting impression on the faithful. With Saint Francis of Assisi, she is the most popular saint of the Church.
The extraordinary thing about Therese is that practically nothing was known of her until after her death. This was because most of her short life was spent as a member of an enclosed religious community. It was only after the publication of her writings, especially the Story of a Soul, that the beauty of her faith and spirituality found its way into the consciousness of the faithful the world over.
Therese suffered from ill health all her life. In fact her parents had given up hope for her survival in her earliest years. She knew from early on in her life as a religious sister that she didn’t have the strength to do great things for the Lord. She agonised over this inability but it was revealed to her, after much soul searching, that she could contribute to the building up of the Kingdom of God by becoming LOVE in the heart of the Church. In her own words taken from the Story of a Soul:
‘Love!...that is what I ask… I know but one thing now – to love Thee, O Jesus! Glorious deeds are not for me, I cannot preach the Gospel, shed my blood…what does it matter? My brothers toil instead of me, and I, the little child, I keep quite close to the royal throne, I love for those who fight. (Story of A Soul, Chapter XI).
For the purposes of our new digital venture under the title ‘The Hook of Faith’, we have chosen three great missionaries to be our patrons: Saint Aidan, Saint Patrick and Saint Therese. The latter teaches us that being a true missionary is not necessarily about covering great physical distances. In our digital age, this insight is truer than ever. We can now reach out to the world not through travel but through the click of a button!
ST THERESE OF LISIEUX, PRAY FOR US!!