Shower of Roses
After Death I Will Let Fall a
St. Therese of Lisieux was born in France in 1873, the well-loved daughter of parents who both, prior to their marriage, had thought their vocation was to be found in the religious life, to no avail. Her father, Louis Martin, a watchmaker, had desired to be a monk. Due to his lack of knowledge of Latin, he was not accepted. Zelie Guerin, her mother, was a maker of lace, and had a wish to become a Sister of St. Vincent de Paul. She was also turned away.
Therese was the youngest of nine children. All five children that survived became nuns and remained close all their lives. Therese’s life, from as young as the age of three, was spent being devoted to God and His Blessed Mother. She used her play time to make altars to Our Lady, decorated with flowers and candles, and praying devoutly with her sister Celine. They would pretend they were nuns and dreamt of a life in the convent, sacrificing and praying.
Therese’s life was not without tragedy and suffering. Her mother died when she was only four and a half years old. Her 16-year-old sister Pauline, quickly
became her second mother. She was a happy child, virtually untouched by sadness for a number of years. Pauline nurtured and taught Therese well. Their bond grew so strong that, when Pauline entered the Carmelite convent five years later, Therese became ill due to the separation from her beloved sister. The unknown illness remained
with Therese for several months until a miraculous vision of Our Lady appeared smiling at her. Immediately, she
As she grew up, she realized that if her dream to enter the Carmelite convent, where two of her sisters had previously taken their vows, was to be fulfilled, she would have to convince others that she could handle the rigors of Carmelite life. She prayed that Jesus would help her to control her emotional outbursts, as she was given to burst into tears for the slightest criticism. On Christmas Day in 1886, her prayers were answered, in that, during a difficult moment with her father, she remained composed. Jesus had come into her heart and done what she could not do herself. He had made her more sensitive to the feelings of others than to her own.
At the tender age of 14, she approached the superior of the Carmelite convent, followed by going to her bishop, requesting admittance to the convent. Both requests were denied. On a pilgrimage to Rome, she, along with her father and sister Celine, had an audience with Pope Leo XIII. Against orders, she implored the Holy Father to overrule the denied requests. Her courage did not go unnoticed, the Vicar General was impressed and soon Therese was, at 15 years old, admitted to the Carmelite convent, six years younger than the required age.
Therese knew as a Carmelite nun she would never be able to perform great deeds. Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word,
and the doing of the least actions for love.
She took every chance to sacrifice, no matter how small it would seem. She smiled at the Sisters she didn’t like. She ate everything she was given without complaining. When accused of things when she was not at fault, she remained silent, fell to her knees and begged forgiveness. These little sacrifices cost her more than bigger ones, for these went unrecognized by others.
She continued to be attentive to her great ideal: how she could achieve holiness in the life she led. She wanted to be a saint. Therese devoted herself to becoming a saint by suffering humiliation and pain in silence, making small sacrifices, remaining child-like with the wisdom of an adult.
In 1896, Therese coughed up blood. She kept working without telling anyone until she became so ill a year later that everyone knew it. Her pain was so great that she said that if she had not had faith she would have taken her own life without hesitation. But she tried to remain smiling and cheerful - and succeeded so well that some thought she was only pretending to be ill. Her one dream was the work she would do after her death, helping those on earth. I will return, she said. I feel that my mission is soon to begin, to make others love God as I do, to teach others my little way.’ I will spend my Heaven doing good upon earth ...
On September 30, 1897, at the age of 24 years, Therese died. Therese’s little way of trusting in Jesus to make her holy and relying on small daily sacrifices instead of great deeds appealed to the thousands of Catholics who were trying to find holiness in ordinary lives.
Therese of the Child Jesus was declared a Saint on May 17, 1925, five years and one day after St. Joan of Arc.
Novena to St. Therese
St. Therese, the Little Flower, please pick me a rose from the heavenly garden and send it to me with a message of love. Ask God to grant me the favor I thee implore and tell Him I will love Him each day more and more.
(The above prayer, plus 5 Our Father’s, 5 Hail Mary’s, 5 Glory be’s, must be said on 5 successive days, before 11 a.m. On the 5th day, the 5th set of prayers having been completed, offer one more set - 5 Our Father’s, 5 Hail Mary’s, 5 Glory be’s.)