Loyola University Chicago

Catholic Studies


St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Featured Intellectual 4/20

"Let’s face it, there is something kind of irresistible about a beautiful young French girl who wanted to be the Bride of Christ so badly that at the age of 14 she traveled to Rome, knelt at the feet of Pope Leo XIII, and begged for permission to enter the freezing cold, crawling-with-neurotic-nuns cloistered convent at Carmel. Who spent the rest of her short life in obscurity but on spiritual fire, going so far at one point as to offer herself as Christ's Holocaust VictimWho, when she coughed up a big gob of blood at the beginning of Lent one year (she would die of TB), was thrilled to know that more suffering, and heaven, lay ahead. Who died at the age of 24, with gangrened intestines and no pain medication, crying: “I love Him!” Who had first thrown off a spiritual biography in a cheap lined notebook, under orders, in her spare time during “recreation” hour, that her Superior tossed in a drawer for awhile, has gone on to sell millions of copies, and over a hundred years later is still, this morning, a very respectable #20,017 on Amazon."

 -Heather King, Shirt of Flame 



From St. John Paul II's homily on the Proclamation of St. Thérèse as a 'Doctor of the Church,' Sunday October 19, 1997

" Everyone thus realizes that today something surprising is happening. St Thérèse of Lisieux was unable to attend a university or engage in systematic study. She died young: nevertheless, from this day forward she will be honored as a doctor of the Church, an outstanding recognition which raises her in the esteem of the entire Christian community far beyond any academic title...

"Thérèse of Lisieux did not only grasp and describe the profound truth of Love as the centre and heart of the Church, but in her short life she lived it intensely. It is precisely this convergence of doctrine and concrete experience, of truth and life, of teaching and practice, which shines with particular brightness in this saint, and which makes her an attractive model especially for young people and for those who are seeking true meaning for their life.

Before the emptiness of so many words, Thérèse offers another solution, the one Word of salvation which, understood and lived in silence, becomes a source of renewed life. She counters a rational culture, so often overcome by practical materialism, with the disarming simplicity of the "little way" which, by returning to the essentials, leads to the secret of all life: the divine Love that surrounds and penetrates every human venture. In a time like ours, so frequently marked by an ephemeral and hedonistic culture, this new doctor of the Church proves to be remarkably effective in enlightening the mind and heart of those who hunger and thirst for truth and love."




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