Having celebrated a Baptism for the infant Mason Lubecki on Sept. 30 and his family got me thinking about Jesus, children, and one of the all time great saints of our Catholic-Christian heritage, St. Theresa of Lisieux, aka as St. Theresa of the child Jesus, and also known as the “little flower.” (Her feast day is celebrated on Oct. 1).
I think many of you know her story. St. Theresa lived from 1873-1897. If there is such a thing as a holiness gene she certainly had it. She came from a very holy family — her parents Zelie and Louis Martin have also been canonized saints (by Pope Francis in 2015) and five of her own sisters became Carmelite sisters.
But as some have said saints are not born but made and she certainly had all the right ingredients to be a holiness guru. She entered the Carmelite convent when she was 15 but by the time she was 23 her activities were limited due to tuberculosis. Due to this illness she was invited by her superior to reflect on childhood and life in the convent.
These thoughts she poured out in her autobiography — “The Story of a Soul.” It may be one of the all time best selling books religious books next to the bible. She sought fidelity to God by looking at the little things like the birds in the field and the flowers in the garden and being attentive to everyday duties like cooking and cleaning.
She knew she wasn’t called to be a martyr like Joan of Arc but her way to holiness would be by being attentive to the little ways of everyday life. Her life was short but filled with deep love of God and humanity. Some lines attributed to her read:
“For me prayer is an upward leap of the heart, an untroubled glance toward heaven, a cry or gratitude and love, which I utter from the depths of sorrow as well as the heights of joy....I say an Our Father or a Hail Mary when I feel so spiritually barren that I cannot summon up a single worthwhile thought. These two prayers fill me with rapture, and feed and satisfy my soul.”
St. Theresa is the patron saint of missionaries throughout the world. You are welcome to come and see a beautiful statue dedicated to her honor at St. Joseph in Lee Center anytime, and pray for your intentions.