Love, roses and children are keywords for Saint Therese of Lisieux. A young Carmelite novice, Therese lived a cloistered existence in a convent only miles away from where she was raised. She died in obscurity at the age of 24, never realizing her dream of working in the foreign missions, yet she is considered to be one of the greatest saints of modern times and a Doctor of the Church.
Therese Martin was the youngest of five daughters born to a very religious couple. At the age of four she lost her mother to breast cancer and the family moved from Normandy, France to the city of Lisieux to be among other relatives. Therese was spoiled by her older sisters and when the eldest joined the convent, she vowed to not only follow her, but to become a saint. She was admitted to the Carmelite cloister at the unusually young age of fifteen. Her sentimental fantasy of convent life was replaced by the reality of menial chores and constant prayer. She came face-to-face with her own doubts and weaknesses when she became ill with tuberculosis and her dream of doing missionary work in Hanoi was shattered Along with her diminished health, Therese had to accept the fact that she would never have the opportunity to travel the world and do great things. Feeling small and ineffectual, Therese went through a period of spiritual dryness where she doubted that her prayers were even heard.
By embracing her powerlessness, she was able to transform her life and develop her “Little Way”. A personal philosophy devoted to performing small, loving acts scattered throughout her day like so many flowers. Gradually, Therese realized that there were no actions that could be considered insignificant, no matter how small. If they were performed with love, they would have great force.
In 1896, while she was bedridden, Therese was ordered to write her autobiography. This self examination is part of the Carmelite spiritual regime. After her death, the book called “The Story of A Soul” was published in a small printing. It soon became spectacularly successful, as ordinary men and women were able to easily identify with its author’s struggle to accept living a hidden, mundane life. It has been translated in at least 50 languages and Saint Therese has a very active and enthusiastic following all over the world.
The international influence of her book realized Therese’s dream to be a foreign missionary. Her Little Way is greatly influenced by the simplicity of children, so the concerns of children are one of her patronages. On her deathbed she vowed that “I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. After my death I will let fall a shower of roses.”
A sign that your novena to Saint Therese is being answered is the sight and smell of roses.
Novena to Saint Therese of the Child Jesus
O little Therese of the Child Jesus, Please pick for me a rose from the heavenly gardens and send it to me as a message of love. O little flower of Jesus, ask God today to grant favors I now place with confidence in your hands.
(Mention your request here).
Saint Therese, help me to always believe as you did, in God’s great love for me, So that I might imitate your “Little Way” each day.