St. Therese of the Child Jesus
St. Therese, often called the Little Flower, was born in Normandy, France, in 1873. She was the youngest of the five daughters born to Lois and Zelie Martin. Therese was a very lively, loveable little girl. Her father called her his "little queen:. Yet she could be overly sensitive. In the story she wrote of her life, The Story of a Soul, she tells how the Infant Jesus helped her overcome this weakness.
It was Therese's great desire to enter the Carmelite convent where two of her sisters were already nuns. But since she was only fifteen, permission was not granted. Therese felt sure that Jesus wanted her to spend her life loving him and only him. She kept praying and asking the prioress to admit her. She even dared, on a trip to Rome, to ask Pope Leo XIII himself to grant her heart's desire, and finally she was allowed to enter.
Although she was only fifteen, Therese did not expect to be babied. "Obedience, prayer and sacrifice" were her program. She had a thirst to suffer for love of God. Therese had the spiritual courage of a real heroine. "May Jesus make me a martyr of the heart or of the body, or better, both!" she wrote. And she meant it. In winter she suffered from the cold and dampness of her plain bedroom. There were other kinds of sufferings, too. Whenever she felt humiliated or misunderstood, she would offer her pain to her beloved Jesus. She would hide her hurts under a smile. She went out of her way to spend time with people who were hard to get along with. She told Jesus to do with her whatever was His will.
Sister Therese tried hard to be humble. She called her great confidence in God her "little way" to holiness. She always had a buring desire to become a saint. The young nun wanted to find a "short cut" or an "elevator", to take her quickly to sanctity. She looked in the Bible and found the words, "Whoever is a little one, come to me". When she lay dying, she could say, "I have never given the good God anything but love, and it is with love that he will repay. After my death, I will let fall a shower of roses. I will spend my heaven doing good on earth." The Little Flower died on September 30, 1897. She was proclaimed a saint by Pope Pius XI in 1925, and a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II in 1997.
St. Therese taught us her "little way". To follow this way, we can offer our small sacrifices joyfully to Jesus throughout each day. We can go out of our way to be kind to difficut people. If our feelings are hurt, we can offer this to Jesus, instead of holding a grudge.