St. Therese of the Child Jesus' Prayer

April 12, 1992
Brother John Raymond

	Our prayer this week was written by St. Therese of the Child
 Jesus, The Little Flower. Many are familiar with her "Little Way."
 Others have benefited by the "heavenly roses" or graces which she
 showers on those who invoke her intercession.
	Therese Martin was born at Alencon, France on January 2, 1873.
 She was the youngest of nine children, four of whom died as infants.
 Her father was a watchmaker. The mother ran a small lace-making
 business from her home. The parents had both tried to enter
 religious life but discovered God's will lay elsewhere. But this
 experience became the basis for the very religious atmosphere of the
	The family suffered the tragic loss of its mother from cancer in
 1876. Therese was deeply affected by this loss. For ten years she
 suffered from shyness and being oversensitive. Her father sold his
 business, retired and moved near his brother-in-law's home in
 Lisieux. Pauline, the oldest of the five girls, became a second
 mother for Therese. She was to lose this mother too - but this time
 to the Carmelite convent. This second loss at the age of eight
 brought about an unexplainable illness in Therese. She suffered from
 chills, fevers, convulsions for over a year. The illness was
 miraculously cured when a statue of the Virgin Mary smiled at her.
	In 1887 Therese felt a strong calling to follow her older sister
 into the Carmelite convent. Because of her young age she had to
 obtain special permission from the local Bishop to enter. The Bishop
 did not grant her this wish. So, with her father she travelled to
 Rome to obtain an audience with the Pope. The Pope referred her back
 to the local Bishop with the words, "You will enter if God wills
 it." Finally, after some delay Therese entered Carmel in 1888.
	Suffering was to continue to mark Therese's path. After receiving
 the habit she heard the sad news that her father had become very
 ill. The next nine years her life in the convent seemed ordinary -
 at least externally. But her secret path to holiness was discovered
 when she became novice mistress. She told her novices "You know well
 enough that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our
 actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we
 do them." Therese practiced her little way of love in all things
 through constant self-denial. 
	During the month of April, 1896, Therese started coughing up
 blood. She was treated by a doctor and spent the month of June in a
 wheelchair. By July she was moved to the infirmary. Tuberculosis
 took over and she began having terrible attacks of suffocation and
 sweating spells. Besides her bodily suffering she endured complete
 darkness in her soul. God wished her to live by faith alone.
	Therese had always dreamed of being a great missionary and of
 becoming a martyr. Through her suffering she was to fulfill her
 desires. During this time she made light of her condition and
 cheered up those who came to help her. On her last day on earth she
 asked a sister if death was near. The sister replied that it was but
 perhaps God willed her to suffer for a few more hours. Therese
 responded, "Very well, I do not wish to suffer less." But soon
 Therese looked at her crucifix and gasped, "Oh, I love Him. My God I
 love You." Her head fell back and with a little sigh she died. She
 was twenty-four years old.
	Therese gave the following prophetic utterance shortly before her
 death, "I feel that my mission is soon to begin, to make others love
 God as I do, to teach others my little way. I want to spend my
 Heaven in doing good upon earth. . . After my death I will let fall
 a shower of roses. God would not inspire me with this desire to do
 good on earth after my death if He did not intend to realize it."
 After her death her sister Pauline received permission to put
 together Therese's writings. Her writings entitled The Story of a
 Soul became famous all over the Catholic world. Reports of wonderful
 cures and favors obtained through her intercession overwhelmed the
 Carmel in Lisieux. Therese was canonized in 1925 and was declared
 patron of the missions in 1927 (the other patron is St. Francis
	Once, as a Carmelite novice, Therese was talking to the Mother
 Superior when another nun walked in, commenting, "Therese, you are
 getting so thin and pale." Within the same hour another nun said
 "Therese, you're gaining weight and looking so healthy." This
 incident may have inspired the following prayer of St. Therese.


	My Lord and my God I have realized that whoever undertakes to do
 anything for the sake of earthly things or to earn the praise of
 others deceives himself. Today one thing pleases the world, tomorrow
 another. What is praised on one occasion is denounced on another.
	Blessed be You, my Lord and my God, for You are unchangeable for
 all eternity. Whoever serves You faithfully to the end will enjoy
 life without end in eternity. Amen.