Posted by: fvbcdm | October 2, 2013

Feast of Saint Therese of Liseux (1 October 2013)

This day is many things at the same time: it is the commemoration day of Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus whom the Catholic world knows as “the Little Flower.” It is the first day of the month of October, dedicated traditionally to the Holy Rosary of Our Lady; it is the first day of the last quarter of this year of Our Lord [2013].  When I was a child, there were about thirty saints who were recognized as Doctors of the Church. They were all men, all well educated, all of whom had written copiously and wisely, and all of them had lived to a ripe age before going into eternal life. Now, we have three Doctors of the Church who are women, two of whom were not well educated in the ordinary sense of the term, and one of them died at the age of twenty-four—very young to be a Doctor of the Church.

It is this young woman whom we celebrate today. She was born in Normandy in northwestern France in 1873. She entered the Carmelite monastery of cloistered nuns in Lisieux when she was fifteen, and died just nine years later.  Immediately after her death there occurred a storm of popularity and devotion to her which moved the popes to beatify and then canonize her, and now to declare her a Doctor of the Church, that is, a saint who exemplified to a very great degree the wisdom of holiness and is held up by the Church for the example of the Christian community now and in the future.

Those of us who are undergoing physical problems have in her a remarkable example of faith in the face of physical sufferings, sickness, and the approach of death. One day, as the dying young nun was seated in her wheelchair in the monastery garden, she spread her emaciated hands on her lap and sat there, studying them with obvious interest. One of the Sisters with her asked, “Sister, what are you looking at?” Saint Therese answered, “I am looking at my hands. It is so beautiful to see oneself being destroyed!” Without faith, this might sound like masochism. But to those who long for heaven and union with God, it makes perfect sense.  In the same vein, she surprised the convent doctor one day when he asked her, by way of preparing her for death, “Sister, are you resigned to die?” She looked up in surprise and said to the good man who didn’t realize the sort of person he was dealing with, “Resigned to DIE? Doctor, I am resigned to LIVE!”  Life was painful for her, death was highly desirable.  Shortly after that she died with the words on her lips: “My God, I love you.”

Today, let us rejoice in this relatively new saint of ours and this latest and by far the youngest of the Doctors of the Church—a 24-year old girl who had almost no formal education, but was very rich in the wisdom of the gospel. We might well ask her to share with us her view of life, joy, suffering, and death and to help us to live, as the prayer after the Our Father at Mass says, “as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”  Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This is a CDM composed by Father Brown in the past.


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