St. Therese of Liseux has always been a favorite Saint of mine for various reasons. In this post, I will highlight the reasons for why this is so.
In an age of materialism and relativism, St. Therese of Liseux’s way of life sheds light upon what it means to live out our Christian vocations with conviction. The youth of today grows up in a society that holds a mistaken understanding of the good life—a life popularly portrayed as being filled with material goods and the promotion for instant satiation for any lustful thirst.
A turn to Therese and we get a glimpse of what the good life looks like properly. The life of a Catholic, as exemplified through St. Therese, is a life lived in genuine love of God and of neighbor. This is a love rooted not in self-satisfaction; rather, it is built on the foundation of love for the other. One must always keep in mind that, as brothers and sisters in Christ, we have to always love each other as Christ has commanded us to. This is a love which frees us from self-gratification so that we can serve and not be served. A good life, Therese teaches us through her own examples, is one in which we abandon ourselves so that others may be turned to Christ. This does not mean that with the abandoning of ourselves that we must completely abandon material wealth—like Buddhist theology insists—but it does mean we need to learn how to properly use wealth; that wealth should not be viewed as ends, but rather as means to further human development, not hinder it.
Further, we must work to vindicate the inherent and intrinsic worth of human life. We see St. Therese’s love for the world begins with her deep appreciation for the intrinsic dignity of the human person created in the likeness and image of God. The Catholic Church ceaselessly works to promote the dignity of the human person for she holds that all people are created in the image and likeness of God. This is precisely the reason why “The Little Flower” loved humanity so much—because in them she sees the image and likeness of the bride-groom Jesus. Because to love Jesus is to do as he has commands and love those who he loves, Therese unhesitatingly and unceasingly loved with a fiery passion.
Therese’s love, a love that every Christian should imitate, realizes the basic condition for salvation and peace. Her love understands that it is the basis upon which all other virtues are built and that it is the very virtue which, as St. Paul tells us, is the greatest of them all. Therese knows this to be true for she knows that it is her love for Jesus which would matter more than her occasional falling asleep at the Eucharistic celebrations; that it is her faith and love for those atheists in her time that would defeat their stubbornness rather than any intellectual reasons she can give; that it is love that would overcome sickness and conquer even death itself.