Spreading Her ‘Little Way’ through a Shower of Roses

By Susan Ciancio

If you have ever said any prayers to St. Therese of Lisieux and then saw or smelled roses afterward, you understand what she meant when she said: “I will spend my heaven doing good on Earth.”

Today, we celebrate the Feast of St. Therese, so it is only fitting that we examine her life a bit and learn how her “little way” became so huge for the Church and still helps build a culture of life among the faithful today.

Below are five things you should know about St. Therese of Lisieux.

1) Therese Martin was born in France in 1873. She knew from a young age that she wanted to devote her life to God within the confines of a convent. While on a trip to Italy, during an audience with the pope, Therese asked for his permission to enter the Carmel order the following year—at the age of 15. He gave his permission, and in April 1888 she joined.

2) Therese’s parents, Louis and Zelie Martin, were canonized as saints in 2015. Of their nine children, four died under the age of five. They originally thought that Therese, who was always very sickly, would die as a child as well, but she was a fighter. This holy couple, who were open to life despite the many sufferings they endured, also had two other daughters who became nuns.

3) After Therese joined the Carmelites, she led a contemplative life, spending her days in prayer and service to the community. She once said that she joined the convent to “save souls and pray for priests” and that her mission was to “make God loved.” Therese spent only nine years in the convent before she died, and many of those years were spent in quiet suffering. But during that time, she wrote the beautiful and inspirational words of wisdom that would become the book Story of a Soul. Her autobiography has touched the hearts and minds of millions of people, and her “little way” of loving, serving God and others, and suffering has led countless people to Christ. She used to say: “What matters in life is not great deeds, but great love.” And she believed that we should all do the ordinary with extraordinary love.

4) St. Therese’s “little way” is the perfect tool for children trying to make a difference and will help them learn how to help build a culture of life. Teaching children at a young age that they can offer up little sufferings for preborn babies, that they can show love to the elderly with simple acts like calling a grandparent or baking cookies for an elderly neighbor, and that a simple act of kindness toward someone who is feeling sad will certainly please God and help win more hearts and minds for LIFE!

5) In 1997, St. John Paul II declared St. Therese a Doctor of the Church. She is one of only four women—including Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Siena, and Teresa of Avila—to have earned such an honor.

This young woman, who saw herself as a little flower of Jesus, died at the age of 24. Her last words were “My God . . . I love you.” As we think about her today, let us contemplate how we can use her example and her words in our everyday life to build a culture of life. As Therese taught, we don’t always have to do grand things or make monumental sacrifices to help others see the dignity in all human beings and draw them closer to Christ. We just need to do little things often and with love.

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