The Little Way of St. Therese of Lisieux


In the heart of the church I will be love
Since my longing for martyrdom was powerful and unsettling, I turned to the epistles of St. Paul in the hope of finally finding an answer. By chance the 12th and 13th chapters of the 1st epistle to the Corinthians caught my attention, and in the first section I read that not everyone can be an apostle, prophet or teacher, that the Church is composed of a variety of members, and that the eye cannot be the hand. Even with such an answer revealed before me, I was not satisfied and did not find peace.
  I persevered in the reading and did not let my mind wander until I found this encouraging theme: Set your desires on the greater gifts. And I will show you the way which surpasses all others. For the Apostle insists that the greater gifts are nothing at all without love and that this same love is surely the best path leading directly to God. At length I had found peace of mind.
  When I had looked upon the mystical body of the Church, I recognised myself in none of the members which St. Paul described, and what is more, I desired to distinguish myself more favourably within the whole body. Love appeared to me to be the hinge for my vocation. Indeed I knew that the Church had a body composed of various members, but in this body the necessary and more noble member was not lacking; I knew that the Church had a heart and that such a heart appeared to be aflame with love. I knew that one love drove the members of the Church to action, that if this love were extinguished, the apostles would have proclaimed the Gospel no longer, the martyrs would have shed their blood no more. I saw and realised that love sets off the bounds of all vocations, that love is everything, that this same love embraces every time and every place. In one word, that love is everlasting.
  Then, nearly ecstatic with the supreme joy in my soul, I proclaimed: O Jesus, my love, at last I have found my calling: my call is love. Certainly I have found my place in the Church, and you gave me that very place, my God. In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love, and thus I will be all things, as my desire finds its direction.
 
From The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux
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One thought on “The Little Way of St. Therese of Lisieux

  1. This teaching is even more evident if one considers that Ephesians directly relates Christ’s spousal love for the Church to the sacrament which unites man and woman in marriage, thereby consecrating their love. We read: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word [a reference to Baptism], that he might present to himself the Church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:25-27). A little farther on in the letter the Apostle himself emphasizes the great mystery of this marital union, because he is speaking “in reference to Christ and the Church” (Eph 5:32). The essential meaning of his discourse is that the spousal love of the Redeemer for his Church is reflected in Christian marriage and married love: a redemptive love, full of saving power, at work in the mystery of grace by which Christ shares new life with the members of his body.

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