Monday, October 1, 2012

Hail, Therese, Virgin and Doctor of the Church

St. Therese

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Therese of Lisieux (1873 AD - 1897 AD).  Although she is known as the "Little Flower," and is famous for her "Little Way" of holiness, St. Therese, like all saints, was not only  very forceful but quite fearless regarding matters relating to salvation.  This can be seen in the following episode from St. Therese's spiritual autobiography, "The Story of a Soul:"

The audience began after the Mass of thanksgiving which followed the Pope's Mass.

Leo XIII sat on a dais, dressed in a white cape and cassock.  Various prelates and high dignitaries stood near him.  It had been arranged that, one by one, each pilgrim advance and kneel before him, kiss first his foot and then his hand, and receive his blessings.   Then, at a touch from two of the Noble Guard, the pilgrim was to rise and move on to another room, thus giving way to another.

Not a word was uttered, but I was determined to speak.  Suddenly, though, Father Reverony who was standing on the right of His Holiness, told us in a loud voice that it was absolutely forbidden to speak to the Holy Father.   With a madly beating heart I gave a questioning glance at [Therese's sister] Celine.  "Speak!" she whispered.  A moment later I was kneeling before the Pope.  I kissed his slipper and he offered me his hand,  Then, looking at him with my eyes wet with tears, I said: "Most Holy Father I have a great favour to ask."  He leant forward until his face almost touched mine, as if his dark, searching eyes would pierce the depths of my soul.

"Most Holy Father," I said, "to mark your jubilee, allow me to enter Carmel at fifteen."

The vicar-General of Bayeux, with a look of astonished displeasure, at once said: "Most Holy Father, she's a child who wants to be a Carmelite, and the authorities are now looking into the matter."

"Very well, my child," His Holiness said, "do whatever they say."

Clasping my hands and resting them on his knee, I made a final effort.  "O most Holy Father, if you say yes, everybody will be only too willing."

He gazed at me steadily and said in a clear voice, stressing every syllable:  "Come, come . . . you will enter if God wills."

I was going to speak again, but the two Noble Guards urged me to rise.  Finally they had to take me by the arms and Father Reverony helped them to get me to my feet.  As I was being taken away, the Holy Father placed his fingers on my lips, then raised them to bless me.  He gazed after me as I left.

St. Therese of Lisieux, pray for us.

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