Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and her vocation in the heart of the Church

therese1

She was born in Alencon (France) the 2nd of January, 1873. She entered the Carmel of Lisieux at the age of 15. She discovers to us a way of confidence and abandonment in the arms of God, encouraging us to be “love” in the heart of our Mother the Church.
She died the 30th of September,1897, at the age of 24. She is the universal patroness of the missions and doctor of the Church.

In the heart of the Church, my Mother, I shall be love…!

Charity gave me the key to my vocation. I understood that if the Church had a Heart and that this Heart was burning with love. Then, in the excess of my delirious joy, I cried out : O Jesus, my Love… my vocation, at last I have found it… My vocation is love !

Yes, I have found my place in the Church and it is You, O my God, who have given me this place ; in the heart of the Church, my Mother, I shall be love.

To be Your Spouse, to be a Carmelite, and by my union with You to be the Mother of souls, should it not suffice me ? And yet it is not so. No doubt, these three privileges sum up my true vocation : Carmelite, Spouse, Mother,  and yet I feel within me other vocations. I feel the vocation of the WARRIOR, THE PRIEST, THE APOSTLE, THE DOCTOR, THE MARTYR. Finally, I feel the need and the desire of carrying out the most heroic deeds for You, O Jesus. I feel within my soul the courage of the Crusader, the Papal Guard, and I would want to die on the field of battle in defense of the Church.

I feel in me the vocation of the PRIEST. With what love, O Jesus, would I carry You in my hands when, at my voice, You would come down from heaven. And with what love would I give You to souls ! But alas ! while desiring to be a Priest, I admire and envy the humility of St Francis of Assisi and I feel the vocation of imitating him in refusing the sublime dignity of the Priesthood.

O Jesus, my Love, my Life, how can I combine these contrasts ? How can I realize the desires of my poor little soul ?

Ah ! in spite of my littleness, I would like to enlighten souls as did the Prophets and the Doctors. I have the vocation of the Apostle. I would like to travel over the whole earth to preach Your Name and to plant Your glorious Cross on infidel soil. But O my Beloved, one mission alone would not be sufficient for me, I would want to preach the Gospel on all the five continents simultaneously and even to the most remote isles. I would be a missionary, not for a few years only but from the beginning of creation until the consummation of the ages. But above all, O my Beloved Savior, I would shed all my blood for You even to the very last drop.

Martyrdom was the dream of my youth and this dream has grown down with me within Carmel’s cloisters. But here again, I feel that my dream is a folly, for I cannot confine myself to desiring one kind of martyrdom. To satisfy me I need all. Like You, my Adorable Spouse, I would be scourged and crucified. I would die flayed like St Bartholomew. I would be plunged into boiling oil like St John ; I would undergo all the tortures inflicted upon the martyrs. With St Agnes and St Cecilia, I would present my neck to the sword, and like Joan of Arc, my dear sister, I would whisper at the stake Your Name, O JESUS. When thinking of the torments which will be the lot of Christians at the time of Anti-Christ, I feel my heart leap with joy and I would that these torments be reserved for me. Jesus, Jesus, if I wanted to write all my desires, I would have to borrow Your Book of Life, for in it are reported all the actions of all the saints, and I would accomplish all of them for You.

O my Jesus ! what is your answer to all my follies ? Is there a soul more little, more powerless than mine ? Nevertheless even because of my weakness, it has pleased You, O Lord, to grant my little childish desires and You desire, today, to grant other desires that are greater than the universe.

During my meditation, my desires caused me a veritable martyrdom, and I opened the Epistles of St Paul to find some kind of answer. Chapters 12 and 13 of the First Epistle to the Corinthians fell under my eyes. I read there, in the first of these chapters, that all cannot be apostles, prophets, doctors, etc., that the Church is composed of different members, and that the eye cannot be the hand at one and the same time. The answer was clear, but it did not fulfill my desires and gave me no peace. But just as Mary Magdalene found what she was seeking by always stooping down and looking into the empty tomb, so I, abasing myself to the very depths of my nothingness, raised myself so high that I was able to attain my end. Without becoming discouraged, I continued reading, and this sentence consoled me : « Yet strive after THE BETTER GIFTS, and I point out to you a yet more excellent way. » And the Apostle explains how all the most PERFECT gifts are nothing without LOVE. That Charity is the EXCELLENT WAY that leads most surely to God.

I finally had rest. Considering the mystical body of the Church, I had not recognized myself in any of the members described by St Paul, or rather I desired to see myself in them all. Charity gave me the key to my vocation. I understood that if the Church had a body composed of different members, the most necessary and most noble of all could not be lacking to it, and so I understood that the Church had a Heart and that this Heart was BURNING WITH LOVE. I understood it was Love alone that made the Church’s members act, that if Love ever became extinct, apostles would not preach the Gospel and martyrs would not shed their blood. I understood that LOVE COMPRISED ALL VOCATIONS, THAT LOVE WAS EVERYTHING, THAT IT EMBRACED ALL TIMES AND PLACES… IN A WORD, THAT IT WAS ETERNAL !

Then, in the excess of my delirious joy, I cried out : O Jesus, my Love… my vocation, at last I have found it… MY VOCATION IS LOVE !

Yes, I have found my place in the Church and it is You, O my God, who have given me this place ; in the heart of the Church, my Mother, I shall be Love. Thus I shall be everything, and thus my dream will be realized.

Why speak of a delirious joy ? No, this expression is not exact, for it was rather the calm and serene peace of the navigator perceiving the beacon which must lead him to the port… O luminous Beacon of love, I know how to reach You, I have found the secret of possessing Your flame.

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