Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face

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OCD commemoration: 
Doctor of the Church

Therese Martin was born at Alencon in France in 1873. While still young she entered the Carmelites of Lisieux, where she lived in the greatest humility, evangelical simplicity and confidence in God. By her words and example she taught the novices these same virtues. Offering her life for the salvation of souls and the spread of the Church. She died on 30th September, 1897, was canonised in 1925 and declared a Doctor of the Church on Mission Sunday, 19th October, 1997.

From the autobiography of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus

(MS B, f. 3r-3v: ed. J. Clarke 1975, pp. 193-94)


"My desires caused me a veritable martyrdom, and I opened the Epistles of Saint Paul to find some kind of answer. Chapters Twelve and Thirteen 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. Without becoming discouraged, I continued my 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 Saint 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."


Carmelite Prayer: 
God our Father, you have promised your kingdom to those who are willing to become like little children. Help us to follow the way of Saint Therese with confidence so that by her prayers we may come to know eternal glory. Grant this through our rd Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.