“Those who concentrate on the life and doctrine of this child of Carmel who died at the age of twenty-four are seized with wonder and admiration. They discover, in fact, that her contribution to spirituality is as original as it is profoundly traditional. They also discover that hidden under the Gospel-like simplicity of her message of ‘the little way of childhood’ is a spiritual structure both strong and perfectly balanced from the theological point of view. Her life of love of the absolute and of absolute love is of rare depth and fullness. It was a combination of certain interrelated spiritual principles and constitutes a true doctrine: this is ‘the little way of childhood’. This doctrine is derived from a rediscovery of the central teaching of the Gospel, which may be expressed in this sentence: We are, in Christ, God’s children, and we ought to love our Father in heaven with a filial love full of confidence and abandonment.
St. Thérèse had very great desires, yet she would never admit that she was a great soul or that she had the strength necessary to do great things, like the saints who had been proposed to her as models. So she had to find a way in keeping with this littleness of which she was so deeply conscious. More than this: she sought a way that depended on this very weakness. Had not the Apostle said: ‘When I am weak then I am strong’…Confidence in God led St. Thérèse by paths of self-forgetfulness and poverty of spirit, to a wonderful simplification of the spiritual life. As she made spiritual childhood her own, so she made poverty of spirit her own. She aspired to be nothing more than ‘a poor little child’ who looks to her Father for everything and who obtains everything from Him because of this same poverty.
When we look at the life of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus we are struck by its simplicity and wonderful transperancy. We are amazed to discover through her not only the purest Gospel teaching but Christ Himself. We also notice that the unity of her spiritual life, and death are of a price, yield the same tone, and are proof of an equal plenitude. Like her Master, Thérèse is true, and also like Him, her person and her message are one.”
“Excerpt taken from Carmelite Spirituality in the Teresian Tradition By Paul-Marie of the Cross, O.C.D. Translated by Kathryn Sullivan, R.C.S.J.” from the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles. Used with permission.
Art: Statue of St. Thérèse in the gardens of the Carmelite Sisters’ Motherhouse and Sacred Heart Retreat House, Alhambra, CA. Used with permission.