October - St Therese

October, is a month of falling leaves, cutting off dead flowers heads, bringing in the harvest and the last of the lawn mowing. Everything is beginning to look faded yet this is the month when the Church celebrates one of its brightest flowers. St Thérèse is known as the little flower, her feast day is on the 1st of October and she is our saint of this month. 

Thérèse Martin was born in the year 1873 in France, to very saintly and loving parents, Louis and Zélie Martin, who are now both known as Blessed in the Catholic Church. Later St Thérèse would say “God gave me a Papa and Mama more worthy of heaven than of earth.” Louis and Zélie loved God very much, and both had wanted to enter religious life when they were young but God had other plans for their lives. Thérèse’s Papa, Louis and Mama, Zélie were married on the 13th of July 1858. Thérèse was the youngest of five girls,

 

Marie, Pauline, Leonie, Celine and Thérèse herself. They had a very loving home, filled with happiness and joy. Then sadly, when Thérèse was only four years old her Mama, Zélie became very ill. God saw how holy she was and took her to heaven, where she would know no more pain or sickness. Thérèse said “My Mama, is in heaven, Pauline will be my Mama now.” Filled with love for Jesus, first Marie and then Pauline entered the Carmelite Monastery in Lisieux. It broke Thérèse’s heart to say Goodbye to her eldest sisters. Then Leonie left home too and joined the sisters of the Visitation. Thérèse and Celine were left alone with their dear old Papa.

 

Thérèse felt sad, because, though she loved her dear Papa very much, she loved Jesus more. She was only 15, but she too wanted to give her life wholly to Jesus and enter the Carmelite Monastery in Lisieux. She told Celine who cried, but said “do not worry, I will look after Papa, you go and do what your heart desires.” So Thérèse went and asked the Carmelites sisters if she could enter. They said “No! You’re far too young.” Thérèse then asked the bishop if she could enter. He said “No! You’re far too young.”

 

Finally Thérèse went with her Papa to Rome and asked the Pope if she could enter. He said “If it is God’s will, it will happen.” Thérèse did not understand what the Pope was trying to say to her. She prayed that God would make a way for her to enter the Monastery, and He did. When Thérèse returned from Rome, suddenly, out of the blue the Bishop said “Yes! You can enter.” Then the Carmelite sisters said “Yes! You can enter.” Her prayer had been answered, She entered the Monastery, even though she was only 15 years old. Thérèse was given the name Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus. She was very happy in the Monastery. She prayed for the world, placing all people before God in prayer. She prayed and hoped that all her love and sacrifices as a nun would help people to come to know and love God and so go to heaven, for Sister Thérèse knew the “Power of Love.” Her sister Celine entered the monastery a few years later. Now all of the Martin girls were nuns.

 

Sister Thérèse had a special love for the Infant Jesus of Prague and she would bring flowers to His statue in the Chapel. Sister Thérèse united all her little acts of love to Jesus’ big act of love because she believed this would accomplish great things and help change the world. Sister Thérèse spent her day trying to do little acts of love for her sisters in the monastery. Sister Thérèse became very sick but did not reveal this to anyone and when the sisters found out, the doctors could do nothing for her. On her sickbed she told her sisters “I would not suffer less” and offered up all her pain as a prayer to God for the world that it might be a better place. By accepting her pain with joy Sister Thérèse gave a great gift to our world, she was so sick she could no longer go to the chapel to say her prayers. Her prayer was her joyful acceptance of her illness. “Little things, with great Love.” Sister Thérèse had grown in holiness through her little acts of love which she called ‘The Little Way’. It was time for her to answer God’s call for her to go to heaven even though she was only 24 years old. Sister Thérèse was very happy and angels it is said came and accompanied her to heaven. She said “I will spend my heaven doing good upon earth.” 

 

Sister Thérèse went to heaven on the 30th of September 1897. Her four sisters were still alive when the Church proclaimed Sister Thérèse a saint. In 1997 Pope John Paul II declared her to be a Doctor of the Church. You may have seen St Thérèse’s statue in a church or you may have one at home. She is one of Pope Francis’ favourite saints. When he was a Cardinal in Argentina he had a picture of her in his office and would always place fresh flowers beside it. He said that St Thérèse had helped him to accept things in his life that he could not change. We can all learn from St Thérèse and her ‘Little Way’. We too can do little acts of kindness with great love. Even picking up a pen, done with love for Jesus’ sake will make a difference in our world. “To pick up a pin for love, can convert a soul.”