What can one say about St. Thérèse of Lisieux? I was tempted not to say anything, expecting that the blogosphere would be filled with an abundance of inspiring and insightful commentary on this wonderful Saint, an expectation that has not been disappointed. St. Thérèse , however, has a way of getting what she wants, and she is very reluctant to take “no” for an answer (just ask Leo XIII), so who am I to refuse? I can at least add a brief comment or two to the (well-deserved) tributes to The Little Flower.
One thing that strikes me is how well St. Thérèse complements St. Ignatius of Loyola, whose fascinating story I used to explore at great length with my adolescent Theology students. St. Ignatius urges us to “Find God in All Things”, which is one of the major themes of his Spiritual Exercises and Ignatian Spirituality in general. St. Thérèse, it seems to me, takes that a step further and asks us to then serve God in all things. That is the essence of her Little Way: we can do even something as (apparently) trivial as, say, sweeping the floor “For The Greater Glory of God” (Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam, or AMDG, a favorite motto of St. Ignatius and the Jesuits).
With her Little Way St. Thérèse is a strategist, a general, for each one of us in the Spiritual War that rages in our heart and mind between the Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of Satan.
It is in this way that St. Thérèse is a soldier. Not a literal soldier, of course, as St. Ignatius had been; rather, with her Little Way she is a strategist, a general, for each one of us in the Spiritual War that rages in our heart and mind between the Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of Satan. The Devil is in the details; inattention in little things can lead to self-centeredness in little things and, given just how many little things there are, can mean a lot of time focused on ourselves. Self-immersion leads to selfishness, which is an invitation to the Evil One to move in. It’s best not to yield an inch of ground to the Enemy and, as The Little Flower has shown us, save it all for Jesus. Perhaps then, God willing, we can, like St. Thérèse, spend our Heaven doing Good.
Photos of St. Thérèse as St. Joan of Arc taken by her sister Céline .