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St Therese Quote 2Today the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the “Little Flower.” St. Thérèse (1873-1897) was a French Carmelite nun who died in obscurity at the age of 24. Her autobiography Story of a Soul detailed her “Little Way;” doing everything, even the most common and menial tasks, for the love and glory of God. Her thoughts resonated with both religious and laity alike, quickly expanding her renown. She was canonized in 1925 by Pope Pius XI. She is one of only 36 Doctors of the Church.

St. Thérèse determined at a young age that she desired to be a great saint but felt she was not capable of the mighty deeds of the great missionaries and martyrs for the faith. In developing her “Little Way,” St. Thérèse said that even the slightest acts of penance or charity for the good of souls, if done well “with love for God and neighbor,” yields countless graces and spiritual merits.

St. Thérèse always focused on putting Jesus and others ahead of herself as part of her “Little Way”. St. Thérèse made it a point to act in kindness and love to any rebuffs or rebukes from her fellow sisters or superiors. There is much we can learn from this great saint that is applicable to the vocation to marriage and family life.

Five centuries before St. Thérèse, Father Walter Hilton (†1396), canon of the Augustinian Priory of Thurgarton, England, said that there are two things necessary for growth in our spiritual and personal lives: humility and charity. He said “Humility says, I am nothing, I have nothing. Charity says, I desire only one thing, and that is Jesus.”[1] These two things, if faithfully implemented, will bring harmony in our souls, our lives, and in our families.

We offer this prayer of St. Thérèse for forming our hearts in humility and charity, like the heart of Jesus. We pray this with you, so that by humility and charity, our families, our communities, and our world will be transformed and renewed.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s Prayer for Humility

O Jesus! When You were a Pilgrim on earth, You said: “Learn of Me for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls.” O Mighty Monarch of Heaven, yes, my soul finds rest in seeing You, clothed in the form and nature of a slave, humbling Yourself to wash the feet of Your apostles. I recall Your words that teach me how to practice humility: “I have given you an example so that you may do what I have done. The disciple is not greater than the Master…If you understand this, happy are you if you put them into practice.” Lord, I do understand these words that came from Your gentle and humble heart and I want to practice them with the help of Your grace.

I beg You, my Divine Jesus, to send me a humiliation whenever I try to set myself above others. I know, O my God, that You humble the proud soul but to the one who humbles one’s self You give an eternity of glory. So I want to put myself in the last rank and to share Your humiliations so as “to have a share with You” in the kingdom of Heaven. But, You know my weakness, Lord. Every morning I make a resolution to practice humility and in the evening I recognize that I have committed again many faults of pride. At this I am tempted to become discouraged but I know that discouragement is also pride. Therefore, O my God, I want to base my hope in You alone. Since You can do everything, deign to bring to birth in my soul the virtue I desire. To obtain this grace of Your infinite mercy I will very often repeat: “O Jesus, gentle and humble of heart, make my heart like Yours!”[2]

St. Thérèse, pray for us!

[1] Fr. Walter Hilton, The Scale of Perfection, Dom Gerard Sitwell, O.S.B., Tr. (Newman Press: Westminster, MD, 1953).

[2] /Aleteia, Pray this prayer by St. Therese to ask God for humility, internet: https://aleteia.org/2018/09/11/pray-this-prayer-by-st-therese-to-ask-god-for-humility/ (accessed September 30, 2018).