A simple gaze towards Heaven

“For me, prayer is the heart’s impulse, a simple gaze towards heaven.” -St. Thérèse

When I was in High School, I saved up my money to see a movie with my younger sister on the weekends.  One day, I saw an advertisement for movie simply called “Thérèse”.  At the time, I had no idea what the movie was all about; it just looked vaguely religious.  So I went and found out that it was the story of Thérèse of Lisieux. Directed by Alain Cavalier, it showed Thérèse as a young girl, Thérèse taking a religious habit, Thérèse as a young novice, and Thérèse in her suffering and dying.  At the end of the movie, I found myself in tears about this person I knew nothing about. 

Years later, when I entered the Benedictine Monastery, a monk asked me if I had heard of “Thérèse of Lisieux.” I said, “yes, I have seen the movie about her. ” While there, I became interested in Thérèse and read her autobiography “The Story of a Soul.”  Born in 1873 to devout parents and a very religious family, she decided at the age of 15 that she was going to enter a Carmelite Monastery.  She was, however, too young for the Carmelites at that time so she did what was required of her.  Together with her father, Louis Martin, they visited Rome to meet Pope Leo XIII and asked for his permission.  So when she was presented to the Pope she knelt at his feet and asked, basically, to receive a dispensation and enter the Carmelite Monastery.  The Pope told her it was a wonderful intention but to keep listening to discern if God willed it.  This basically was not an answer.  So the Bishop at home heard her persistence and let her enter the Carmelite Monastery at Lisieux. 

In the monastery, she had a very typical life and nothing unusual. She went to her novitiate.  She suffered the way people do in the religious order.  She was devout and she died very young (she died of tuberculosis in her early twenties).  But what happened halfway through her time during her illness one of the mother superiors asked her to write her autobiography.  Out of obedience, Thérèse wrote this book called, “Story of Springtime Flower.”  It initially passed around among the Carmelite nuns and then passed around other Carmelite monasteries after her death.  She was an incredible phenomena, rapidly becoming a very well known individual.  For me, she is the most popular modern saint.  

Thérèse is also called The Little Flower.  At the end of her life didn’t see her job as complete.  This is why in her journal she wrote, “After my death I will spend my life in heaven doing good on earth and I will let a shower of roses fall.”

And so the idea that St. Thérèse wanted to intercede for all of us after her death.  That’s why every time you enter churches today and you see a statue of a Carmelite girl holding a bouquet of roses , that’s St. Thérèse of the Little Flower or Thérèse of Lisieux. 

Our Festival on the 27th of October 2019 is to commemorate the feast of our patroness , St. Thérèse of the Little Flower.  We, as a community, request the intercession  of our patroness that she may guide both our parish and school to Jesus and Mary.  The celebration reminds us that it was St. Thérèse who  said, “Holiness consists simply in doing God’s will, and being just what God wants us to be.” 

St. Thérèse of the Little Flower, pray for us.

Fr. Alberic Lazerna, OSB

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