St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Little Flower Catholic Church looks to St. Thérèse of Lisieux, our patroness and friend, to guide us in living "the Little Way."

"Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always do the smallest right and doing it all for love."

-St. Thérèse of Lisieux

What is the Little Way?

St. Thérèse of Lisieux is the originator of the Little Way, a method of living one's baptismal vocation in the ordinariness of everyday life. It is not about being perfect, or living in fear of God, but rather, the Little Way is living relationship with God with the trust of a child, whether 8 or 80 years old.

Our committment to the Little Way.

Imperfect as we are, the parish family of Little Flower Catholic Church and School strives to follow the witness of St. Thérèse and her Little Way. Why? Not as something to boast to God about on the day of judgment, but because life is better, more beautiful, and more free when I live this way. It fills one’s life with happiness and, after all, what loving parent doesn’t desire most of all the happiness of their children?

Birthdate

Marie Francoise Thérèse Martin was born to Zelie and Louis Martin on January 2, 1873, and baptized two days later on January 4th. Jan 2nd, 1873

Carmel

On April 9, 1888, an Thérèse Martin said good-bye to all that was familiar to her to, as she said, live "for ever and ever" in the desert with Jesus and twenty-four enclosed companions.

Vows

Thérèse was filled with a great peace when she made her profession on September 8, 1890. She was given relief through reading the words of St. John of the Cross.

Death

Thérèse suffered terribly with tuberculosis, and after a long and painful battle with the disease, entered heaven at the age of 24 on September 30th, 1897

Canonization

Thérèse was canonized by Pope Pius XI on May 17th, 1925, who would later proclaim her the Universal Patron of the Missions on December 14, 1927.

The Little Flower

A homily on St. Therese

There is a story of a little girl and, much like other Catholic kids her age, she grew up in a Catholic home, learning her prayers and devotions, and went to her religion classes at her parish Church. She really understood at a young age the goal of what Catholic education is really about: that we are in a relationship with a loving God and the goal of life is to become holy, to be saints.

In her religion classes, when she would hear the stories of the great saints of history, she would see all these great deeds they accomplished and she would always feel discouraged because of her own weaknesses. She always wondered why God had preferences and why there were certain people in history that He would give tremendous graces to do great things whereas to others he wouldn’t. She felt this was unfair.

As she grew older and looked at herself in all of her weaknesses, sins, and pettiness, even her wretchedness, she sensed she could never be a big saint like this. A feeling many of us have probably had when we look at the lives of the saints. So in her simplicity she figured that the only way she could become a saint was a simple way, a direct way, like an elevator to heaven. So she began to look to the Scriptures to see what this shortcut to heaven could be. She saw the Gospel passages where Jesus referred to becoming like children, becoming a little one, to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Even in the Old Testament she found this passage where Isaiah describes God the Father with a very motherly image fondling a child in her lap, providing for the child. She knew in that moment that she could be a baby. She knew with all of her weaknesses, sins, and failings, that she could be like a baby, trust like a baby, carefree in the arms of her mother. Totally dependent like a baby. She decided she would be a child like this in the arms of Jesus and if she just remained there in His arms like a baby He would be her shortcut, He would be her elevator to Heaven. This revelation did not suddenly make her life easy. She still had her weaknesses and sins. She still had moments of intense suffering, the loss of her parents, her siblings, struggles with weaknesses, even moments of great doubt. But, even with these trials and tribulations, she knew she could at least rest like a baby in the arms of Jesus. And, just like a baby doesn’t pull away from its mother when it’s hurting or longing, she could draw closer to God.

One day while praying in a garden, and reflecting on this fact that God has preferences, and gives different graces to different people, and still struggling with this, this young girl suddenly realized that in a garden there are these huge, tremendous, brilliant flowers like roses, like sunflowers, like lilies. But then she noticed subtly that the garden also had daisies, violets, and wildflowers. And that, for the garden to be beautiful, all of these were necessary. She understood from this why God has these preferences, why He gives his graces in different ways to different saints because there are moments that He desires the beauty of the rose or the lily in all its grandeur, and there are moments where He desires a simple daisy or violet with their wonderful fragrances. In that moment, she decided she was content to be the “little flower” in God’s garden of creation.

This young woman Thérèse died at the age of 24 in the small town of Lisieux France, a “little flower” in God’s garden of creation. And only 48 years after her death, on the other side of the world, in a small town called Pensacola, FL, at the juncture of two dirt roads our church was named in her honor. What made this “little flower” such a giant in the history of our Church is that she developed a spirituality from the heart of the Gospel that is for everyone. We are all called to be saints. 

Did you know?

St. Thérèse approached Pope Leo XIII to ask permission to enter Carmel at such a young age.

Her full religious name was
"Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face."

The sisters asked Thérèse to write a play on Saint Joan of Arc for their community festival. She performed with great conviction the life of "her beloved sister," and when her sister Celine joined Carmel, took a photo of Thérèse.

The last word she ever wrote in her manuscripts was the word

LOVE

O Jesus, my Love, at last I have found my vocation.

My vocation is love!

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Relationship with God without fear.

In her great humanity, St. Thérèse knew that life is more beautiful, more dynamic, more free, when I live the relationship with people and things from their foundation––their beginning––which is love, not fear. This is especially true of our relationship with God and for St. Thérèse there was no doubt that God is merciful love. At the heart of the Little Way is this commitment then to live out the relationship with all of life beginning from this fact of love and mercy.

Relationship without a need for perfection.

The Little Way is not about being perfect. In fact, St. Thérèse knew she could never be perfect and never pretended that she could be. The Little Way recognizes that we are like little children before a perfect God. Loved perfectly in our imperfections, weaknesses and sins, but with arms outstretched begging to the One who gives us mercy and help for our journey. In the Little Way, one strives to always live the relationship with God as a child. It fills one’s life with happiness and, after all, what loving parent doesn’t desire most of all the happiness of their children?

Relationship with God in the ordinariness.

St. Thérèse reflected the Little Way as a commitment to the tasks and people we meet in our everyday lives. She took her assignments in the Carmel of Lisieux as ways of manifesting her love for God and others. Above all, she tried to show a love for all the nuns in the community; most especially the ones who annoyed her or for whom she did not have a natural friendship with.

On the many occasions that she failed she would simply turn to God, as the little child before Him that she was, begging for mercy and grace.

When I die,

I will send down a shower of roses from the heavens,

I will spend my heaven by

doing good on earth.

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