Silly me to think Mother Theresa and Saint Therese were one and the same person, when in fact Mother Theresa chose the name because of Saint Therese. Recently I saw a video titled; How to Live “The Little Way” (of St Therese of Lisieux) and now I am inspired by what I learned.
Thérèse of Lisieux (French: sainte Thérèse de Lisieux), born Marie Françoise-Thérèse Martin (2 January 1873 – 30 September 1897), also known as Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face (Thérèse de l’Enfant Jésus et de la Sainte Face), was a French Catholic Discalced Carmelite nun who is widely venerated in modern times. She is popularly known in English as “The Little Flower of Jesus”, or simply “The Little Flower,” and in French as la petite Thérèse (little Thérèse)
The “little way”
Therese entered the Carmel of Lisieux with the determination to become a saint. However, by the end of 1894, six years as a Carmelite made her realize how small and insignificant she felt. She saw the limitations of all her efforts. She remained small and very far off from the unfailing love that she would wish to practice. She is said to have understood then that it was from insignificance that she had to learn to ask God’s help. Along with her camera, Céline had brought notebooks with her, passages from the Old Testament, which Therese did not have in Carmel. (The Louvain Bible, the translation authorized for French Catholics, did not include the Old Testament). In the notebooks Therese found a passage from Proverbs that struck her with particular force: “Whosoever is a little one, let him come to me” (9:4).
She was struck by another passage from the Book of Isaiah: “you shall be carried at the breasts, and upon the knees they shall caress you. As one whom the mother caresseth, so will I comfort you.”66:12–13 She concluded that Jesus would carry her to the summit of sanctity. The smallness of Therese, her limits, became in this way grounds for joy, rather than discouragement. Not until Manuscript C of her autobiography did she give this discovery the name of little way, “petite voie”.
I will seek out a means of getting to Heaven by a little way – very short and very straight little way that is wholly new. We live in an age of inventions; nowadays the rich need not trouble to climb the stairs, they have lifts instead. Well, I mean to try and find a lift by which I may be raised unto God, for I am too tiny to climb the steep stairway of perfection. […] Thine Arms, then, O Jesus, are the lift which must raise me up even unto Heaven. To get there I need not grow. On the contrary, I must remain little, I must become still less.
In her quest for sanctity and in order to attain holiness and to express her love of God, she believed that it was not necessary to accomplish heroic acts or great deeds. She wrote, Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love.
The little way of Therese is the foundation of her spirituality. Within the Catholic Church Thérèse’s way was known for some time as “the little way of spiritual childhood,” but Therese actually wrote “little way” only three times, and she never wrote the phrase “spiritual childhood.” It was her sister Pauline who, after Therese’s death, adopted the phrase “the little way of spiritual childhood” to interpret Therese’s path. Years after Therese’s death, a Carmelite of Lisieux asked Pauline about this phrase and Pauline answered spontaneously “But you know well that Therese never used it! It is mine.” In May 1897, Therese wrote to Father Adolphe Roulland, “My way is all confidence and love.” To Maurice Bellière she wrote, “and I, with my way, will do more than you, so I hope that one day Jesus will make you walk by the same way as me.”
Sometimes, when I read spiritual treatises in which perfection is shown with a thousand obstacles, surrounded by a crowd of illusions, my poor little mind quickly tires. I close the learned book which is breaking my head and drying up my heart, and I take up Holy Scripture. Then all seems luminous to me; a single word uncovers for my soul infinite horizons; perfection seems simple; I see that it is enough to recognize one’s nothingness and to abandon oneself, like a child, into God’s arms. Leaving to great souls, to great minds, the beautiful books I cannot understand, I rejoice to be little because only children, and those who are like them, will be admitted to the heavenly banquet.Saint Therese.
NOTE: Below is the video that informed me about this wonderful little Saint.