Q: What is known about the Marian devotion of St. Therese Lisieux?

A: 1997 marks the one-hundredth anniversary of St. Therese Lisieux's passing. Theresa wrote shortly before her death:

[St. Theresa of Lisieux]

"I feel that my mission is about to begin, my mission to make God loved as I love him, to teach souls my little way ... the way of trust and absolute surrender ... I will spend heaven doing good on earth."

Concerning St. Therese and the Blessed Virgin Mary:

"Theresa recognized early her "excessive self-love": at the end of her life she could write that she has understood charity, "Jesus alone who is acting in her." In between, such love cost her a great deal: it "takes place in the midst of sacrifices." Suffering alone attracted her. Love, when it is pure, actual and perfect, renders the soul capable of experiential awareness. Therese became capable of living "now" and accepted her ignorance of the "hour." Therese suffered as Mary did, enlightened little by little, keeping all things in her heart and turning them over and over. Such suffering, such love, such faith is mentioned in the Lucan Marian text, "narratives...coming from the Virgin herself" (who) "invites us to comprehend also how much her suffering, her love, her faith was human, meditative, progressive, going from light to light, rather than given perfectly in the first instant."

[St. Theresa of Lisieux] In the last months of her life, Therese reflected on commingling of this abandonment and suffering. "Our Lord really died as a Victim of Love, and you see what his agony was." Nevertheless, Therese desired a beautiful death to please her sisters. She asked the Blessed Virgin to arrange it ... During her illness, her sisters moved the miraculous statue of the Virgin of the Smile into the infirmary, at the foot of Therese's bed... "My good Blessed Virgin, here is what gives me the desire to leave: I tire out my little sisters, and then I give them pain when being so sick...Yes, I would like to go." Just hours before she died she murmured, "O my good Blessed Virgin, come to my help." Such were her last prayers in which she repeated so often what she wanted from Mary: to be protected in her woundedness. ... In her weakness, in her suffering, both physical and spiritual, she had the same need to be sustained, the same confidence to be protected by her whom "all generations call blest." (Lk 1:48)

Extracted from Christopher R. Armstrong, Under the Veil of the Virgin: The Gradually Developing Relationship of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face to The Blessed Virgin Mary, Ph.D. Dissertation of The International Marian Research Institute, 1993, 81-83.


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