Thursday, October 1, 2009

Homily – October 1, 2009 – St Theresa of the Child Jesus

+ St. Theresa of the Child Jesus was born in 1873 and died in 1897 (at the age of 24). She is known as the "Little Flower," a name which comes from the subtitle of her own famous autobiography. She was a highly influential model of sanctity for Catholics in the first half of the twentieth century because of the simplicity of her, and practicality of her approach to the spiritual life. Following the example of two of her sisters, she became a Carmelite nun at Lisieux, after the death of her mother in 1877. She was given the name "Theresa of the Infant Jesus." Her life in the convent was uneventful. Some of the sisters there chose an easier, softer way of penance and spirituality, but Theresa and others were drawn to a more traditional and austere format. Her reading of the great works and saints such as The Imitation of Christ (of Thomas a Kempis), the works of Teresa of Avila, Francis de Sales and John of the Cross were great inspirations for her to follow the narrower path. Theresa developed tuberculosis and was unable to undertake the missionary work in Indochina as she wanted to do. After a short life of deep spirituality and ending with intense physical pain, she died on September 30, 1897. Her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, became an instant success and was translated into many languages – and it qualified her to be declared a doctor of the Church. Cures were attributed to her: and she herself foretold that she would spend her life in heaven continuing to do good on earth "as long as there are souls to be saved" she would let fall a "shower of roses" from heaven. Pope Pius XI said of her that she achieved sanctity "without going beyond the common order of things." [Sanctity is for every one].

The gospel passage today can be applied directly to Theresa: she is among the greatest in heaven now, because she considered herself the least, and among the most childlike on earth. May we become and remain like humble children today – so that one day we can see her, and all the rest of God's children: our brothers and sisters, in heaven! In you, Lord, I have found my peace.

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