Therese & the Little Way: August 2002 Archives

This brief meditation stopped me in my tracks the first time I read it.

Ô Marie, si j'étais la Reine du Ciel et que vous soyez Thérèse, je voudrais être Thérèse afin que vous soyez la Reine du Ciel ! ! !

Trans: O Mary, if I were Queen of Heaven and you were Therese I would want to be Therese so that you could be Queen of Heaven.

This is one of those examples of humility that boggle the mind. I still am boggled by the implications of this simple thought. It is beautiful and reflexive and for some reason absolutely mind-bending. It's kind of a Carmelite koan or something, I just can't seem to encompass the perfection of its thought.

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On Coping with Sinfulness


One more piece of advice to Mr. Roberts at his new blog on dealing with sin comes from Therese of Lisieux. In one of her letters she tells a little parable of two sons, each of whom had offended his father. One of the sons went and hid, fearing his father's anger. But the other saw his father and went and threw himself into his father's arms and kissed and hugged him and promised with a small child's promises not to commit the same offense again. Therese concludes that though the father is perfectly aware that the child will sin again, he could not but forgive one who gave such an ardent and authentic display of love. Therese recommends throwing yourself into the all-embracing love of the father as the finest tonic for less-than-perfect behavior.

And then of course there is the remarkably bracing and strengthening support of our brother St. Paul who reminds us of the human condition, "I do the things I do not wish to do, and I don't do the things I wish to do, and I have no strength in me." And later, "In my weakness is His strength." So, if I have no strength in me (due to my constant reversion to sin), I approach the throne of grace and with Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection say to God, "See what happens to me when you leave me even for a moment to walk by myself?" (Of course, God never leaves us, but He does allow temptations).

And finally remember the caution of that old reprobate Oscar Wilde, "I can resist anything but temptation." And seek to do a bit better.

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The Language of Therese


A reader named Therese comments on St. Therese:

Also, St T de L wrote in Victorian times, with Victorian piety and it sounds a little (well, a lot) icky to our ears today. But read her and the truth wells up through all the "Jesus' toy" parts (which I find difficult, forgive me).

This is often then reaction when one encounters some of the older translations of the great "Story of a Soul." I noted first time through it that it was fairly overwrought. However, reading the ICS translation by John Clarke, I did not have that reaction. Also, perhaps because French is not my first language, these elements did not seem so out of place in the French. Further, in previous translations much of this was exacerbated by her sister Pauline's edits that cut away some of the more acerbic humor. I share this without knowing the expertise of the commentators. Also, it is far easier to overlook these sorts of things when you are reading in a group searching for signs of the "Little Way."

Therese did not spell out her doctrine in any clear way as did John of the Cross or Teresa of Avila (unless you count Manuscript B of Story of a Soul, published as chapter 9 of the ICS edition.) So finding the little way can be greatly deceptive if you do not have a good guide. Many are pulled off into the "small things with great fidelity" side road. While that is certainly PART of the Little Way, it in no way constitutes the core of it. Misinterpreted it leads people into strange pathways and convolutions. Our Lay Carmelite Group just finished a year-long study of Story of a Soul and I feel as though we might have cracked open the door a bit. Perhaps in the practice of some of the things Therese suggests, the door will open further.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Therese & the Little Way category from August 2002.

Therese & the Little Way: October 2002 is the next archive.

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