On the Mission of St. Thérèse


from Two Sisters in the Spirit
Hans Urs von Balthasar

Thérèse's mission, at the very first glance, displays the marks of a clearly defined and quite exceptional charcter. This is much less due to the personal drama of the little saint than to the sacred form into which the trickling grains of petty anecdotes are compressed, into a hard, unbreakable block, by a firm, invisible hand. It is contrary to all expectation that the simple, modest story of this little girl should eventaully culminate, as it irretutably does, in the enunciation of theological truths. Originally she herself never dreamed that she might be chosen to bear some fundamental message to the Church. She became aware of it only gradually; in fact, it did not occur to her until her task was almost completed, after she had already lived out her teaching and was writing the last chapters of her book. Suddenly, as she saw it all laid out before her, she recognized its strangeness, that in her obedience she had unwillingly conceived something beyond her own personlaity. And now that she saw it, she also understood it and seized it with a kind of violence.

Some, like St. Paul, know clearly from the time of being touched by God what their mission to the world is all about. They cannot conceive of the repercussions of successfully fulfilling the mission--how the world will be transformed and turned inside out--nevertheless they know it and fulfill it. Others, and I take it von Balthasar would propose Thérèse as an example of this, simply live their mission. It is perhaps possible that such a saint might not grasp their mission even toward the end. Von Balthasar argues that Thérèse did recognize her own; however, it stands to reason that it would be possible to fulfill God's will entirely and not see the contours and patterns of one's own calling. The thought of this fascinates me and intrigues me.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on July 7, 2004 7:24 AM.

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Some Quotations from St.Thérèse and a Word from Eliza is the next entry in this blog.

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