Tuesday, 24 March 2009

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

It's the year of St. Paul at the moment (no offence St. Paul, but your year seems to have been going on forever), and we've been having a priest over to give talks on his epistles in the presbytery.

Said priest, in the course of his last talk, realised that some among us were being discouraged rather than encouraged by his words on Ephesians (I forget precisely why), and he therefore related an image that St. Thérèse used to cheer us up a bit.

St. Thérèse is one of only three women to be recognised as a Doctor of the Church - that is, it has been officially declared that through her writings the whole Church has derived great advantage. And here is what she had to say about the spiritual life.

One of the novices, greatly discouraged at the thought of her
imperfections, tells us that her mistress spoke to her as follows:

"You make me think of a little child that is learning to stand but
does not yet know how to walk. In his desire to reach the top of
the stairs to find his mother, he lifts his little foot to climb
the first step. It is all in vain, and at each renewed effort he
falls. Well, be like that little child. Always keep lifting your
foot to climb the ladder of holiness, and do not imagine that you
can mount even the first step. All God asks of you is good will.
From the top of the ladder He looks lovingly upon you, and soon,
touched by your fruitless efforts, He will Himself come down, and,
taking you in His Arms, will carry you to His Kingdom never again
to leave Him. But should you cease to raise your foot, you will be
left for long on the earth."
- The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux
With Additional Writings and Sayings of St. Thérèse
I don't much go in for inspirational writings (because I have a heart of flint, naturally), but I find that image beautiful and consoling.