Time With Thérèse


The Way and Life of Thérèse of Lisieux

by Joseph F. Schmidt, FSC

The Word Among Us, 2007

352 pages, $16.95

To order: (800) 775-9673


The “Little Flower” played an important part in my life when I was a freshly married woman. At that time I was moved to once again pick up her autobiography, The Story of a Soul. I had already tried two or three times earlier in life, but found it simply too syrupy and sentimental for my taste. But in striving to live out my new vocation, I found that her text suddenly became alive and meaningful to me. I experienced a pivotal turning point in my spiritual development as her “little way” became clear to me.

That was many years ago and, as happens with spiritual journeys — including St. Thérèse’s, I was surprised to learn — I got bogged down with routine and responsibilities. Fast forward to this past February. I was facing Lent and wondering how I could restore some of the fervor in this “dry” time.

The answer fell right into my hands in this brilliant, beautiful exploration of my favorite saint’s path to Jesus. Christian Brother Joseph Schmidt presents us with a Little Flower who is accessible, only too human and filled with such a burning love for Jesus that she gave her all, without reservation, to him.

Thérèse was bold to say “I want to become a saint” and, with the support of finally finding a good spiritual director and confessor, moved onto that path. There’s no self-aggrandizement, however. She knows she can never be perfect. Indeed she deems it an error to put all one’s energy into that pursuit. For her, holiness is “a matter of becoming more and more available to God.” Every moment of every day she tries to do this.

Brother Joseph explains: “The ability to transform her relationships into precious jewels became for Thérèse a consummate skill and a great grace.” But, he points out, she was to be sorely tested. During the last 18 months of her short life, she entered “a dark underground cavern, a tunnel with no end. … She was seized by a radical, existential sense of nothingness.”

Thérèse, we learn, was even tempted to commit suicide. Her belief in eternal life was almost lost — yet she held on by faith alone, offering her torment for atheists.

Thérèse is a saint full of surprises. She was as human as we are, so her sanctity seems all the more accessible. Reachable, even. Which is exactly what the Church wants to show us by canonizing saints. It occurs to me that the Little Flower’s devotion to the Eucharist is a perfect leitmotif to drive us toward the upcoming 2008 Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City.

Much has been written about Thérèse, yet Brother Joseph has found a way to present her to us in a fresh and exciting way. In clear and loving language, he’ll help you understand why St. Thérèse was named a doctor of the Church.

Her Little Way is definitely for us little people. And there’s nothing little about where it leads if faithfully followed: straight into the arms of God.

Lorraine Williams writes from
Markham, Ontario.