Pope Benedict: “But what was this Love that filled Thérèse’s whole life, from childhood to death?”

Today, the feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Vatican Radio has posted Pope Benedict’s general audience address from April 6, 2011, on the life of the Little Flower:

I would like to invite you to rediscover this small-great treasure, this luminous comment on the Gospel lived to the full! The Story of a Soul, in fact, is a marvelous story of Love, told with such authenticity, simplicity and freshness that the reader cannot but be fascinated by it! But what was this Love that filled Thérèse’s whole life, from childhood to death? Dear friends, this Love has a Face, it has a Name, it is Jesus! …

Thérèse is one of the “little” ones of the Gospel who let themselves be led by God to the depths of his Mystery. A guide for all, especially those who, in the People of God, carry out their ministry as theologians. With humility and charity, faith and hope, Thérèse continually entered the heart of Sacred Scripture which contains the Mystery of Christ.  …

“Trust and Love” are therefore the final point of the account of her life, two words, like beacons, that illumined the whole of her journey to holiness…. Trust, like that of the child who abandons himself in God’s hands, inseparable from the strong, radical commitment of true love, which is the total gift of self forever, as the Saint says, contemplating Mary: “Loving is giving all, and giving oneself”…. Thus Thérèse points out to us all that Christian life consists in living to the full the grace of Baptism in the total gift of self to the Love of the Father, in order to live like Christ, in the fire of the Holy Spirit, his same love for all the others.

The photograph above of St. Thérèse—taken three months before her death in 1897—is found in the book The Hidden Face: A Study of St. Thérèse of Lisieux by Ida Friederike Gorres. Gorres describes this image of Thérèse—in which the 24-year-old saint’s face appears deeply lined and somewhat hardened, with visible dark circles under her eyes—as “so different from the honeyed insipidity of the usual representations of her.” According to Gorres, publication of the image was vehemently protested by the Carmel at Lisieux.

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About Catherine Harmon 577 Articles
Catherine Harmon is managing editor of Catholic World Report.