Mother Marie de Gonzague, the superior at the cloistered convent at Carmel, wrote this of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: “Tall and strong, with the air of a child, with a tone of voice and an expression that hide in her the wisdom, perfection and perspicacity of a 50-year-old . . . a little ‘untouchable saint,’ to whom you would give the Good God without confession, but whose cap is full of mischief to play on whomever she wants.
“A mystic, a comic, she is everything. She can make you weep with devotion and just as easily faint with laughing during recreation.”
Here is a sampling of Thérèse’s letters.
The Poorest Is the Most Noble
Then shall every man have praise from God and the one who on earth wanted to be the poorest, the most forgotten out of love for Jesus, will be the first, the noblest, and the richest!
Story of a Soul | Chapter Six
Real Glory in Being Hidden
I understood what real glory was. He whose kingdom is not of this world showed me that true wisdom consists in “desiring to be unknown and counted as nothing,” in “placing one’s joy in the contempt of self.” Ah! I desired that, like the face of Jesus, “my face be truly hidden, that no one on earth would know me.”
Story of a Soul | Chapter Seven
Poverty of Soul Ignites the Fire of Love
I need have no fear of purgatory. I know that of myself I would not merit even to enter that place of expiation since only holy souls can have entrance there, but I also know that the Fire of Love is more sanctifying than is the fire of purgatory. I know that Jesus cannot desire useless sufferings for us, and that He would not inspire the longings I feel unless he wanted to grant them.
Story of a Soul | Chapter Eight
Humility Is the Strengthening Love
But, it seems to me, that Jesus can give me the grace of no longer offending Him or committing faults that DON’T OFFEND Him but serve only to humble and to make love stronger.
From a letter to Sr. Agnes of Jesus (her sister Marie) | September 1890
Poverty of Soul Brings the Gift of God
“Lord,” St. Peter answered, “we have fished all night and have caught nothing.” Perhaps if he had caught some little fish, Jesus would not have performed the miracle, but he had nothing, so Jesus soon filled his net in such a way as almost to break it. This is the character of Jesus: He gives us God, but He wills humility of heart.
From a letter to her sister Céline | April 1894
Acknowledging God’s Gifts
Do not think that it is humility that prevents me from acknowledging the gifts of God. I know He has done great things in me, and I sing of this each day with joy. I remember that the one must love more who has been forgiven more, so I take care to make my life an act of love, and I am no longer disturbed at being a little soul; on the contrary, I take delight in this.
From a letter to Abbé Maurice Bellière (member, Missionaries of Africa) | April 1897
Humility Is the Antidote to Self-Love
Alas! My ardor for penances would not have lasted long had the Superiors allowed them. The penances they did allow me consisted in mortifying my self-love, which did me more good than corporeal penances.
Story of a Soul | Chapter Eight
The Great Work of the Almighty
I am too little to compose beautiful sentences in order to have you believe that I have a lot of humility. I prefer to agree very simply that the Almighty has done great things in the soul of His divine Mother’s child, and the greatest thing is to have shown her her littleness, her impotence.
Autobiography of a Soul | Chapter Ten
Poverty of Spirit Pleases Jesus
Jesus is pleased with little Céline to whom He first gave Himself for the first time thirteen years ago. He is more proud of what He is doing in her soul, of her littleness and her poverty, than He is proud of having created millions of suns and the expanse of the heavens.
From a letter to Sr. Geneviève of the Holy Face (her sister Céline) | May 1897