The Thinking 

The Beauty of Thérèse of Lisieux

October 1, 2012


SPEAKING OF female faces in photographs, here is the profound and penetratingly beautiful face of Thérèse of Liseux, the famous nineteenth century saint. Marian Horvat writes of her face:

What does the face of the real Thérèse reveal? It is a physiognomy that is delicate but strong, sweetly serene but intensely reflective, a face stamped with the tranquil acceptance of suffering and the life of the Cross. There is the strong chin, the firmly set lips with a hint of smile, a gaze that has lost nothing of its childhood innocence and, at the same time, reveals a person who views the world without superficiality or optimism. In the real face of St. Thérèse, one sees a soul of character and the self-mastery of a saint.

St. Thérèse, who was a Carmelite nun, died at the age of 24 in 1897. Today is her feast day. She accomplished no great deeds, but is known for channeling the love of Christ into the smallest of acts. She wrote in her short collection of autobiographical writings, The Story of a Soul, which was extremely popular after her death,

Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love.

She became known as the Little Flower for her teachings of humility.  “My way is all confidence and love,” she wrote. She said in a letter to Father Adolphe Roulland:

Sometimes, when I read spiritual treatises in which perfection is shown with a thousand obstacles, surrounded by a crowd of illusions, my poor little mind quickly tires. I close the learned book which is breaking my head and drying up my heart, and I take up Holy Scripture. Then all seems luminous to me; a single word uncovers for my soul infinite horizons; perfection seems simple; I see that it is enough to recognize one’s nothingness and to abandon oneself, like a child, into God’s arms. Leaving to great souls, to great minds, the beautiful books I cannot understand, I rejoice to be little because ‘only children, and those who are like them, will be admitted to the heavenly banquet.’

Therese at 15

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