Saint Theresa The Little Flower English Literature Essay

Saint Theresa was born as Marie-Françoise-Therese Martin. Her feast day is October 1st. She was canonized in 1925, and became a Doctor of the Church in 1997. She wrote many prayers, and most famously an autobiography called Story of A Soul. St. Therese is the patron of missions and missionaries. (Catholic Online)

Her mother and father both aspired to be religious people, a saint and a monk, respectively. They gave birth to nine children, with only five daughters surviving. (Catholic Online) Therese was the youngest daughter, her father’s “little queen” (National Shrine of St. Therese). She suffered a great loss when her mother died of breast cancer when she was only four years old. She was then raised by her father and her oldest sister, Pauline. Her journey to the religious life started five years later when Pauline entered the Carmelite convent, the convent she would later join(Catholic Online).

In Therese’s early life, she was spoiled and sensitive, always wanting, and getting, more than she needed. Therese was often sick, physically with flus and mentally, (National Shrine of St. Therese) Therese was also sensitive and childish. She attributes this to the sudden and painful loss of her mother. Her sensitive nature was further worsened when her sister, Pauline, whom she called her second mother, left the Martin home to be a nun in the Carmelite Monastery in Lisieux. (Society of the Little Flower).

Therese was a very intelligent girl, literate and quite aware. (Catholic Online) She could read, although Louis Martin would not allow his Little Queen to read the paper. He wished to protect Therese form becoming too worldly. However, Therese often read the paper anyways. (National Shrine of St. Therese). Therese learned at home, and through her sisters lessons until she entered the Benedictine Abbey school of Notre-Dame du Pre as a day boarder, at the age of eight. (Society of the Little Flower). Therese was quite bright, and was advanced several times. However, being smart did not help her gain friends. Therese, smart and spoiled, had very few to no friends in her school, making it an unfriendly and cold environment. (Society of the Little Flower).

When Therese was 11, she fell violently ill. No one really knows what she was ill with, although it has been speculated to be nervous breakdowns, kidney infections (Society of the Little Flower), neurotic attacks, and fevers. (Catholic Online). Whatever the illness, it was violent and terrifying. Therese would have tremors, ran a fever, (Catholic Online) horrible headaches, insomnia and terrifying hallucinations. 11 year old Therese, small and fragile, was racked by an unknown illness, severe and brutal to the small child. (Society of the Little Flower). Many of her relatives thought her to be dying. She was bed bound, left on display for relatives saying what they thought to be their last goodbyes to the fifth of the Martin’s children.

While sick, Therese often saw her sisters pray to a statue of Mary. (Catholic Online). One day in May, Therese started to pray to the same statue. She saw the Blessed Virgin smile at her, and she was then healed. (Ronald Knox, Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux; 93-94; ch.10)

After her illness, Therese was never the same. She became ill just months after her sister Pauline joined the Carmelite convent, and Therese was profoundly changed by the loss of her second mother, and her healing by the Blessed Mother. Almost a year after her miraculous healing, Therese celebrated her first communion. This united her further with God, but also brought problems into the young girl’s life. Therese became preoccupied with never even thinking about sinning, and this gave the fragile young girl a great deal of stress. She often cried, had anxiety attacks, and her horrible headaches returned. Her father removed her from her school, and hired a private tutor instead. This relieved some stress from Therese, but not a huge amount. (Society of the Little Flower)

During Therese’s home tutoring, she became very close to her sister Marie. Marie was much older, and helped Therese with her fears. Therese began to look to Marie as her third mother. Then, Marie also entered the Carmelite convent. Therese was heartbroken again, and now was determined to join the Carmelite convent (Society of the Little Flower)

Therese’s complete conversion was Christmas Eve of 1886. At the time, it was the custom for children to leave their shoes out to be filled with presents. (Catholic Online) Therese was old to still be doing this, but she still did. When she left her shoes out, and began to walk to her room, she heard her father say that he was glad that it was the last year of such a childish tradition. Therese was about to cry when she was flooded with courage. (Catholic Online) was no longer a sensitive child, but became a strong adult, determined to devote her life to Jesus as a Carmelite nun. (Society of the Little Flower)

Therese’s Christmas conversions took place when she was only 13. At the time, young girls were not allowed to enter convents until they were 16. Therese, however, did not want to wait. Barely 14, Therese went to a priest to talk about becoming a professed nun. (Society of the Little Flower). The priest denied her, but told her that the bishop might be able to help her. The bishop also denied her the “yes” she so desperately wanted, although the eager young girl left a strong impression on the bishop. (Catholic Online) Louis Martin, unwilling to lose his youngest daughter, decided that the remaining Martin Family should take a pilgrimage to Rome. (Society of the Little Flower)

On their trip, Therese and her family visited many holy places. However, the most important place they visited was an audience with the Pope. Although Therese was not supposed to speak, she did. She begged that the pope allow her to enter the monastery at Carmel. The Pope brushed Therese’s begging off, saying that she should obey her superiors. Therese, however, was persistent, and eventually had to be carried away from the Pope by guards. (Society of the Little Flower)

Therese was eventually admitted to the convent, at the age of fifteen. Therese’s romantic visions of convent life were proven to be the complete opposite. Therese, as a novice, worked hard, and found little hope in her dreary duties. (Catholic Online)

Soon after Therese became a nun, her father suffered a series of strokes, leaving him disabled mentally and physically. He became delusional, and was then institutionalized. The worst part was that Therese could not even visit him! (Catholic Online) This caused a short period of extreme tension in Therese’s spiritual life. Therese was often so frustrated, that she would fall asleep in prayer. (Society of the Little Flower)

Therese spent much of her life in her convent giving up little things to Jesus. She offered up little frustrations, such as someone clacking her rosary in church, to Jesus. This became Therese’s legacy. (Society of the Little Flower) Therese was childlike in her mannerisms, although adult in her spirituality. She had faith in God as a little child has faith in the good of people, never failing. (National Shrine to Saint Therese)

Therese did make one large sacrifice in her life. She gave up the chance to become a higher ranked nun, so that her second mother, Pauline, could be prioress, or head-nun of the Carmelite convent. This meant that Therese would always have to take orders from everyone, and would never be able to attain any authority, other than being in charge of the youngest of the novices. (Catholic Online)

From the time Therese was young, she wished to be a priest. However, because she was a girl, she could never become a priest. So Therese made it her mission to pray for the priests, as she felt this was all she could do. She prayed, and was blessed, in her own words. (Catholic Online)

Therese’s blessing is not what I, or most likely you, would call a blessing. Therese’s blessing was her slow, painful death by tuberculosis, a painful disease that causes the victim to cough up blood and lung tissue, in its earlier stages. Therese took almost a year to die, finally dying at 24, the age at which priests were then anointed. She felt blessed to die at this holy age, not wanting to live with not being a priest, which she had been called to be. During this time, Pauline had her write a diary, later published. (Catholic Online) Therese offered every bit of suffering to Jesus. It is said that because of this, Therese ascended straight to Heaven. (Society of the little Flower)

Her legacy that remains is left from her book and scraps of information from her fellow nuns and peers. She left us a legacy that we can follow. Therese performed no great deeds in her life. She didn’t lead troops, or instantaneously heal people. She was very much like us. She only devoted each day to God, and put up with little frustrations, offering them to God. This, if nothing else, is the one thing I hope to receive from Saint Therese. She was my age when she recognized her call to God, and only one year older when she fought for God. This is something we all can hope to emulate.

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