Sunday, 11 December 2011

St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face

Icon, St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

As she was dying in the convent infirmary, St. Therese could look out and see the rose bushes blossoming. She loved roses. She had thrown rose petals as a Child before the Blessed Sacrament. As she reflected on her quiet, hidden, and gentle life ending, she believed in faith that God had great things in store for her. She believed that her mission was only beginning as she entered the fullness of life with God. She explained: "After my death, I will let fall a shower of roses. I will spend my heaven doing good upon earth. I will raise up a mighty host of little saints. My mission is to make God loved..."
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (2 January 1873 – 30 September 1897), or Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, born Marie-Françoise-Thérèse Martin, was a French Carmelite nun. She is also known as "The Little Flower of Jesus".

She felt an early call to religious life, and, in 1888, after overcoming various obstacles mostly having to do with her young age of 15, she was allowed to enter the convent to become a nun, joining two of her older sisters already in the cloistered Carmelite community of Lisieux, Normandy. After nine years as a Carmelite religious, having fulfilled various offices such as sacristan and assistant to the novice mistress, and having spent the last eighteen months in Carmel in a dark night of the soul (Mother Teresa experienced this dark night for many, many years), she died of tuberculosis at the age of 24.

The impact of The Story of a Soul (please read it if you never have -- it is a life-changing book), a collection of her autobiographical manuscripts, printed and distributed a year after her death to an initially very limited audience, was great, and she rapidly became one of the most popular saints of the twentieth century. She was beatified in 1923, and canonized in 1925.  Thérèse was declared co-patron of the missions with Francis Xavier in 1927, and named co-patron of France with Joan of Arc in 1944. On 19 October 1997 Pope John Paul II declared her the thirty-third Doctor of the Church, the youngest person, and only the third woman, to be so honored.

Devotion to Thérèse has developed around the world. Thérèse lived a hidden life and "wanted to be unknown," yet became popular after her death through her spiritual autobiography - she left also letters, poems, religious plays, prayers, and her last conversations were recorded by her sisters. Paintings and photographs – mostly the work of her sister Céline – further led to her being recognised by millions of men and women.

The depth of her spirituality, of which she said, "my way is all confidence and love," has inspired many believers. In the face of her littleness and nothingness, she trusted in God to be her sanctity. She wanted to go to heaven by an entirely new little way. "I wanted to find something like an elevator that would raise me to Jesus." The elevator, she wrote, would be the arms of Jesus lifting her up to Him in all her littleness -- the way that loving parents lift up a little child. This simplicity is evident in her approach to prayer: "For me, prayer is a movement of the heart; it is a simple glance toward Heaven; it is a cry of gratitude and love in times of trial as well as in times of joy; finally, it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus. . . . I have not the courage to look through books for beautiful prayers.... I do like a child who does not know how to read; I say very simply to God what I want to say, and He always understands me."

St. Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face

About the picture she venerated -- a picture based on the image of St. Veronica's Veil -- St. Therese said, "How well Our Lord did to lower His eyes when He gave us His portrait! Since the eyes are the mirror of the soul, if we had seen His soul, we would have died from joy."

Remember, the name given to Therese in Religious Life was St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face -- both extremely popular images in the Church during her lifetime.

Above, see St. Therese holding holy images representing her name as well as a close-up of the Holy Face of Jesus that was popular at the time St. Therese entered the convent in 1888.

In 1898, the first photograph of the negative-type image found on the Shroud of Turin was made (see left) and, consequently, replaced all other images of the Holy Face in popularity. It is interesting to note how similar the image from 1888 is to the image found on the Shroud 10 years later after photography developed to the point where it could be photographed.

A recent film about the life of St. Therese, called simply "Therese," was made by Leonardo Defilippis, a well-known Catholic film maker and actor.  This is a beautifully crafted film and will give anyone interested a real feeling for the time, place and events of St. Therese's life.  You can find out more by going to



I came across a bunch of cat and dog Christmas photos recently.  I find a number of them amusing and wanted to share them with you.  As well, they would make great Christmas cards if you are into making your own.

"I agree, Miss Kitty, I'm not feeling very 'HO HO HO' about all this either!"

"Take my word for it, these folks is about to be very sorry for doing this to us!"

"Do you think my eyes have turned this colour because I am happy?"

"Remember, you promised to give me lots of treats if I would do this for you!"

"Are you sure I'm not going to get into trouble for doing this?  Last time I did something
like this, I got into BIG trouble.  Are you really sure?  Can I trust you?"



Suki Santa
 Well, I think Suki has been reading my blog again -- shortly after telling you folks that I was going to try reducing her food each day in an effort to help her lose weight, she started demanding more food than ever!

She hasn't been too difficult today as I have had company and anything that throws her routine off seems to distract her from wanting to eat.  I have tried disrupting her routine on my own, but she won't fall for it.  It seems to require strangers in the house which means she has to be on the alert, not allowing herself to sleep too soundly.  This leaves her feeling very tired after the guests leave and causes her to sleep through her now new normal food-begging session every 2 hours!

I have tried reasoning with her about this, but she simply yawns and walks away.  I tried weighing her the other day, hoping that actually seeing her weight would shock her into some sort of reasonable behaviour.  She saw 13 pounds come up on the scale but all that happened was that she tried to play with the flashing numbers!  She was 11 lbs. when she came to live with me almost two years ago now so, as my friend, Eugene, pointed out, she is not grossly obese, but I cannot afford to allow her weight to continue to keep creeping up.

At the moment she is sleeping and seems to be unaware that 5 p.m. (one of her usual begging times) has come and gone.  If we make it past 7 p.m. without her waking up, this may turn out to be a record-breaking day!

As for me, I am tired but very happy.  My godson and his wife took me out for my birthday brunch today.  We went to La Papillion as usual.  The food was excellent, but we happened to get an either overworked or very distracted waiter which made the meal just slightly less pleasant than usual.  Fortunately, I enjoyed their conversation and company so much that this little annoyance was hardly noticeable.

I don't expect there to be any more birthday lunches or dinners until the lunch on the day of my birthday itself.  My friend from Alabama that I have been telling you about is still scheduled to arrive on the evening of the 13th and we will be going to one of my favourite restaurants for lunch on the 14th.  There is still one more birthday meal that I am aware of but that won't occur until probably some time early in the new year due to scheduling conflicts.  It is difficult for me to believe that my birthday is almost here and then so soon over.

BTW, just to remind you, my friend, Brenda, from Alabama, will be here from the evening of the 13th until some time on the 19th so it is possible I may miss my regular posting dates of the 15th and the 19th.  While it is possible that I may feel like posting the evening of the 19th, I definitely will not be posting on the 15th. 

Meanwhile, I hope every one had a glorious Gaudete Sunday and is still rejoicing!  As St. Paul wrote, "...rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances..."  As the priest said in his homily at today's Mass, this is a commandment, not a suggestion!

Only two weeks from today and it will be Christmas!

May the peace of God be with us all.

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