St. Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face is most commonly known as the Little Flower. Her way of spiritual childhood has been an inspiration and a means for countless souls to attain to the heights of sanctity. Having been proclaimed a doctor of the Church in 1997 by Pope John Paul II, her doctrine is authorized by the Church for universal propagation. Though today she is one of the most popular saints, her short life was passed in the seclusion of a Carmelite Monastery where she prayed to remain hidden and unknown. Her devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus deepened with her entrance into Carmel when her older sister Pauline (Mother Agnes) who had preceded her into the Carmel, introduced her to the wealth of treasure that lay hidden in it. St. Therese’s devotion to the Holy Face was not founded, as was that of Sr. Mary of St. Peter, on the desire to make reparation for the violation of the first Three Commandments of the Decalogue though she does allude to making reparation in her writings. Her burning desire was to imitate Our Lord’s meekness and humility in his suffering. She wanted and she prayed, “Make me resemble You, Jesus.” This short prayer she wrote out on a piece of paper and wore day and night over her heart.
CANTICLE TO THE HOLY FACE
Dear Jesus, ‘tis Thy Holy Face--
Here is the star that guides my way.
Thy Countenance so full of grace
Is Heaven on earth to me today!
And love finds holy charms for me
In Thy sweet eyes with teardrops wet.
Through my own tears I smile at Thee,
And in Thy griefs my pains forget.
How gladly would I live unknown,
Thus to console Thy aching Heart.
Thy veiled beauty--it is shown
To those who live from earth apart!
I long to fly to Thee alone.
Thy Face is now my Fatherland,
The radiant sunshine of my days.
My realm of love, my sunlit land
Where all life long I sing Thy praise!
It is the lily of the vale
Whose mystic perfume, freely giv’n,
Brings comfort when I faint and fall
And makes me taste the peace of Heav’n.
Thy Face in Its unearthly grace
Is like divinest myrrh to me
Tat on my heart I gladly place,
It is my lyre of melody.
My rest, my comfort is Thy Face
My only treasure is Thy Face,
No other do I ask of Thee
O seal me with Divine impress
Of Thy sweet Image, as I plead;
Full soon, imbued with holiness,
To Thee all hearts my heart shall lead.
With Thy fires of love inflame me,
That from ripened fields be stored
Harvests rich in golden plenty
Soon then, from Thy mouth adored,
Thine eternal kiss accord.
From The Poetry of St. Therese of Lisieux translated by Donald Kinney, O.C.D.Copyright (c) 1995 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites ICS Publications 2131 Lincoln Road, N.E. Washington, DC 20002-1199 U.S.A. www.icspublications.org
From St. Therese of Lisieux: Her Last Conversations translated by John Clarke, O.C.D. Copyright (c) 1977 Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites ICS Publications 2131 Lincoln Road, N.E. Washington, DC 20002-1199 U.S.A. www.icspublications.org
Novena Prayer to Saint Therese
O Little Saint Therese, who by your fidelity to grace, so rapidly reached the summit of sanctity, obtain for us that strong, delicate, generous love which made you run so joyfully in the way of God’s commandments. Grant that we may understand and practice as you have done with such perfection, the precept of fraternal charity, so that we may love one another as Jesus has loved us.
Teach us to seek Him in simplicity of heart and enlighten our souls with pure rays of divine truth, so that we may not be deceived by illusion. Above all, O Little Saint Therese, obtain for us the grace of experiencing how incapable we are of any good whatsoever without help from on high; and that we may deserve such assistance, obtain for us the grace of humility, which will draw down into our hearts the merciful love of the good God.
To you, our heavenly patroness, we abandon ourselves unreservedly. Teach us to sacrifice ourselves, not only for the sake of our own souls, but for Holy Church and the multitude of souls that we desire to save by our love and hidden sacrifices.
I likewise entreat you to obtain for me the particular favor I ask in this Novena, if it be for the honor and glory of God, the salvation of my own soul, and the welfare of those for whom I pray.