October 1: Feast Day of St. Therese of Lisieux
Today is the feast day of one of my favorite saints, St. Therese, known as the Little Flower. Along with St. Jeanne d'Arc, she is Co-Patroness of France and one of only three women officially given the title
"Doctor of the Church" because of the profound truths and teachings contained in her spiritual writings and more importantly, in her life. Her writings are few, memoirs of her life and spiritual journey she wrote under direction from her superior at the convent. Her life was short, only 24 years, ended by tuberculosis. However few and short her writings and years, the love, power, grace, and glory contained in them is limitless. She is still teaching and touching lives today, 115 years after her death.
I began a devotion to this great saint before the birth of our oldest daughter. We gave her the middle name, Therese-Marie, when she was born so she would have the intercession of two powerful patrons, St. Therese and the Blessed Virgin Mary. It's really kind of hard to top those two when it comes to female names!
|Early morning celebration for our oldest, with Therese-Marie as her middle name|
|Our youngest daughter has Jeanne d'Arc as her middle name, so we have faithful French Catholics covered!|
Beyond obvious reasons for choosing Therese as her middle name--reasons easy to realize upon reading a biography of the saint--we had several specific reasons for our choice. My husband is of French and Acadian French heritage. Some relatives came to Louisiana directly from the Continent, while most of them arrived in Louisiana after being exiled from Acadie (present-day Nova Scotia) by the British. France is called the "Eldest daughter of the Church," but she has not always been the most faithful daughter. Case in point: the French Revolution. There has always been a strand of anti-cleric and anti-authority sentiment in France since Catholicism was established. For the settlers of Acadie, who found themselves isolated and only served by a traveling priest once a year of even less, these strands of independence became even more pronounced and are still evident in Cajuns (as the exiles of Acadie became known after they settled in Louisiana) today. We wanted the protection and intercession of Therese, one of the faithful French Catholics, as a sort of counter-balance to some of the negative aspects of French and Acadian Catholicism. She is a reminder of all that is good about France.
|St. Therese as Joan of Arc in a play at her convent.|
We also chose Therese because she is an excellent role model for modern girls. She was a child of a firm middle-class family in France. Her family's name was respected, she lived in nice homes and wore fine clothing. She had nice toys, a good education, and loving attention from her family. She chose to choose all--and surrender all--to God as she felt called to join the Carmelite order. In a most-wordly and increasingly secular France, she chose God. What a wonderful example to any girl or woman, no matter her calling!
Below is a link to a piece I wrote after reading Heather King's life-changing book, Shirt of Flame: A Year with St. Therese of Lisieux. I wish I could afford to hand out copies to every person I meet. It changed me and continues to do so.
Thanks be to God for the Saints who inspire us, guide us, and lead us closer to God. St. Therese, pray for us.