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St. Therese of the Little Flower on Suffering

When Suffering Is Sweet

by St. Therese of Lisieux

 It has come to this, that I can no longer suffer because all suffering is sweet.  Besides, it is a mistake to worry as to what trouble may be in store; it is like meddling with God's work.  We who run in the way of love must never allow ourselves to be disturbed by anything.

If I did not simply suffer from one moment to another, it would be impossible for me to be patient; but I look only at the present moment forget the past; and I take good care not to forestall the future.  When we yield to discouragement or despair it is usually because we give too much thought to the past and to the future.

Pray for me; often when I cry to heaven for help it is when I feel most abandoned.  But then I turn to God and his saints and thank them notwithstanding.  I believe they want to see how far I shall trust them.  But the words of Job have not entered my heart in vain:  "Even if God should kill me, I would still trust him" (Job13:15)

I admit it has taken a long time to arrive at this degree of self-abandonment; but I have reached it now, and it is the Lord himself who has brought me here.

Trust in the Lord

by St. Therese of Lisieux


The moment I began counseling and instructing the souls entrusted to me, I saw at a glance that the task was beyond my strength.  Quickly taking refuge in the Lord's arm, I imitated those babies who, when frightened, hide their faces on their father's shoulder.  'You see, Lord', I said, 'that I am too small to feed your little ones, but that if, through me, you will give to each what is necessary and suitable, then fill my hands.  Without leaving the shelter of your arms or even turning my head, I will distribute your treasures to the souls who come to me asking for food.  When they find it to their liking, I shall know that it is not to me that they owe it, but to you.  If on the contrary, the complain, finding fault with its bitterness, I shall not be disturbed.  I will try to persuade them that it comes from you, and will take care to give it to them.'


The knowledge that it was impossible to do anything of myself greatly simplified my task.  Confident that the rest would be given me over and above, the one aim of my interior life was to unite myself more and more closely with God.


My hope has never been deceived.  Each time I needed food for the souls in my charge, I have found my hands filled.  Had I acted otherwise and relied on my own strength, I should very soon have been forced to surrender.


Jesus Alone Is

Jesus alone is; the rest is not.

When in my youthful heart was kindled

The fire which we call love

You came then, Lord, to claim it;

And you alone, O Jesus, could fill my soul;

For boundless was the need I felt of needing you.

To be with you and in you is my one and only desire.

Let us be one with Jesus...let us make our life a continual sacrifice, a martyrdom of love to console Jesus.  
May all moments of our life be for him alone.  
We have only one task during the night of our present life--to love Jesus.

I know that Jesus is in me-he it is who does everything in me:  I do nothing.

The nothingness of me is strangely loved:

Sustaining ever

The all of love, my need is strangely here:

Departing never.

We must love our nothingness, and thing only of the All which in infinitely lovable.

-St. Therese of Lisieux


Dear Lord, you know my weakness. Each morning I resolve to be humble, and in the evening I recognize that I have often been guilty of pride. The sight of these faults tempts me to discouragement. Yet I know that discouragement itself is a form of pride. I wish, therefore, O my God, to build all my trust upon You. As You can do all things, deign to implant in my soul this virtue which I desire. -St. Therese of Lisieux


At times, when I am reading certain spiritual treatises in which perfection is shown through a thousand obstacles, surrounded by a crowd of illusions, my poor little mind quickly tires; I close the learned book that is breaking my mind and drying up my heart, and I take up the Holy Scripture.  Then all seems luminous to me; a single word uncovers for my soul infinite horizons, perfection seems simple to me.  I see it is sufficient to recognize one's nothingness and to abandon oneself as a child into God's arms.

-St Therese of Lisieux


St. Therese's Thoughts on Suffering...

Our Lord never asks of us any sacrifices above our strength.  Sometimes, in truth, the Divine Master makes us taste the full bitterness of the chalice which He presents to our soul.

When he asks the sacrifice of everything most dear to us in this world, it is impossible unless by a very special grace, not to cry out as he did in the Garden of the Agony:  "My father, let this chalice pass from me..."    But let us also hasten to add:  "Nevertheless not as I will but as thou wilt." (Matt 26:39)


It is very consoling to think that Jesus--Divine Strength itself--has experienced all our weakness, that He trembled at the sight of the bitter chalice, the chalice He had longed for so ardently.


-St Therese of Lisieux  (Letter to her Missionary "Brothers")


Prayer of St. Therese

Lord Jesus, I see myself as a weak little bird, with only a light down covering.  I am not an eagle, but I have an eagles eyes and heart.  In spite of my littleness, I dare to gaze upon the Divine Sun, the Sun of Love, and my heart soars like an eagle to fly toward You.

Flapping my small wings, I seek to fly toward the Sun, Climbing upwards toward the Divine Furnace of the Holy Trinity.  What shall I do, with such small wings?

I shall not be troubled.  With bold surrender and cheerful confidence, I shall continue gazing upon the Divine Sun.  Nothing will frighten me, -not the wind nor the rain, nor even dark clouds.  For I know that beyond any clouds is Your Light, and Your Brightness will not be eclipsed for even a single instant.


When tired or hungry or overcome by the burdens of life, I do not hide amid storms, but turn toward the beloved Sun, presenting my helpless wings to Your beneficent rays.  I shall gaze at the Sun, until I die.  I delight in feeling small and helpless in Your presence, for my heart is at peace.


-Adapted from Story of a Soul


St. Therese's Thoughts on Love of God

How shall I show my love since love is proved by deeds?  Well--the little child will strew flowers...she will embalm the Divine Throne with their fragrance, will sing with silvery voice the canticle of love.

Yes, my Beloved, it is thus, that my life's brief day shall be spent before Thee.  No other means have I of proving my love than to strew flowers; that is, to let no little sacrifice escape me, not a look, not a word, to avail of the very least actions and do them for Love.  I wish to suffer for Love's sake and for Love's sake even to rejoice; thus, shall I strew flowers;  Not one shall I find without shedding its petals for Thee...and then I will sing, I will always sing, even if I must gather my roses in the very midst of thorns--and the longer and sharper the thorns, the sweeter shall be my song.

(Story of a Soul, Chapter XI)


Living Bread    

Ah! Lord, let me hide in your face.

There, I'll no longer hear the world's vain noise.

Give me your love, keep me in your grace

Just for today.

Near your divine Heart, I forget all passing things.

I no longer dread the fears of the night.

Ah! Jesus, give me a place in your heart

Just for today.

Living Bread, Bread of Heaven, divine Eucharist,

O sacred Mystery! That Love has brought forth...

Come live in my heart, Jesus, my white Host,

Just for today.

Deign to unite me to you, Holy and sacred Vine,

And my weak branch will give you its fruit,

And I'll be able to offer you a cluster of golden grapes

Lord, from today on.

I've just this fleeting day to form

This cluster of love, whose seeds are souls.

Ah! Give me, Jesus, the fire of an Apostle

Just for today.

-St. Therese of Lisieux


I am not Worried

I am not at all worried about the future; I am sure God will do his will, it is the only grace I desire.  One must not be more kingly than the king...Jesus has no need of anyone to do his work, and if he were to accept me, this would be out of pure kindness; but to tell you the truth, Brother, I rather believe Jesus will treat me like a little lazy thing.  I do not want this, for I would be happy to work and suffer a long time for Him.  So I am asking Him to be content with me, that is, to pay no attention to my desires of loving Him in suffering or of going to enjoy Him in heaven...I do not want you to ask God to deliver me from the flames of purgatory; Saint Theresa said to her daughters when they wanted to prayer for her: "What does it matter to me to remain until the end of the world in purgatory if through my prayers I save a single soul?"  These words find an echo in my heart.  I would like to save souls and forget myself for them; I would like to save them even after my death.  So I would be happy if you were able to say then, instead of the little prayer you are saying and which will always be realized: "My God, allow my sister to make you still loved."  If Jesus answers you, I shall be able to show you my gratitude.


Calling Down Love From Heaven


I am very happy to be able to speak with you again.  A few days ago I was thinking I no longer had this consolation on earth, but God seemed willing to prolong my exile a little.  I am not disturbed by it, for I would not want to enter Heaven one minute earlier by my own will.  The only happiness on earth is to apply oneself in always finding delightful the lot Jesus is giving us.  Your lot is so beautiful, dear little sister; if you want to be a saint, this will be easy for you since at the bottom of your heart the world is nothing to you.  You can, then, like us, occupy yourself with "the one thing necessary," that is to say:  

While you give yourself up devotedly to exterior works, your purpose is simple:  To please Jesus, to unite yourself more intimately with him.

You want me to pray in Heaven to the Sacred Heart for you.  Be sure that I shall not forget to deliver your messages to him and to ask all that will be necessary for you to become a great saint.  Adieu, dear sister; I would like the thought of my entrance into heaven to fill you with gladness since I shall be able to love you even more.

-St. Therese of Lisieux


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