One of the most popular saints today, we can learn much from St. Therese of Lisieux who has also been proclaimed a Doctor of the Church. Here are twenty-five quotes from her that can inspire and challenge us.
St. Therese of Lisieux Quotes
In trial or difficulty I have recourse to Mother Mary, whose glance alone is enough to dissipate every fear.
But above all it's the Gospels that occupy my mind when I'm at prayer; my poor soul has so many needs, and yet this is the one thing needful. I'm always finding fresh lights there; hidden meanings which had meant nothing to me hitherto.
I can only offer very little things to God. These little sacrifices bring great peace of soul, but I often let the chance of making them slip by. However, it does not discourage me. I put up with having a little less peace, and try to be more careful the next time.
What talks I had with Celine! Far from separating us, the grating of Carmel united us more closely.
How terrible, I thought, that no act of love is ever made in hell! And I told God that I was ready to go there myself, if it pleased Him to contrive, in that way, that for all eternity there would be one loving soul in that abode of blasphemy.
Theophan Venard was such a little saint. His life contains nothing out of the ordinary. He loved our Lady Immaculate and he loved his family as well. So do I. I simply cannot understand those saints who didn't. As a farewell keepsake for you I have copied some passages from his last letters to his relatives; they are my very thoughts. My soul is like his soul.
Sometimes I felt very lonely, depressed and ill. I'd often repeat to myself a line of poetry which brought peace and strength back into my soul; it runs, "Time's but a ship that bears thee, not thy home." That image appeals to me and helps me to bear this life of exile.
Restraining my impatience cost me so much that I was bathed in perspiration.
If the Church was a body composed of different members, it couldn't lack the noblest of all; it must have a Heart, and a Heart BURNING WITH LOVE. And I realized that this love alone was the true motive force which enabled the other members of the Church to act; if it ceased to function, the Apostles would forget to preach the gospel, the Martyrs would refuse to shed their blood. LOVE, IN FACT, IS THE VOCATION WHICH INCLUDES ALL OTHERS; IT'S A UNIVERSE OF ITS OWN, COMPRISING ALL TIME AND SPACE - IT'S ETERNAL!
For me, prayer means launching out of the heart towards God; it means lifting up one's eyes, quite simply, to Heaven, a cry of grateful love from the crest of joy or the trough of despair; it's vast, supernatural force which opens out my heart, and binds me close to Jesus.
Up to this time nobody had taught me the act of mental prayer; I should have liked to know about it but my sister was satisfied with my spiritual progress as it was and kept me to vocal prayer instead. One day, one of my teachers at the Abbey asked me what I did with myself on holidays, when I was left to my own devices. I told her that I got behind my bed, where there was an empty space in which you could shut yourself away with the curtains, and there ... well I used to think. "Think about what?" she asked. "Oh," I said, "About God and about life and eternity; you know, I just think."
O how glorious our Faith is! Instead of restricting hearts, as the world fancies, it uplifts them and enlarges their capacity to love, to love with an almost infinite love, since it will continue unbroken beyond our mortal life.
For some time past I had indulged the fancy of offering myself up to the Child Jesus as a plaything, for Him to do what He liked with me. I don't mean an expensive plaything; give a child an expensive toy and he will sit looking at it without daring to touch it. But a toy of no value--a ball, say--is all at his disposal; he can throw it on the ground, kick it about, make a hole in it, leave it lying in a corner, or press it to his heart if he feels that way about it.
The only way to make rapid progress along the path of divine love is to remain very little and to put all our trust in Almighty God. That is what I have done.
There'll be a lot of surprises at the Last Judgment when we shall be able to see what really happened inside people's souls; and I think the way of suffering by which God led me will be a revelation to the people who knew me.
We are too little to be able always to rise above difficulties. Well, then, let us pass beneath them quite simply.
Our Lord does not come from Heaven every day to stay in a golden ciborium. He comes to find another Heaven, the Heaven of our soul in which He loves to dwell.
I opened the Gospels at random, and the words my eyes fell on were these: "Then He went up on to the mountainside and called to Him those whom it pleased to call; so these came to Him." There it was, the history of my life, of my whole vocation; above all the special claims Jesus makes on my soul. He doesn't call the people who are worthy of it; no, just the people it pleases Him to call.
My longing to save souls grew from day to day; it was as if I heard our Lord saying to me what He had said to the Samaritan: "Give Me some water to drink."
Our Lord doesn't need to make use of books or teachers in the instruction of souls; isn't it He Himself the Teacher of all Teachers, conveying knowledge with never a word spoken? For myself, I never heard the sound of His voice, but I know that He dwells within me all the time, guiding me and inspiring me whenever I do or say anything. A light, of which I'd caught no glimmer before, comes to me at the very moment when it's needed.
Seeing these innocent souls a close quarters, I realized what a mistake it is not to train them from the very start when they are like wax to receive impressions for better or for worse. There are so many souls which would attain sanctity if only they were well directed.
I want to be a warrior, a priest, a doctor of the church, a martyr. I want to go to the ends of the earth to preach Your name, to plant Your glorious Cross on pagan shores.
The practice of virtue became attractive, and seemed to come more naturally. At first, my face often betrayed my inward struggle, but little by little sacrifice, even at the first moment, became easier.
It seems to me humility is truth. I do not know whether I am humble, but I do know that I see the truth in all things.
The very moment God sees us fully convinced of our nothingness, He reaches out His hand to us.
Here was one lady talking about my pretty hair and another, just going out the door and thinking I couldn't hear, wanting to know who that very pretty girl was. Compliments are at their best when you aren't meant to hear them and the thrill of pleasure I felt made me realize that I was full of self-love. I'm always ready to sympathize with the people who lose their souls--after all, it's do easy, once you begin to stray along the primrose path of wordliness.
The path by which I travel isn't one of scrupulous fear; anything but that. I can always find some reason to be glad of my failures and make the best of them. And our Lord doesn't seem to mind; or why does He encourage me to follow that path?
Suffering was now the magnet that drew me to itself. It had a charm that thrilled me, although I had never experienced it.
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Learn More about St. Therese
Under obedience to her biological sister who was also her superior at the Carmel, St. Therese wrote her spiritual autobiography. The three parts are collected in one book, and they have been helping the faithful grow closer to the Lord as soon as the biography was available outside of her monastery.
Purchase a copy from the Carmelites to help support their religious order.