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St. Thérèse of Lisieux - October 3

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Excerpt from the Saint's Autobiography

Forgive my folly, O my Jesus, if I venture to tell Thee once more of my hopes and my heart's well nigh infinite longings. Forgive me and grant my desire, that my soul might be well. To be Thy spouse, O Jesus; to be a daughter of Carmel; and by my union with Thee to be the mother of the souls, should this not suffice for me? And yet it is not so.

St Therese

'One mission alone cannot satisfy my desires,
which are infinite'

No doubt these three privileges – Carmelite, spouse and mother – sum up my true vocation. And yet I feel within me other vocations. I feel the vocation of the warrior, the priest, the apostle, the doctor, the martyr – everything, therefore.

I feel the need and desire to carry out the most heroic works for Thee, O Jesus. I feel within my soul the courage of the Crusader, the Papal Zuavo. [the Zuavos were a papal regiment that fought against the Masonic troops that took over the Pontifical State]

And I would want to die on the field of battle field defending the Church O Jesus, my love and my life. How to harmonize these contrasts?

How to fulfill the desire of my poor little soul? Ah! Despite my littleness, like the Prophets and Doctors, I would be a light unto souls. I have the vocation to be a apostle. I would travel to every land to preach Thy name, O my Beloved, and raise on the infidel soil Thy glorious Cross.

But, O my Beloved, one mission alone would not satisfy my longings. I would at the same time announce the Gospel to the ends of the earth, even to the most distant isles. I would be a missionary, not for just a few years, but, were it possible, from the beginning of the world until the consummation of time.

Above all, I thirst for the Martyr's crown. It was the desire of my earliest days, that desire has deepened in me with the years passed in the Carmel's narrow cell. But this too is folly, since I do not sigh for just one torment; I need them all to slake my thirst.

st therese st joan of Arch

The Little Flower played the role of St. Joan of Arc in a play the nuns made at Carmel

O my Jesus, what will Thou say to all my madness? Is there on the face of this earth a soul more feeble or small than mine? And yet, precisely because I am feeble, it has delighted Thee to accede to my least and most child-like desires, and today it is Thy good pleasure to realise those other desires, more vast than the universe.

Charity gave me the key to my vocation. I understood that since the Church is a body composed of different members, the noblest and most important of all the organs would not be wanting. I knew that the Church has a heart and that this heart burns with love. I understood that it is love alone that gives life to its members.

I knew that if this love were extinguished, the Apostles would no longer preach the Gospel, and the Martyrs would refuse to shed their blood. I understood that love encompasses all vocations, that love is everything, and that it embraces all times and places. In a word, that it is eternal.

Then, in the excess of my delirious joy I cried out: "O Jesus, my Love, at last I have found my vocation. My vocation is love! Yes, I found my place in the bosom of the Church. It was Thou, O my God, who gave me this place. In the heart of the Church my Mother, I will be love! Thus, I shall be all things, thus will my dream be realized!

Comments of Dr. Plinio

To understand this long and beautiful excerpt from the prayer of St. Therese of Lisieux in her Autobiography, it is necessary to say a word about the martyrdom of desire.

There are pious souls who would like to do for the Church much more than what they do. There are many persons, for example, who are shut up in a hospital and cannot make an apostolate. Then there are persons who make an apostolate with others and lament that they cannot be in a hospital bed to suffer for the Church. So, there are souls that would like to do everything for the Church and it becomes a true martyrdom to not be able to do everything.

love vocation

This desire can become ardent and scorching like the thirst Our Lord had from the height of the Cross. This desire is to do everything – to be everywhere, to say everything, to work with everyone and to accomplish all the possible and impossible works from the beginning of time until the end of the world.

The non-fulfillment of this desire can be, for a certain type of soul, a true martyrdom. St. Therese of Lisieux suffered this martyrdom. And she resolved the problem that this martyrdom presented for her in a very beautiful way.

The excerpt we just read shows what the desires of her soul were.

Her dream was very beautiful: She wanted to be a crusader, a true Joan of Arc fighting for the Papal States like Joan of Arc fought for France and to die in the field of battle defending the Church.

She understood that by existing, praying and working for love to increase among all, for charity to grow in the Church, this would be like a prodigious fountain of life inside the Church. The prophets would be more faithful, the doctors more lucid, the apostles more indefatigable, the warriors more indomitable, and everything would start to move with a renewed intensity. Then she understood that she should die as a victim of love. She was the victim of merciful love, so that others might also love more; and then, by this regeneration of love inside the Church, all vocations would be fulfilled.

lion

St. Therese understands our vocation to fight for the Church in the worst of times

If she would have known of the vocation of those who were called to love the Church and to represent fidelity during this period in History of the worst infidelity of her Hierarchy and Clergy and, therefore, the vocation to represent in some way all the apostolates of all times and places, she would have been very joyful. How much she would have desired to have had this vocation!

You understand how fruitful her merits are, and how much from the heights of Heaven she should be praying for us as well. We can ask her that from Heaven she have pity on our faults and make us unite increasingly more to Our Lady in order to belong entirely to her.

She understands our vocation and prays for us. The proof of it is the thousands of favors that she has done for us. This is the reason why we celebrate her Feast Day today in such a special way. Let us, then, ask St. Therese of Lisieux to increase the love for Our Lady in the depths of our souls, and to increase our veneration for and tenderness toward the One, Holy, Apostolic and Roman Catholic Church.


Tradition in Action



Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
The Saint of the Day features highlights from the lives of saints based on comments made by the late Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. Following the example of St. John Bosco who used to make similar talks for the boys of his College, each evening it was Prof. Plinio’s custom to make a short commentary on the lives of the next day’s saint in a meeting for youth in order to encourage them in the practice of virtue and love for the Catholic Church. TIA thought that its readers could profit from these valuable commentaries.

The texts of both the biographical data and the comments come from personal notes taken by Atila S. Guimarães from 1964 to 1995. Given the fact that the source is a personal notebook, it is possible that at times the biographic notes transcribed here will not rigorously follow the original text read by Prof. Plinio. The commentaries have also been adapted and translated for TIA’s site.