Saint Therese of Lisieux: How to love

Saint Therese here reflects on the times in which she has tried to act charitably towards her fellow sisters. Her conclusion is that not only must one seek to love those least agreeable, but also with the motive purely of pleasing Jesus. It is his wish that we give with no thought for being given back to in return, and with no thought for feelings of approval; we must give solely out of a self-giving love. The only way to do this without becoming discouraged, suggests Therese, is to keep our eyes wholly on Him, and to let the love of Christ be our motive:

I have noticed (and this is very natural) that the most saintly Sisters are the most loved. We seek their company; we render them services without their asking… On the other hand, imperfect souls are not sought out. No doubt we remain within the limits of religious politeness in their regard, but we generally avoid them, fearing lest we say something which isn’t too amiable…  This is the conclusion I draw from this: I must seek out in recreation, on free days, the company of the Sisters who are the least agreeable to me in order to carry out with regard to these wounded souls the office of the good Samaritan.

A word, an amiable smile, often suffice to make a sad soul bloom; but it is not principally to attain this end that I wish to practice charity, for I know I would soon become discouraged: a word I shall say with the best intention will perhaps be interpreted wrongly. Also, not to waste my time, I want to be friendly with everybody (and especially with the least amiable Sisters) to give joy to Jesus and respond to the counsel He gives in the Gospel in almost these words: “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not invite your friends, or your brethren, or your relatives, or your rich neighbors, lest perhaps they also invite you in return, and a recompense be made to you. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; and blessed shall you be, because they have nothing to repay you with, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (cf. Lk 14,12-14; Mt 6,4-5) What banquet could a Carmelite offer her Sisters except a spiritual banquet of loving and joyful charity?

As far as I am concerned, I know no other and I want to imitate Saint Paul who “rejoiced with those who rejoice” (Rm 12,15). It is true he wept with the afflicted and tears must sometimes appear in the feast I wish to serve, but I shall always try to change these tears into joy (Jn 16,20), since “the Lord loves a cheerful giver” (2Cor 9,7).

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3 thoughts on “Saint Therese of Lisieux: How to love

    • Thank you for your reply – I am glad that this post has come to your attention, and hope that any others who may come across it are encouraged to seek out Saint Therese’s writings. I find myself drawing closer to her as time goes on, and continue to find great wells of inspiration in her teaching(s). I shall make sure to look up your blog at Novena.com!

  1. Pingback: Saint Therese of Lisieux: A Poem on the Incarnation | Journey Towards Easter

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