As today is the Feast of Saint Therese of Lisieux, I had intended to write something a bit more extensive about her, but the past few days have been busier than I’d anticipated. Thankfully though, I came across some passages from a poem she had written, entitled Jesus, My Beloved, Remember!, which I think typifies the simple and intimate approach to spirituality which the Little Flower is so well remembered and loved for, and communicates a very compelling picture of what it meant for Our Lord to assume human nature in the Incarnation. Typically for Saint Therese, what is written in the form of a simple and childlike paean to Jesus actually contains some deeply felt and keenly observed insights into Christology.
The innocent pictures of the Child Jesus (to whom Saint Therese dedicated herself) combine fluently with allusions to His divine power and omniscience. Therese exults in the paradoxical imagery of Our Lord playing with His Mother as a child whilst holding in His mind those such as her, who He would lead to share in the blessed life of the Triune Love. She also explores, again via a disarming and almost naïve set of images, the concept of kenosis – that Our Lord somehow gave up those very privileges which came from being God, in order that He might truly share in our humanity. Finally, the poem ends with Saint Therese’s total gift of herself to Jesus and His will – the essence of her spiritual teaching:
Remember the divine splendor
You left in exiling yourself on earth
To redeem all the poor sinners.
O Jesus! Humbling yourself to the Virgin Mary,
You veiled your infinite greatness and glory.
Ah! Your mother’s breast
Was your second heaven,
Remember that on other shores
The golden stars and silver moon
On which I gaze in the cloudless sky
Delighted and charmed your Infant eyes.
With your little hand that caressed Mary
You upheld the world and gave it life,
And you thought of me,
Jesus, my little King,
Remember that you worked in solitude
With your divine hands.
To live forgotten was your sweetest task.
You rejected human learning.
O You who with just one word could charm the world,
You took delight in hiding your profound wisdom.
You seemed unlearned,
O All-powerful Lord!
Remember that you wandered as a Stranger on earth.
You, the Eternal Word,
You had nothing, no, not even a stone,
Not a shelter, like the birds of heaven.
O Jesus! come within me, come rest your Head,
Come, my soul is truly ready to receive you.
My Beloved Savior,
Rest in my heart.
It is Yours.
Jesus, My Beloved, Remember!, vv.1, 6-8, courtesy of Daily Gospel.