Thérèse of Lisieux

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For me, prayer is an aspiration of the heart, it is a simple glance directed to heaven, it is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trial as well as joy; finally, it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus.

Thérèse of Lisieux (2 January 187330 September 1897) was a French Discalced Carmelite nun. She was canonized in 1925.


My gaiety all went after Mother died. I had been so lively and open; now I became diffident and oversensitive, crying if anyone looked at me.
  • One day she was playing on the swing when her father passed and called to her, "Come and give me a kiss, my little queen." Dérange-toi, Papa! Thérèse replied pertly — an untranslatable compound of "Come for it yourself" and "If you want it, you'll have to go the trouble of getting it", with perhaps even, "Don't be so lazy." Her father went by with a grave expression, but without a word, while Marie said: "You naughty little thing, how can you be so rude to your father?" I got off the swing at once; I had really learned my lesson, and the whole house echoed with my cries of contrition.
    • Quoted in The Hidden Face, by Ida Gorres, p. 52
  • Since the age of three I have refused God nothing.

Story of a Soul (1897)

If a little flower could talk, it seems to me it would say what God had done for it quite simply and without concealment.
L'histoire d'une âme (various translations)
  • It seems to me that if a little flower could speak, it would tell simply what God has done for it without trying to hide its blessings. It would not say, under the pretext of a false humility, it is not beautiful and without perfume, that the sun has taken away its splendor and the storm has broken its stem when it knows that all this is untrue. The flower about to tell her story rejoices at having to publish the totally gratuitous gifts of Jesus. She knows that nothing in herself was capable of attracting the divine glances, and His mercy alone brought about everything that is good in her.
    • Ch. I: Alençon, 1873–1877. As translated by Fr. John Clarke (Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1976), p. 15.
  • My happy disposition completely changed after Mamma's death. I, once so full of life, became timid and retiring, sensitive to an excessive degree. One look was enough to reduce me to tears, and the only way I was content was to be left completely alone. I could not bear the company of strangers and found my joy only within the intimacy of the family.
    • Ch. II: Les Buissonnets, 1877–1881. As translated by Fr. John Clarke (1976), pp. 34–35.
  • I do not have the courage to force myself to search out beautiful prayers in books. There are so many of them it really gives me a headache! and each prayer is more beautiful than the others. I cannot recite them all and not knowing which to choose, I do like children who do not know how to read, I say very simply to God what I wish to say, without composing beautiful sentences, and He always understands me. For me, prayer is an aspiration of the heart, it is a simple glance directed to heaven, it is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trial as well as joy; finally, it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus.
  • Even if I had all the crimes possible on my conscience, I am sure I should lose none of my confidence. Heartbroken with repentance, I would simply throw myself into my Saviour's arms, for I know how much He loves the prodigal son. I have heard what He said to Mary Magdalene, to the woman taken in adultery, and the Samaritan woman. No one can make me frightened any more, because I know what to believe about His mercy and His love; I know that in the twinkling of an eye all those thousands of sins would be consumed as a drop of water cast into a blazing fire.
  • I thank Our Lord that He let me find nothing but bitterness in human affections. I should have been caught easily, and had my wings clipped...Our Lord knew that I was far too weak to face temptation; He knew that I would certainly have burnt myself in the bewildering light of earthly things, and so He did not let it shine in my eyes. Where stronger souls find joy but remain detached because they are faithful, I found only misery.

General Correspondence

  • In spite of everything, I feel that I am filled with courage; I am sure that God is not going to abandon me. [-]Oh. I want to refuse Him [Jesus] nothing, and even though I feel sad and alone on this earth, He still remains with me. And has not St. Teresa said: God alone suffices. "
    • October 8, 1887
  • M.Révérony said immediately: "Most Holy Father, this is a child who wants to enter Carmel at fifteen, but the superiors are considering the matter at this moment." (The good pope is so old that one would say he is dead; I would never have pictured him like this.) The Holy Father said simply:"If God wills it, you will enter." [-]I was crying a lot when writing this letter; my heart is heavy. However, God cannot give me trials that are above my strength. He has given me the courage to bear this trial. I am the Child Jesus' little ball;if He wishes to break His toy, He is free. Yes, I will all that He wills.
    • Thérèse's account of the papal audience, November 20,1887
  • I find that trials help very much in detaching us from this earth. They make us look higher than this world. Here below, nothing can satisfy us. We cannot enjoy a little rest except in being ready to do God's will. [-] Truly, life isn't cheerful. It is very difficult to be attached to it. Au revoir, dear Pauline, my Confidante.
    • March 18(?), 1888
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