Story of a Soul

In the past year I've discovered a huge fondness for St. Therese "The Little Flower." I've also begun spending more time as a guest in Adoration Chapel, and this book is the most recent thing I've read while there.
Why is she special to me? She was an innocent soul - very girlish and sweet. The kind of girl you want to be friends with. I'd read some things about her and her philosophies that left me quite stunned. It really changed my perspective. But I felt like a fraud for only having read someone else's thoughts on the matter and needed to go straight to the source - her autobiography. To explain further, I have to first review this book.

The Story of a Soul reads like a school girl's scribbles - which is essentially what they are. Therese of Lisieux was only 15 or 14 when she became a Carmelite nun. One of her sisters (who also happened to be her sister - her biological sister, also a Carmelite nun) asked her to write about her life. And so she did - in a school notebook, at an old, plain wooden desk. What makes Therese so cool, as a person and not as a saint, is that she knew from the earliest of ages that she was destined to be a Carmelite nun. From the earliest of ages, she was passionate about Christ. It's a rare trait, but in your life you will see it. I know personally, try as hard as I might, I need a lot of guidance as my passion and interest flags. Just the tone Therese uses sometimes grabs be by the shoulders and shakes me hard - she is so literally humble in the truest sense of the word that it's, well, humbling. Overall, the book is like re-reading Pollyanna or Anne of Green Gables, just a more Catholic version.
Specifically Pollyanna - you know how Pollyanna played The Glad Game? St. Therese played a similar game - and this is the part that is so endearing about her as a saint. This is the part that makes people write and talk so much about her, even if you aren't Catholic perhaps you can appreciate it. Therese realized that she wasn't necessarily destined for greatness. She saw herself as a "little soul." She couldn't do great, grand things to honor The Lord. Not many of us can. So instead she decided she would take extra care to make small gestures and do them with great love. It's the sort of thing some of us would consider "self-improvement," if Catholicism offends you - and indeed it shouldn't. "Small gestures with great love?" you're wondering. What does that even mean? If someone offends or annoys you, for instance, it's usually hard to let it go. The least you might end up doing is giving them a cold look - but Therese says to even resist it. Smile at them, be kind to them, go out of your way to show them some love. Whoa. That sounds insane. So if someone hurts you, you're supposed to send them some flowers? Who does that? But reverse the mirror and look at it another way. Is it really benefitting anyone - yourself included - if you cuss the offendee out? It really only makes you an enemy, and while that's hard to avoid (even in her life, Therese had her enemies), life is too short to have enemies. So think about it. I'd rather be kind even to jerks. Sometimes you might forget to, but there's always going to be other chances.

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