“My dear Mother, you can see that I am a very little soul and that I can offer God only very little things.”
At the age of 15, young Therese enters into life as a nun with the Carmelite sisters in Liseiux. She was initially denied the request to enter at a young age, but after taking her case all the way to the Pope in Rome, she is brought into the sisterhood. She may have been easily forgotten in the tide of history except she was ordered to write down the story of her childhood and how she approached serving God. We have her story in letter form – the Story of a Soul.
I have heard of St. Therese a lot over the past several years and have wanted to read her autobiography for just about as long. Now that I’m being more intentional with what I read by including a biography or autobiography every month, I’ve finally gotten around to reading her story. I found a copy of the book at a local discount bookstore.
Story of a Soul is divided into three sections. The first tells of Therese’s childhood, her mother’s death and her entry into Carmelite life. The second section is where she talks about her “little way” – the way she offers small sacrifices in her life to Jesus. The third section is written shortly before her death and talks more about her life with the Carmelites. I enjoyed reading her story and found the section about her early life the most fascinating. She lived a pretty sheltered life and was loved by her family. Her mother’s death affected them all, but her father and other relatives did their best to stand in the gap. All of Therese’s sisters also entered into religious life. Faith was the foundation of their family and Therese found happiness in her life. The book is not a light read in that the writing style is very formal. I think books written when there was just ink and paper tend to be deep because words had to be chosen carefully and thoughtfully.
St. Therese’s view of God and the people on Earth is refreshing. We are all flowers that are adored, but each has its own purpose. Some are lilies and roses but others are dandelions and daises. Despite being “little” or “big,” each flower is beautiful in its own right. Each can offer something to God and the world. Therese would seek out little things to serve others – folding up clothes, being nice to someone who had bothered her, not leaning back on chairs, praying.
I would encourage anyone with faith to read St. Therese’s story. It’s a good reminder that while we may want to do “big” things in life, it may be that we should focus on doing “small” things. With the writing style, I would recommend the book for anyone high school age or older.
If you’ve read Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux, comment below and let me know what you thought about the book.