Introductory Note:

It is almost impossible not to love the Little Flower—St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Her charming prose is so light and sparkling, the enchanted reader may overlook the depth of her spiritual maturity. We must not forget: she has been declared a Doctor of the Catholic Church based upon her writings.

Today’s stop along Thérèse’s “little way” is at the junction where Christ’s call to love meets human personality conflicts. In her wry reflection on the struggle to love a fellow sister despite a “natural antipathy,” Thérèse reveals what happens when we discover Jesus’ dwelling place.

Renovaré Team

There was … a certain nun who managed to irritate me in everything she did. The devil had a part in it, for it was certainly he who made me see all her bad points. Not wishing to give way to natural antipathy, I reminded myself that sentiments of charity were not enough; they must find expression, and I set myself to treat her as if I loved her best of all. 

I prayed for her whenever we met, and offered all her virtues and merits to God. I was sure that Jesus would be delighted at this, for artists always like to have their work praised, and it pleases the Divine Artist of souls when, not stopping at the exterior, we penetrate the inner sanctuary where He dwells, to admire its beauty. I prayed earnestly for this Sister who had caused me so much struggle, but this was not enough for me. 

I tried to do everything I possibly could for her, and when tempted to answer her sharply, I hastened to give her a friendly smile and talk about something else, for, as it says in The Imitation, It is better to leave everyone to his own way of thinking than begin an argument.” (Imit., III, xliv, 1). Sometimes, when the devil made a particularly violent attack, if I could slip away without letting her suspect my inward struggle, I would run away from the battle like a deserter; and what was the result? 

She said to me one day, her face radiant: What do you find so attractive in me? Whenever we meet, you give me such a gracious smile.” 

What attracted me? It was Jesus hidden in the depths of her soul; Jesus who makes attractive even what is most bitter.

Excerpted from The Story of a Soul by Thérèse of Lisieux, public domain via Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Mission.