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.

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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