Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face: Holiness Unalloyed

The story of the Little Flower, Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, is well-known. This great lover of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who received special permission to enter the convent at Carmel in France at the age of fifteen, spent nine years devoting herself to serving the Church by means of her "little way," performing ordinary, mundane tasks perfectly for the love of God. Her cheerful demeanor, which was exhibited even in the midst of her intense sufferings, exhibited the joy and serenity that must characterize all true followers of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in the true Church, the Catholic Church, that He founded upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope.The life of Saint Therese, our Little Flower, is summarized in the readings for Matins appointed on her feast day, October 3: Theresa of the Child Jesus was born in Alencon in France. Her parents were estimable people, well known for their piety and their love of God. From her earliest childhood, endowed by a special grace of the Holy Ghost, she yearned to enter the religious life. She promised God with the utmost sincerity that she would deny him nothing he might ask of her. She kept this promise faithfully to the end of her life, although she had to suffer a great deal to keep it. Her mother died when Theresa was but five years old. From then on the child committed herself to the providence of God, under the vigilant care of a most tender father and her elder sisters. Under their teaching Theresa raced as gayly strong as a young giant along the way of perfection. At the age of nine she was sent to school at Lisieux to the Benedictine nuns, where she made remarkable progress in her knowledge of divine things. In her tenth year she was ill for a long time of a serious and mysterious malady. From this, as she herself relateth, she was delivered only by the power of God himself, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who appeared to her with a smiling countenance, and to whom under the title of our Lady of Victories, she was constantly making novenas. Filled with angelic fervour she prepared herself at this time with the utmost care to receive Christ in the sacred banquet of her first Holy Communion.After being refreshed for the first time with the Eucharistic Bread Theresa seemed to develop an insatiable hunger for the celestial food. Then, as if by inspiration, she asked Jesus to turn all her earthly consolation into bitterness. After that she burned with a most tender love for Christ the Lord and for his Church. More than anything in the world she wanted to enter the Order of the Discalced Carmelites, where by self-sacrifice she might assist priests, missionaries and the whole Church, and so gain innumerable souls for Christ Jesus. All this, she promised God would do for her, even when apparently she lay at the point of death. Her extreme youth was an obstacle which hindered her entrance upon the religious life. Even this she overcame by her incredible courage of soul. She entered Carmel at Lisieux happily at the age of fifteen. There God fashioned the heart of Theresa in a marvellous way, teaching her to ascend to him step by step. Imitating the hidden life of the Virgin Mary like a well-watered garden she bore flowers of every virtue, especially an abiding love of God and neighbour.That she might please the most high God to greater degree, when she read in Sacred Scriptures the warning, Whoever is a little one, let him come unto me, she determined to be a little one in spirit. As such she consecrated herself forever with childlike confidence to God, her most loving Father. The way of spiritual childhood, following the teachings of the Gospel, she taught to others, especially to the novices who training in the pursuit of religious virtues she undertook in obedience to her superiors. Overflowing with apostolic zeal she pointed out to a world filled with pride and a love of vanities, the simple way of the Gospels. Meanwhile Jesus, her spouse, inflamed her with a desire to suffer both in soul and in body. Moreover, perceiving that the love of God was everywhere rejected, she became filled with grief and two years before her death, offered herself as a victim of love to the merciful God. She writeth that she was then wounded by a flame of fire from heaven, whereupon she became consumed by love, rapt as it were in ecstasy. Repeating over and over again the fervent words, My God, I love thee, she passed on to her Spouse on the 30th day of September, in the year 1897, at the age of twenty-four years. As she was dying she promised that she would let fall upon earth a ceaseless shower of roses. This promise she hath indeed fulfilled in heaven, and her shower of roses hath continued to this very day. The Sovereign Pontiff Pius XI added her name to the Virgins declared Blessed and two years later, at the time of the great Jubilee, listed her among the Saints. He also appointed and declared her Patroness of all the missions. (Matins, Divine Office, Feast of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.)What I would like to focus on in this brief reflection on the Little Flower is the extent to which her father, Louis Martin, sought to protect his daughters from the influences of the world as they were growing up. Obviously, Louis Martin was aided by his wife Zelie while she was alive. However, Louis Martin, who had studied for a time to be a priest, knew that he had the obligation to get his daughters home to Heaven by shielding them as much as was possible for any and all influences that could interfere with the salvation of their immortal souls. It is absolutely no accident that five daughters become nuns and one of those five was canonized by Pope Pius XI. (See the Papal Bull Vehementer Exultamus Hodie, May 17, 1925, at the conclusion of this brief reflection.) Louis and Zelie Martin together--and then Louis Martin alone on earth while aided by Zelie's prayers from eternity--helped to create an atmosphere of sanctity in their home. The Catholic Faith was everything to Louis and Zelie Martin as they sought to raise canonizable saints.A preface to Saint Therese's The Story of a Soul written by the late Francis Alphonus Cardinal Bourne summarizes this very well:A few years after the vain quest of Louis Martin, a similar scene was enacted in Alençon itself. Accompanied by her mother, Zélie Guérin--an attractive and pious girl--presented herself at the Convent of the Sisters of Charity in the hope of gaining admission. For years it had been her desire to share the Sisters' work, but this was not to be. In the interview that followed, the Superioress--guided by the Holy Ghost --decided unhesitatingly that Zélie's vocation was not for the religious life. God wanted her in the world, and so she returned to her parents, and to the companionship of her elder sister and her younger brother. Shortly afterwards the gates of the Visitation Convent at Le Mans closed upon her beloved sister, and Zélie's thoughts turned to the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. "O my God"--she repeated constantly-- "since I am unworthy to be Thy Spouse, like my dear sister, I shall enter the married state to fulfill Thy Holy Will, and I beseech Thee to make me the mother of many children, and to grant that all of them may be dedicated to Thee."God gave ear to her prayer, and His Finger was visible in the circumstances which led to her becoming the wife of Louis Martin, on July 12, 1858, in Alençon's lovely Church of Notre Dame. Like the chaste Tobias, they were joined together in matrimony--"solely for the love of children, in whom God's Name might be blessed for ever and ever." Nine white flowers bloomed in this sacred garden. Of the nine, four were transplanted to Paradise ere their buds had quite unfolded, while five were gathered in God's walled gardens upon earth, one entering the Visitation Convent at Caen, the others the Carmel of Lisieux.From the cradle all were dedicated to Mary Immaculate, and all received her name: Marie Louise, Marie Pauline, Marie Léonie, Marie Hélène, who died at the age of four and a half, Marie Joseph Louis, Marie Joseph Jean Baptiste, Marie Céline, Marie Mélanie Therèse, who died when three months old, and lastly, Marie Françoise Thérèse.The two boys were the fruit of prayers and tears. After the birth of the four elder girls, their parents entreated St. Joseph to obtain for them the favour of a son who should become a priest and a missionary. Marie Joseph soon was given them, and his pretty ways appealed to all hearts, but only five months had run their course when Heaven demanded what it had lent. Then followed more urgent novenas.The grandeur of the Priesthood, glorious upon earth, ineffable in eternity, was so well understood by those Christian parents, that their hearts coveted it most dearly. At all costs the family must have a Priest of the Lord, one who would be an apostle, peradventure a martyr. But, "the thoughts of the Lord are not our thoughts, His ways are not our ways." Another little Joseph was born, and with him hope once again grew strong. Alas! Nine months had scarcely passed when he, too, fled from this world and joined his angel brother.They did not ask again. Yet, could the veil of the future have been lifted, their heavy hearts would, of a surety, have been comforted. A child was to be vouchsafed them who would be a herald of Divine love, not to China alone, but to all the ends of the earth.Nay, they themselves were destined to shine as apostles, and we read on one of the first pages of the Portuguese edition of the Autobiography, these significant words of an eminent Jesuit: "To the Sacred Memory of Louis Joseph Stanislaus Martin and of Zélie Guérin, the blessed parents of Sister Teresa of the Child Jesus, for an example to all Christian parents."They little dreamed of this future apostolate, nevertheless they made ready their souls day by day to be God's own instruments in God's good time. With most loving resignation they greeted the many crosses which the Lord laid upon them--the Lord whose tender name of Father is truest in the dark hour of trial.Every morning saw them at Mass; together they knelt at the Holy Table. They strictly observed the fasts and abstinences of the Church, kept Sunday as a day of complete rest from work in spite of the remonstrance of friends, and found in pious reading their most delightful recreation. They prayed in common--after the touching example of Captain Martin, whose devout way of repeating the Our Father brought tears to all eyes. Thus the great Christian virtues flourished in their home. Wealth did not bring luxury in its train, and a strict simplicity was invariably observed."How mistaken are the great majority of men!" Madame Martin used often to say. "If they are rich, they at once desire honours; and if these are obtained, they are still unhappy; for never can that heart be satisfied which seeks anything but God."Her whole ambition as a mother was directed to Heaven. "Four of my children are already well settled in life," she once wrote; "and the others will go likewise to that Heavenly Kingdom--enriched with greater merit because the combat will have been more prolonged."Charity in all its forms was a natural outlet to the piety of these simple hearts. Husband and wife set aside each year a considerable portion of their earnings for the Propagation of the Faith; they relieved poor persons in distress, and ministered to them with their own hands. On one occasion Monsieur Martin, like a good Samaritan, was seen to raise a drunken man from the ground in a busy thoroughfare, take his bag of tools, support him on his arm, and lead him home. Another time when he saw, in a railway station, a poor and starving epileptic without the means to return to his distant home, he was so touched with pity that he took off his hat and, placing in it an alms, proceeded to beg from the passengers on behalf of the sufferer. Money poured in, and it was with a heart brimming over with gratitude that the sick man blessed his benefactor.Never did he allow the meannesses of human respect to degrade his Christian dignity. In whatever company he might be, he always saluted the Blessed Sacrament when passing a Church; and he never met a priest without paying him a mark of respect. A word from his lips sufficed to silence whosoever dared blaspheme in his presence.In reward for his virtues, God showered even temporal blessings on His faithful servant. In 1871 he was able to give up his business as a jeweller, and retire to a house in the Rue St. Blaise. The making of point-lace, however, begun by Madame Martin, was still carried on.In that house the "Little Flower of Jesus" first saw the sunshine. Again and again, in the pages of her Autobiography, she calls herself by this modest name of the Little Flower emblematic of her humility, her purity, her simplicity, and it may be added, of the poetry of her soul. The reader will learn in the Epilogue how it was also used by one of her favourite martyr-saints--the now Blessed Théophane Vénard. On the manuscript of her Autobiography she set the title: "The Story of the Springtime of a little white Flower," and in truth such it was, for long ere the rigours of life's winter came round, the Flower was blossoming in Paradise.It was, however, in mid-winter, January 2, 1873, that this ninth child of Louis Martin and Zélie Guérin was born. Marie and Pauline were at home for the Christmas holidays from the Visitation Convent at Le Mans, and though there was, it is true, a slight disappointment that the future priest was still denied them, it quickly passed, and the little one was regarded as a special gift from Heaven. Later on, her beloved Father delighted in calling her his "Little Queen," adding at times the high-sounding titles--"Of France and Navarre."The Little Queen was indeed well received that winter's morning, and in the course of the day a poor waif rang timidly at the door of the happy home, and presented a paper bearing the following simple stanza: "Smile and swiftly grow; All beckons thee to joy, Sweet love, and tenderest care. Smile gladly at the dawn, Bud of an hour!--for thou Shalt be a stately rose." It was a charming prophecy, for the bud unfolded its petals and became a rose--a rose of love--but not for long, "for the space of a morn!"On January 4, she was carried to the Church of Notre Dame to receive the Sacrament of Baptism; her eldest sister, Marie, was her godmother, and she was given the name of Marie Françoise ThérèseAll was joy at first, but soon the tender bud drooped on its delicate stem: little hope was held out--it must wither and die. "You must pray to St. Francis de Sales," wrote her aunt from the convent at Le Mans, "and you must promise, if the child recovers, to call her by her second name, Frances." This was a sword-thrust for the Mother. Leaning over the cradle of her Thérèse, she awaited the coming of the end, saying: "Only when the last hope has gone, will I promise to call her Frances."The gentle St. Francis waived his claim in favour of the great Reformer of the Carmelite Order: the child recovered, and so retained her sweet name of Thérèse. Sorrow, however, was mixed with the Mother's joy, when it became necessary to send the babe to a foster-mother in the country. There the "little rose-bud" grew in beauty, and after some months had gained strength sufficient to allow of her being brought back to Alençon. Her memory of this short but happy time spent with her sainted Mother in the Rue St. Blaise was extraordinarily vivid. To-day a tablet on the balcony of No. 42 informs the passers-by that here was born a certain Carmelite, by name, Sister Teresa of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. Fifteen years have gone since the meeting in Heaven of Madame Martin and her Carmelite child, and if the pilgrimage to where the Little Flower first saw the light of day, be not so large as that to the grave where her remains await their glorious resurrection, it may nevertheless be numbered in thousands. And to the English-speaking pilgrim there is an added pleasure in the fact that her most notable convert, the first minister of the United Free Church of Scotland to enter the True Fold, performs, with his convert wife, the courteous duties of host. (Preface to Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, The Story of a Soul.)Saint Therese describes the Catholic household that formed her so well in the Faith before her mother's death in the year 1877:All the details of my Mother's illness are still fresh in my mind. I remember especially her last weeks on earth, when Céline and I felt like poor little exiles. Every morning a friend came to fetch us, and we spent the day with her. Once, we had not had time to say our prayers before starting, and on the way my little sister whispered: "Must we tell her that we have not said our prayers?" "Yes," I answered. So, very timidly, Céline confided our secret to her, and she exclaimed: "Well, well, children, you shall say them." Then she took us to a large room, and left us there. Céline looked at me in amazement. I was equally astonished, and exclaimed: "This is not like Mamma, she always said our prayers with us." During the day, in spite of all efforts to amuse us, the thought of our dear Mother was constantly in our minds. I remember once, when my sister had an apricot given to her, she leant towards me and said: "We will not eat it, I will give it to Mamma." Alas! our beloved Mother was now too ill to eat any earthly fruit; she would never more be satisfied but by the glory of Heaven. There she would drink of the mysterious wine which Jesus, at His Last Supper, promised to share with us in the Kingdom of His Father.The touching ceremony of Extreme Unction made a deep impression on me. I can still see the place where I knelt, and hear my poor Father's sobs.Saint Therese later described her First Confession and the joy that she had assisting at Mass each Sunday:Shortly after this I made my first confession. It is a very sweet memory. Pauline had warned me: "Thérèse, darling, it is not to a man but to God Himself that you are going to tell your sins." I was so persuaded of this that I asked her quite seriously if I should not tell Father Ducellier that I loved him "with my whole heart," as it was really God I was going to speak to in his person.Well instructed as to what I was to do, I entered the confessional, and turning round to the priest, so as to see him better, I made my confession and received absolution in a spirit of lively faith--my sister having assured me that at this solemn moment the tears of the Holy Child Jesus would purify my soul. I remember well that he exhorted me above all to a tender devotion towards Our Lady, and I promised to redouble my love for her who already filled so large a place in my heart. Then I passed him my Rosary to be blessed, and came out of the Confessional more joyful and lighthearted than I had ever felt before. It was evening, and as soon as I got to a street lamp I stopped and took the newly blessed Rosary out of my pocket, turning it over and over. "What are you looking at, Thérèse, dear?" asked Pauline. "I am seeing what a blessed Rosary looks like." This childish answer amused my sisters very much. I was deeply impressed by the graces I had received, and wished to go to confession again for all the big feasts, for these confessions filled me with joy. The feasts! What precious memories these simple words bring to me. I loved them; and my sisters knew so well how to explain the mysteries hidden in each one. Those days of earth became days of Heaven. Above all I loved the procession of the Blessed Sacrament: what a joy it was to strew flowers in God's path! But before scattering them on the ground I threw them high in the air, and was never so happy as when I saw my rose-leaves touch the sacred Monstrance.And if the great feasts came but seldom, each week brought one very dear to my heart, and that was Sunday. What a glorious day! The Feast of God! The day of rest! First of all the whole family went to High Mass, and I remember that before the sermon we had to come down from our places, which were some way from the pulpit, and find seats in the nave. This was not always easy, but to little Thérèse and her Father everyone offered a place. My uncle was delighted when he saw us come down; he called me his "Sunbeam," and said that to see the venerable old man leading his little daughter by the hand was a sight which always filled him with joy. I never troubled myself if people looked at me, I was only occupied in listening attentively to the preacher. A sermon on the Passion of our Blessed Lord was the first I understood, and it touched me deeply. I was then five and a half, and after that time I was able to understand and appreciate all instructions. If St. Teresa was mentioned, my Father would bend down and whisper to me: "Listen attentively, little Queen, he is speaking of your holy patroness." I really did listen attentively, but I must own I looked at Papa more than at the preacher, for I read many things in his face. Sometimes his eyes were filled with tears which he strove in vain to keep back; and as he listened to the eternal truths he seemed no longer of this earth, his soul was absorbed in the thought of another world. Alas! Many long and sorrowful years had to pass before Heaven was to be opened to him, and Our Lord with His Own Divine Hand was to wipe away the bitter tears of His faithful servant.To go back to the description of our Sundays. This happy day which passed so quickly had also its touch of melancholy; my happiness was full till Compline, but after that a feeling of sadness took possession of me. I thought of the morrow when one had to begin again the daily life of work and lessons, and my heart, feeling like an exile on this earth, longed for the repose of Heaven--the never ending Sabbath of our true Home. Every Sunday my aunt invited us in turns to spend the evening with her. I was always glad when mine came, and it was a pleasure to listen to my uncle's conversation. His talk was serious, but it interested me, and he little knew that I paid such attention; but my joy was not unmixed with fear when he took me on his knee and sang "Bluebeard" in his deep voice.About eight o'clock Papa would come to fetch me. I remember that I used to look up at the stars with inexpressible delight. Orion's belt fascinated me especially, for I saw in it a likeness to the letter "T." "Look, Papa," I would cry, "my name is written in Heaven!" Then, not wishing to see this dull earth any longer, I asked him to lead me, and with my head thrown back, I gazed unweariedly at the starry skies.I could tell you much about our winter evenings at home. After a game of draughts my sisters read aloud Dom Guéranger's Liturgical Year, and then a few pages of some other interesting and instructive book. While this was going on I established myself on Papa's knee, and when the reading was done he used to sing soothing snatches of melody in his beautiful voice, as if to lull me to sleep, and I would lay my head on his breast while he rocked me gently to and fro.Later on we went upstairs for night prayers, and there again my place was beside my beloved Father, and I had only to look at him to know how the Saints pray. Pauline put me to bed, and I invariably asked her: "Have I been good to-day? Is God pleased with me? Will the Angels watch over me?" The answer was always "Yes," otherwise I should have spent the whole night in tears. After these questions my sisters kissed me, and little Thérèse was left alone in the dark. I look on it as a real grace that from childhood I was taught to overcome my fears. Sometimes in the evening Pauline would send me to fetch something from a distant room; she would take no refusal, and she was quite right, for otherwise I should have become very nervous, whereas now it is difficult to frighten me. I wonder sometimes how my little Mother was able to bring me up with so much tenderness, and yet without spoiling me, for she did not pass over the least fault. It is true she never scolded me without cause, and I knew well she would never change her mind when once a thing was decided upon.To this dearly loved sister I confided my most intimate thoughts; she cleared up all my doubts. One day I expressed surprise that God does not give an equal amount of glory to all the elect in Heaven--I was afraid that they would not all be quite happy. She sent me to fetch Papa's big tumbler, and put it beside my tiny thimble, then, filling both with water, she asked me which seemed the fuller. I replied that one was as full as the other--it was impossible to pour more water into either of them, for they could not hold it. In this way Pauline made it clear to me that in Heaven the least of the Blessed does not envy the happiness of the greatest; and so, by bringing the highest mysteries down to the level of my understanding, she gave my soul the food it needed. (Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, The Story of a Soul.)Doesn't this sound like a pretty good model for own families, especially for those of us with young children to form in the crucible of the Holy Faith as the consecrated slaves of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ through Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart?Saint Therese stressed the importance of proper formation in The Story of a Soul:About this time Our Lord gave me the consolation of an intimate knowledge of the souls of children. I gained it in this way. During the illness of a poor woman, I interested myself in her two little girls, the elder of whom was not yet six. It was a real pleasure to see how simply they believed all that I told them. Baptism does indeed plant deeply in our souls the theological virtues, since from early childhood the hope of heavenly reward is strong enough to make us practise self-denial. When I wanted my two little girls to be specially kind to one another, instead of promising them toys and sweets, I talked to them about the eternal recompense the Holy Child Jesus would give to good children. The elder one, who was coming to the use of reason, used to look quite pleased and asked me charming questions about the little Jesus and His beautiful Heaven. She promised me faithfully always to give in to her little sister, adding that all through her life she would never forget what I had taught her. I used to compare these innocent souls to soft wax, ready to receive any impression--evil, alas! as well as good, and I understood the words of Our Lord: "It were better to be thrown into the sea than to scandalise one of these little ones."How many souls might attain to great sanctity if only they were directed aright from the first! I know God has not need of anyone to help Him in His work of sanctification, but as He allows a clever gardener to cultivate rare and delicate plants, giving him the skill to accomplish it, while reserving to Himself the right of making them grow, so does He wish to be helped in the cultivation of souls. What would happen if an ignorant gardener did not graft his trees in the right way? if he did not understand the nature of each, and wished, for instance, to make roses grow on peach trees?This reminds me that I used to have among my birds a canary which sang beautifully, and also a little linnet taken from the nest, of which I was very fond. This poor little prisoner, deprived of the teaching it should have received from its parents, and hearing the joyous trills of the canary from morning to night, tried hard to imitate them. A difficult task indeed for a linnet! It was delightful to follow the efforts of the poor little thing; his sweet voice found great difficulty in accommodating itself to the vibrant notes of his master, but he succeeded in time, and, to my great surprise, his song became exactly like the song of the canary.Oh, dear Mother, you know who taught me to sing from the days of my earliest childhood! You know the voices which drew me on. And now I trust that one day, in spite of my weakness, I may sing for ever the Canticle of Love, the harmonious notes of which I have often heard sweetly sounding here below. (Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, The Story of a Soul.)The formation that Saint Therese received in her home equipped her soar to the heights of spiritual perfection, enduring her final agonies, at age twenty-four, mind you, with such total surrender to the will of God. The Epilogue to The Story of a Soul:But more surprising than all, was her consciousness of the mission for which Our Lord had destined her. The veil which hides the future seemed lifted, and more than once she revealed to us its secrets, in prophecies which have already been realised."I have never given the Good God aught but love; it is with Love He will repay. AFTER MY DEATH I WILL LET FALL A SHOWER OF ROSES."At another time she interrupted a Sister, who was speaking to her of the happiness of Heaven, by the sublime words: "It is not that which attracts me.""And what attracts you?" asked the other. "Oh! it is Love! To love, to be beloved, and to return to earth to win love for our Love!"One evening, she welcomed Mother Agnes of Jesus with an extraordinary expression of joy: "Mother!" she said, "some notes from a concert far away have just reached my ears, and have made me think that soon I shall be listening to the wondrous melodies of Paradise. The thought, however, gave me but a moment's joy--one hope alone makes my heart beat fast: the Love that I shall receive and the Love I shall be able to give!"I feel that my mission is soon to begin--my mission to make others love God as I love Him . . . to each souls my little way . . . I WILL SPEND MY HEAVEN IN DOING GOOD UPON EARTH.Nor is this impossible, since from the very heart of the Beatific Vision, the Angels keep watch over us. No, there can be no rest for me until the end of the world. But when the Angel shall have said: 'Time is no more!' then I shall rest, then I shall be able to rejoice, because the number of the elect will be complete.""And what is this little way that you would teach to souls?""IT IS THE WAY OF SPIRITUAL CHILDHOOD, THE WAY OF TRUST AND ABSOLUTE SELF-SURRENDER."I want to point out to them the means that I have always found so perfectly successful, to tell them that there is but one thing to do here below: we must offer Jesus the flowers of little sacrifices and win Him by a caress. That is how I have won Him, and that is why I shall be made so welcome.""Should I guide you wrongly by my little way of love," she said to a novice, "do not fear that I shall allow you to continue therein; I should soon come back to the earth, and tell you to take another road. If I do not return, then believe in the truth of these my words: We can never have too much confidence in the Good God, He is so mighty, so merciful. As we hope in Him so shall we receive."  (Epilogue to The Story of a Soul.)We should resolve to imitate the little way of love in our own families, teaching our children to aspire to holiness, taking them to the Immemorial Mass of the ages on a daily basis (moving, yes, there's that "m" word again, if we need to do so), frequently the Blessed Sacrament in prayer, praying as a family at least three sets of mysteries of Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary each day, reading about the lives of the saints, and having one's home adorned with Crucifixes and images of Our Lady and Saint Joseph and the other saints. Reading The Liturgical Year was good enough for the Martin family. It should be good enough for us. Indeed, the Martins' flight from the alleged pleasures of this world should inspire us to do the same, eschewing anything and everything (and anyone and everyone) that poses a threat to the right formation of our children's souls unto their eternal salvation.Pope Saint Leo the Great explicated the simplicity of souls such as Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face in a sermon he gave at the end in the Fifth Century, fully fourteen hundred years before the birth and holy life of the most pure Little  Flower:The whole teaching of Christian wisdom consisteth, dearly beloved, not in an abundance of words, not in skill in disputation, not surely in seeking after praise or glory, but rather in seeking after true and voluntary humility. This was the way which the Lord Jesus Christ chose and taught with all his strength from his Mother's womb to his death on the Cross. When the Lord's disciples, as the Evangelist saith, discussed among themselves which should be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, he called a little child and set him in the midst of them, and said : Verily, I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Christ loveth childhood, which state at first he took upon himself, both in his soul and in his body. Christ loveth childhood, for it is the teacher of humility, the rule of innocence, and the type of meekness. Christ loveth childhood, for he formeth the character of the grown man on this model, and bringeth back the latter years of the old to this very state ; and he shapeth on this wise those whom he would raise to the kingdom of heaven.The whole teaching of Christian wisdom consisteth, dearly beloved, not in an abundance of words, not in skill in disputation, not surely in seeking after praise or glory, but rather in seeking after true and voluntary humility. This was the way which the Lord Jesus Christ chose and taught with all his strength from his Mother's womb to his death on the Cross. When the Lord's disciples, as the Evangelist saith, discussed among themselves which should be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, he called a little child and set him in the midst of them, and said : Verily, I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Christ loveth childhood, which state at first he took upon himself, both in his soul and in his body. Christ loveth childhood, for it is the teacher of humility, the rule of innocence, and the type of meekness. Christ loveth childhood, for he formeth the character of the grown man on this model, and bringeth back the latter years of the old to this very state ; and he shapeth on this wise those whom he would raise to the kingdom of heaven.The mystery of this day's festival, dearly beloved, calleth you to this imitation of little children. And the Saviour, who was adored by the Magi as a child, recommendeth to you this pattern of humility. To shew what glory he prepareth for them that would imitate him, he consecrated by martyrdom those born at the same time as himself. And thus the children born in Bethlehem, where Christ was born, became sharers of his passion by virtue of sharing the age of his infancy. Let the faithful then love lowliness, and shun all arrogance. Let each one prefer his brother to himself. Let him seek not even what is his own, but only that which will profit his brother. The feeling of charity will abound in all; the poison of envy will be found in none. For he that exalteth himself shall be humbled, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. This is the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ, who with the Father and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth, God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Sermon of Pope Leo the Great, Matins, Divine Office, Feast of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.)The following prayer, composed to Saint Therese of the Child Jesus for the Conversion of Russia and found in the official 1957 English translation of the 1951 edition of The Raccolta, applies equally to Russia and to the impure heretics who run the counterfeit church of conciliarism, and we should pray it for their conversion as well as for that of Russia:O loving and compassionate Saint, deign to comfort our Russian brethren the victims of a long and cruel persecution of the Christian name; obtain for them perseverance in the faith, progress in the love of God and of their neighbor, and in confidence toward the most holy Mother of God; prepare for them holy priests who shall make reparation for the blasphemies and sacrileges committed against the holy Eucharist; grant that angelic purity, especially in the young, and every Christian virtue may once more flourish amongst them, to the end that this noble people, being delivered from all slavery and returning freely to the one fold entrusted by the loving Heart of the Risen Christ to Saint Peter and his successors, may at length taste the joy of glorifying the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit in the fellowship of the Catholic Church.May we invoke the protection of the Little Flower, Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, so that Our Lady will send us the graces to love her Divine Son with the purity and fervor that she, Saint Therese did, imitating the Mother of God as far as is possible for a human being to do in this mortal vale of tears. Saint Therese will indeed shower roses upon us as she continues to spend her Heaven doing good upon earth. May we never be slow to invoke her loving intercession. May we spread her "little way" far and wide as apostles of love for Love Incarnate, Love Crucified and Resurrected. (The Raccolta: A Manual of Indulgences, Prayers and Devotions Enriched with Indulgences, approved by Pope Pius XII, May 30, 1951, and published in English by Benziger Brothers, New York, 1957, pp. 504-505.)Additionally, each of us should pray the following pray to Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face for the virtue of holy purity in our own lives and in those of our family members as we pray as well for those in the world and in the counterfeit church of conciliarism who are committed to the celebration of impurity and vice in the name of “love” and “respect”:O marvelous Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus, who, in thy brief mortal career, didst become a mirror of angelic purity, of daring love and of whole-hearted surrender to Almighty God, now that thou art enjoying the recompense of thy virtues, turn thine eye of mercy upon us who trust in thee. Obtain for us the grace to keep our hearts and minds pure and clean like unto thine, and to abhor in all sincerity whatever might tarnish ever so slightly the luster of a virtue so sublime, a virtue that endears us to thy heavenly Bridegroom. Ah, dear Saint, grant us to feel in every need the power of thy intercession; give us comfort in all the bitterness of this life and especially at its latter end, that we may be worthy to share eternal happiness with thee in paradise. Amen.V. Pray for us, O blessed Theresa,R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.Let us pray.O Lord, who hast said: “Unless you become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven”; grant us, we beseech Thee, so to walk in the footsteps of thy blessed Virgin Theresa with a humble and single heart, that we may attain to everlasting rewards: Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen. (The Raccolta: A Manual of Indulgences, Prayers and Devotions Enriched with Indulgences, approved by Pope Pius XII, May 30, 1951, and published in English by Benziger Brothers, New York, 1957, pp. 459.)Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.Saint Joseph, pray for us.Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and Holy Face, pray for us.Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us.Our Holy Guardian Angels, pray for us and protect us.