You know, Mother, I have always wanted to be a saint. Alas! I have always noticed that when I compared myself to the saints, there is between them and me the same difference that exists between a mountain whose summit is lost in the clouds and the obscure grain of sand trampled underfoot by passers-by.
Instead of becoming discouraged, I said to myself: God cannot inspire unrealizable desires. I can, then, in spite of my littleness, aspire to holiness. It is impossible for me to grow up, and so I must bear with myself such as I am with all my imperfections.
But I want to seek out a means of going to heaven by a little way, a way that is very straight, very short, and totally new.
We are living now in an age of inventions, and we no longer have to take the trouble of climbing stairs, for, in the homes of the rich, an elevator has replaced these very successfully. I wanted to find an elevator which would raise me to Jesus, for I am too small to climb the rough stairway of perfection.
I searched, then, in the Scriptures for some sign of this elevator, the object of my desires, and I read these words coming from the mouth of Eternal Wisdom: “Whoever is a LITTLE ONE, let him come to me” [cf. Mt 19:14].
And so I succeeded. I felt I had found what I was looking for.
But wanting to know, O my God, what You would do to the very little one who answered Your call, I continued my search and this is what I discovered: “As one whom a mother caresses, so will I comfort you; you shall be carried at the breasts, and upon the knees they shall caress you” [cf. Is 66:10–13].
Ah! never did words more tender and more melodious come to give joy to my soul. The elevator which must raise me to heaven is Your arms, O Jesus! And for this, I had no need to grow up, but rather I had to remain little and become this more and more.
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
Autobiographical Manuscripts, MsC 2v–3r
Note: We recall the realization of St. Thérèse’s desires on 17 May 1925 when she was canonized by Pope Pius XI in St. Peter’s Basilica. In his homily at the canonization Mass, the pope proclaimed:
For in the memory of the Virgin of Lisieux were well imprinted the invitations and promises of the divine Bridegroom: “Let the little one come to me [Prov 9:4]. You will be carried on my breast and you will be caressed on my knee. As a mother caresses someone, so will I comfort you” [Is 66:12–13]. Thus Thérèse, aware of her own frailty, confidently entrusted herself to divine Providence so that, leaning solely on its help, she could attain perfect holiness of life, even through bitter difficulties, having decided to strive for it with the total and joyful abdication of her own will.
You can view photos of the canonization celebrations in Lisieux and Rome on the website of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux.
of Lisieux, T 1996, Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, 3rd edn, translated from the French by Clarke J, ICS Publications, Washington, DC.
Translation from the Italian text is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission.
Featured image: Newsclip from an article that appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper, Monday 18 May 1925, on page 3. Accessed 17 May 2018, newspapers.com
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