Marie du jour: 31 May

Why I Love You, O Mary!

You make me feel that it’s not impossible
To follow in your footsteps, O Queen of the elect.
You made visible the narrow road to Heaven
While always practicing the humblest virtues.
Near you, Mary, I like to stay little.
I see the vanity of greatness here below.
At the home of Saint Elizabeth, receiving your visit,
I learn how to practice ardent charity.

~   ~   ~

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
Why I Love You, O Mary (PN54, Stanza 6)

Saint Thérèse’s first draft of the poem is featured in the image above. Stanza 6 is the second stanza on the right side of the page. Lines 5-6 and 7-8 of the stanza appear in brackets.

 

Bell, Robert Anning, 1863-1933; The Meeting of the Virgin and Saint Elizabeth
The Meeting of the Virgin and Saint Elizabeth
Robert Anning Bell (British, 1863–1933)
Tempera on linen, 1910
Manchester Art Gallery
This is a biblical scene of Saint Elizabeth receiving the visit of the Virgin Mary. Elizabeth is dressed in gray and red robes and is kneeling and clutching at the waist of Mary, who is dressed in blue and white robes. Mary is bending over to take Elizabeth’s face in her hands. It is set in a flat landscape with a low horizon. The two women are framed by the wall of a building immediately behind them to their right, and some shrubbery further away in the center and left.

 


View the complete image of St. Thérèse’s first draft of the poem, an image of her second draft, details of her corrections, and images of the finished poem and its full text in English or French at the website of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux.

Marie du jour: 8 May

 

Why I Love You, O Mary!

O beloved Mother, despite my littleness,
Like you, I possess The All-Powerful within me.
But I don’t tremble in seeing my weakness:
The treasures of a mother belong to her child,
And I am your child, O my dearest Mother.
Aren’t your virtues and your love mine too?
So when the white Host comes into my heart,
Jesus, your Sweet Lamb, thinks he is resting in you!…

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
Why I Love You, O Mary!
PN 54, Stanza 5

The Last Supper Preston-on-Stour
The Last Supper, detail from a window in Preston-on-Stour | Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P. / Flickr

On 8 May 1884, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux made her First Holy Communion; on that same day, her sister Pauline professed her Carmelite vows in the hands of the saintly foundress of the Carmel of Lisieux, Mother Geneviève of St Teresa.

Of that day Saint Thérèse wrote, “Ah! how sweet was that first kiss of Jesus! It was a kiss of love; I felt that I was loved, and I said: “I love You, and I give myself to You forever!” There were no demands made, no struggles, no sacrifices; for a long time now Jesus and poor little Thérèse looked at and understood each other. That day, it was no longer simply a look, it was a fusion; they were no longer two, Thérèse had vanished as a drop of water is lost in the immensity of the ocean. Jesus alone remained; He was the Master, the King.” (Ms A, 35r)

Later, Pauline (her religious name was Mother Agnès of Jesus) recalled: “At the end of the afternoon,” she says, “I saw my little Thérèse in the parlor, with her veil as white as my own. She gazed at me with so profound and gentle a look. What a moment for us both! I went out quite comforted, a little like the apostles when they descended from Mount Tabor: a heavenly atmosphere surrounded me. Oh, my God, if the sight of an earthly angel could so fortify me, what will it be to see in eternity the very fountain-head of goodness, from whence proceeds all the beauty of the saints!” (Circular letter, Carmelite death notice for Mother Agnès of Jesus)

Mutter_Agnes_von_Jesus
Mother Agnes of Jesus (Pauline Martin), photo circa 1900 | Photo: Carmel of Lisieux / Wikimedia Commons
Learn more about
Mother Agnès of Jesus here

Marie du jour: 5 May

But in Jerusalem a bitter sadness
Comes to flood your heart like a vast ocean.
For three days, Jesus hides from your tenderness.
That is indeed exile in all its harshness!…

At last you find him and you are overcome with joy,
You say to the fair Child captivating the doctors:
“O my Son, why have you done this?
Your father and I have been searching for you in tears.”
And the Child God replies (O what a deep mystery!)
To his dearest Mother holding out her arms to him:
“Why were you searching for me? I must be about
My Father’s business. Didn’t you know?”

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus
Why I Love You, O Mary! (PN 54), Stanzas 13-14

Rogier_van_der_Weyden_-_The_Altar_of_Our_Lady_(Miraflores_Altar)_-_Google_Art_Project_(right_panel_without_frame)
The Marian Altar (Miraflores Altarpiece)
Right panel, the risen Christ appears to Our Lady
Rogier van der Weyden (Dutch, 1399/1400-1464)
Oil on oak panel, 1435
Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

 

Read more poetry by Saint Thérèse here

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