"I don't wish creatures to have one atom of my love"

I’ve been praying the novena to St. Therese, from EWTN’s website
(ewtn.com/therese/novena_printer.htm)… when I got to day 3, I came across a pray that troubled me:

“I do not wish creatures to have one atom of my love. I wish to give all to Jesus, since He has shown me that He alone is perfect happiness.”

I think (I hope) that this is simply asking God to help us not have inordinate attachments to creatures… to not make them idols, and give them the love that God deserves. But, it seems to be worded too strongly to just mean that… it seems to be saying that we should not want to give any love to others, and we should want to give it to God. That to me sounds unbiblical and unChristian. Yes, we were made to love God and be united with Him forever in heaven, but we were also made for union with others, and to be with them forever in heaven as well.

So, my question is- is this prayer appropriate to pray, since it seems to be inconsistent with Church teaching? And more generally, I’ve heard that after praying this novena, you should look for a flower as a sign that your prayer was heard. This to me sounds superstitious… or presumptuous… as if God were a vending machine that will dispense certain things if you say that right words… Anyway, any thoughts on the novena would be appreciated! Thanks.

As “The Little Flower”, she seemed to be an expert on flowers! :slight_smile:

Yeah, I also don’t know what to make of that prayer about not giving creatures one atom of her love.

It’s a pretty remarkable aspiration to have total detachment from all things of this world, and to focus all her love on God. There’s certainly nothing wrong with it.

It is important to understand that she is not saying she desires to neglect her duties toward others, or to not treat others with Catholic charity and love; rather, she desires the object of her love for anything to be love for God’s sake, not for her own sake or for any other creature.

I had an “interesting” encounter on a pet forum re this. Someone had apparently been told off by a Catholic for spending money on an animal rather than on the poor, and had quoted the Catechism… When I looked it up, yes that WAS said but at the very end of the entire piece that said differently

People pick out bits out of context.

I think we read too much into the words the OP is quoting? All she is saying is that the Creator comes FIRST and she is saying it in great zeal. She would still respect the world ad critters but always Jesus first, which is surely right?

Yes, it is important to understand her words in that context. I have read her autobiography several times over the years, and her charity towards others was very inspiring.

Yes, I have also read her autobiography more than once, and know that she practiced great charity.
I was just struck by the strong language in the prayer- it just doesn’t seem to coincide with what I know about Christian love, and I felt uncomfortable praying it. I know that saints aren’t infallible, and I’m wondering if it’s possible that St. Therese went too far in that quote.

I think St. Therese was thinking in the line of detachment. She didn’t want to love others in themselves, but to love them in Christ as their Creator.

It’s called “hyperbole.”

Then my question is, is it appropriate to pray that way?


Not if it makes you uncomfortable. What matters is that you pray. There’s a reason we have so many devotions.

Have you ever prayed the Hail, Holy Queen? If you don’t have a problem with that then you shouldn’t have a problem with St. Therese.

I don’t see the correlation?

If the hyperbole of the Hail, Holy Queen isn’t objectionable to you (“Our life, our sweetness, our hope, to you do we turn”), then St. Therese’s prayer of “I do not wish creatures to have one atom of my love” shouldn’t be an issue. They have to be understood in their proper context. Neither one says anything contrary to the faith. In fact, they both speak to the orthodoxy of the faith. How many times does Christ Himself in the gospels say things that sound hard on the surface but when examined with the eyes of faith suddenly become much more tempered? It is the same thing.

Saints are not perfect people. They sin and have flaws, bad judgment on occasion. I would not read them as pure gospel, just guidance, inspiration from a fellow human being who achieved great sanctity amidst human failings, weaknesses. I don’t have a problem reading and assessing saints in the context of their time, culture and level of education. I also think there are many undeclared saints all throughout time. I love St. Therese for what she represents, but I would not read her the same way I would read someone like Aquinas (or Kierkegaard) etc. (not saying they don’t both have flaws too) Even little flowers can have bad days, strike unbecoming attitudes… (see St. Jerome for more info) Maybe that is the lesson - watch what you say and do. Someday you might be a saint. :smiley: (hopefully one who properly honors creation - and I think St. Therese is probably ok here in the grand scheme of things - she believed in the Incarnation). I admit to having the same issue with St. John of the Cross sometimes. He can go a little dark. Desert Fathers too. At one point, a Desert Father prohibits laughter.

For St. Therese it was appropriate, as she was aware that the Lord knew what she meant.

True Love of God is expressed as love of neighbour, one cannot help it. Just as **true **love of neighbour has Love of God as the foundation.

How could one Love God who loves all that He has created while rejecting that creation?

I think one can see in the autobiography of St Therese that her expressions of love of her fellow religious in community are an expression of her love for God.

The great commandment is “love God with your whole heart. soul and mind - and neighbour as thyself. On these two hang the Law and the prophets”.

" I do not wish creatures to have one atom of my love. I wish to give all to Jesus, since He has shown me that He alone is perfect happiness."

Jesus said, “Where your heart is there is your treasure.” So “creatures” is not where St. Teresa’s heart is. This doesn’t mean that she doesn’t recognize Jesus in others and treat them accordingly. But she won’t make them her final choice over Jesus if the two conflict in some way.

I have read about a saint, whether St. Theresa or not I don’t know, that tried to avoid others in order to reserve their thoughts entirely on the divine indwelling. They did not want to get caught up in idle talk that went no where and became a distraction from their inner awareness of Christ within.

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