St. Therese of Liseux and Despair/Suicide

i have read that she suffered with despair/suicide and would have killed herself if not for her faith

yet, i do not remember where i read this. does anyone know? or know how I can find out? i wanted to suggest her autobiography to people suffering with despair/suicide to learn from her how her faith helped her - but I do not know know the source of this quote :frowning:

given that Mother Teresa actually named herself after St. Therese of Liseux, the Patron Saint of Missionaries, (Mother Teresa was initially Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu and became Mary Teresa) and St. Therese of Liseux became one of the three female Doctors of the Catholic Church at only age 24, the youngest Doctor ever, and she also appeared to St. Maria Faustina (as reported in her diary - note: St. Therese of Liseux was canonized the exact same day that St. Maria Faustina entered convent she is an extremely inspiring saint, particularly for young women :stuck_out_tongue: :slight_smile: :heart: :heart: :slight_smile: :stuck_out_tongue: :smiley:

Diary of St. Maria Faustina Divine Mercy in My Soul

150 +I want to write down a dream that I had about Saint Therese of the Child Jesus. I was still a novice at the time and was going through some difficulties which I did not know how to overcome. They were interior difficulties connected with exterior ones. I made novenas to various saints, but the situation grew more and more difficult. The sufferings it caused me were so great that I did not know how to go on living, but suddenly the thought occurred to me that I should pray to Saint Therese of the Child Jesus. I started a novena to this Saint, because before entering the convent I had had a great devotion to her. Lately I had somewhat neglected this devotion, but in my need I began again to pray with great fervor.

On the fifth day of the novena, I dramed of Saint Therese, but it was as if she were still living on earth. She hid from me the fact that she was saint and began to comfort me, saying that I should not be worried about this matter, but should trust more in God. She said, “I suffered greatly, too,” but I did not quite believe her and said, “It seems to me that you have not suffered at all.” But Saint Therese answered me in a convincing manner that she had suffered very much indeed and said to me, “Sister, know that in three days the difficulty will come to a happy conclusion.” When I was not very willing to believe her, she revealed to me that she was a saint. At that moment, a great joy filled my soul, and I said to her, “You are a saint?” “Yes,” she answered, “I am a saint. Trust that this matter will be resolved in three days:” And I said, “Dear sweet Therese, tell me, shall I go to heaven?” And she answered, “Yes, you will go to heaven, Sister.” “And will I be a saint?” To which she replied, “Yes, you will be a saint.” “But, little Therese, shall I be a saint as you are, raised to the altar?” And she answered, “Yes, you will be a saint just as I am, but you must trust in the Lord Jesus.” I then asked her if my mother and father would go to heaven, will [unfinished sentence] And she replied that they would. I further asked, "And will my brothers and sisters go to heaven?
She told me to pray hard for them, but gave me no definite answer. I understood that they were in need of much prayer.

This was a dream. And as the proverb goes, dreams are phantoms; God is faith. Nevertheless, three days later the difficulty was solved very easily, just as she had said. And everything in this affair turned out exactly as she said it would. It was a dream, but it had its significance.

Autobiography of St. Therese of Liseux: The Story of a Soul

Not exactly; in her autobiography she wrote that she understood why people in great pain and lacking any spiritual comfort can be tempted to commit suicide. She never said that she, herself, was tempted to this. She was not guilty of despair as that is a grave sin; a soul in despair has lost all hope of salvation because it doesn’t trust in God’s merciful love. St. Therese trusted in God’s mercy and goodness completely even when she was bereft of any sense of His presence - she always knew Him as her most-tender Father.

Thank you FCEGM for your kind reply. :smiley: :heart: :heart: :slight_smile: :stuck_out_tongue:

I found what I was looking for. :dancing: :clapping:

Suicide: Insights from St. Therese of Liseux
Fr. J. Linus Ryan, O. Carm.

The thought of suicide comes to most people at some time in their lives. For the majority it may be only a fleeting thought that is fairly quickly dismissed. But for others it can be a real temptation that must be strenuously fought. St. Therese of Liseux, the Little Flower (d. 1987), would seem to belong to the second category. Even though she was an enclosed Carmelite nun in a French provincial town, who died at the age of twenty-four, she has something important to say to people seeking to tackle the problem of suicide.

The issue of suicide seems only to have come to her towards the end of her life. Her sister, Mother Agnes, said to her a week before she died, what a terrible sickness and how much you suffered! She replied, Yes! What a grace it is to have faith! If I had not any faith, I would have committed suicide without an instant’s hesitation. (LastConv 22.9.6). About a month earlier she was in such pain that she spoke of nearly losing her mind (CG 22.8.97). At this time too she said to her sister, Agnes:

Watch carefully, Mother, when you will have persons a prey to violent pains; don’t leave near them any medicines that are poisonous. I assure you, it needs only a second when one suffers intensely to lose one’s reason. Then one could easily poison oneself. (August 30, Green Notebook).

Her sister repeated this on oath at the process for Therese’s beatification (PA 204).

In fact, another young sister who was helping to nurse her - Sr. Marie of the Trinity, - also testified the following:

Three days before she died, I saw her in such pain that I was heartbroken. When I drew near to her bed, she tried to smile, and, in a strangled sort of voice, she said: If I didn’t have faith, I could never bear such suffering. I am surprised that there aren’t more suicides among atheists.

Text in Proces de beatification et canonisation. Vol. 1 Proces informative ordinaire (Rome: Teresianum, 1973) 472. English tr. in C. O’Mahoney, St. Therese of Liseux by Those who Knew Her: Testimonies from the Process of her Beatification (Dublin: Veritas, 1975) 254.

These texts make clear that suicide was not just a passing idea, but a consideration that she thought about very seriously. We have some idea of how grave this thought was when we look at her physical, psychological and spiritual state at the time. Her thoughts on suicide are found in the last months of her life.

At this time Therese was desperately ill with a terrible form of tuberculosis. The first sign of the seriousness of her condition was a hemoptysis (coughing blood from the lungs) on the night of Good Friday in 1896. From that time her health deteriorated. After a year she was very seriously ill with intense chest pain, frequent hemoptysis and weakness. From July 1897 until her death on 30th September that year she had acute pain, often with suffocation. In time the tuberculosis spread throughout her body, so that around the 23rd August medical people spoke of gangrene of the intenstines; there was a collapse of bodily functions. Though best medical practice at the time was morphine injections, her superior, Mother Gonzaga, thought that religious should usffer, and would not allow its administration to Therese (later the same superior would refuse morphine when she herself was dying with cancer).

Her pyschological and spiritual sufferings were as great if not greater than her physical distress. Within a few days of her first coughing of blood, Good Friday the previous year, she had a sudden collapse of her faith experience. What had been normal to her, like thoughts of heaven, now seemed a fantasy. She spoke of a high wall between her and faith realities. She was in acute darkness of faith almost without remission until her death. The images she used were of darkness, a black hole, a thick fog, a tunnel and a high wall that she could not scale. In the meantime, she kept the best side out as it were. She continued her religious exercises, she wrote charming devotional poems at the request of the sisters of her community. But all the time, she was personally in darkness, with no feeling of faith. She said that she really knew the experience of atheists. She was walking through a dark night of faith.

When we put these facts about her physical condition and her spiritual and psychological darkness side by side with her thoughts of suicide, we find a deeper perspective. For many religious people, the thought of God or Heaven can be a reason against suicide, but Therese is now without any sense of the Divine Presence, devoid of faith experience, clinging on in darkness. As such her experience is of interest not only for the issue of suicide, but also for the whole area of unbelief. She knew in the depths of her being the crushing desolation of unbelief.

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