Why does it seem like everyone has a special devotion to the Little Flower?


Even Thomas Merton had a great devotion towards her.

I’ve read “Story of a Soul,” and I thought it was momentarily endearing, but no, nothing’s persisted in the way of a devotion. (Of course, I’m not incredibly “devoted” to any saints right now, other than Mother Mary, and even that’s limited.)


Is it because she’s such a common, simple, bourgeois girl who inspires us to aspire? I mean, it’s got to be something about her societal commonality and her simplicity of love for Jesus despite such. In short, she’s not a John of the Cross. :stuck_out_tongue:

(EDIT: …which gives me pause to think, does *anyone *have a special devotion to San Juan de la Cruz? :shrug:)


I have always been inspired because she taught how to love God in everything we do no matter how little. I never thought I could measure up to a Saint Francis or Padre Pio but I can try to do everything with God in my heart and for him. Hopefully that will add up to something.


I found the book to be incredibly inspiring, despite its rather ‘girlish’ nature at times.

St. Therese is a Doctor of the Church for good reason - she found something so very simply yet overlooked by so many, so incredibly beautiful and accessible to all.


For me, some of the reasons include the fact that she is very open and honest. She doesn’t make more of herself than she is. She is extremely humble (no one even knew she was a saint and not an ordinary person until after her death I think :o:confused::shrug:). She suffered greatly in the small things in life, often much more important than the “big things” without ever complaining. She was a martyr of the ordinary life, something that each and every one us is also probably called to do. I think that since I sometimes or frequently feel that my suffering or sacrifice goes unnoted, I am especially comforted and strengthened by someone who was so simple, innocent, and pure.

I also tend to be critical of social justice these days as moral “grandstanding.” And this is what many people consider to be “true Christianity.” Wrongly or rightly, her focus on love in the simple little things of life (in addition to the bigger things like being a foreign missionary in French Indochina that she never had the chance to do because she was too sickly) is extraordinarly touching to me. It’s often the simple things, like a card when one is sick or visiting someone at the hospital or quietly hearing an embarassing confession, that matter most of all at the end of life while the “moral grandstanding” gestures often spread suffering further. For example, a Harvard AIDS expert has just said that preaching condoms spreads AIDS, agreeing with the Magisterium. So all those “social justice” trips, though perhaps coming from good intentions, might have been hurting the people. :o:(

I think so often when we do acts for others, we are thinking of “ourselves” and not others. There is even a book about it, “Women who help too much” or something along those lines about people who go seeking other’s love by serving them, so they “give to get.” Another word for “giving to get” might be “emotional manipulation.” St. Therese of Liseux didn’t “give to get” especially since so many of her kindest deeds were done in secret. For example, once I read or heard something (could be getting this wrong) that her sister had an allergy to roses and she (St. Therese of Liseux) loved roses, and there was a ceremonial occasion so she bought a fake rose and put it at the ceremonial occassion. Then she didn’t want her mother to be embarassed by pointing out the rose there (to warn and protect her allergic sister) so she said “Isn’t that fake rose wonderful” or something along those lines. She made the event lovely and showed love without ever calling attention to herself. :heart:

Also, many times in Scripture, you see the apostles criticizing the women who show love to Christ. For example, Mary Magadelene who anoints Christ’s head with oil and perfume is criticized for not giving the money to the poor. Yet, at the Crucifixion, it is those critical apostles who do not stay at the cross while these women who follow Christ everywhere remain. St. Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort calls Mary the “sweetness of the Cross.” I think that St. Therese of Liseux also shows sweetness in Christ’s cross as well. :stuck_out_tongue:


I may be able to be devoted to St. John of the Cross, but first that takes truly grasping and understanding him. This may only be completed after I have finished St. Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth, His Holiness Pope John Paul II’s Love and Responsibility, and perhaps selected works of Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan. :wink:


AvaSaintMaria, you summarized my feelings toward St. Therese perfectly.

Yes, just like St. Bernadette, nobody knew the extent of the suffering she was enduring in complete silence, or anyway you would never know it from her writing. The last part of the book was written in horrible pain and yet she never said a single word about it.

The only suffering she spoke about (that I recall) was the pain of seeing her father descend into mental illness. And she carried that cross with her perfect obedience.


St. Therese did :slight_smile: - and he’s one of my favorites.

St. Therese didn’t write as St. John wrote, but you are missing that she lived as St. John of the Cross would have all Christians live - she was a great student of his writings. Underneath the sweet exterior of this girl of the bourgeoisie was a woman of iron will who gave her life completely over to God’s merciful love, experiencing the cost of the discipleship of love which brings one to the Cross. I recommend two books as correctives to your underestimation of her: The Passion of Therese of Lisieux, by Fr. Guy Gaucher, O.C.D., and I Believe in Love, by Jean CJ d’Elbée.


This is an accurate statement. Therese was far too simple to write like St. John. Few mention that she wasn’t really well educated in the sense of school (she did not do well with other girls in the Benedictine Abbey because of her oversensitiveness) but was a very bright and astute girl nonetheless.) She lived the doctrine of St. John and memorized the “Imitation of Christ” even before entrance to Carmel.
The Story of a Soul is a flowery and sentimental book. But it begins to pick up with manuscripts B & C when she begins to speak about her spiritual teaching to Mother Prioress Gonzague and her sister Sr. Marie of the Sacred Heart. Other books compliment Story of A Soul (Her Last Conversations, St. Therese of Lisieux By Those Who Knew Her, Story of A Life, The Passion of Therese…)
She is attractive to many people because she was able to put words to what many people go through. She also had the knack of calling a spade a spade and not hide behind the overly pious and dramatic cliches of the times. She acknowledged how she didn’t like saying the rosary even though she loved Mary because it bored her, she couldn’t understand priests who preached Mary’s imagined life and not her real life, of how she struggled with strong dislike of this Sister. All these experiences are so true and real to us but would not expect a cloistered nun to have!


My humble opinion, “Ep”. St. Therese taught us that anyone can become a saint. She shows us, that even the smallest… most imperfect souls… can reach to Heaven. One of her sayings… “I’d like to find a little way… a completely new way… to reach Heaven.” She eventually discovered, that her “little way” of reaching Heaven… would be in the arms of Jesus. She compared the Arms of Jesus, to a “Lift” (or elevator… on this side of the pond).

She knew she was incapable of performing great acts of heroism… mortifications… such as the great Martyrs… etc. So, she devised what we know today, “The Little Way” of self sacrifice.

I think so many people love her, because of this teaching. It was something completely new and different. Prior to the “Little Way” of St. Therese… most people believed that sainthood was just for priests and religious. Although St. Therese was, herself, a religious… her “Little Way” is something that everyone can apply to daily life.

Hope this is helpful.
God bless.


This is really interesting, and not a comment that I would have expected – not that she was a “woman of iron will,” as you say, "who gave her life completely over to God’s merciful love, " but that she lived as John of the Cross would have us all live. Of course, I understand so little of San Juan’s corpus, so is it any wonder I misunderstand Therese? Or, rather, I’ve always found St. John too mystical, too “go find a cave in a mountain and engage in contemplation,” and too well “dark” for my poor intellect, much less my even weaker spirit to understand.

Thank you for the book recommendations. Once I finish (or get tired of) reading through Merton’s corpus, which is extensive, I hope to begin a prolonged study of the Carmelites, including the Little Flower.



It seems the Little Flower and I would get along on that point!



:slight_smile: :thumbsup:


She’s just as great as St. John of the Cross when you learn her special spirituality. She revolutionized the spirituality of her time like none other. She’s the most awesome and special saint! She’s my favorite with St. Padre Pio (and of course Mary and Joseph)!


She definitely seems to be one of the first modern saints. Has anyone used the word “modern” to describe her? I should go back and read…

Regardless, it seems like people would be drawn to her because she doesn’t concern herself with outrageous mortifications, an over-scrupulous sense of sin, apparitions or mystical contemplation. At least, not from what I’ve read, which is very little.

This gives me cause to think about St. Gemma, which some scholars have tauted as being the “bridge” between old school saints like St. Margaret Mary Alacoque or Mother Cabrini and the Little Flower and Mother Teresa. Gemma experienced all the things which I listed above (and served as the model for that list), yet she lived roughly at the same time as the Little Flower.


To me, it isn’t necessarily what she does or doesn’t concern herself with but the motivation for her actions, which appears to be * love. * St. Maximilian (Maria) Kolbe and St. Padre Pio are also two whose lives and works seem to me to be motivated largely by love, genuine kindness, and hidden sacrifice. :heart: :dancing:


No doubt, you’re right. I have no arguments about her genuine love for Christ.

But love also motivated the apparitions, extreme mortifications. etc. of other saints. Something just tells me that if the Little Flower had experienced all this – because of her great love! – things just wouldn’t be the same, she wouldn’t seem quite as “simple” and the “Little Way” wouldn’t seem so…well…little.


A great difference exists between love and mortification. Kind of like intersecting circles. :o

If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing. For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.

So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:1-13


I might count great faith as spurring much mortification. St. Teresa of Avila in her autobiography did not join the convent fully out of love for Christ. She went to the convent mostly against her will and later thought that she might go to Hell if she wasn’t in the convent. She reasoned logically that it was better to live a temporal life like Purgatory and go to Heaven eternally than to go to Hell. (Something along those lines I think :o ) She later remarked something like “how much God blesses us when force ourselves.” I would assume that St. Francis of Assisi also grew in love along his journey. At the end of his life, he repented for the way he treated his body (or something like that). Francisco, one of the three Fatima children could initially not see (or was it hear :confused:)Mary because he needed to say many more Rosaries.

In my non humble opinion, many of the apparitions and mysticisms and miracles happen as signs to signify to others that this person is touched by Christ. Many of those people touched by Christ live quite painful lives yet with Revelations that bless the world. It is grace in addition to merit. See St. Maria Faustina’s gift of the Divine Mercy Chaplet and actual words of Christ or St. Margaret Mary Alacoque’s gift of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. How would they have known to persevere in their self-sacrifice without mysticism? I don’t necessarily think that it means that everything they did was lovely but that it was evidence of a great holiness despite imperfections. Very many saints (including St. Therese of Liseux) experience a miracle or some sort of supernatural occurence early in their lives. How else would they get such great faith to persevere against popular opinion and in the midst of societal persecution? I think this is why Christ says, Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed or something along those lines to doubting Thomas. It is more meritorious to live a virtuous and holy life without receiving repeated confirmation of what is going on. I think this is why many of the mystics received both visions from Christ and visions from the devil. It hardly would have been great suffering (and thereby merit) to receive only lovely visions of Christ in this life.

I think it may be important to see how many of the ones who received apparitions and mysticism also functioned as teachers. Honestly, Christ in Scripture is not the most appealing character to many. He rebukes the Pharisees and Sadducees quite harshly. What did he call the Samaritan woman? A “dog” or something such. And then kicking all the tax-collectors out of the temple. Or the experience of Judas - sometimes one thinks that the Messiah ought to have prevented that. He practices “tough love” though we live in a society that sometimes calls “tough love” hate. :(:(:frowning: St. Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. John of the Cross (as well as St. Benedict and St. Vincent de Paul) are all founders of Orders as well as theological teachers. If you study a mathematical textbook, it is more important to learn the math clearly than to have a pretty book. :stuck_out_tongue: For those who are serious scholars of Christ and do not need lovely books to pay attention, these teachers teach a rigorous discipline and science of Christ. Scripture says something along the lines of “by their fruits, you will know them.” Some of St. Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort’s fruits are St. Maximilian (Maria) Kolbe, His Holiness Pope John Paul II, and St. Josemaria Escriva. Clearly, the life of Montfort as well as these saints’ lives are imitatable. His teaching of Christ and Mary is mostly logically sound (to the best of my knowledge) and produces good fruit, very very good fruit. St. Padre Pio, Kolbe, and His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI are also Franciscans and St. Therese of Liseux and St. Edith Stein are Carmelites. The phrase “dark night of the soul” is widespread in popular culture and I personally suspect that the movie, The Dark Knight illustrates the book Dark Night of the Soul pretty well.

But some saints are moreso “lights to the world” in a way accessible to those who are less personally rigorous and independent in their study of Christ and need living examples to teach them the way. This is lovely and blessed and ordained by God as well. They may be the “fruit” of other lights to the world in addition to new understandings of Christ that write down ways of perfection in accessible ways, kind of like advertising models. :o They (and all saints I think :confused:) also provide a point of comparison so that we can perfect ourselves to become more and more perfect in love by seeing in them traits to which we can aspire.

Humbleness is something that we should all aspire to. It was the downfall of Adam, Eve, and Satan. Sometimes humbleness is for us submitting ourselves to Christ’s sacred blueprint and revealing it to others. (Given that Christ is infinite, there may exist infinite ways to reveal Christ.) Some are called to a higher degree of sacred revelation and instruction than others. Sometimes humbleness is accepting that we do not know what to do, we lack knowledge, and being obedient to the blueprints revealed by Christ and others. Perhaps the vast majority of us are called more greatly to obedience and discipline regardless of minute-to-minute feelings and this may be our greater strugggle in living a holy life as saints. Perhaps maybe then St. Therese of Liseux who seems so “little” makes it easy for us to see the virtue in living the “little” obedient, quiet, hidden life and that is why she is loved.


Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you. Do not speak evil of one another, brothers. Whoever speaks evil of a brother or judges his brother speaks evil of the law and judges the law. If you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save or to destroy. Who then are you to judge your neighbor? James 4:10-12


Yes, a modern saint is what St. Therese is and what she has been referred to as. I love her spirituality of spiritual childhood as opposed to the spirituality that calls for strict mortifications, and doing big things for God. According to St. Therese and the Gospel: the littler and more childlike you are the better. Let God do big things in you, instead of doing the big things for God. Humility, total childlike confidence in God and abandonment to his will are all imortant in Theresean spirituality. I love her little way of spiritual childhood. If people only knew how much God wants us children to be lifted up in his arms through the little way instead of us having to take the arduous stairway ourselves, something we can’t accomplish without God anyway, and something much different.

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