The Story of a Soul – Life Lessons from St. Therese of Lisieux

The Story of a Soul conveys St Therese of Lisieux’s “Little Way” of spiritual childhood – her “elevator” to Heaven, as she called it. Pope Pius XI approved this method as a way for all to grow in holiness through unfailing confidence and childlike delight in God’s merciful love. In this book, St. Therese shows us how her “Little Way” of love and trust comes straight from Sacred Scripture. Pope St Pius X called St. Therese of Lisieux the “greatest Saint of modern times and said that this book should be in every Catholic home”.

From the very beginning of Story of a Soul, we learn that Therese’s life as a child had great suffering. She faced trials such as the death of a family member, life-threatening illness, and struggling to find the path that God had planned for her life.  Her life was filled with hardships and tears, it’s what she did in the aftermath of despair that made her truly great. It can be extremely difficult to continue to push forward when feeling lost, confused, and even angry.

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In our darkest moments, and also with the stress of daily life, love can be hard to uphold. St. Therese realized this and understood what a daunting task vowing to do everything in love could be. Yet, when she confronted sickness with no cure: she still showed love.

How do we experience joy during the toughest moments of our lives? Therese only lived to be 24, and constant suffering scarred her life. Her mother died of cancer when she was four, and her sister and best friend Pauline abandoned her for the Carmel a few years later. Then, at the end of her life, tuberculosis ravaged both her body and soul. The crippling disease caused her so much pain that it caused her to question her faith in a period she called the darkest of her life.

Thérèse looked at the challenges she faced as an opportunity from God. It was a chance to love, unconditionally, as Jesus loves. So, for us, we need to embrace the daily challenges that come our way. God doesn’t give them to us as punishment or because He thinks we deserve it. Instead, the tough days should bring us closer to Him. Challenge yourself and live outside of comfort, because otherwise how can we grow?

And neither should we.

Thérèse embraced all her struggles with an incredible resilience. She welcomed her deathbed with more faith and love of Christ than she ever had. Better than anything else, she understood Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and what it meant for us. Thérèse had made it a point to be Christlike in every other aspect of life, and to her there was no more noble ideal than suffering as Christ suffered. Thérèse bore the crosses and didn’t put them down.

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