The Story of a Soul conveys St. Thrse of Lisieuxs Little Way of spiritual childhood her elevator to Heaven, as she called it. This method was approved Pope Pius XI as a way of holiness for all, so we can grow in holiness through unfailing confidence and childlike delight in Gods merciful love. Again and again in this book, St. Thrse shows us how her Little Way of love and trust comes straight from Sacred Scripture. This book belongs in every Catholic home, for Pope St. Pius X stated that St. Thrse of Lisieux is the greatest saint of modern times
About the Author
St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as "Therese of the Child Jesus" and "The Little Flower," was the last of nine children born to Louis and Zelie Martin, at France in 1873. She was often anxious and depressed in childhood, as she suffered the early death of her mother. After she converted interiorly and began to read Thomas a Kempis' "The Imitation of Christ," she joined 2 of her sisters in a discalced Carmelite convent as a nun at just 15 years old. After her oldest sister was elected prioress, Therese became a permanent novice to allay suspicions that her family was dominating the small community. She lived humbly, concealing her intense prayer life and countless sacrifices Therese is the author of her own popular autobiography entitled "The Story of a Soul," which she began writing in 1895, and she instituted a simple path to holiness now widely known as the "Little Way." She died of tuberculosis on September 30, 1897, at the age of 24 and was canonized only 28 years later, in 1925, by Pope Pius XI. She was later installed as the thirty-third Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II in 1997.
I was recommended "Story of a Soul" as the favorite book of a woman I much admired, who worked at a Carmelite monastery. Initially I wondered about the recommendation when I began the book. Therese of Lisieux lived a sheltered life. Her parents were financially secure and devoutly religious (they had to be encouraged by a priest to marry rather than to join a religious order, and later to consummate their marriage). Therese knew she wanted to be a nun from an extremely early age.
My first impression was to wonder why was this book recommended to me, when she has nothing in common with my life, at a time when I didn't known how I would pay the bills and was not sure what God wanted form me in terms of a vocation. True, her health was poor and she suffered the loss of her mother early in her life, so her life was not without sorrow. But she also seemed to have security, love, and an incredible sense of direction, which made me question what I could learn from her life, when these qualities were so missing in my own. Furthermore, I questioned whether some one who lived so holy a life, could be a realistic role model for me; as I have made some pretty unholy decisions in my past.
The book quickly grew on me and eradicated my concerns about it being an inaccessible guide for spirituality. The beauty of the writing is her approach to spirituality, which is accessible to any one in any walk of life. She describes souls as similar to different types of flowers. Some are roses, others lilies, and some like orchids, for example. And all can be equally pleasing to God in their own way, when seeking his role for them. People have different talents and different struggles, but these characteristics do not mean that any type is more valued than the other.
This is a spiritual classic. St. Therese effortlessly demonstrates that growth in the spiritual path is available to all. She demonstrates that simplicity is the key. She developed a 'simple path' that has nothing to do with being intellectual yet she, paradoxically in this simplicity, has been declared a Doctor of the Church. A work to be "worked with" and not rushed. Do not fall for the trap of dismissing it as an 'easy read' and, therefore, miss the many gems of wisdom.
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