10 Most Powerful St. Therese of Lisieux Quotes
The Little Flower, great saint of charity and Doctor of the Church, teaches us so much in her simplicity, purity of heart, humility, charity, and childlike trust in God. In theory, her theology seems so easy, but in reality, most of us struggle with becoming more and more dependent on God. As adults, we see surrender as an act of abdication rather than an act of extraordinary confidence in God’s providence for our lives. Let us contemplate St. Therese’s words for our lives and how we may grow in these virtues day by day. Here are 10 St. Therese of Lisieux quotes to learn from.
1. “The good God does not need years to accomplish His work of love in a soul; one ray from His Heart can, in an instant, make His flower bloom for eternity.”
What a beautiful thought, far more than mere sentimentality! The beautiful Little Flower knew with such depth and wisdom that all it takes for God to move in and through us is expectant faith. Many saints spoke of such a concept – thanking God ahead of time, for example, or heroic confidence that God can and will do wondrous things in, for, and through us. If we would but allow God to move in us freely, without restraint, consider all of the miracles He could do! We hinder His grace when we fear, worry, and doubt. Cling then, to faith, dear soul, as the Little Flower reminds you to do.
2. “Love can supply for length of years. Jesus, because He is Eternal, regards not the time but only the love.”
To the Lord, time is not of the essence. Since we are created beings, obviously made within the context of time, we don’t understand this. Everything we do is centered around time – our schedules, appointments, and various activities. But God exists outside of time, so it is irrelevant to Him. It seems this may be why He sends His Spirit to move in our hearts at moments we deem to be inconvenient or inopportune. He wants our hearts to remain open and receptive to His grace, and only a heart that is open to love can do this, as St. Therese reminds us.
3. “When Charity is deeply rooted in the soul it shows itself exteriorly: there is so gracious a way of refusing what we cannot give, that the refusal pleases as much as the gift.”
What an interesting concept – that charity can involve both generosity, as well as setting appropriate boundaries. We almost always consider a resounding “yes” to be indicative of exemplary charity, yet the Little Flower tells us here that charity also includes acute awareness of what we are incapable of giving. This may include saying “no” when we are exhausted or depleted of all energy. In this case, we are saying “yes” to refreshment and rest. Charity must mean that we are always aware of our limitations, never hesitating to act when we are called to do so (even if this means stretching ourselves a bit), but also pausing long enough to rejuvenate our ability to continue moving forward in acts of love.
4. “On the day of my conversion Charity entered into my heart and with it a yearning to forget self always; thenceforward I was happy.”
Ponder the comparable words of C.S. Lewis: “Humility is not thinking less of oneself; it is thinking of oneself less.” St. Therese links humility and charity in this quote. She is saying that, when charity enters our hearts, we naturally begin to forget ourselves. We wallow in self-pity less and less. We aren’t always focused on our needs and wants or comforts. Instead, our thoughts turn more and more to the Lord and the needs of others. In this way, the self becomes the servant of grace, so that God may fill us with Himself – love.
5. “I have not the courage to force myself to seek beautiful prayers in books; not knowing which to choose I act as children do who cannot read; I say quite simply to the good God what I want to tell Him, and He always understands me.”
St. Therese’s simplicity and purity of heart are evident in this quote. So many of us complicate our lives. We see this in the media as people constantly analyze and overcompensate. Science is secular society’s religion, and the world of academia has become our god. But St. Therese says we don’t need fancy words or even beautiful, complex analyses of theories in order to reach God. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. What we need is the heart of a child – ever-available to God’s presence, speaking plainly and from the heart. It’s the heart language that speaks to God above all other complex conversation.
6. “I do not well see what more I shall have in Heaven than now. I shall see the good God, it is true; but as to being with Him, I am wholly with Him already upon earth.”
Wouldn’t it be a dream to be with God fully while still on earth? Few of us achieve this, but what a grand goal! The Little Flower was so immersed in God that her every breath was synchronized with God’s essence. She was always aware of Him, connected to Him, and in tune with Him. We, too, can strive for such an intimate bond with our Creator – through prayer and in meditating on the communion we share with Jesus in the Eucharist.
7. “On each fresh occasion of combat, when the enemy desires to challenge me, I conduct myself valiantly: knowing that to fight a duel is an unworthy act, I turn my back upon the adversary without ever looking him in the face; then I run to my Jesus and tell Him I am ready to shed every drop of blood in testimony of my belief that there is a Heaven, I tell Him I am glad to be unable to contemplate, while on earth, with the eyes of the soul, the beautiful Heaven that awaits me so He will deign to open it for eternity to poor unbelievers.”
We cannot deny the inevitability of spiritual attack on our faith. When we begin to grow in closer union with God, the enemy fights against it, usually with mental and emotional temptations. Our weaknesses are revealed, and we typically cannot deny the veracity of such thoughts. But we must immediately run to Jesus and renew our faith in Him, despite our tendency to doubt the existence of God and Heaven. In fact, the Little Flower suggests that we offer up these invisible torments for the poor souls who do not believe.
8. “He whose Heart ever watcheth, taught me, that while for a soul whose faith equals but a tiny grain of mustard seed, He works miracles, in order that this faith which is so weak may be fortified; yet for His intimate friends, for His Mother, He did not work miracles until He had put their faith to test.”
Our faith will be tested and tried through the refiner’s fire, perhaps hundreds or thousands of times throughout our lives. For many of us, this may involve a temporary or prolonged holy darkness, in which the Lord ceases to reveal His presence in our hearts. At times, we may feel His stony silence or even nothing at all. We may wonder why we don’t experience any sort of spiritual consolations or ecstasy any longer, and so our faith may weaken. But God is actually fortifying our faith through these trials. He is seeking our fidelity and perseverance through the darkest of nights, so that He may do great miracles through our faith.
9. “How I thirst for Heaven—that blessed habitation where our love for Jesus will have no limit! But to get there we must suffer… we must weep… Well, I wish to suffer all that shall please my Beloved.”
All of us long for Heaven, but few of us are willing to undergo the journey to Calvary in order to acquire it. The Little Flower knew well of suffering, yet she offered her physical and emotional pain to Jesus as an act of love. We, too, can do this in ways both small and grand. Every headache, heartache, or even long-term or terminal illness can be offered as an act of love for Jesus. It is because we know His love for us involved unfathomable suffering that we are willing to undergo whatever He permits for love of Him. Let us suffer well in the hopes of reaching our eternal home of Heaven.
10. “Even now I know it: yes, all my hopes will be fulfilled… yes… the Lord will work wonders for me which will surpass infinitely my immeasurable desires.”
In a world filled with doubt and despair, the great virtue of hope keeps us afloat. Hope is what remains when we falter in sin or succumb to despondency by watching the news. Hope overcomes complacency in our humdrum, daily routines. Hope rises within us as a flicker of a flame when we wonder if God’s light has become completely extinguished. It is what keeps us rooted in the belief in what we cannot see, knowing that God is a God of miracles and vast wonders. The Little Flower believed and hoped in this promise, and we can, too.