Five Insights on Death and Dying from St. Thérèse of Lisieux

St. Thérèse of Lisieux famously didn’t do anything. The “Little Flower” entered the convent at fifteen and died there of tuberculosis at twenty-four. Her one book, Story of a Soul, was only published after she died. Yet she was canonized just twenty-eight years after her death, her book became one of the Church’s classic works, and Pope St. John Paul II named her a Doctor of the Church in 1997. Thérèse may be the most beloved of modern saints.


Our attitude to the this world

The world’s your ship and not your home.

If I did not simply live from one moment to another, it would be impossible for me to be patient, but I only look at the present, I forget the past, and I take good care not to forestall the future.

Our sttitude to our own lives

It seems to me that nothing now hinders me from taking flight, for I no longer have any great desires, save to love, even unto dying of love. I am free, I have no fear, not even of what I most dreaded; I mean the fear of being a long time ill and consequently a burden to the Community. If it gives pleasure to the good God I willingly consent to see my life of suffering, both of soul and body, prolonged for years. Oh! no, I do not fear a long life. I do not shun the combat. “The Lord is the rock upon which I am founded. Who teaches my hands to fight and my fingers to war; He is my protector in whom I have hoped.” Never have I asked God to let me die young; it is true I have ever believed that it would be so, but without seeking to obtain it.

Our companions in this world, including the saints

It is the Lord, it is Jesus, Who is my judge. Therefore I will try always to think leniently of others, that He may judge me leniently, or rather not at all, since He says: “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged.”

Oh! What mysteries will be revealed to us later. . . . How often have I thought that I perhaps owe all the graces showered upon me to the earnest prayer of a little soul whom I shall know only in Heaven. It is God’s will that in this world by means of prayer Heavenly treasures should be imparted by souls one to another, so that when they reach the Fatherland they may love one another with a love born of gratitude, with an affection far, far exceeding the most ideal family affection upon earth.

Looking forward to Heaven

A day . . . an hour . . . and we shall have reached the port! My God, what shall we see then? What is that life which will never have an end? . . . Jesus will be the Soul of our soul. Unfathomable mystery! “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man what great things God hath prepared for them that love him.” And this will all come soon — yes, very soon, if we ardently love Jesus.

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, I wish to let Him do just as He wills with His “little ball.”

A sister said to Thérèse that beautiful Angels clothed in white robes, and of joyous and resplendent countenance, would bear away her soul to Heaven. She replied: “These imaginations do not help me: I can draw no sustenance except from the Truth. God and the Angels are pure Spirits, no one can see them as they really are, with corporal eyes. That is why I have never desired extraordinary favors. I would rather await the Eternal Vision.”

After death

When I die, I will send down a shower of roses from the heavens, I will spend my Heaven by doing good on earth.

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