Feast of Saint Therese of Lisieux
The Little Flower’s Bold Confidence in God
I wasn’t too good at playing games, but I did love reading very much and would have spent my life at it. I had human angels, fortunately for me, to guide me in the choice of the books which, while being entertaining, nourished both my heart and my mind. And I was not to go beyond a certain time in my reading, which was the cause of great sacrifices to me as I had to interrupt my reading very often at the most enticing passage. This attraction for reading lasted until my entrance into Carmel. To state the number of books would be impossible, but never did God permit me to read a single one of them that was capable of doing me any harm. It is true that in reading certain tales of chivalry, I didn’t always understand the realities of life; but soon God made me feel that true glory is that which will last eternally, and to reach it, it isn’t necessary to perform striking works but to hide oneself and practice virtue in such a way that the left hand knows not what the right is doing.
When reading the accounts of the patriotic deeds of French heroines, especially the Venerable JOAN OF ARC, I had a great desire to imitate them; and it seemed I felt within me the same burning zeal with which they were animated, the same heavenly inspiration. Then I received a grace which I have always looked upon as one of the greatest in my life because at that age I wasn’t receiving the lights I’m now receiving when I am flooded with them. I considered that I was born for glory and when I searched out the means of attaining it, God inspired in me the sentiments I have just described. He made me understand my own glory would not be evident to the eyes of mortals, that it would consist of becoming a great saint! This desire would certainly appear daring if one were to consider how weak and imperfect I was, and how, after seven years in the religious life, I still am weak and imperfect. I always feel, however, the same bold confidence of becoming a great saint because I don’t count on my merits since I have none, but I trust in Him who is Virtue and Holiness. God alone, content with my weak efforts, will raise me to Himself and make me a saint, clothing me in His infinite merits. I didn’t think then that one had to suffer very much to reach sanctity, but God was not long in showing me this was so and in sending me trials I have already mentioned.
— Saint Therese of Lisieux, Story of a Soul, Manuscript A, Chapter IV