Do you feel worthless sometimes? Does your life seem meaningless? Prayers to St. Therese of Lisieux, pictured at left, (who is affectionately known as the “Little Flower”) can help remind you that in God’s eyes your “nothingness” is really something, as long as you give Him your best each day!
What’s more, you don’t need to be a bigwig or a hero to be worthy of His love. St. Therese’s “little way” calls us all to a very special kind of holiness, that of doing God’s work out of love for Him in the way we handle our daily chores and cares.
St. Therese, born Therese Martin to a devout French family in 1873, became a Carmelite nun in 1888. With characteristic humility, she noted in her memoir Story of A Soul, written at the behest of her superiors, that “I may aspire to sanctity in spite of my littleness. For me to become great is impossible, I must bear with myself and my many imperfections; but I will seek out a means of getting to Heaven by a little way.”
Her idea was to do everything in life, especially the little things, out of love for God and for our neighbors. We shouldn’t expect a reward or even recognition. Doing daily errands can be as holy as doing missionary work if our desire is to serve God as best we can.
In our prayers to St. Therese we can ask for her help in following this simple yet beautiful approach to spirituality. She showed so much love for our Lord in answering His call for humility and service that she made the ordinary extraordinary!
Soon after her untimely death from tuberculosis in 1897, Story of a Soultouched so many hearts so quickly that it was widely translated and published throughout the world, and Therese was canonized as a saint in 1925!
At the Carmelite convent, St. Therese took the name “Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.” She wanted to approach our Lord with a childlike trust, while inspired by the image of His Holy Face to do His work “hidden” and “forgotten,” as she put it.
(On a side note, Therese is called “St. Therese of the Child Jesus,” “St. Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face,” or even “St. Therese the Little Flower of Jesus” in different prayer books and websites. Sometimes her name is spelled “Teresa,” but usually with one of these descriptions added to distinguish her from St. Teresa of Avila.)
St. Therese wrote of herself in her autobiography as “The Little Flower,” who “rejoices in the wholly undeserved favors bestowed upon her by Our Lord. She knows that she had nothing in herself worthy of attracting Him: His Mercy alone showered blessings on her.”
She added “I will let no tiny sacrifice pass, no look, no word. I wish to profit by the smallest actions, and to do them for Love. I wish to suffer
for Love’s sake, and for Love’s sake even to rejoice: thus shall I strew flowers.”
Among prayers to St. Therese, this one touches on the Little Flower’s “little way” itself:
O Little Therese of the Child Jesus,
Please pick a rose for me
From the heavenly gardens
And send it to me
As a message of love.
O little flower of Jesus,
Ask God today to grant the favors
I now place with confidence
In your hands.
(Mention your specific requests)
help me to always believe,
As you did,
In God’s great love for me,
So that I might imitate your
“Little Way” each day. Amen
Some prayers to St. Therese, like the novena below, ask for her help in loftier terms. It is a beautifully divine irony that she who thought herself incapable of doing great things has been credited with numerous miracles since her death.
Novena to St Therese
O Glorious St. Therese, whom Almighty God has raised up to aid and inspire the human family, I implore your Miraculous Intercession. You are so powerful in obtaining every need of body and spirit from the Heart of God. Holy Mother Church proclaims you ‘Prodigy of Miracles… the Greatest Saint of Modern Times.’ Now I fervently beseech you to answer my petition (mention here) and to carry out your promises of spending Heaven doing good on earth…of letting fall from Heaven a Shower of Roses. Little Flower, give me your childlike faith, to see the Face of God in the people and experiences of my life, and to love God with full confidence. St. Therese, my Carmelite Sister, I will fulfill your plea ‘to be made known everywhere’ and I will continue to lead others to Jesus through you. Amen