Can a girl who died at the age of 24, eaten away by tuberculosis, be a symbol of hope for today’s man? Or better, can that girl be a message of hope for you or for me, that we go through life towards death crossing a dark underground, having in front of us a closed wall that does not allow us to see the horizon of light in what we believe in? and what, we are sure, awaits us at the end of the road?
Well, 125 years ago, on the evening of September 30, 1897, a young Carmelite nun died in France at the age of 24 in the midst of a dark night of faith. She felt that she did not expect anything that she had believed in and that she hoped to find. “I’m in a dark underground,” she said. Dying was that, a wall that did not let see anything.
Therese de Lisieux, Therese of the Children Jesus (1873-1896), known as Saint Therese (whose liturgical feast day is precisely today, October 1), is an attractive and attractive saint who enjoys sympathy in the town, but It is not, far from it, a santica of sugar and sugar and, on the contrary, it also arouses interest among theologians, intellectuals and philosophers. I would go so far as to say that she is the patron saint of atheists and unbelievers.
Her spiritual and theological experience is so deep and strong, in the midst of her feminine simplicity, that it is a surprising discovery for contemporary man, desecrated and dehumanized, anguished as never before by the silence of God and the defections of the churches and the religions.
Therese of Lisieux has been distorted a lot because she has been presented with a certain mellifluity. The same diminutives that have accompanied her devotional propagation have disfigured her. She already insinuates a certain minor tone in the name of Teresita, which she herself used in her life, appropriating the diminutive in Spanish as an affectionate and filial reference to Saint Teresa of Ávila, the founder of the Carmelite nuns.
She spoke of a “petite voie”, of a small path, of a “little path” (the diminutive is a bad translation) to propose the doctrine of the Spiritual Childhood that she created. That gave rise to believe that her religious proposal and her spirituality had a touch of easy and fussiness.
What Teresa of Lisieux proposes is a revolution. Faced with the Gothic architecture of the great ascetic demands, she proclaim the simple acceptance of the human condition. In front of the baroque structures loaded with a mysticism of ecstasy and rapture, rehearse the experience of abandonment in the arms of God. That is Spiritual Childhood: being children who play life (and death) under the gaze of a father. Of God.
The complicated ladder of methodical and slow ascent towards perfection is replaced by an elevator. Amazed by the inventions of her time, Teresita said: “We are in the century of inventions. Now you don’t have to bother climbing a ladder step by step. In the houses of the rich an elevator replaces it with advantage. I also want to invent an elevator to rise to Jesus, because I am too small to climb the rough ladder of perfection.
Reading his writings is not a pious recommendation. It is, simply, to point out a guide for nocturnal travelers of hope. To face the wall. And discover, suddenly, that what they call holiness, religious experience or mystical experience fits into the smiling (and often crying) acceptance of the human condition. No smell of incense. without halos