On January 2, 1873, 150 years ago, was born in Alençon, Normandy, a girl whom her parents named Marie-Françoise-Thérèse Martin. She became a Carmelite religious, died of illness at the age of 24 and left writings that have touched thousands and thousands of minds and hearts.
The Church celebrates her as Saint Teresa of Lisieux or Saint Teresa of the Child JesusDoctor of the Church since 1997, popularly called Santa Teresita, partly to distinguish her from another Carmelite, Santa Teresa de Ávila, partly because of her young death and because of her spirituality centered on a “little path” of confidence and humility.
The Archbishop of Toledo, Francisco Cerro Chaves, in the diocesan publication Our father, has recalled this anniversary, which is celebrated even by UNESCO (read the reasons here), which dedicates two years to it. The Archbishop of Toledo highlights that Teresita’s message is especially illuminating for religious and consecratedand so that the rest of the faithful understand their vocation.
She “speaks as the wife of Jesus, but her message is for everyone. Religious remind us that The Church has a reason for being and existing, which is the love that lives in its center, that is, Jesus Christ, the love of the heart of Jesus. Therefore, consecrated life is a constant reminder that our vocation is, as Teresita said: “To love and make Jesus loved.”
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Love is my vocation
150 years of the birth of Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus
by Francisco Cerro Chaves, Archbishop of Toledo
We were all surprised when at the end of 2021 the UNESCO announced Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus among the outstanding personalities to celebrate during the 2022-2023 biennium.
In this way, an international organization wanted to echo for the whole world the celebration on January 2 of the 150th anniversary of the birth of this great saint Carmelite. It is a great joy for me as bishop and pastor of our diocese to take advantage of this anniversary of Therese’s birth to remind all the faithful of the Church that pilgrimage in Toledo, the importance and topicality of the message of Therese of Lisieux.
One of Saint Teresita’s best-known texts is the one in which she explains the discovery of her vocation in the Church: “I understood that love contained all vocations, that love was everything, that love encompassed all times and places… in a word, that love is eternal… Then, on the verge of my delirious joy, I exclaimed: Jesus, my love, I have finally found my vocation! Love is my vocation! Yes, I have found my position in the Church, and that position, my God, it is you who gave it to me… In the heart of the Church, my Mother, I will be love… That’s how I’ll be everything.”
Saint Therese of Lisieux turns 150, but for her devotees she will always be Therese, a young woman in her twenties or younger, remembered in photos from the late 19th century and her spiritual writings.
Santa Teresita puts us in the center. She gives us the key to understanding our vocation in the Church. As a religious, she speaks as the wife of Jesus, but his message is for everyone. Religious remind us that the Church has a reason for being and existing, which is love. that nests in its center, that is to say Jesus Christ, the love of the heart of Jesus. Therefore, consecrated life is a constant reminder that our vocation is, as Teresita said: “To love and make Jesus loved.”
We all have this vocation to be love, to make charity present, the love of Jesus.
She understands that place, her vocation in the Church, from the perspective of humility. She is the teaching of his “little way”.
For Saint Theresa, loving consists above all in accepting and welcoming one’s own reality with humility. He said in his writings: “What pleases God about my little soul is that I love my littleness and my poverty and the confidence that I have in his mercy.”
This has nothing to do with resignation or lack of encouragement, quite the opposite.
In Teresita’s words, humility would consist of three aspects. First, in do things without seeking to be recognized.
Second, in believing that what is important is not the greatness of the works we do but the great love that we put, especially in the small plays.
And third, in confidently accept one’s own limitations, the personal ones and also the family, ecclesial or social ones in which we have had to live, with peace and joy, without bitterness, seeing them as an opportunity to truly give ourselves where the Lord wants us and with whom he wanted to forge our own history.
Finally, I wanted to dwell on the prophecy of Santa Teresita. Before she died she announced that she “would spend Heaven doing good on earth”, and also that “I’d make it rain a shower of roses”. This prophecy has been fulfilled and continues to be fulfilled in the Church.
Lhe doctrine of Saint Teresita and devotion to her person today have a universal character especially since she was declared a doctor of the Church by Saint John Paul II 25 years ago now.
I ask you as bishop of this diocese to “cause a shower of roses” on our archdiocese, bless all the realities of our church; to the priests and seminarians whom Santa Teresita loved so much; to the religious who find in her a model of consecration and fraternal life adorned by charity; to families, She who is the pomegranate fruit of the holiness of her parents, Saints Luis and Celia Martin, and finally to young people, children, poor and sick, whom he invites us to look at to learn the path of spiritual childhood.
I invite you to take advantage of this time to read his writings, his Story of a Soul. I am sure that the celebration of the anniversary of her birth will help the legion of little souls to grow, victims of the merciful love that Teresita inaugurated with her simple step and full of love here on Earth.