Therese of Lisieux: God's Gentle Warrior

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Oxford University Press, Oct 12, 2006 - Religion - 416 pages
Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897), also known as St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, is popularly named the Little Flower. A Carmelite nun, doctor of the church, and patron of a score of causes, she was famously acclaimed by Pope Pius X as the greatest saint of modern times. Thérèse is not only one of the most beloved saints of the Catholic Church but perhaps the most revered woman of the modern age. Pope John Paul II described her as a living icon of God. Her autobiography Story of a Soul has been translated into sixty languages. Having long transcended national and linguistic boundaries, she has crossed even religious ones. As daughter of Allah, she is venerated widely in Islamic cultures. Therese has been the subject of innumerable biographies and treatises, ranging from hagiographies to attacks on her intelligence and mental health. Thomas R. Nevin has gained access to many untapped archival materials and previously unpublished photographs. As a consequence he is able to offer a much fuller and more accurate portrait of the saints life and thought than his predecessors. He explores the dynamics of her family life and the early development of her spirituality. He draws extensively on the correspondence of her mother and documents her influence on Thérèses autobiography and spirituality. He charts the development of Therese's career as a writer. He gives close attention to her poetry and plays usually dismissed as undistinguished and argues that they have great value as texts by which she addressed and informed her Carmelite community. He delves into the French medical literature of the time, in an effort to understand how the tuberculosis of which she died at the age of 24 was treated and lamentably mistreated. Finally, he offers a new understanding of Thérèse as a theologian for whom love, rather than doctrines and creeds, was the paramount value. Adding substantially to our knowledge and appreciation of this immensely popular and attractive figure, this book should appeal to many general readers as well as to scholars and students of modern Catholic history.

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User Review  - Tullius22 - LibraryThing

I can certainly say that I've never met the subject, but I found the biographer from my own--albeit heathen--point of view, to be something of a mediocrity. In fact, the kindest thing that I can think ... Read full review


2 A Short Life in Brief
The Travails of Zélie Martin
Carmel and Carmelites in the Time of Thérèse
5 Thérèse Writes Her Self
Plays and Poetry
7 Tubercular
Notes for a Theology of Thérèse
9 Inconclusions
Annotated Bibliography

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Page 343 - I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul ioveth: I sought him, but I found him not.
Page 207 - THE first duty in life is to be as artificial as possible. What the second duty is no one has as yet discovered.
Page 249 - Truly it were an excusable covetousness if we did, for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it. No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and ripened by it, and made fit for God by that affliction.
Page 10 - Quand je peignis ce tableau dont vous pouvez revoir l'ensemble dans le Génie du Christianisme, mes sentiments religieux s'harmonisaient avec la scène; mais, hélas! quand j'y assistai en personne, le vieil homme était vivant en moi : ce n'était pas Dieu seul que je contemplais sur les flots dans la magnificence de ses œuvres. Je voyais une femme inconnue et les miracles de son sourire ; les beautés du ciel me semblaient écloses de son souffle ; j'aurais vendu l'éternité pour une de ses caresses.
Page 177 - Deo credit, quanto plura et graviora pro eo perferre potuerit. Non est istud hominis virtus, sed gratia Christi, quae tanta potest et agit in carne fragili, ut, quod naturaliter semper abhorret et fugit, hoc fervore spiritus...
Page 294 - Lorsque je chante le bonheur du ciel, l'éternelle possession de Dieu, je n'en ressens aucune joie ; car je chante simplement ce que je veux croire.
Page 327 - Au soir de cette vie, je paraîtrai devant vous les mains vides; car je ne vous demande pas, Seigneur, de compter mes œuvres... Toutes nos justices ont des taches à vos yeux ! Je veux donc me revêtir de votre propre Justice, et recevoir de votre amour la possession éternelle de vous-même.
Page 10 - It was not God whom I contemplated on the waves in the magnificence of His works : I saw an unknown woman, and the miracle of his smile, the beauties of the sky, seemed to me disclosed by her breath. I would have bartered eternity for one of her caresses.

About the author (2006)

Thomas R. Nevin is Professor of Classical Studies at John Carroll University. He is author of Simone Weil: Portrait of a Self-Exiled Jew, among other books. He is currently working on a study of the last autobiographical manuscript of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.

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