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Radix Patron Saints

St. Thérèse de Lisieux

Nineteenth century France is not an answer to today's issues. Yet the Martin family does provide a scenario of life-giving relationships that suggests some alternative living. St. Therese inherited a family environment marked by an identity, a sense of direction, and a way of life. Zelie and Louis Martin, the parents, manifested a faith commitment that took on concrete shape. Both attended daily mass at the parish church, they supported each other in their work and they shared their faith with their children.

Zelie organized and owned a lace business in Alencon and Louis was a jeweler. Their work commitments did not disturb their primary focus: raising their children in ways that showed respect for God and a love for each other. Zelie taught her five daughters how to love God through prayer, self-discipline and a generous love. The daughters learned about life especially by observing their parents love for each other and their commitment to family life. Zelie was probably more the disciplinarian than Louis but they were not afraid to set limits to behavior, to demand excellence from the children. The family structure gave way to a good deal of entertainment, story-telling, games and feast day celebrations. Louis would read to his daughters from Dom Guerangers Liturgical Year. In the Martin family a child could express herself without fear of judgment. Correction might come but a sense of freedom prevailed.

While each of the five daughters did enter religious life, the story of the family clearly indicates that all decisions were made freely and personally. Leonie was one daughter who had difficulty in coming to terms with her own inner anxiety. She did succeed in finding her place and purpose in the Visitation Order. St. Therese grew up knowing that her own life was given freely and fully to Jesus Christ. She had received strong support from her father throughout her life. His love enabled her to take risks and to make decisions that only an affirming relationship could engender.

Family life needs to have a concrete way of expressing faith in Jesus Christ; the example of parents needs to be consistent and authentic; the family relationships born of love require affirmation, challenge, correction and a generous spirit.

Rev. John F. Russell, O.Carm.
Seton Hall University

St. Francis de Sales

Prayers to St. Thérèse de Lisieux

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St. Thérèse de Lisieux

"The main source of her spiritual experience and her teaching is the Word of God, in the Old and New Testaments. She herself confesses to this, especially highlighting her passionate love for the Gospel. In her writings more than one thousand Biblical quotes can be counted: more than four hundred from the Old Testament and more than six hundred from the New. Under the influence of the Spirit she reached for herself and for others a deep knowledge of revelation. Her doctrine coincides, as already noted, with the teaching of the Church. From childhood, she was educated by family members to participate in prayer and liturgical worship. .Therese nourished herself from her youth with the teaching of the 'Imitation of Christ', which, as she herself confessed, she knew almost by heart, with the mystical doctrine of Saint John of the Cross, who was her true spiritual teacher. Thus it is not surprising that in the school of these two saints, later declared Doctors of the Church, she too, an excellent disciple, became a Teacher of spiritual life. The spiritual doctrine of Therese of Lisieux contributed to the spreading of the Kingdom of God."

- Saint John Paul's Apostolic Letter for the Proclamation of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face as Doctor of the Church

On the day of my conversion Charity entered into my heart and with it a yearning to forget self always; thenceforward I was happy.

St Thérèse de Lisieux- Story of A Soul, Chapter V

I applied myself above all to practice quite hidden little acts of virtue; thus I liked to fold the mantles forgotten by the Sisters, and sought a thousand opportunities of rendering them service.

St Thérèse de Lisieux- Story of A Soul, Chapter VII

When Charity is deeply rooted in the soul it shows itself exteriorly: there is so gracious a way of refusing what we cannot give, that the refusal pleases as much as the gift.

St Thérèse de Lisieux- Story of A Soul, Chapter IX

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