Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Book Review: St. Therese of Lisieux: Her Last Conversations

The stack of books I'm trying to read is much larger than what my calendar allows for. When I do actually finish a book though, I want to use the blog to tell you what I thought about it. I'm happy to lend this or any other book in my library if you live near me and don't look like a hooligan.

I just finished reading St. Therese of Lisieux: Her Last Conversations, and it was marvelous. Full disclosure: Therese is one of my favorite saints of all time, so I was biased going in. But this book is a collection of the conversations that her sisters in the Carmel of Lisieux had with her during her final months. Recognizing that they were in the presence of a living saint, the nuns of Carmel had the foresight to record their conversations with her during her final illness. Because they presumably were writing after the conversation or were writing and talking, this book is not a collection of sustained dialogue but rather just snippets of conversation. Because it's in this form, I found it incredibly fruitful for prayer and meditation and so I took a long time to savor this book.

At this stage of Therese's life, the Little Way she had spent her life developing is nearing perfection. She has the remarkable ability to look at her suffering (she was slowly suffocating from tuberculosis) and see it for the horror that it really was, commenting at one time that this would be impossible to endure without faith and at another time that poisonous materials should be kept well away from the suffering because of the temptation to kill themselves. Yet through all this, she repeatedly affirmed that she would endure it as long as God willed, as long as His will was done. During her final agony on Septemper 30, 1897, she said, "I would never have believed one could suffer so much...never! never! O Mother, I no longer believe in death for me...I believe in suffering! Tomorrow, it will be worse! Well, so much the better!" Her ability to accept everything out of her control as God's will for her and therefore her path to sanctity is truly her gift to the world.

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