“Everything is Grace: The Life and Way of Thérèse of Lisieux” by Joseph F. Schmidt

August 7, 2014 by  
Filed under Dialogues


Saint Therese, the little flower, is one of my favorite saints. I just got the new book about her, and how she tried to please people because of how she felt, so she prayed and God helped. My mom had a devotion to her as well, and I did not know until I got her jewelry after she died.

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  • New Apologetics So far, we think the best book on Thérèse (and there are some really awful ones) is “Everything is Grace: The Life and Way of Thérèse of Lisieux” by Joseph F. Schmidt.

    Some quotes: 

    “She became aware not only that her willpower could be misdirected in terms of what she actually chose, but that even by choosing good she could be on the wrong path if she willfully chose good in a self-centered or self-righteous way. The very act of willpower even directed toward sanctity, she understood, could be tainted by the self-love that could drive to her to try to make herself the saint she wanted to be rather than allowing God to make her the saint she was created to be. She recognized that in the use of her willpower she could sometimes be self-serving or even violent to herself or others in her efforts to be good. She was beginning to glimpse that holiness, while needing her cooperation, was really a matter of God’s doing” (pg 71).

    “Therese saw that Celine needed to lose her discouragement, which was self-centered, and particularly to lose her willfulness, which drove her to strive for self-improvement. That harsh willfulness was itself a kind of violent obstacle to the power of the Holy Spirit in her. If Celine would be willing to lose her attachments to herself and enter the path of humility, serenely bearing the pain of honestly being herself, that willingness, humility, and honesty would put her on the path of transformation” (pg 229).

    “She had known that she could not reach a state of being perfect in virtue and without feelings; now she understood more clearly that the very attitude of “striving” for perfection injected the poison of self-centeredness into her will. It moved her will into an egotistical willfulness and away from a God-centered willingness to be open to divine providence. She was confident that her loving Father would draw her into the holiness that he wished for her if she were simply willing and available…Loving was not a virtue that she could acquire; it was a gift that she would receive as she was willing to be united to the source of love, to Jesus, the vine, in a spirit of surrender” (pg 243).

    “One day Sr. Marie of the Trinity, one of the novices, came to Therese to confess that she had been intolerant with some of the older sisters. In a self-critical tone she added that she needed to become more patient. Therese studied Sr. Marie and told her that with that attitude she was becoming an enemy to herself. Instead, Sr. Marie, even in her failing needed to properly love herself. Suppose, Therese said, “if God wants you to be weak and powerless like a little child, do you think you will be less worthy? Consent, then, to stumble at every step, even to fall, to carry your cross feebly. Love your powerlessness; your soul will draw more profit than if, supported by grace, you achieve with a certain flair acts which fill your soul with personal sanctification and selfish pride.” Can you bear the distress and personal trial of being an impatient person, Therese was asking, until God give you the grace needed to be more patient? Can you accept your powerlessness without hating yourself for it? Success in virtue is not the point. Love—love of the sisters in their weakness and love of yourself in your inadequacy, made possible by your willingness to receive divine love in you—that, Therese was saying is the point. That patient love is also transformative, Therese knew, and would lead to deeper tolerance in action.” (pg 249).