Sunday, May 29, 2011

Book #35

The Story of a Soul, by St. Thérèse of Lesieux.

A spiritual classic, The Story of a Soul is the spiritual memoir of Thérèse Martin, whose desire to enter the Carmelite convent was granted as a teenager, and who died from tuberculosis at 24. Knwon as the Little Flower, this book has touched millions in the century since it was written.

The bulk of the book is addressed to the Mother Superior of her convent, who asked Thérèse to write her life story after she had become ill. It was originally printed for an extremely limited audience of Carmelite convents. But as word of the simplicity and devotion that the book presented grew, the work became a publishing phenomenon. Sister Thérèse was eventually canonised in 1925, and seven decades later she was named a Doctor of the Church. Such was the influence of a seemingly insignificant woman living a seemingly indignificant life in a small convent in a small town in France.

I have made it a point to read through older works of piety and devotion, and despite the fact that this is one of the "newer" of those works, only 100 years old, I did find parts of it hard to wade through -- the evangelical in me did not comprehend all of the distinctly Catholic aspects. The details of convent life were less interesting to me as they went on, as well, but I recognize that the book was never meant for mass consumption, and to some extent that is part of its charm. But there are aspects of it that are powerful, and touched me, as they have touched many others.

I would be pleased to possess just a part of the rock-solid certainly that Thérèse possessed regarding the character of God, and her humble acceptance of suffering is inspiring.

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