Thérèse Martin was born in Alencon, France, on 2 January 1873. She was one of a family of nine children, five of whom – all girls – survived to adulthood. Thérèse was the youngest of these and her mother died when Thérèse was only four years old. She joined the Carmelite Convent at Lisieux in 1888 and was professed a nun in 1890.
Thérèse had a vivacious and open personality. She was a fun-loving, mischievous and somewhat precocious child. Original photographs of her show she grew into a strong, beautiful, robust young woman. She was bold enough to personally request permission from the Pope to enter the Convent before reaching the normally required age.
Thérèse was involved in the training of novices in the Convent at Lisieux and she taught them lessons about God’s love based on her own experiences, rather than on imaginary, romanticised, overly pious interpretations of Christianity. Her primary message was that it is God’s love which saves us.
Whilst Thérèse saw herself as “little” by comparision with God, she had a grand vision of how God could use her. She was very focused on being patient and charitable to those she lived with whom she found irritating. She struggled to do this, however, and in her struggle found herself “at the table of sinners”. This enabled her to have a great empathy and compassion for people in their weakness and struggle. She believed that it was trying to do one’s best in the ordinary circumstances of life and by taking life one day at a time that we become open to God’s love and compassion and mercy and forgiveness. It is in following this “little way” of life that we can also help others be aware of God’s love.
In her last two years of life, Thérèse suffered greatly from tuberculosis, which finally killed her on 30 September 1897, aged 24. In her suffering, she found it very hard to believe in God – but despite her great doubts, she still trusted in God’s love. She identified with the desperate and desolate cry of Jesus on the cross: “I thirst”. As did Jesus, so Thérèse, in her desperate suffering and great doubt, relied on God’s love. Her feast is celebrated on 26 August.
God of love, help us to see that even the smallest things done in love bythe most ordinary people bring peace, joy, energy and life. Help usalso to remember that it is trust in you, dear God, that brings us to know and to spread love. Like St Therese of Lisieux, may we make trust in you, and the spreading of your love, a central part of our lives.
Founded in 2014, FightMND was established with the purpose of finding effective treatments and ultimately a cure for Motor Neurone Disease. What FightMND has done since 2014 is be the voice, and the guiding star for Australians who want to fight ‘The Beast’. The horrible and debilitating disease gradually takes away the patient’s use of their arms and legs, their ability to eat and swallow, their speech and ultimately their ability to breathe…all in an average timeframe of just 27 months. The core aims are to generate greater awareness of the disease, to fund world-class research and drug trials to find an effective treatment and ultimately a cure for Motor Neurone Disease and provide assistive care equipment to many Australians fighting the disease. As a House, Lisieux contributes to this aim by raising much needed funds and awareness. This is made even more important by the fact that there is no known cause, limited knowledge of the natural course of the disease, there is no effective treatment and there is no cure.