A complete and engaging one-volume introduction to the saint known as the "Little Flower".
Following a thorough introduction to the saints life, The Complete Therese presents her classic, The Story of a Soul, in complete and unabridged form. Then, unique to this edition is a portion of the original edition rarely seen, describing the saints final days as seen through the eyes of the Sisters of the Lisieux Carmel; plus a poignant collection of over seventy firsthand anecdotes about Thérèse recounted by the Sisters following her death.
Also included a comprehensive selection of prayers, letters, and poems written by Therese, and in both French and English, the poem that inspired her to call herself the Little Flower. Further appendices give important dates for her life, taking the reader up to 1997, one hundred years after her death, when Pope John Paul II declared her to be a Doctor of the Church. Beautiful engravings and photographs throughout the book give the reader a view of the Little Flowers childhood home and family, her growing-up years, life at Carmel, her death, and the original gravesite.
Millions of hearts have been touched by St. Thérèse of Lisieuxs desire, not to be mighty and great, but to be a humble, little flower that would gladden Gods eyes as he glances down at his feet. Now, yours will be, too.
Robert J. Edmonson
Robert J. Edmonson, CJ, holds a Certificate of French Studies from the University of Montpelier (France), a BA in French from the University of Miami, and an MA in French from Middlebury College. He is also the editory and translator of The Complete Thérèse of Lisieux, published by Paraclete Press. For nearly forty years, he has lived with his wife, Janet, at the Community of Jesus on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
. . . the new English edition does contain her most essential writings, and they are as audacious now as they were when they first captured the hearts of readers a century ago: 'Even when I might have on my conscience all the sins that can be committed, I would go with a heart broken with repentance to throw myself into Jesus arms, because I know how much He cherishes the prodigal who comes back to Him [Lk. 15:20-24]. Its not because God, in his kind mercy, has preserved my soul from mortal sin that I rise and go to Him in confidence and love.'
This is a spirituality of radical humility, and radical trust. Its what Martin Luther was grasping for when he said, 'Pecca fortiter sed fortius fide et gaude in Christo' ('Sin boldly, but even more boldly have faith and rejoice in Christ'), a phrase that came, perhaps unsurprisingly, to be misunderstood as an assertion of cheap grace. Yet Thérèse, like Luther, knew that Gods grace takes away mans sin but not his struggle. She had bouts of great spiritual darkness of the same kind that racked Mother Teresa decades later. From Story of a Soul: 'When I want to give rest to my heart, fatigued from the darkness that surrounds it, by remembering the luminous country toward which I aspire, my torment redoubles. It seems to me that the darkness, borrowing the voice of sinners, tells me mockingly, Youre dreaming up the light. . . . You think that someday youre going to get out of all this fog that surrounds you. Go ahead, go ahead, rejoice in death, which will give you, not what youre hoping for, but a still deeper night, the night of nothingness. . . . The image that I tried to give you of the darkness that obscures my soul is as imperfect as a model compared to the real thing, but I dont want to write any longer. . . . Im even afraid of having said too much already.'
Thérèse knew the darkness, vividly. But she held on, with the true audacity of hope: 'If all weak and imperfect souls felt what the smallest of all souls feels, the soul of your little Thérèse, not a single one would despair . . . since Jesus does not ask for great actions, but only for abandonment and gratefulness. For He said, in Psalm 50[:9-13]: I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle of a thousand hills. . . . If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine and all that is in it.'
Here, indeed, is light in darkness. The translation, by Robert Edmonson, is contemporary, even colloquial; the book is a fine introduction to an important spiritual teacher.
- National Review, September 2009