Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: A Gateway
April 19, 2013

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The Last Years of Saint Therese: Doubt and Darkness, 1895-1897
The Last Years of Saint Therese: Doubt and Darkness, 1895-1897
Thomas Nevin's new book from Oxford University Press


A joyous Easter season!  Since it's three months since our last issue, I tried to make this one worth waiting for: articles about Therese's entrance and Celine's first proposal; Thomas Nevin's long-awaited new book; the Carmelite Summer Seminar; Therese's letters online in English, Remi Mauger's  riveting "Therese superstar," a documentary made for French TV now available online, and the forthcoming album Vivre d'Amour, to be released on April 22.  Enjoy!

with all good wishes,

Maureen O'Riordan

A photo essay to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the day Saint Therese entered Carmel on April 9, 1888
St. Therese at 15, April 1888
Therese Martin, April 1888

     Therese Martin entered Carmel on Monday, April 9, 1888.  That year April 9 was the feast of the Annunciation, which had been transferred from March 25 because of Lent.  Let's listen to some accounts of her entrance.  First, Saint Therese's own:


"On the morning of the great day, casting a last look upon Les Buissonnets, that beautiful cradle of my childhood which I was never to see again, I left on my dear King's arm to climb Mount Carmel."

Read the essay and see 19th century photos from the Web site of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux

Celine's first proposal: a story to honor the 145th anniversary of her birth on April 28, 1869

Celine as a young woman
Celine Martin as a young  girl

St. Therese entered the Carmelite monastery at Lisieux after the 7:00 a.m. Mass on Monday, April 9, 1888.  But that was not the only momentous event in the life of the Martin family that day.  That same evening Celine, Therese's eighteen-year-old sister, received an offer of marriage.


For more than a century the identity of Celine's first suitor remained unknown to the public.  The first young man ever known to have proposed marriage to any of the Martin daughters, he was a Man of Mystery.


Learn the name of Celine's suitor, how she reacted, and what happened to him. See his photographs from the Web site of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux

The Last Years of Saint Therese: Doubt and Darkness, 1895-1897, by Thomas Nevin, author of Therese of Lisieux, God's Gentle Warrior, is now available for pre-order!
Article Headline
The Last Years of Saint Therese: Doubt and Darkness, 1895-1897
Thomas Nevin's first book, Therese of Lisieux: God's Gentle Warrior, drawing on previously unused material, was a major breakthrough in studies of St. Therese in English.  I am happy to announce that his long-awaited second book about St. Therese, also by Oxford University Press, will be published on July 15, 2013.  Pre-order it here ($29.66 and free shpping).  A big pre-order helps to launch a book successfully, so, if you plan to purchase the book, you can help it achieve a wider distribution by ordering it now. 

The editorial description:

For over a century, the Carmelite Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face (1873-1897) has been revered as Catholicism's foremost folk saint of modern times. Universally known as "the Little Flower," she has been a source of consolation and uplift, an example of everyday sainthood by "the Little Way." This book puts aside that piety and addresses the torment of doubt within the life and writing of a saint best known for the strength of her conviction.

Nevin examines the dynamics of Christian doubt, and argues that it is integral to the journey toward selfless love which Thérèse was compelled to take. Thérèse's metaphors for doubt were "tunnel," "fog," and "vault," each one suggesting darkness, dimness, and enclosure. What, Nevin asks, did doubt mean to her? What was its source and nature? What was its object? He gives close attention to her reading and interpretations of the Old and New Testaments as pathways through her inner wilderness. Her Carmel of spiritual sisters becomes a vivid setting for this drama, with other women challenging Thérèse by their own trials of faith. One of Thérèse's indispensable lessons, Nevin concludes, is the acceptance of helplessness.

If you have not read Therese of Lisieux, God's Gentle Warrior, learn more about it here.

Carmelite Summer Seminar in Indiana,
June 9-15, 2013: "Carmel at Prayer: A Surge of the Heart, A Glance Toward Heaven" 
Article Headline

In cooperation with the Carmelite Forum, the Center for Spirituality at Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana announces its annual Carmelite Summer Seminar under the title above, drawn from St. Therese.  The seminar offers lectures every morning.  Steven Payne, O.C.D., author of St. Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church, will lecture on "A Surge of the Heart: Therese of Lisieux on Prayer."  Other lectures include
  • "The Carmelite School of Prayer: A Coat of Many Colors" by Dr. Keith Egan;  
  • "Rule of Carmel: A Life Structure for Today's Pilgrim"
    by John Welch, O. Carm.;
  •  "Prayer of Recollection and Contemplation
    in Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross,"
    by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D.; and 
  • "Journey to the Deepest Center with Edith Stein,"
    by Fran Horner, O.C.D. and Mary Fleig, O.C.D.. 
You may choose a total of four morning and afternoon workshops lasting three sessions each, each attended by a smaller group. Morning  workshops include
  • "Spiritual Guidance: A Carmelite Approach"
    by Kevin Culligan, O.C.D. 
  • "The Promise of Contemplative Prayer in John of the Cross" by Constance FitzGerald, O.C.D. 
  • "Carmel and the Child Jesus,"
    by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. 
  • "Dark Prayer: The Nights of John of the Cross,"
    by John Welch, O. Carm. and
  • "Praying with John of the Cross' Poetry"
  •  by Dr. Keith Egan. 
Afternoon workshops:
  • "John of the Cross' Spiritual Canticle and Ecospirituality," by Mary Frohlich, RSCJ
  • "Touraine: Carmel's Forgotten Reform,"
    by Leopold Glueckert, O. Carm.
  • "Teresa, Teach Us to Pray,"
    by Fran Horner, O.C.D. and Mary Fleig, O.C.D.
  • "'All Must be Loved' - Teresa of Avila on Community,"
    by Steven Payne, O.C.D.

I have attended this seminar many times, and I recommend it.  You do not need to be a Carmelite to attend.  The group is friendly and relaxed; many attend each year for the first time, and it is not a social challenge to arrive on your own.  For details, click here.  Get a discount if you register before May 23. 

All the Letters of St. Thérèse of Lisieux are online in English.  
For information or to purchase Volume I, click here.

For the first time, English translations of all the surviving Letters of Saint Therese of Lisieux are online.  These letters were published in print by ICS Publications.  Letters of Saint Therese of Lisieux, Volume I, 1877-1890, appeared in 1982, and Letters of Saint Therese of Lisieux, Volume II, 1890-1897 appeared in 1988, both translated by John Clarke, O.C.D.  Thanks to the remarkable generosity of the Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars and the hard work of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux, the best English translation of the text of Therese's letters can be read by anyone with Internet access.  May these Carmelite collaborators be blessed for their gift to us, and may it be a source of grace to "all little souls."  Please see the letters online here at the Web site of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux.

Story of a Soul made St. Therese famous.  Her letters are much less well known, and I believe that, if you have not read her letters, you're missing a treasure.  Story of a Soul was written from "emotion recollected in tranquility," but in the letters we accompany Therese day by day as she grows and develops in the present.  If you do not own the books, I recommend taking this opportunity to order them.  The general introduction, the  introductions to each section, and the notes to each letter, which are unique to the print edition, are a gold mine of information about Therese and her milieu.  You are referred to the relevant sections of "Story of a Soul" so that you can understand what was happening in each phase of Therese's life.

For information or to purchase Volume II, click here.

View "Thérèse Suuperstar," a riveting documentary by Remi Mauger on the rise of the cult of Saint Thérèse
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The fascinating documentary Therese superstar, made for French television (FR3) in 1997 by Remi Mauger, an award-winning filmmaker, examines the phenomenon of Therese from her death in 1897 until 1997.  Archival-quality documents and images blend with interviews with historians, sociologists, and others.  All the audio is in French, but it's easy to follow the visuals even if you don't understand French.  You can see the first edition of "Story of a Soul' and related correspondence; the handwritten imprimatur of Bishop Hugonin in 1898; many images of Therese's influence among the soldiers in World War I; the progress of her cause; rare film footage of the ceremony of her beatification in 1923; and other treasures.  This film plays better at its host site, so please click here to see it.  60 minutes.
"Vivre d'Amour," an album of the poetry of St. Therese set to music, to be released in France on April 22.
Today there is much excitement in France about the release on April 22, 2013, just three days from now, of the album  Therese: Vivre d'Amour, the poetry of St. Thérèse set to  music, sung by Canadian singer Natasha St-Pier.