We look around for some solid place to stand. We have a hard time finding one.
But of some things we can be sure:
St. Therese of Lisieux died 121 years ago yesterday. There is absolutely no chance that she ever got drunk in high school. Or that she ever falsely accused someone of getting drunk in high school.
There is no chance that St. Therese ever promoted to a higher position a miscreant who belonged in jail. Or that she ever had political motives in accusing a superior of a cover-up.
St. Therese certainly never turned a deaf ear to someone crying out for help. There is no doubt whatsoever that she kept the confidences entrusted to her; she never leaked anything to the press.
She never had worldly ambitions that blinded her to right and wrong. She never moralized at the expense of human sympathy. She never hedged her bets and waited for the next news cycle, in the hopes that her difficulties would drop off the radar, so she could pretend they didn’t exist.
She never got grandiose. She never got belligerent. She never got overly technical. She never cared about anything, except honestly loving Jesus and the people around her.
She wasn’t born perfect. But she preserved the purity of her heart from childhood to death. She had a powerful, precise, inquiring mind. She was a Little Flower with the courage to stride out alone into the dark night of the soul. She believed, through the bitterest physical and spiritual sufferings.
And she is real. She lived in rural France, died at age 24 of tuberculosis, and went to heaven. She is no plaster statue. Her glorified soul offers us a bona fide spiritual oasis.
We need one. We might doubt whether Lord Jesus will find any faith on earth when He comes. But when we think about St. Therese: we can hope that, indeed, He will. A lot of faith–hidden in millions and millions and millions of little corners.
Click here to read Pope St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter proclaiming St. Therese a Doctor of the Universal Church