Tag Archives: St. Therese of Lisieux

Motherhood—One of God’s greatest gifts is the Instinctive Love of a Mother for her Child…no Matter what their Age

 

even a grown man can be mommy’s “little boy”

public domain

By Larry Peterson

“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”

Abraham Lincoln

What follows took place over a period of a few minutes.

The man presented an imposing figure. He was dressed in his Air Force uniform which had a crowd of ribbons on the left breast which covered his heart. He stood, paused and then stepped from his pew. Walking purposefully, he moved and strode up the four steps into the sanctuary. He walked over to the ambo, turned and looked out at the people now before him. He grabbed each side of the ambo, and each of his hands squeezed it tightly.

He turned his head left and peered downward. In the center aisle at the foot of the altar were the remains of his dad. The middle-aged man, a disciplined officer in the United States Air Force, shook his head, pursed his lips, and looked out at those before him and tried to speak. He did not succeed. Instead, what came from within him were soft, quiet sobs.

There was a woman sitting in the first row. Stepping from the pew she calmly walked up the sanctuary steps and over to the sobbing man. She sidled up to him and leaned into his side. Then ever so softly, she leaned her head against his shoulder. He turned and looked down at her. She turned and looked up at him. She extended her arm in back of him and rubbed his back. After several moments, she smiled at him and headed back to her pew.

It had been a spontaneous moment in time as the natural love of a mom for her child compelled her to rescue him. There was no thought about it. No, it was instinctive, a God-given trait that is instilled in mothers. It is a powerful love that only exists between a mother and her child. How powerful that love is that it can quickly calm a professional military officer who had lost his composure because of the death of his dad.

He had once again become a little boy. Mommy, ignoring the pain of her own personal heartache, instinctively knew it and went to him, embraced him and comforted him and made it “all better.” And therein lies the magnificence of one of God’s greatest gifts, the love of a mom for her child, no matter what their age. It is a beautiful thing.

 

The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the love of a Mother.

-St. Therese of Lisieux

Copyright Larry Peterson 2018

The “Little Flower” and Our Lady of the Smile

St. Therese; ‘The Little Flower”

By Larry Peterson

St. Therese was born January 2, 1873, and since it is still January, I thought I would mention my favorite story about this Saint. It happened when she was ten years old, and the result was not just the “Little Flower’s” miraculous recovery from an unknown and life-threatening illness, but it also was the beginning of devotion to what became known as Our Lady of the Smile.

Therese’s mom, Zelie, had begun to complain of breast pain in 1865, eight years before Therese was even born. In 1876, doctors told her of her condition. Zelie died of Breast Cancer on August 28, 1877. She was 45 years old.  Her youngest child, Therese, who was four years old, was crushed. Years later she would write that “the first part of my life stopped that day.”

Zelie Martin had asked her husband, Louis, to have Pauline look after Therese after she had passed. Pauline was twelve years older than her little sister and had been acting as a surrogate mom for Therese while their mom was sick. Therese loved Pauline very much and felt safe and secure with her by her side.

In October of 1882, when Therese was nine years old, Pauline entered the Carmelite monastery at Lisieux. Pauline was the child’s “second mother” and, once again, Therese was crushed. She believed that since Pauline was cloistered, she would never see her again. She cried, “—in the depths of my heart, I know Pauline is lost to me.”

Therese began to show signs of illness. Pauline’s leaving for the Carmelites had jump-started her memories of her mom’s passing. She wanted to join the Carmelites right away, but she was much too young. The three forces collided and Therese got sicker and sicker. Convulsions, fever, and hallucinations, began to overwhelm her. Her body exhibited tremors and her teeth clenched, and she could not speak. One doctor suggested that she was “emotionally frustrated and was experiencing a neurotic attack. She was ten years old.

The Martin’s had a beautiful statue of Our Lady of Victory. Louis Martin had been given the statue by a lady who knew him, and he placed the statue in his garden. When he and Zelie got married, the statue was moved into the house and given a place of honor. When the children were old enough, the entire family would pray before the statue.

The statue was three feet high and covered with a varnish that made it look like marble. The children loved that statue, and they would decorate it with flowers from the garden.  Their father told them they might wear the statue out from kissing it so much.

Therese was now suffering from severe headaches, strange apparitions and everything seemed to terrify her. She thought her bed was surrounded by steep cliffs and for a short period of time, Therese could not open her eyes.

During this time the statue was in the room with Therese. On May 13, 1883, Marie, the oldest sister, was sure Therese was dying. She fell to her knees before the statue begging Our Lady to cure her baby sister. Leonie and Celine came in and joined Marie in prayer.

Marie looked over at Therese and noticed that her little sister seemed to be transfixed on the statue. Therese was not looking at the statue. Rather, in a state of ecstasy, the Blessed Virgin was standing near her and that is who she was looking at.

Therese said later that Our Lady’s face glowed with a glorious beauty, but it was her wonderful smile, which filled the girl with joy. It was like a warm ray of sunshine. When everything was over, a period that lasted about five minutes, Therese Martin, was cured. Her sisters noticed two large teardrops fall from each eye. Later, when Marie asked her why she cried, she answered, “I cried because Our Lady had disappeared.”

Thus began the devotion known as “Our Lady of the Smile.”

In St. Therese’s autobiography, the “Story of a Soul,” on the first appendix page there is a prayer she carried with her the day she took her vows as a Carmelite. The date was September 8, 1890. (Interestingly, that is Our Lady’s birthday). The last paragraph of that letter is as follows:

Jesus, allow me to save many souls,

Let no soul be lost today.

Let all souls in purgatory be saved.

Jesus, pardon me if I say anything I should not say, I only want to give you joy and to console you.

St. Therese of Lisieux; Please pray for us all.