“The LORD is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want. In green pastures he makes me lie down. To still waters he leads me. He restores my soul. He guides me along right paths for the sake of his name. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me.” (Ps 23, 1-4)
Basilica of St. Therese
Ever since she was a child, St. Therese had a strong desire to become a Carmelite nun. At the age of 15, she pleaded before Pope Leo XII to allow her to enter the order. During her time as a Carmelite, Thérèse discovered the “true Saint of Love” in St. John of the Cross, who helped her to escape a sort of dark night in the soul. In encountered St. John of the Cross, she was led to accepted her smallness and establish her “little way,” describing it as, “It is impossible for me to grow up, so I must bear with myself such as I am with all my imperfections. But I want to seek out means of going to heaven by a little way, a way that is very straight, very short, and totally new.” She then abandoned herself to Jesus and her life became a continual acceptance of the will of the Lord. She, too, developed an immense appreciation for the grind of everyday life, believing in and teaching us that life presents enough challenging and opportunities for grace, for God is everywhere—in every situation and person, and in the ordinary, simple and small details of life. Her aim was to do ordinary things with extraordinary love. Her embodiment and exuberance of love played a part in the understanding of her as the “little flower of Jesus,” for she desired to give glory to God by just being her beautiful self among all the other flowers in God’s garden.
“I know now that true charity consists in bearing all our neighbors’ defects – not being surprised at their weakness, but edified at their smallest virtues.” – St. Therese of Lisieux
Inside the Basilica of St. Therese
“Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.” – St. Therese of Lisieux
Lower level Chapel
“You know well enough that our Lord does not look so much on the greatness of our actions nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them.” – St. Therese of Lisieux
“One must have passed through the tunnel to understand how black its darkness is.” – St. Therese of Lisieux
St. Therese’s Home – les Buissonnets
St. Therese’s Father moved her family to les Buinsonnets when Therese was five years old. Five years later, her sister Pauline, who was like a second mother to her, enter the Carmelite order. Thérèse was suffered from an undiagnosable sickness during this time. However, an encounter with the statue of the Virgin Mary at her bedside in which “[s]uddenly, Mary’s face radiated and love” cured her inexplicable illness. This Marian intercession moved her to attempt to enter the Carmelite convent for the first time, though she was too young at the time. Les Buissonnets was where Therese had her Christmas conversion at the age of 14 in 1886. She found the strength in her soul to leave behind her childhood sensitivity. Thérèse’s shadow of self-doubt, depression, and uncertainty was suddenly lifted from her and replaced with a new inner calm and conviction. Thérèse herself describes the experience as one in which her “heart was filled charity. I forgot myself to please others and, in doing so, became happy myself.”
“I will spend my heaven doing good on earth.” – St. Therese of Lisieux
Notre-Dame de Chartres
Chartres Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located about 50 miles from Paris. Construction of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres begin in 1145 and continued through the 13th century. It’s beautiful 12th-13th century stained glass is in remarkable condition and is believed to be one of the most complete collections of stained glass in the world. The two spires can be seen upto 40km away and serve as a guide to pilgrims walking through the plains.
“Do I abandon myself entirely to the will of God? Do I find my peace in him?”
Inside Chartres Cathedral
The tunic of the Blessed Virgin (Sancta Camisa) is believed to be housed here and to have been gifted by Charlemagne. The stone floor still bears its ancient labyrinth used for contemplation and meditation. Many pilgrims venerate “Our Lady of the Pillar” and leave their sorrows at the foot of her statue. “Notre-Dame de la belle-verriere” the so-called “beautiful window” survived a 12th century fire at Chartres and is considered the “Mona Lisa of stained glass.” The diaphanous unoxidized cobalt blue of her dress continues to draw admiration.
“Do I trust that whatever God calls me to, he will give me the strength to pursue it?”
“Am I ready to say “yes” to anything that the Lord calls me to?”