In his Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, Pope John Paul II invites us to penetrate into the depth of the Mystery of Jesus by uniting to “theological investigation” recourse to “that great heritage which is the ‘lived theology’ of the saints” (#27). This is immediately illustrated by citing two women Doctors of the Church, Saint Catherine of Siena and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux whose “lived theology” sheds notable light on the face of Jesus in his Passion: “blissful and afflicted” (ibid).
In this way, John Paul II indicates a new path for the theology of the third millennium, a path of reflection and of contemplation uniting inseparably the understanding of the Mystery of the faith (fides et ratio) and the loving experience of this same Mystery (fides et amor). (1)
From Francis of Assisi to Thérèse of Lisieux, the mystics are the great representatives of this lived theology of the saints. They transmit to the whole Church their profound knowledge of the Mystery of God the Trinity, of the God known and loved in Jesus Christ by means of the great work of his Love which is the Redemption of man.
Immersed in the Infinite Love of Jesus, they are the best “knowers” (connaisseurs) they are authentically “theologians,” that is to say “knowers (connaisseurs) of God.” In fact, according to the words of the Apostle John, “he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is Love” (cf. I Jn. 4:7-8).
This theology of the saints is like a beacon which sheds light on the whole Mystery of Jesus, from the first moment of the Incarnation in the virginal womb of Mary until his exaltation in the glory of the Resurrection, through all of the mysteries of his earthly life, and especially his Redemptive Passion. In this same light it is also possible to contemplate the countenance of Mary and to understand better her place in the Mystery of Christ and of the Church (cf. Lumen Gentium, VIII).
In the course of this brief article, we are going to utilize the “lived theology” of Thérèse of Lisieux in order to shed light on a delicate and important question, that of the cooperation of Mary and of the Church in the Mystery of the Redemption, which could also be called “coredemption.”
In order to better interpret the theology of Thérèse, we need to recall in the light of Vatican II the intimate and indissoluble bond which unites Jesus with Mary and the entire Church. Jesus is the New Adam, the God-Man, the Creator and the only Savior of all men, the Eternal Son of the Father who, by the power of the Holy Spirit, became in a completely virginal manner the Child and the Spouse of his creature, to the point that his creature became truly his Mother and his Spouse. Such is the Mystery of the New Eve in her ineffable communion with the New Adam: she is inseparably Mary and the Church, as Mother of God (theotókos) and Spouse of God (theonúmphos), Virgin-Mother and Virgin-Spouse. (2) Remaining always a mere creature, she is raised to an unparalleled dignity by this communion with the only Savior, an active and dynamic communion which is a true cooperation in the Economy of Salvation. (3)
As a consecrated virgin, Thérèse lived profoundly with Mary and in the Church, in this “Heart burning with Love” which is inseparably that of Mary and of the Church, (4) the heart of a Spouse given to Jesus alone and the heart of a Mother given to Jesus and open to all the men created and saved by Him. (5) It is in her Love as Spouse and as Mother that Thérèse sheds light on the Mystery of the cooperation of Mary and of the Church in the Redemption. All of her writings are characterized by a profound Marian and ecclesial spirit, whether explicitly or implicitly.
In this perspective, our article will be developed in three points:
1. Pranzini “My First child”
2. “The Heart of a Mother”
3. Communion in the Agony of Jesus
1. Pranzini “My First child”
The heart of Manuscript A, written in 1895, is the narrative of the “grace of Christmas” and the salvation of the criminal Pranzini, a double grace of communion in the Mysteries of the Incarnation and of the Redemption. The Holy Spirit leads the young Thérèse from the Crib to the Cross, from the admirable exchange of the Incarnation to the admirable exchange of the Redemption: in the Incarnation, God became man in order that man might become God; in the Redemption, He who was without sin became sin for us so that we might become in Him the righteousness of God (cf. II Cor. 5:21).
While the grace of Christmas was a purely personal grace of conversion, of liberation and of spiritual growth, this second grace concerns primarily the salvation of the neighbor, but in a union still more personal and more intimate with Jesus, a fruitful union of the spouse with the Crucified, who makes her mother of the man ransomed by his Blood. Leaving childhood behind at Christmas, Thérèse became a woman, she became spouse and mother at the age of 14, before her entry into Carmel. Charity made these two strongest and most beautiful “strings” (which are spousal and motherly love) resonate in her feminine heart: spousal love of Jesus and motherly love of neighbor. This grace is one of a new gaze at Jesus Crucified and at the neighbor, the poorest sinner for whom Jesus shed his Blood. It is a eucharistic grace, received during Sunday Mass by means of a simple image, which nonetheless becomes for Thérèse a genuine icon making her see the Mystery of the Redemption:
One Sunday, looking at a picture of Our Lord on the Cross, I was struck by the blood flowing from one of the divine hands. I felt a great pang of sorrow when thinking this blood was falling to the ground without anyone’s hastening to gather it up. I was resolved to remain in spirit at the foot of the Cross and to receive the divine dew. I understood I was then to pour it out upon souls. The cry of Jesus on the Cross sounded continually in my heart: “I thirst!” These words ignited within me an unknown and very living fire. I wanted to give my Beloved to drink and I felt myself consumed with a thirst for souls. (6)
The image represents the Crucified with Mary Magdalene embracing his feet, (7) standing under the right arm of the Cross, where Jesus’ hand is nailed. In this loving contemplation of the Blood of Jesus, Thérèse joins Catherine of Siena, the Doctor of the Body and Blood of Jesus. For Catherine, Mary Magdalene is the “loving disciple” who shows all of her Love when she stays there on Calvary, embracing the Cross to which Jesus is nailed, “soaked in his Blood, inebriated and washing herself in his Blood.” (8) By her “resolution” to “remain in spirit at the foot of the Cross,” Thérèse identifies herself with Magdalene. (9) She ardently desires that the Blood of Jesus fall upon her for the salvation of others. Her fear is that it will fall “to the ground” without reaching sinful man for whom it was shed.
In its simplicity, this text sheds great light on the meaning of the coredemption and the mediation of Mary and of the Church. There is a real collaboration of the creature, as spouse and mother, in the work accomplished by Jesus, the sole Savior, the sole Redeemer, the sole Mediator. This collaboration does not consist in adding something to the Blood of Jesus, but in communicating the Blood to the men of all times and all places.
Thérèse remains close to the Cross as the spouse who wants to offer a drink to her “Beloved,” and it is then that she becomes mother because of the virginal fruitfulness of the Redeeming Blood which she receives. She recounts how immediately Jesus gives her the criminal Pranzini as “her first child” (Ms A 45v-46v). It is one of the most beautiful and most powerful pages on the meaning of hope in Divine Mercy. The criminal condemned to death is on the point of dying in impenitence. Thérèse is aware of the extreme danger of his position, but at the same time, she cannot resign herself to the loss of a brother for whom Christ died: “I wanted at all costs to prevent him from falling into hell,” she writes. (10) The only price is that of the Blood of Jesus. The young girl has Mass celebrated for him. She expresses her certitude about his salvation in an absolute manner: “even if he went to his death without any signs of repentance or without having gone to confession. I was absolutely confident in the mercy of Jesus.” (11) Before being executed, Pranzini embraces the Crucifix which the chaplain of the prison presents to him. This simple sign brings Thérèse to her point of departure, which was the contemplation of Jesus Crucified:
Wasn’t it before the wounds of Jesus, when seeing His divine blood flowing, that the thirst for souls had entered my heart? I wished to give them this immaculate blood to drink, this blood which was to purify them from their stains, and the lips of my “first child” were pressed to the sacred wounds! … What an unspeakably sweet response! … After this unique grace my desire to save souls grows each day, and I seemed to hear Jesus say to me what he said to the Samaritan woman: “Give me to drink!” It was a true interchange of love: to souls I was giving the blood of Jesus, to Jesus I was offering these same souls refreshed by the divine dew.” (12)
Jesus then gave Thérèse as her “first child” a most miserable sinner, one who, from a human point of view was a “desperate case.” For him the young girl hoped against every hope, in all the strength of her Love as Spouse and Mother. This experience is fundamental, foundational. Thérèse will express her desire to save “the souls who are on earth” (13); “the” souls, and not just “some” souls! She will even dare to formulate this prayer: “Jesus, allow me to save very many souls; let no soul be lost today.” (14)
And it is finally with the same confidence that during her great trial against the faith, she will intercede for atheists and the enemies of the Church (cf. Ms C 5v-7v).
2. “The Heart of a Mother”
In all of this Thérèse is singularly close to Mary, Mother of all men redeemed by the Blood of Jesus, Mother of Mercy and Refuge of sinners. The profoundly Marian dimension of this experience of the Carmelite can be made clearer in the light of the little play on The flight into Egypt (RP 6), written immediately after Manuscript A. It is the most illuminating work of Thérèse on the mystery of motherhood and its setting is an imaginary dialogue between Mary the Mother of Jesus and Susanna the mother of Dismas, the future good thief of the Gospel. This fabricated history is a marvelous parable about motherly love. Mary, the All-Holy has “the heart of a mother,” but the poor pagan woman and sinner also has “the heart of a mother,” a heart capable of welcoming the Infant Savior and of obtaining the salvation of the sinner child. The little Dismas was a leper; he was miraculously healed when, at Mary’s request, Susanna bathed him in the water in which the Infant Jesus had been bathed. Susanna then speaks to Mary about her fear concerning the salvation of her child, foreseeing that he will become a bandit like his father. Mary’s response, which is the high point of the entire work, corresponds exactly to what Thérèse had lived with regard to Pranzini:
Trust in the infinite mercy of the Good God; it is great enough to wipe out the greatest crimes when it finds the heart of a mother who places all of her confidence in it. Jesus does not wish the death of the sinner, but that he be converted and live eternally. This child who, through no effort of his own, has just been cured of leprosy, will be cured one day of a much more dangerous leprosy… Then a simple bath will not suffice, Dismas will need to be bathed in the blood of the Redeemer…. Jesus will die in order to give life to Dismas and he will enter the same day as the Son of God into the heavenly kingdom (RP 6, l0r).
Mary will be there, near the Cross, collecting the blood of Jesus by her prayer: she will pour it out on Dismas, on all sinners, on all men who will become then her children. Read in the light of the preceding narrative concerning Pranzini, these simple words that Thérèse attributes to Mary reveal an inexhaustible depth. The Carmelite had hoped for the criminal on the point of dying impenitent. She had hoped with all of her “motherly heart” for this “first child” whom the Redeemer had confided to her asking that she wash him in his Blood. Mysteriously, she had already understood deep in her own motherly heart the exhortation of Mary, the expression of the depth of her motherly heart: “Trust in the infinite mercy of the Good God.” She had shared all of the power of her motherly hope: “so much trust I had in the Infinite Mercy of Jesus.”
From the theological point of view, these two texts provide us with a very living light on the mystery of the coredemption. The salvation of sinful man, which comes only from the Infinite Mercy given in the Blood of the Redeemer, calls for this motherly and spousal cooperation which turns everything upside down.
The most incarnate expression of this cooperation of Thérèse in the Mystery of the Redemption, as Spouse of Jesus and Mother of sinners, is found in her great christological poem: Jesus, My Beloved, Remember! (PN 24) in the two stanzas concerning the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. The previous strophes place the accent on spousal love: “Jesus, my tender Spouse.” As Saint John at the Last Supper, Thérèse can rest on the Heart of Jesus:
I am not at all jealous of your beloved disciple.
I know your secrets, for I am your spouse.
O my divine Savior,
I fall asleep on your Heart.
It is mine! (15)
3. Communion in the Agony of Jesus
Far from being some kind of self-centered pseudo-intimacy, this intimacy of the spouse with her Spouse is the source of her motherly and virginal fruitfulness. Thérèse says so directly in ascending from the Heart to the Face of Jesus as she sees it revealed at Gethsemane. We must cite these two admirable strophes in their entirety:
Remember that on the night of your agony
Your tears mingled with your blood.
Dew of love, its infinite worth
Made virginal flowers spring up.
An angel, showing you this choice harvest,
Made joy reappear on your blessed Face.
Jesus, you saw me
Among your lilies,
Remember that your fruitful Dew
Made the flowers’ corollas virginal
And made them even in this world
To give birth to a great number of hearts.
I am a virgin, O Jesus! yet what a mystery.
When I united myself to you, I am the mother of souls.
The virginal flowers
Who save sinners,
Remember (str 21-22). (16)
Thérèse alludes to the sweat of blood (cf. Lk. 22:44) and to the tears (cf. Heb. 5:7) of Jesus in his Agony. The blood and the water which flow in abundance from his pierced Side after his death, flow already on his Face from the first instant of his Passion. In relation with the Face of Jesus, this symbol of the dew has spousal character at first sight, according to a verse from the Song of Songs particularly dear to Thérèse. It is the word of the Spouse: “Open to me, my sister, my beloved, for my Face is covered with dew, my locks with the drops of night.” (17) Jesus in his Passion is the Spouse who gives his “dew” to his spouse, this “dew of love” which flows from his suffering Body, the “fertile dew” of his Redemptive Blood mixed with the living water of the Holy Spirit. The “dew of love” that causes “these virginal flowers” to bloom on earth is also the “fertile dew” which makes them mothers in “virginizing” them. (18) In the heart of these stanzas bursts forth this splendid affirmation: “I am a virgin, O Jesus! yet what a mystery. When I united myself to you, I am the mother of souls.” Finally it is remarkable that Thérèse contemplates the Body and the Heart of Jesus inseparably: in his Agony Jesus “saw” Thérèse, just as in his infancy he “thought” of her. (19)
In this life, the virginal Love of Jesus finds its full expansion in the profoundly intimate communion in his redemptive Passion. It is there that the Virgin is fully Spouse and Mother. The testimony of Thérèse on this point is joined to that of so many other women saints and blesseds: Clare of Assisi, Catherine of Siena, Gemma Galgani, Dina Belanger, Faustina Kowalska, etc…
In one of her last Letters to her sister Céline, Thérèse expresses symbolically this fullness of the Spousal Love of the Crucified: “Often, like the spouse, we can say: ‘Our Beloved is a bundle of myrrh,’ that He is a Spouse of blood for us” (LT 165). (20) These two expressions come from the Scriptures. “Spouse of Blood” comes from Exodus 4:25. The other expression, the “bundle of myrrh” comes from the Song of Songs, (21) according to the Vulgate translation, when the Spouse says: “My Beloved is for me a bundle of myrrh that lies in my bosom” (Song 1:13). Thérèse loved this verse in an altogether special way; she welcomed it from the time of her novitiate and received it in its Marian context. (22) Actually, this verse of the Canticle was one of the antiphons of the office of the Compassion of Mary. It expresses in a privileged way the spousal relation with Jesus in his Passion, and especially with the Holy Face. The Carmelite concretizes this in a symbolic action, in constantly gazing on it in a very tiny image of the Holy Face framed by the words: “Make me Resemble you, Jesus” (Pri 11). (23) The “Bundle of Myrrh” is Jesus as the sorrowful Flower sweetly resting on the bosom and in the heart of his spouse. (24)
In his Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, John Paul II remarks precisely about how Thérèse “lived her agony in communion with the agony of Jesus.” In this regard he cites one of the words of the Carmelite in her Last Conversations: “Our Lord enjoyed all the delights of the Trinity when He was in the garden of Olives, and still His agony was none the less cruel. It’s a mystery, but I assure you that I understand something about it by what I’m experiencing myself.” (25) As all the saints, Thérèse holds very firmly to the doctrine of the beatific vision of the soul of Jesus during his entire earthly life, the unique privilege of the Redeemer. On the contrary, for Thérèse as for Mary, earthly life is a “pilgrimage of faith.” Thus, she says to Mary: “Mother, your sweet Child wants you to be the example/ Of the soul searching for Him in the night of faith” (PN 54/15). (26) This night attains its maximum darkness in the Passion of Jesus, when the hour of darkness comes. Then, the “night of faith” truly becomes the “kenosis of the faith.” This so strong expression, employed by John Paul II with regard to Mary at the foot of the Cross, sheds undoubtedly the greatest light on understanding the Marian depth of the Passion of Thérèse. (27) It is evidently not a matter of the collapse or of the loss of the faith, but, on the contrary of extremely tried and heroic faith. The Carmelite leaves us the unsettling narrative of this trial in the first pages of Manuscript C (5r-7v), (28) in designating it very precisely as the “trial against the faith” (31r). (29) Thérèse communes then intimately in the Mystery of Him who being without sin became sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (cf. II Cor. 5:21). Without ever consenting to a single fault against the faith, she sorrowfully carried the weight of the sin against the faith in being herself plunged in the darkness of modern atheism. Having become a sister of atheists, she intercedes for them with the greatest love and also with the greatest confidence concerning their salvation.
For Thérèse, then, as for Mary, “coredemption” means the greatest participation in the redemptive suffering of Jesus, in drinking the very bitter cup of his agony, in being willing to carry with Him the very sorrowful and dark weight of the sin of the world, in being willing to share the suffering of his soul and of his pierced heart.
By this “lived theology,” that of a woman of the Gospel who stays close to the Cross of Jesus with Mary the Immaculate Virgin, in the company of Mary Magdalene and of the other holy women, Thérèse helps us to better understand what chapter VIII of the Constitution Lumen Gentium affirms with regard to Mary’s cooperation in the work of our only Savior:
The predestination of the Blessed Virgin as Mother of God was associated with the Incarnation of the Divine Word: in the designs of divine Providence she was the gracious mother of the divine Redeemer here on earth, and above all others and in a singular way the generous associate and humble handmaid of the Lord. She conceived, brought forth, and nourished Christ. She presented him to the Father in the temple, shared her Son’s sufferings as he died on the cross. Thus, in a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the work of the Savior in restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a Mother to us in the order of grace. (30)
The Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, associating herself with his sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim which was born of her. (31)
Fr. Léthel is a Professor of Theology at the Teresianum in Rome, the author of many spiritual and Mariological works, and is a theological consultor to the Holy See. This article was originally published in Mary at the Foot of the Cross II: Acts of the International Symposium on Marian Coredemption, Academy of the Immaculate, 2002.
(1) Cf. my recent study: “La teologia dell’Amore di Cristo nella Lettera Apostolica Novo Millennio Ineunte” (Rome: Edizioni del Teresianum, 2001). All of my own theological research is contained in the great perspective of this Apostolic Letter. Cf. in particular my thesis: Connaître l’Amour du Christ qui surpasse toute connaissance. La théologie des saints (Venasque: Editions du Carmel, 1989). It is in the same light of the theology of the saints that I have endeavored to present the doctrine of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and of Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort in my last two books: L’Amour de Jesus. La christologie de sainte Thérèse de l’Enfant-Jesus (Paris: Desclée, col. “Jesus et Jesus-Christ,” n. 72, 1997) and L’Amour de Jesus en Marie(Geneva: Editions Ad Solem, 2000).
(2) Here it is appropriate to note that the name of Mother signifies the unique relation to the Person of the Son, while the name of Spouse signifies the relation with the entire Trinity (and thus with one or the other of the Persons by appropriation). Hence Bérulle calls Mary “Spouse of the Father,” because they have in common the same Son: “Daughter and Spouse of the Father, Mother and servant of the Son and sanctuary of the Holy Spirit” (Troisième Elévation). Saint Francis of Assisi calls her “Spouse of the Spirit”: “Daughter and servant of the Most High and Sovereign Heavenly Father, Mother of our most Holy Lord Jesus Christ, Spouse of the Holy Spirit” (Antiphon of the Psalms of the Mystery of Jesus). This title of Spouse of the Holy Spirit is the most classic, taken up in particular by Saint Louis-Marie de Montfort, by Paul VI (Marialis Cultus #26) and by John Paul II (Redemptoris Mater #26). It could be said that Mary is the Spouse of her Son, without there being any impropriety. Just as the Church is the Mother of Jesus with Mary, so also Mary is the Spouse of Jesus with the Church. The all-beautiful Spouse of the Song of Songs is inseparably Mary and the Church. The Marian interpretation of the Song of Songs, which is traditional, identifies Mary with the Spouse of Christ, which is theologically exact, since Mary is the perfect image of the Church, the Spouse of Jesus without spot or blemish. One must remember in this regard that if the Name of the Son expresses the property of a Divine Person, the Name of Spouse is in reality common to the entire Trinity. In God, there is eternally a Father and a Son, and not a Husband and a Wife.
The divine name of Spouse, which characterizes the relation between God and the creature as a relation of Love, can also be legitimately appropriated to each of the three Persons. It is especially appropriated to the Son because of the Incarnation, but it can justly be appropriated to the Father and to the Spirit, for truly, the three Persons are only one Spouse, and not three Spouses. The Trinitarian communion is always virginal; it is the source of unprecedented divine-human relations, radically new by comparison with simple, natural human relations. Thus, for Saint Francis, every person who lives in charity is at the same time spouse and sister and mother of Jesus, so that Jesus is truly his Spouse and his Brother and his Child (Letter to the faithful, first version), such an expression, which Saint Clare applies most particularly to a woman who is a consecrated virgin (first Letter to Agnes of Prague), applies eminently to Mary. One can still add that for Saint Francis, the title of Spouse of the Holy Spirit is not reserved to Mary; he also applies it to Clare and to her sisters, when he writes to them: “you have espoused the Holy Spirit in choosing to live according to the perfection of the holy Gospel” (Form of Life, to Saint Clare). Here again, the lived theology of the saints sheds a living light on the mystery of the virginal “Bridehood” and Motherhood of Mary and of the Church.
(3) Here it is appropriate to quote what Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort wrote in his Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin: “With the whole Church I acknowledge that Mary, being a mere creature fashioned by the hands of God is, compared to his infinite majesty, less than an atom, or rather is simply nothing, since he alone can say, ‘I am he who is.’ Consequently, this great Lord, who is ever independent and self-sufficient, never had and does not now have any absolute need of the Blessed Virgin for the accomplishment of his will and the manifestation of his glory. To do things he has only to will them. However, I declare that, considering things as they are, because God has decided to begin and accomplish his greatest works through the Blessed Virgin ever since he created her, we can safely believe that he will not change his plan in the time to come, for he is God and therefore does not change in his thoughts or his way of acting” (True Devotion, henceforth TD, 14-15). The same teaching is again summarized in an even clearer fashion: “Being necessary to God by a necessity which is called ‘hypothetical,’ (that is, because God so willed it), the Blessed Virgin is all the more necessary for men to attain their final end” (TD 39). Saint Louis-Marie, who is one of the essential sources of the christocentrism of John Paul II, should soon be proclaimed a Doctor of the Church.
(4) Cf. Ms B, 3v; PN 54/18. We cite these texts of Thérèse as they are cited in the critical edition: Thérèse of Lisieux: Oeuvres Complètes (Paris: Editions du Cerf, 1992). We utilize these abbreviations: Ms to designate the three Autobiographical Manuscripts (A, B, C), LT for the Letters, PN for the Poems, RP for the Pious Recreations and Pri for the Prayers.
(5) Thérèse often utilizes the symbol of the lyre (or of the harp) to symbolize the human heart, created by the God of Love in his image and likeness, made to love and to be loved. The writings of the Carmelite reveal how, like this marvelous musical instrument, the human heart is comprised of four strings (like the violin). In the feminine heart of our saint, these four strings are the essential dimensions of the Love which makes her live: the Love of the Spouse and of the Mother, of the Child and of the Sister, Spousal and Maternal, Filial and Fraternal Love. This is a matter of the most profound anthropological truth, for every woman has the heart of a spouse and mother, of a child and of a sister, as every man has the heart of a spouse and of a father, of a child and of a brother. Every human being is called to love God and his neighbor with his whole heart, whether in the vocation of marriage or of consecrated virginity. Thérèse is a (woman) who has fully blossomed in the Love of Jesus the God-Man and of all of mankind in Him. As a consecrated virgin, she is an exemplary witness of the splendor of virginal Love, a love at the same time divine and human which is the most marvelous achievement of the human heart, this Love which was lived totally by Jesus, the New Adam, and by Mary, the New Eve.
(6) Ms A 45v. English translation Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux trans. John Clarke, O.C.D., third edition (Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1996) 99.
(7) This image is reproduced in the Oeuvres Complètes between pages 128 and 129.
(8) Letters 61, 163.
(9) In another passage in Manuscript A, Thérèse compares herself to Magdalene declaring that: “Jesus has forgiven me more than St. Mary Magdalene, since he forgave me in advance by preventing me from falling” (Ms A 38v; Story of a Soul 83). Here again, we find the “implicit mariology” of Thérèse. What is relatively true for her is absolutely true for Mary in the Mystery of her Immaculate Conception. Still more than Thérèse, the Immaculate has been the object of the Merciful Love of the Redeemer as anticipating Love. She alone was redeemed in such a way that the obstacle of sin was never present in her life, not even at the first moment.
(10) Story of a Soul 99.
(11) Story of a Soul 100.
(12) Ms A 46v. Story of a Soul 100-101.
(13) Pri 6. The Prayers of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux trans. Aletheia Kane, O.C.D. (Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1997) 58. In this case I have chosen to render a more literal translation.
(14) Pri 2. Prayers 38.
(15) English translation: The Poetry of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux trans. Donald Kinney, O.C.D. (Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1996) 128, strophe 20.
(16) Poetry 128.
(17) Song 5:2. It is in this translation which Thérèse cites this verse for the first time during her novitiate (LT 108; English translation: Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: General Correspondence, Vol. 1 (1877-1890) trans. John Clarke, O.C.D., (Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1982) 630). The same text will be cited in LT 158 (Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: General Correspondence, Vol. 2 (1890-1897) trans. John Clarke, O.C.D., (Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1988) 843) et Pri 12 (Prayers 91). Henceforth referred to as General Correspondence, will be cited as GC.
(18) In the same sense, Thérèse speaks of “wine giving birth to virgins” (Zee. 9:17) (LT 156 (GC2:838); LT 183 (GC2:933); RP 2,7v).
(19) Cf. Pascal who has Jesus say: “I thought of you in my Agony” (Pensées. Le Mystère de Jésus).
(20) GC 2:862.
(21) On the theresian interpretation of this expression, I refer the reader to my book on the Christology of Thérèse (p. 217-234).
(22) She cites it for the first time in LT108 (GC1:632).
(23) Prayers 89.
(24) Cf. also LT 144 (GC2:804).
(25) Novo Millennio Ineunte, 27, citing the Carnet Jaune, under the date of 6 July 1897 (English translation: Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: Last Conversations trans. John Clarke, O.C.D. (Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1977) 75).
(26) Poetry 218.
(27) Redemptoris Mater, l8. Cf. the very beautiful thesis of P. Joseph Nguyen Thuong:
La “kenose de la foi” de sainte Thérèse de Lisieux, lumière pour présenter l’Evangile aux incroyants d’aujourd’hui (Rome: Teresianum, 2001).
(28) Story of a Soul 210-214.
(29) Story of a Soul 250.
(30) Lumen Gentium, 61. English translation from Austin Flannery, O.P., ed., Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1975) 418.
(31) Lumen Gentium, 58