At the time of closing this World Day in France, I make a point of evoking the high figure of St Thérèse of Lisieux, who entered the Life here a hundred years ago. This young Carmelite nun was wholly seized by the Love of God. She radically lived the offering of herself in response to the Love of God. In the simplicity of everyday life she could also practise brotherly love. With the imitation of Jesus, she agreed to sit down « at the table of the sinners », her « brothers », so that they are purified by the love, because it was animated by the burning desire to see in all enlightened men the « of the luminous torch of the faith. » (Ms C, 6r°).
Thérèse knew the suffering in her body and the test of her faith. But she remained faithful because, in her great spiritual insight, she knew that God was right and merciful ; she knew that the Love is received more from God than it is not given by man. Until the end of the night, she put her hope in Jesus, the suffering Servant who gave his life for mankind. (cf. Is 53,12).
The book of the Gospels never left Thérèse (cf Letter 193). It penetrates the message with an extraordinary surety of judgement. She understands that in the life of God, Father, Son and Spirit, « love and truth meet » (PS 85/84,11). In a few years, she traverses « a race of giant » (ms A, 44°v). She discovers that her vocation is to be love itself in the heart of the Church. Thérèse, humble and poor, traced the « small way » of the children who rely on the Father with a « daring confidence ».
The teaching of Thérèse, true science of love, is the luminous expression of her knowledge of the mystery of Christ and of her personal experience of grace ; helps the men and the women of today, and she will help those of tomorrow, to better perceive the gifts of God and spread the Good News of his infinite Love.
Carmelite nun and apostle, spiritual mistress of wisdom to many consecrated people or laity, patroness of the missions, St Thérèse occupies a place of choice in the Church. Her eminent doctrines deserve to be recognized.
Answering many requests, and after careful study, I have the joy of announcing that, on Mission Sunday, October 19, 1997, in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, I will proclaim St Thérèse of the Child-Jesus and the Holy Face a Doctor of the Church.
I have made a point of announcing this act publicly and solemnly here, because the message of St Thérèse, holy, young and present in our time, is appropriate to you particularly, to you young people : at the school of the Gospel, it opens the way of Christian maturity to you ; it calls you with an infinite generosity ; it invites you to remain in the « heart » of the Church as disciples and burning witnesses of the charity of Christ.