To save souls

One Sunday in July of 1887, towards the end of Mass in the Cathedral of Saint Peter, Thérèse received the eucharistic grace of her mission.

As she closed her missal, she was captivated by a picture of the crucified Christ which slipped out from among the pages :

“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. As yet, it was not the souls of priests that attracted me, but those of great sinners ; I burned with the desire to snatch them from the eternal flames…”(Manuscript A, 45v)

Her mission at the Carmelite Convent

In order to be also a missionary, Thérèse felt called to the Carmelite Convent to follow in the footsteps of her “Mother”, Saint Theresa of Avila, through the gift of her life and through prayer which goes beyond all boundaries. Like her Spanish Mother, “she wished to give one thousand lives in order to save one soul”.

When she entered the Carmelite Convent, she declared :

“I have come to save souls and above all to pray for priests”

“To love Jesus and to make him loved” became more and more the goal of her entire life.

She was delighted when she was granted two spiritual brothers whom she was to help in their ministry by prayer and sacrifice :

Father Maurice Bellière, a seminarian aged 21 years, asked for the help of a Carmelite Sister to sustain him in his vocation. He was ordained a White Father and departed for Nyassaland (Malawi today). He returned to France and was admitted to the Bon Sauveur Hospital at Caen where he died in 1907 at the age of 33 years. Thérèse helped him a lot through her correspondence. She wrote him 11 important letters.

Father Adolphe Roulland of the Paris Foreign Missions, left for Su-Tchuen in China, from where he also corresponded with Thérèse. Before leaving, he had celebrated a First Mass at the Carmelite Convent in Lisieux and had a conversation with his “sister”. She wrote him six letters. He died in France in 1934.

Both priests helped Thérèse to widen her horizons of the world. Even though she was sick, “she saw herself as a missionary”.

Her “infinite desires” which caused her to suffer during prayer, pushed her to want to : travel over the whole earth … to preach the gospel on all five continents simultaneously and even to the remotest isles … I would be a missionary, not for a few years only but from the beginning of creation until the consummation of the ages … (Ms B, 3r)

Her Mission in Heaven

Her desire to be a missionary further intensified as she lay on her sick-bed and she looked forward to being an even greater missionary after her death :

“I do not intend to remain inactive in Heaven, my desire is to continue working for the Church and for souls. It is what I ask of God and I am certain he will grant it.” (LT 254)

“I feel that my mission is about to begin, my mission of making others love God as I love him, my mission of teaching my little way to souls.” (JEV 85)

“I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth until the end of time.” (JEV, 85)