Friday 15 March 2024

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux - Vernon Johnson - CTS Biographies

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
Vernon Johnson
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860821462
eISBN 9781784692643
CTS Booklet B204

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux - Vernon Johnson - CTS Biographies

I discovered the books and booklets of the Catholic Truth Society in 2018. Since that time I have read 380 different titles, and many of them more than once. This is one of several that focuses on Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. This volume was originally published as part of the CTS Great Saints Series, which is a subset of the CTS Biographies. The eBook edition still had the Great Saints cover but the print edition was rebranded. It is also one of several that I have read by Vernon Johnson. This booklet was first published in 1936, reprinted in 2012 and the eBook released in 2017. 

The descriptions of this volume is:

“Discover the inspiring story of one of the most beloved modern saints, St Thérèse of Lisieux, who lived with the sort of simplicity and “littleness” we are each called to imitate.

"I do not repent of having surrendered myself to love." Born in 1873 at Alencon in France, Marie Francoise Thérèse Martin died in 1897 aged 24 of tuberculosis at her Carmelite convent in Lisieux. She was canonised in record time, only 28 years after her death, and 100 years later John Paul II declared her a doctor of the Church. This authoritative life of Thérèse, a true classic, tells the story of one of Christ's little ones.”

This booklet is another excellent volume on this saint and it is part of a wonderful series and I can eaily recommend it. The chapters in the booklet are:

In the World
     Home and Infancy
     School Days
     First Communion
     Apostolic Zeal
     Forcing the Gates of Carmel
     In Rome
In Carmel
     Novitiate and Profession
     The Saint’s Spirituality
     Last Illness
     Last Months
In Heaven
     The Autobiography
     The Shower of Roses
     A World-Wide Devotion
     The Pilgrimage to Lisieux
     The Canonisation
     Proclaimed Doctor of the Church

I highlighted a few passages while reading this volume. I was surprised by how few but having now read a number of books about this saint maybe that makes sense. The ones I highlighted were:

“That little child was Marie Françoise Thérèse Martin, later to be raised to the Altars of the Church as St Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, and to be known more popularly as “the little Flower”.”

“She was the youngest of nine children. Four of them had died quite young, two of whom were little boys. Their death was a grievous disappointment to the parents, who from the first had always prayed that God would give them among their children one who should be a priest and a saint. Of the remaining four sisters, Marie was the eldest, and to her therefore was entrusted the care of little Thérèse in her earliest years. Quiet and reserved, unwavering in principle but with all the tenderness of a little mother, she laid the first foundations of the character of the future Saint.”

“But one thing was for ever altered for Thérèse, her mother was in heaven and heaven was her real home. Her home on earth was but a passing, broken thing. The mother she loved so dearly was in heaven.”

“It was during one of these evening walks that her father took Thérèse to pay a visit to the Blessed Sacrament in the Carmel chapel. “Look, little one”, he said, pointing to the grille, “behind there are the holy nuns who are always praying”. It was in that chapel nine years later that the little one was to take the veil.”

“Nothing reveals the failings of good people more than the close intimacy of life on a pilgrimage. Among the pilgrims were many priests. Edifying though they were, they were not wholly freed from every weakness of human nature. “During that month”, she says, “I met many holy priests, and I have seen that if their sublime dignity has raised them above the Angels, they are as men still subject to human weakness and frailty. If these holy priests, whom Jesus in the Gospel calls the salt of the earth, show that they have need of prayer, what of those who are lukewarm?” It was thus she realised that prayer for priests was one of the highest services rendered by Carmel.”

“Much of what we have been considering will of course appear trivial. Why make such a fuss over little things? And here we face the whole point. It is precisely this self-conquest, for it is nothing less than self-conquest, in little things which the world never realises, which is the real secret of sanctity in great things.”

“Thus she specially preferred doing things for others that were never known, watching for any little thing that had been left undone or needed to be done that had not been noticed, rejoicing to be able to do something for others that was never known and never seen.”

“And this is that little book which was written at odd moments, amid continual distractions, during exhausting illness, without any effort after literary style; written in a poor little copybook; the book which was put on one side for months and forgotten; the book the value of which she herself only realised at the very last when she said: “This work is very important. These pages will do a great deal of good”.”

This is a short biography but it is still packed full of great information. The more I read about Thérèse the more I appreciate her little way. This volume does an excellent job of presenting her life, and the impact of her witness after her death. 

This is one of at least three books that Mgr Vernon Johnson wrote about this saint. His deep devotion is evident. But also his clear that in this volume he is writing not a hagiography but looking at the message and teachings she has left to us. It is an excellent volume in a wonderful series. It is a great read and I highly recommend it. I am trying to track down some of the Out of print volumes from the CTS on Thérèse, but can easily recommend this little booklet.  

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2024 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

For reviews in the CTS Biographies Series Click here.
For reviews of other books about St Thérèse of Lisieux click here.

CTS Books and Booklets n the life and spirituality of St Thérèse:
Thérèse of Lisieux - On the visit of her relics to Great Britain (Do 810)
Thérèse, teacher of Prayer, by Bro Craig (D 693)
Louis and Zélie Martin, Parents of Thérèse of Lisieux, by Paulinus Redmond (B 709)

Books in the CTS Great Saints Series:
Antonio Rosmini - J.B. Midgley
Bernard of Clairvaux - J.B. Midgley
Benedict Patron of Europe - J.B. Midgley
Charles Borromeo - J.B. Midgley
Dominic - J.B. Midgley
Elizabeth of the Trinity The Great Carmelite Saint - Jennifer Moorcroft
Francis de Sales - J.B. Midgley
Gemma Galgani Gem of Christ John Paul Kirkham
George: Patron of England - J.B. Midgley
John Baptist de La Salle - J.B. Midgley
John of the Cross - Jennifer Moorcroft
John Vianney - J.B. Midgley
Louis Marie de Montfort His Life, Message and Teaching - Paul Allerton SMM
Martin de Porres - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
Patrick Missionary to the Irish - Thomas O’Loughlin 

St Thérèse of Lisieux: Transformation into Love - Jennifer Moorcroft - CTS Biographies

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux - Vernon Johnson - CTS Biographies

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux - Vernon Johnson - CTS Biographies

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux Prayers and Devotions - Donal Anthony Foley - CTS Devotions

Praying for Priests with St Therese of Lisieux - Maureen O'Riordan - CTS Devotions

The Little Way of St Therese of Lisieux: In Her Own Words

The Little Way of St Therese of Lisieux: In Her Own Words

The Little Way of St Therese of Lisieux: In Her Own Words

Thérèse Teacher of Prayer - Brother Craig

Seeing the Pandemic with Eyes of Faith - Father Ivano Millico - Seven Prophets for Our Time

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