Saint Therese. The Little Flower. Sending down showers of Roses from heaven.
And how utterly boring, insipid, and over the top this Saint seems. Who cries over every perceived insult, sensitive to every little thing, and then decides when she is 9 that she will enter a cloister? What young girl decides that talking to the Pope in a public audience is a good idea? She spends her entire life in the cloister, writes not much more than a journal, and dies at the age of 24.
She’s just, kind of… boring. And also, annoying– Where is the greatness that Sainthood demands?
Where was John Paul II coming from when he named her a Doctor of the Church– was there really that much to her?
She is so easy to dismiss…she’s just another nun. And then this great man, and great Saint, does this. Why?!
In his wisdom, John Paul II realized that most people aren’t called to be Popes, or found religious orders, or become missionaries. And yet, he knew each of us is called to holiness. In naming Saint Therese, this ‘boring’ Saint, a Doctor of the Church, he gave each of us a teacher for how our boring, everyday reality can become a path to holiness.
This truth is what John Paul II wanted to point out to the world when he named Saint Therese only the third Doctor of the Church. In doing so, he held up her example and her teaching as relevant to every modern Catholic person, no matter their station. We can all learn from her, he says; but sometimes it’s difficult to get past the…’floweriness’ of it all.
Fortunately, we don’t have to figure it all out on our own. With a new study guide, Endow is offering women a chance to truly get to know this great Saint. Acknowledging that many find Therese difficult (it’s not just me!), this study guide helps women to see how her somewhat over the top femininity deepens and strengthens her spirituality, helping both men and women to find a path to Sainthood.
Through diving into Therese’s writings as well as the papal document that declared her a Doctor of the Church, women from all walks of life can explore how the teaching and example of this Saint can transform their daily lives. The study highlights how John Paul II especially calls out Therese as a Doctor of the Church for three reasons: she was a woman, she was a contemplative, and she was young. He argues that these three reasons particularly suit her to be a teacher in our modern times– a bold claim for times that have rejected these qualities as worthwhile. But perhaps this is precisely the point; while modernity has rejected these qualities, it has also failed each of us in so many ways. And so Therese stands as an antidote for the poison found in much of our culture.
If this isn’t enough to intrigue you, consider Father Ronald Rolheiser’s characterization of Therese as the embodiment of “a plethora of contradictions”–the unpacking of which also happens in the Endow study. Considering the lessons of this child-teacher in the company of other women might just be the key to coming to understand how she can help you to achieve sanctity on your own ‘little way.’
To purchase the new study on St Therese, download chapter 1 for free, or start planning your 8-12 wek study group please check out this page! For more information on how to get an Endow group started, please click here.