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Our Little Saint Therese


“It is confidence and nothing but confidence that must lead us to Love.”


With these words, Pope Francis begins the Apostolic Exhortation, “C’EST LA CONFIANCE”, given this past week commemorating the 150th anniversary of the birth of St Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. We know her as The Little Flower of Jesus, or simply the Little Flower. Accompanied by Our Lady of Guadalupe, St Therese is co-patroness of our Pueblo Diocese, where we follow Jesus according to The Little Way, which is the little path of spiritual simplicity and surrender to God. It is always one little step at a time, with eyes, minds, and hearts on Jesus.


St Therese is universally known and loved by Catholics, Christians of all denominations, non-Christians, and nonbelievers as well. Not realizing she was the favorite saint of Pope Francis, I once presented him with a portrait of St Therese, signed by students of our Colorado Catholic schools. For a moment, time stood still, and tears came to his eyes. He has a roomful of objects d’ St Therese, and I bet our Colorado gift has a home there. She is, in fact, the greatest saint of modern times, the saint of the Little Way of Love.


"She is, in fact, the greatest saint of modern times, the saint of the Little Way of Love."

This all comes down to her relationship with Jesus. As Pope Francis writes, “The name of Jesus was constantly on her lips, as an act of love, even to her last breath. She had also written these words: ‘Jesus is my one love’. It was her interpretation of the supreme statement of the New Testament: ‘God is love.’ (1 Jn 4:8.16).


As a small child, Therese dreamed of becoming a great missionary, teacher, or spiritual leader. She traveled as a child of 15 from Lisieux to Rome, to petition the Pope to join the Carmelite Order of Religious Sisters. She was informed to wait one more year, and upon being accepted, her physical limitations began to surface (she was to die at 24 of tuberculosis). Through great trials Therese accepted that she was being called to a different sort of mission. She chose to embrace All, all that God gave her, good or bad with no judgement or conditions, in love; and the mystical grace through which this littlest of vocations was given to her was the cross of Jesus. To love all people in all circumstances became her Little Way, and to do little things with extraordinary love was to be her joy.


"To love all people in all circumstances became her Little Way, and to do little things with extraordinary love was to be her joy."

This new vocation, The Little Way, was not an easy way. The designation of St Therese of the Child Jesus and Holy Face indicates that she knew Jesus, her true love, not only as the Infant born in Bethlehem, but as the Holy Face of God, the Face of Divine Mercy, which is Jesus crucified. She knew Jesus as the Divine Mercy in ways that cannot be fully described here, but which the reader may easily access in her poignant autobiography, Story of a Soul.

Finally, Therese became Love itself. In her last months of her life she expressed how her vocation to love would continue to grow after death. Eternally united with her true love, she would send down roses, flowers of love from heaven. Her intercession throughout our diocesan community, from Pueblo through Alamosa, Durango, Grand Junction, Gunnison, Lamar, and all parts between, is a hidden gift, growing in many little ways. As Pope Francis proclaimed, “It is confidence and nothing but confidence that leads us to love.” This is a love that we can trust, for it is built in faith and above all, confidence in God’s Divine Providence. Viva St Therese!

+Most Reverend Stephen J. Berg

Bishop of Pueblo


Photo by: Saints Alive Art Studio



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