St. Thérèse of Lisieux, whom I’d never heard of but who apparently ranks with St. Francis of Assisi in popularity among Catholics. Merton writes that she was “the greatest saint there has been in the Church for three hundred years–even greater, in some respects, than the two tremendous reformers of her [Carmelite] Order, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila.”
In going back through The Seven Storey Mountain to see the pages I’d marked while reading, I came to Merton’s comments about St. Thérèse today, September 30. She died of tuberculosis, age 24, in 1897, on September 30. Tomorrow, October 1, is her feast day.
Only Lourdes is visited by more pilgrims than the church dedicated to St. Thérèse at Lisieux, in Normandy.
On p. 458, Merton writes: “…in practice,…there is only one vocation. Whether you teach or live in the cloister or nurse the sick, whether you are in religion or out of it, married or single, no matter who you are or what you are, you are called to the summit of perfection: you are called to a deep interior life perhaps even to mystical prayer, and to pass the fruits of your contemplation on to others. And if you cannot do so by word, then by example.”