Friday, September 07, 2012

Tiber River Review: The Truth About Therese

A saint who died when she was only about half my age? Who spent 1/3 of her life behind convent walls? How could such a saint possibly inspire anyone whose path in life had taken a very different turn?

While the title and subtitle of this book, The Truth about Therese: An Unflinching Look at Lisieux, the Little Flower, and the Little Way suggest a more "unauthorized biography" feel, that's not what author Henri Gheon achieves in this short biography of St. Therese of Lisieux. Instead, he writes of the many difficulties she endured, even after she achieved her dream of becoming a Carmelite at a very young age.

My favorite chapter of this book was the first one, "My Initial Resistance to St. Therese," because I have felt the same resistance. I was more captivated by this saint as a teenager; the older I have become, the more distant I have felt from her. But this book, especially in the later chapters, does much to bring out the spiritual battles that St. Therese fought throughout her life. While my battles are surely different, there is much that I can learn from St. Therese's actions and attitudes about how to endure such spiritual warfare.

Through this book, I learned that St. Therese was more than a spoiled child, more than a goody-goody; I learned of her Little Way and how it can be put into practice. Most importantly, I learned that sainthood doesn't come easy to anyone--but that's no reason to stop striving for it.

The foreward by Philippe Maxence is short but not to be missed.

Perhaps because it was translated from the French, and surely because it was originally written in 1934, this book is not an easy read. Vocabulary, sentence structure and turn of phrase are challenging to the reader.

The fine print:  I wrote this review of The Truth About Therese for the free Catholic book review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.
Aquinas and More is the largest on-line Catholic bookstore.
I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River. 

4 comments:

scmom (Barbara) said...

Thanks for the review. It is a topic that interests me for certain, but I'm not sure I am up for a challenge.

A Secular Franciscan said...

Good review.

I never quite warmed up to Therese - a condition I have yet to overcome. But so many people I respect speak so highly of her that I keep going back to check her out. Maybe it's just that her style of spirituality does not suit my needs and nature, or maybe it's that I'm not spiritually mature enough yet.

Barb, ofs said...

To my Secular Franciscan friend: I always wanted to like her. I'm not there yet, maybe I never will be. But the book helped me to know her better.
Maybe that's what the whole Communion of Saints is all about. You can always find one to whom you can relate in a particular season or circumstance. Not every saint is for every person, and that's OK!

Rick Biehle said...

St. Therese's absolute love for God even to the point of resolving to suffer the fires of hell if that would serve to the glory of God is a very intense look into all souls. Her acceptance and struggles during her condition speaks to all of us when we are faced with adversity and or sicknesses that arent healed. St. Therese the little flower does indeed have much to teach us