on April 26, 2005
I was recommended "Story of a Soul" as the favorite book of a woman I much admired, who worked at a Carmelite monastery. Initially I wondered about the recommendation when I began the book. Therese of Lisieux lived a sheltered life. Her parents were financially secure and devoutly religious (they had to be encouraged by a priest to marry rather than to join a religious order, and later to consummate their marriage). Therese knew she wanted to be a nun from an extremely early age.
My first impression was to wonder why was this book recommended to me, when she has nothing in common with my life, at a time when I didn't known how I would pay the bills and was not sure what God wanted form me in terms of a vocation. True, her health was poor and she suffered the loss of her mother early in her life, so her life was not without sorrow. But she also seemed to have security, love, and an incredible sense of direction, which made me question what I could learn from her life, when these qualities were so missing in my own. Furthermore, I questioned whether some one who lived so holy a life, could be a realistic role model for me; as I have made some pretty unholy decisions in my past.
The book quickly grew on me and eradicated my concerns about it being an inaccessible guide for spirituality. The beauty of the writing is her approach to spirituality, which is accessible to any one in any walk of life. She describes souls as similar to different types of flowers. Some are roses, others lilies, and some like orchids, for example. And all can be equally pleasing to God in their own way, when seeking his role for them. People have different talents and different struggles, but these characteristics do not mean that any type is more valued than the other.
She writes that if the Christian Church is one body, than she wants to be the heart that loves, which I thought was a beautiful sentiment and a much needed philosophy in the world today. When I look on mistakes I've made in my own life, I realized that it is easiest to succumb to temptation when one feels alone and unloved, and I believe that people would make less such mistakes if they had the support of God's love through others. She writes frequently of the many ways that God is love. She believed that heaven for her would be to be able to help people on earth after she died. Many remarkable stories have been published in books about people who claim to have been helped when having asked Therese to pray for their needs. She is one of the most common saints that people claim to have seen an apparition of during their times of trouble.
She writes that any sacrifice in daily life can be offered to God, for the conversion of souls, or help of others, whether it is the suffering of an illness or loss, or the performance of a mundane daily chore. This is a practice also advocated by saints like Gertrude of Helfta, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, and Francis of Assisi, but it is a way of holy living that any one can practice, in any station of life, at any level of health. Therese also writes much about the prayer, and how her preferred method of praying rather than to memorize long formal prayers, is to speak directly to God as a child, or her struggles and requests.
The book is easy to read and intimate. One feels as if one is experiencing a conversation from Therese, while reading it. Excerpts beg to be read over and over again, and each reading makes me appreciate them more, and want to love others more. The only book that has made me fuller of love for God and others (outside of the Bible) is Catherine of Siena's "The Dialogues." Therese of Lisieux well earned her title as Doctor of the Church.
on December 4, 2002
St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower of Jesus, gave the world a precious gift in putting her life and mission to paper. It doesn't matter where you are in life - this little saint, a sheltered nun in her mere twenties, will touch your very heart and soul with her simplicity and honesty. As she pours out her innermost thoughts and longings on the pages, you will find your own heart opening in the same way to Jesus - just like a flower.
The spiritual depth of Therese's work is astounding. Her inspiring autobiography brought the greatest of popes to their knees. Such is the power of God working through even the humblest of vessels. This book will change you for the better, as it has thousands of other souls since its publication!
on August 7, 2004
I have read this book five times and have taken different spiritual aid from it each time. She is an awesome nun and her work is so profound. I have read about 20 books on St Therese of the child Jesus and the HOly Face(The little flower) and I pray to her on a daily basis. She is my inspiriation. In Her short life, she did little things with great love. She is cosidered the greatest saint of our times and on the centenary of her death in 1997 Pope John paul II made her the youngest female soctor of the church. She lived her life simply and had a great love of the Blessed Mother and Jesus. Upon her death, she said "I want to spend my heaven doing good upon the earth." Also she said, I will send down a shower of roses from heaven. I keep buying new copies of this book and loaning to people and never getting it back.
on January 30, 2005
Once in a while 'special' kinds of people come to inhabit the earth, living lives that are remarkably pious and outstanding. Therese Martin was one such person. This simple Carmelite nun presents her life in such detail that makes on wonder how blessed she was. Her life is infinitely beautiful; it is like a painting filled with beautiful colurs that one would want to stare at forever. Therese of the Child Jesus is a witness to the Gospel teaching that perfection is attainable here on earth if we try. As a person, she knew her Lord and Master very well and Jesus Christ did use her as an instrument of peace, perfection and simplicity.
Today's world is filled with unbelief, frustration, anger and selfishness. Yet, at the end of the nineteenth century, when the industrial revolution was at its peak in Europe, this lady lived a life so holy in practically total isolation in a convent. Nevertheless, her story radiates to all who seek to find it today. She is a testament to the fact that no matter how much knowledge or wealth we have in life, they are worth nothing without love.
A number of people have claimed that this book has helped change their direction in life. It is now wonder, for there are times when while reading it, one finds ones eyes filled with tears as a result of the beauty of the life of Therese. Please read this book, whether or not you are a Catholic. Its message is deeply spiritual and universal. The autobiography of Therese of the Child Jesus, presents the story of a simple and loving soul in simple language.
on September 21, 2003
I love this book. my grandma told me to read it while i was trying to decide what name I wanted to choose for my Confirmation. St. Therese led a simple and beautiful life. She never did anything amazing while on earth, she just loved everybody. I felt that i could actually use her as a role model. And i pray to her all the time.
on January 5, 2014
I purchased the paperback of this edition of the book some time ago and have read it many times. However, as an avid reader of eBooks, I found that the one book I wish I had with me in case I ever needed to visit an old friend is "Story of a Soul." Now ICS Publications has *finally* come out with an electronic version of my favorite spiritual book!
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux was a French nun who had very little in the way of spiritual writings and died at the young age of 24. Her life was filled with tragedies, such as losing her mother at a very young age, and losing her father to dementia after entering the Carmelite convent. However, her relationship with Christ began in her earliest childhood years, and by the time of her death had matured into a simple, yet profound friendship.
Her way of humble confidence, and littleness, is something that can help anyone grow in their spirituality and help them foster a deep and intimate love for Christ. This book also gives many practical solutions to everyday problems and solutions, such as dealing with struggles in prayer and in her challenges dealing with loss and grief.
As other reviewers have stated, this is the best and authoritative translation of this book, based on the unedited copies of the original writings of Thérèse. There are HUGE differences between versions of "Story of a Soul" - the common Public Domain English translations and this version. The quotes below are one example of a huge difference between the translations. The story of the Rosary is completely left out of the Common Translation, as is the added section about the Blessed Mother. This story about Mary and her Rosary has brought me so much consolation during my own struggles with the Rosary, and with really getting to know Mary as my mother, and I never would have known about these consoling teachings of Thérèse had I not read the translations by John Clarke.
COMMON TRANSLATION: (Available free online at: [...]
How wonderful is the power of prayer! It is like unto a queen, who, having free access to the king, obtains whatsoever she asks. In order to secure a hearing there is no need to recite set prayers composed for the occasion—were it so, I ought indeed to be pitied!
Apart from the Divine Office, which in spite of my unworthiness is a daily joy, I have not the courage to look through books for beautiful prayers. I only get a headache because of their number, and besides, one is more lovely than another. Unable therefore to say them all, and lost in choice, I do as children who have not learnt to read—I simply tell Our Lord all that I want, and He always understands.
With me prayer is an uplifting of the heart; a glance towards heaven; a cry of gratitude and love, uttered equally in sorrow and in joy. In a word, it is something noble, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites it to God. Sometimes when I am in such a state of spiritual dryness that not a single good thought occurs to me, I say very slowly the "Our Father" or the "Hail Mary," and these prayers suffice to take me out of myself, and wonderfully refresh me.
But what was I speaking of? Again I am lost in a maze of reflections. Forgive me, dear Mother, for wandering thus. My story is like a tangled skein, but I fear I can do no better. I write my thoughts as they come; I fish at random in the stream of my heart, and offer you all that I catch.
I was telling you about the novices. They often say: "You have an answer for everything. ...
JOHN CLARK TRANSLATION:
How great is the power of Prayer! One could call it a Queen who has at each instant free access to the King and who is able to obtain whatever she asks. To be heard it is not necessary to read from a book some beautiful formula composed for the occasion. If this were the case, alas, I would have to be pitied! Outside the Divine Office which I am very unworthy to recite, I do not have the courage to force myself to search out beautiful prayers in books. There are so many of them it really gives me a headache! and each prayer is more beautiful than the others. I cannot recite them all and not knowing which to choose, I do like children who do not know how to read, I say very simply to God what I wish to say, without composing beautiful sentences, and He always understands me. For me, prayer is an aspiration of the heart, it is a simple glance directed to heaven, it is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trial as well as joy; finally, it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus.
However, I would not want you to believe, dear Mother, that I recite without devotion the prayers said in common in the choir or the hermitages. On the contrary, I love very much these prayers in common, for Jesus has promised to be in the midst of those who gather together in His name. I feel then that the fervor of my Sisters makes up for my lack of fervor; but when alone (I am ashamed to admit it) the recitation of the rosary is more difficult for me than the wearing of an instrument of penance. I feel I have said this so poorly! I force myself in vain to meditate on the mysteries of the rosary; I don't succeed in fixing my mind on them. For a long time I was desolate about this lack of devotion which astonished me, for I love the Blessed Virgin so much that it should be easy for me to recite in her honor prayers which are so pleasing to her. Now I am less desolate; I think that the Queen of heaven, since she is my MOTHER, must see my good will and she is satisfied with it. Sometimes when my mind is in such aridity that it is impossible to draw forth one single thought to unite me with God, I very slowly recite an "Our Father" and then the angelic salutation ["Hail Mary, full of grace, etc.]; then these prayers give me great delight; they nourish my soul much more than if I had recited them precipitately a hundred times.
The Blessed Virgin shows me she is not displeased with me, for she never fails to protect me as soon as I invoke her. If some disturbance overtakes me, some embarrassment, I turn very quickly to her and as the most tender of Mothers she always takes care of my interests. How many times, when speaking to the novices, has it happened that I invoked her and felt the benefits of her motherly protection!
Often the novices say to me: "You have an answer for everything ...
on October 5, 2003
Rather than doing great deeds for God Saint Therese did little things with GREAT LOVE. One does not have to do great deeds like St. Francis Xavier, one can use everyday life as steps to holiness. All Christians should read this book. An easy read too.
on September 10, 2012
I have always heard of her and didn't know what to make of her. I read quotes here and there and didn't catch my attention much. Since I have begun reading her autobiography, I have been completely absorbed and taken by every words she writes and I feel like she is sitting in front of me like a bosom friend telling me her story in all purity, in all simplicity, in an extremely natural manner. Sometimes you read the Saints and you end up feeling they are way up there but not so with our beloved Thérèse who is every bit as human as she can be. I read a part of the book and I feel like I really miss her and I want to go back to her to hear her talking some more to me. Reading just excerpts of her quotes will not do her justice or help you know and meet the real Thérèse. You HAVE to read the Autobiography first and then you would hear her heartbeat in what she is saying in every word she is writing. Reading her I feel like I am getting a letter from a pen-pal living in France and sharing in full transparency how she really feels and what she longs for.
Since the Lord has called me to missionary work reaching out to Muslims, it delighted me to know that my little friend Thérèse also had real longing for proclaiming the Gospel in foreign lands, to the infidels, i.e. those who are still living in darkness and Christ has yet to open their eyes. I adore her missionary, evangelistic zeal. On p. 216 she talks about how since her entrance into the blessed ark, she has always thought that if Jesus did not bring her swiftly to heaven, her lot would be the same as that of Noah's little dove: the Lord would open window of the ark one day, telling Thérèse to fly very far, very far, towards infidel shores, carrying with her the little olive branch. Now, this is true evangelist at heart, and can she preach!
She often talks about realizing her vocation for the foreign missions. As a convert from Islam into Christianity, I had to leave my family and was exiled from my homeland, Egypt. I feel Thérèse can relate to my situation as she says in a child-like manner that He, i.e. Jesus, has given her the attraction for a complete exile (p.218). In her heart, she knew that she is not to make lodging here but her real home is, indeed, heaven. We leave our homelands, where we have had roots all along, and then for the sake of the cross we have to be pulled out of all this be called to a different kind of citizenship, to be a citizen of Heaven, my real home where my ultimate loyalty rests.
I loved her honesty as she, like some of us, struggled with concepts of faith and how she wondered if heaven was real. She was evidently intelligent and she struggled with the realness of some Christian concepts while she herself was full of heaven and her focus was heaven-ward all along. That is one thing I love about the saints: they are not ashamed to express struggles and doubts, and this helps us in many ways to relate to them and take them for close friends. Her littleness was the secret of her spiritual uniqueness and I believe she got her inspiration from the mouth of Eternal Wisdom speaking in the Holy Bible: "Whoever is a LITTLE ONE let him come to me" (Proverbs 9: 4).
What about people who aggravate us and keep giving us a hard time? Does Thérèse have something to say to us from her own experience? Well, she share that in her Community there was a Sister who had the faculty of displeasing her in everything, in her ways, in her words, her character, everything seemed disagreeable to her. Yet, despite all that, Thérèse insists, she must be very pleasing to God, and this should count for a lot. Everytime Thérèse met her she prayed to God for her, offering Him all her virtues and merits. Thérèse says: I felt this was pleasing to Jesus, for there is no artist who doesn't love to receive praise for his works, and Jesus the Artist of souls is happy when we don't stop at the exterior, but, penetrating into the inner sanctuary where He chooses to dwell, we admire its beauty. Whenever Thérèse was tempted to answer her back in a disagreeable manner, I was content with giving her the most friendly smile, and with changing the subject of the conversation as it says in the Imitation: It is better to love each one in his own opinion than to enter into arguments (The Imitation of Christ III, 44: 1). Finally this Sister got curious and one day at recreation she asked Thérèse in almost these words: "Would you tell me Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, what attracts you so much toward me; every time you look at me, I see you smile?" Thérèse explains that what attracted her was Jesus hidden in the depths of her soul; Jesus who makes sweet what is most bitter. Then she answered her that she was smiling because she was so happy to see her.
While we hope to do great things for the Lord and be "mightily used" by Him, as the cliché phrase goes, and we should give our best for the Lord and His work, Thérèse teaches us that she is just delighted to be a "little brush" in the hands of the great Artist (p. 235). The brush can't boast of the masterpiece produced with it. She explains: An artist doesn't use only one brush, but needs at least two; the first is the more useful and with it he applies the general tints and covers the canvas entirely in a very short time; the other, the smaller one, he uses for details. Then she tells her mother that she is the precious brush the hand of Jesus lovingly holds when He wishes to do a great work in the soul of her children while she, Thérèse, is the very small brush He deigns to use afterward for the smallest details.
I will always fondly remember her, she who was a soul winner, and believed in her effective role as a Christian in praying people into the Kingdom. Her intercessory prayers never go in vain. She believed in a God who draws all people to Himself and we are actively involved in His work and she could boldly pray as Jesus pray and see her role in the mission of the Father.
Many a friend of mine who have told me how she has impacted them greatly in the beginning of their monastic vocation and she is so indispensable to their spiritual growth. What sheer joy and sheer delight!!
on June 29, 2006
As a child I have heard of St. Therese but have never known her life and why she is so popular. I even went to a church dedicated to her. I was familiar with her image, a young nun carrying a bouquet of roses and a crucifix. This book was recommended to me by a friend and what a great introduction this was to a great saint. Here we have her life and her thoughts in her own words. It's really a wonderful experience to read it, it's like having a conversation with St. Therese. Everytime I open it's like meeting a friend for a chat. This book have made me a devotee of this great saint. Sometimes it's a little bit hard to read, you have to watch out for the notes below, they are very helpful in understanding what she is trying to say. Indeed a great way to get to know St. Therese personally.....
on January 27, 2001
God should be praised by allowing this Saint's autobiography to be published and to inspirational. This story, an account of St. Therese of Lisieux's life from what she remembers, is extraordinary. I have read many biographies, but none have been interesting and inspirational at the same time like this one is. Her stories of past faults brings comfort to those overwhelmed by sins they have committed, for it shows us that even the greatest of Saints are still sinners, and the lowliest of all in their own eyes. I suggest this book to all looking for consolation and a great read.