180. Everything Is Grace: The Life and Way of Therese of Lisieux

Everything Is Grace: The Life and Way of Therese of Lisieux by Joseph F. Schmidt, FSC. Forward by Most Rev. Patrick V. Ahern. (Canada) - (US)

Pages: 330 + bib.&index
Ages: 18+
Finished: Aug. 13, 2011
First Published: 2007
Publisher: The Word Among Us Press
Genre: Catholic, non-fiction, biography, Saints, theology
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

The spirituality that St. Therese of Lisieux lived and taught is nothing other than the very heart of the gospel made convincing and accessible to modern people.

Acquired: Purchased a new copy through an online retailer.

Reason for Reading: After having read Story of a Soul, my priest (who is a Carmelite) recommended I read a book *about* her next to get a deeper understanding of Therese within the framework of her times.

This book is a biography of St. Therese's life starting with the background of her parents and how they met and married and ending with an Epilogue which tells us what happened to her other biological sisters and when they died.  But the core of the book is not really to tell Therese's life story but to tell her spiritual story.  How she was blessed by the Spirit at such an early age, 3, and from then how her spirituality grew.  It describes her inner turmoils as she realizes certain faults within herself and sets to correct them each as they appear to her as such, as early on, she struggled with self recognition.  Therese grew up in a time when the world focused much on the wrath off God and a God who punished those who strayed from the path.  Therese herself could not find this God in the Gospel and she truly followed the words of Jesus and though very difficult for herself, put them into action in everything she tried to do.  Therese realized that she, herself, was only one small person, one who would not do grand things but she also believed this was how God had created her, and many others as well.  It was from this that her "Little Way" of living life according to the Gospel came about.

This book is a slow read.  It is a font of information on Therese, the Carmelites (at that time), the practice of the Faith in that era, etc.  It is also a fantastic insight into how Therese's teachings actually impacted the Church and how we can practice the faith of love according to Jesus now.  One impact Therese had was that in her time Communion was not a regular occurrence, she saw how Jesus had intended this grace to be available to us much more frequently and she wrote much about wanting to receive daily Communion.  The book backs up everything with many, many quotes from various source materials: all of Therese's writings including Story of a Soul, her letters, poems and plays.  Along with her own written material included is quotes from published memoirs of her sisters and others who had known her in her lifetime and other authoritative books about her, her teachings and her relationships.  A very full, complete book.  One thing I particularly liked is that the book starts with a Part One which in approximately 50 pages attempts to sum up the teachings of St. Therese, why they should be followed, how they are a wonderful way to live life according to the Gospels and how she became canonized and eventually made a doctor of the church.

This book is perfect for anyone who want to know more about St. Therese herself and her "Little Way".  It will also be helpful to those who have read Story of a Soul and come away thinking it is very simplistic.  Therese had a wiseness way beyond her years and yet expressed herself as any innocent young 20-odd year old would and this book looks deep inside her simple words.  A wonderfully spiritually satisfying read.


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