Skip to main content

A Little Flower

I have to admit, I was a little timid upon receiving this book from Paraclete Press for review. (Thanks to Paraclete Press for the review copy.) My timidity was due partly to the fact that many Protestants like me are not used to the idea of nuns, monks, monasteries and the like. Reading some of the Christian mystics in seminary and more through the Paraclete program, I was excited to read The Story of a Soul by Therese of Lisieux. First of all, the the translation by Robert Edmonson is a beautifully rendered account from the original French. I thought the story of Therese's life was extraordinary for the simple fact that she was so devoted at such an early life to God, and it showed in her writing. Early on at boarding school, Therese writes, "I had written to the good Fr. Pichon to commend myself to his prayers, telling him that soon I would be a Carmelite nun and then he would be my spiritual director. That is in fact what happened four years later..." (75). Here letter to Fr. Pichon came at the ripe age of 11, knowing that her destiny was to be a Carmelite nun.




Yet, as you begin to read through the pages of The Story of a Soul, you find a young woman who enters into the struggle of everyday life and its temptations. Therese awoke one morning during the Easter weekend vomiting blood and having sores from her lips. We know that she died at age 24 of tuberculosis. Yet, here struggles with coughing blood did not expell her faith and desire for heaven. She says during this time of physical struggle, "Never had the austerities of Carmel seemed to me as delightful. The hope of going to heaven transported me with gladness" (227). It was as if the more she suffered physically, the greater her whole body desired heaven. She says at one point in the chapter The Test of Faith that, "Dear Mother, I'm very far from practicing what I understand, but the very desire that I have to do so gives me peace" (247). This comment is made after her inward discussion about the vow of poverty she has taken and the way we see goods. The frank reality of living in a Carmelite nunnery does not rid a person of temptation and greed and that is what shows up in her writing, that Therese was prone to wonder also.



The best part of the book for me was the last section on 'Those Whom You Have Given Me' dealing with Therese's oversight of the novitiates. In teaching others, Therese learned that it is impossible to treat everyone the same in regards to criticism and correction. Some nuns need firmness while others need correction through a shared experience. This type of wisdom is beneficial for all relationships. Therese learned that the humility causes us to see our faults first and begin to show correction for the purpose of seeing others grow closer to God. Therese goes on in this section to talk about prayer. In some extraordinary words she says,"Therefore, how great is the power of prayer! It's like a queen's having constant free access to the kind and being able to obtain all that she asks" (264). We might say that we do not always receive what we pray for, but the intent of her heart is correct. Prayer is and should be a connection, a relationship to God in a manner that is free and unburdened by outside influence.



I think this book is a good window into the heart and soul of a Therese of Lisieux. She devotes much time to her childhood, to the way she feels about her sisters and her devotion to God. The only drawbacks I saw from the book is an overemphasis on the role of Mary in her life (this is partly due to me being a Christian). Secondly, I thought at times she could have been more introspective about her own sin, what caused her to falter. By doing this, we would only get a more honest and realistic picture of nun in the midst of others nuns. Yet, I thought the book was meant to lay out to its readers a picture of a woman devoted to God in service and praise.

Thanks to Paraclete Press for the review copy.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder
Misperceptions, misconnections, and missed observations are just some of the issues that Timothy Snyder raises in his book, Black Earth, concerning the Holocaust.  Snyder, no stranger to the frontlines of scholarship on the Holocaust, with his previous book Bloodlands, that concerns the land from Hitler to Stalin, takes a look at the Holocaust from new sources and new avenues of thought.  How did some nation-states survive relatively unscathed from Nazi persecution while others, notably Jewish populations, succumb to a wave of killings?  Also, what was the role of the Soviet Union in the war and how did Stalin effect changes in the Final Solution?  These questions are only two of the many that Snyder answers in his detailed account of the Holocaust.
One of the best chapters was entitled The Auschwitz Paradox.  Generally when the public thinks about the Holocaust, we think of Auschwitz first or at the top of our mental m…

the great spiritual migration

The Great Spiritual Migration by Brian D McLaren

Brian McLaren and his own pithy way brings to the foreground and emphasis on a new kind of Christianity. The kind of faith that Brian envisions is a kind of migration not been set in the bedrock of beliefs that is unmoving but rather shifting with both culture and with faith. His new book the great spiritual migration is exactly that, a pointed work that encapsulates a vision towards the future where Christianity is changing and its peoples lives are changed as well.

Brian states in the introduction, "but we also know that for a lot of people Christianity is malfunctioning, seriously so, and it's not pretty. This kind of frustration with conventional Christianity is what McLaren gets gets to at the heart of this message is concerned with a number of different clusters unbelief. One, namely that Christianity has been stuck in a set of propositions or beliefs that has controlled churches in the faith, rather then a spirit of love t…

NKJV Study Bible by Thomas Nelson

NKJV Study Bible by Thomas Nelson Publishers
Growing up with the NIV, the NKJV was not a bible I was familiar with.  This new NKJV Study Bible takes all of the features of the Thomas Nelson Study Bible and makes them better.  Right out of the box I noticed that the Bible was considerably lighter than most study bibles I have read.  Further, the text font was much larger than most study editions, although I’m not quite sure of the size. The aquamarine color was a great touch and the Bible was finely put together, enduring the wear of many coming years of use.
Why is this Bible worth the purchase?  First, the study notes were great for extra handling of particular confusing and messy areas of Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments.  Yet, the study notes aren’t an obstruction to the reading of the biblical text.  Clearly, the editors have taken great care in making the text stand out and the notes illuminate certain themes and areas of Scripture.  Second, the NKJV takes into account all t…