Therese of Lisieux's Act of Oblation

Dan Graves, MSL

Therese of Lisieux's Act of Oblation

"Christ longs for our comfort." This was an essential idea of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Christ suffered so much for us longs to be comforted by us. To comfort him means to compensate him for evil, to do our best to make up for the pain he bore, to convert blasphemers into believers. It is to love and embrace Christ above all things.

After Thérèse died of tuberculosis, her sister nuns found a little document in the New Testament which she always carried near her heart. It was an act of oblation, a complete dedication of herself to Christ for life. In her autobiography Thérèse admitted that she longed for martyrdom, for heroic acts, to be a great preacher. Instead the Lord demanded of her love, a love which showed itself in every action and word of every day. "...Through love alone we can become pleasing to God . . . Jesus does not look for words, only for gratitude and self-surrender ... This is all our Lord claims of us. He needs our love; he has no need of our works."

This date, June 9th, 1895, was the day of Thérèse 's Act of Oblation. She shared it with only two people while she lived. The paper in her Testament confirmed it. An oblation is "something offered in worship or devotion; a holy gift offered usually at an altar or shrine." Men spurn God's love. What if a soul offered itself like an huge chasm to receive God's love? She offered her soul to him, well aware that this would entail great suffering, for who could withstand the immensity of God's love in its fullness?

A few days later she was pierced by a ray of fire so burning that she thought she was going to die. Yet it was inexpressibly sweet. "I burned with love and felt that one more minute, one more second, and I would be unable to bear this fire without dying ... I have experienced it only this once and for a single moment; then I quickly fell back into my usual aridity."

"Do not think that I am overwhelmed with consolations. Far from it! My joy consists in being deprived of all joy here on earth. Jesus does not guide me openly. I neither see nor hear him ... Yet at times I am consoled by some chance words ... "

Every act was to be an act of love. She renounced herself in the little things of life. Under expressions of cheerfulness and a ready smile she hid much small misery, for she suffered cruelly the privations of being a Carmelite nun, especially the cold of winter. Not until after she died did the sisters discover she was anything but happy. She was much in prayer, for if she could not be a hero, she could pray for those who were in the thick of things. She felt her mind and soul were empty, of little value, and yet Jesus delighted to fill and use her. Many found her counsels encouraging. After her death the usual fifty year wait was waived and she was canonized in only 28 years.

Bibliography:

  1. Donovan, Edith. "Thérèse of Lisieux, St." The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton, 1914.
  2. "Teresa of Lisieux, St." The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Edited by F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone. Oxford, 1997.
  3. Thérèse of Lisieux. Autobiography of a Saint. Translated by Ronald Knox. Harper-Collins, 1960, 1958.
  4. Various encyclopedia and internet articles.

Last updated April, 2007.

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