Summary of St. Therese: A Treasured Love Story by Fulton Sheen

Fulton Sheen gave 11 conferences on St. Therese to a Carmelite community in Ireland in 1973. These talks were later translated into this book. I have summarized them into the following 4 points.

1: St. Therese’s “Little Way” of Perfection

St. Therese has given us a very simple way to become a saint today. It’s living the life that you are living now, only making it holy. You sacramentalize everything. You struggle for perfection in all things.

“There is not need of anyone wearing a hair shirt. Our neighbours are hair shirts! Life is a hair shirt!” (56)

The one thing that interested the Little Flower was being perfect. After her incident of wanting all the dolls, she said: “This became the rule of my life. I wanted everything. I wanted to be perfect. I wanted to be God’s.” Pray now to the Little Flower to not be ordinary.

“One of the nuns in the convent was old Sr. Peter. She was in her eighties. Shew as arthritic. She was cross. She was in great pain and always had to go to the refectory about 10 minutes before the other Sisters because it took her so long to walk on account of her arthritis. Then she had to be aided as she walked, had to sit down in a chair in a special way, and had to have the bread broken for her in the bowl, always in a special way, for she had done it that way for 50 years. Well, every other Sister found it very hard to take care of Sr. Peter, but St. Therese said, “I am going to do this.” One day Sr. Peter said to her, “You’re too young! You’re a young novice. You don’t know how to do anything! I think maybe you want to kill me, the way you are treating me!” And St. Therese would just smile back at her… St. Therese then said: “For all the happiness and joyful music in the world, I would never give up Sr. Peter” (40).

2: St. Therese’s “Little Way” of Love

Fall in love. Then you’ll discipline yourself (once you love Him, then you’ll strive to please Him). Then you’ll be full of zeal. Then when the Lord’s work is to be done, you do it. And when we’re not in love, we’re tired, we’re exhausted. Because she was full of love, the particular action that appealed to her was that of a soldier and the missionary (102).

“Jesus! I would so love Him, love Him as He has never been loved in the history of the world” ~ St. Therese

Do the same things every day but do them with greater love and intensity, starting now! (55, 51). A saint is one who makes Christ lovable (40). It does not require much time to make us saints, it requires only much love (41). 

3: St. Therese’s “Little Way” of Redemptive Suffering

St. Therese knew that Good Friday always comes before Easter Sunday. She knew that every soul in the world has a price tag on it (Pranzini story). She always looked to Jesus first in order to console Him, rather than to herself in pity.  She wanted to offer herself “as a victim to Divine Love… for love only lives by sacrifice.”

4: St. Therese’s “Little Way” of Humility

For St. Therese, the little way was the way of nothingness. The secret of humility is to become nothing.

When St. Therese was asked, “What do you mean and understand by humility and the way of the child?” she said: “To remain little is to recognize our nothingness. To expect everything from the good God and not to be too much afflicted about our faults, for little children fall often but are too small to hurt themselves… The secret of spiritual childhood is to make yourself nothing.”

“We have to offer ourselves as pencils. Let Him write poetry. Let Him write prose. Let Him scribble. What difference does it make? This is happiness” (115). 

“It is the things are the spent, wasted for God’s sake that become remembered through history” (113).

Lastly, put St. Therese to work! Don’t let her rest!

“I feel that my mission is now to begin. My mission is to make others love the good God as I love Him, to give to souls my little way. I will spend my heaven in doing good upon the earth” ~ St. Therese

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