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St. Thérèse: A Reflection by Helen Kwak

My beautiful friend!

Today is the Feast of Thérèse de Lisieux, a saint who has been one of my most important friends. In sixth grade, my class had a three-month long project in which we researched one saint of our choosing. After three months, we (hopefully) knew our saints so well that we could act and speak as if we were the saints themselves! This naturally culminated with each child dressing up as the saint and interacting with invited community members in saintly persona. My teacher’s love for St. Thérèse was widely known among the students. Mrs. Obersinner had holy cards of Thérèse and books on Carmelite spirituality always strewn about on her desk, and she never shied from sharing her devotion to the Little Flower.

When she introduced the project to us, she told us sweetly, “Girls, there hasn’t been anyone who chose St. Thérèse in the past two years, and it would be so beautiful if any of you felt called to choose her.”

Called? Don’t know what that’s about, but here’s to getting that easy A!

These were the thoughts of 12-year-old Helen, which embarrass 26-year-old Helen.

Whatever my intentions may have been, Thérèse had other plans, because she began to stir in me a desire for something bigger than an easy A. What she had, I wanted, and what she had was a deep love for the One who loved her first.

Through her prayers, she led me to experience perhaps my first authentic and personal encounter with Christ. And if that were not already enough, she continued her work on earth, guiding me to the very house I live in!

Where I live is called the Lisieux House, and it’s an intentional living community of young Catholic women living with the Blessed Sacrament. Thérèse is our patron saint, and we are a house of prayer. To live here is a privilege, a gift, and a joy.

The house is somewhat hidden and unknown by many (a true Carmelite flavor!), and it is truly by grace, prayers, and Thérèse’s intercession that I am here. Our house leader likes to say we are “Thérèse’s hand-picked flowers.”

The women here are beautiful in a way that a flower is beautiful. A single flower’s beauty is already unique and incomparable, but its beauty actually elevates when it’s beside another. They lift each other up to a higher existence.

Here, what it means to live in community becomes more of a way than a mystery. Friendship aims for its highest form.

So here’s all the fanfare in the world for Thérèse, who has brought me to Christ and my flower friends. And here’s another round of fanfare for my flower friends, who bring me again and again back to Christ and His love.

St. Thérèse, pray for us!


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