01 canonisation Mother Thérèse and Sanctity

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Mother Thérèse and Sanctity/ and the Saints

Mother Thérèse gladly wrote to her nephew Father Léon Couderc, to her brother Father Jean Couderc as well as to certain sisters of the Congregation to encourage them to take the path of holiness.

The quotes that follow declare this invitation in various ways, sometimes as a path of salvation, sometimes as a call to pray more and to imitate the Saints…

Let the words touch me and resonate in me that you may respond with joy and confidence to this exhortation written by Mother Thérèse to her nephew Leon: “Our Lord ever singled out pure souls. Let us be of their number..[1] "

To her nephew Leon, priest, to encourage him to have the ambition to be a great saint

The good and holy parish priest of Ars, whose book entitled "His Spirit" I have sent you, said: "a Saint! he is a blessing on this earth. He is a bright light upon the shores of a stormy sea, lighting its depths. He is a sentinel set upon on the heights pointing to the chasms; a cross set by the wayside". Such is the priest, and such shall you be, if you aspire to become a saint[2].

I see with pleasure – and I thank the good Lord for it – that you persevere in your desire of belonging wholly to Him, and that you have the ambition of being a saint, and even a great saint. This ambition is permissible and I pray the good God for you that it may be brought about for your happiness and for His greater glory, who only leaves us on earth so that we may daily labor at that sanctity to which He calls us; everything else is of no account[3].

I thank you for all your good wishes for the New Year, ; I also made extensive ones for you, and since you wish to be a saint and a great saint, I am begging our Lord to deign to bless all the plans of holiness which He will inspire for you and for others, so that you may glorify Him to the degree He expects of you[4].

To her niece Marie who is going to marry

In the meantime, I pray for you and I beg the good God to shower His most abundant blessings upon you on the day you receive this great sacrament, and that He gives you all the necessary graces to perfectly accomplish all the duties of the state you are embracing. I desire that you may find happiness and consolation in it, and especially sanctity; for we are only upon this earth for that purpose: to work at our salvation and become saints in whatever state we may be. All the rest is nothing and should be counted as nothing[5].

To her brother Jean, priest, for his feast

I do not forget, my dear brother, that we honor your patron Saint tomorrow. I do not know whether you will receive these lines in time, but you know beforehand that your sister will give you on that day all that it is in her power to give, and that I shall pray with my whole heart for you to this beloved one of the Divine Master, this trusted friend of the secrets of His Heart. I truly would like that He might teach me the way to enter into that Divine Sanctuary as far as he did, so that I too might learn there the science of love and sanctity[6].

Now, let me wish you a happy feast, and be assured that I was very united to you today, honoring your well loved patron, and asking of‘ him with my whole heart that he may ever deign to protect you and obtain for you from the Good Master the fullness of sacerdotal and apostolic spirit, which he possessed in so eminent a degree. I know, dear brother, that this request will please you and that these are gifts that you much desire, for they are indeed most desirable and useful. I hope that you will also have prayed to him a little for me, who would like to possess as he did, the secret of penetrating very deeply into our Lord’s Heart, which is the source of all riches, and to be skilled as he was, in drawing from that divine treasury what is needed to enrich the poverty and misery, of which I am so keenly aware. In meditating on the lives of the saints, one feels very far removed from them, and therefore from holiness; nevertheless, we have the same means which they had to acquire it. Let us ask for their zeal so that we may labor at it with success.[7]

To the Sisters of the Congregation:

  • Praying that they will walk along the path of holiness  

It is necessary, my dear and good Mother, to enter into the designs of the Good Master and to draw profit from all the situations in which He is pleased to place you for the advancement of the work of your sanctification; this is for us the essential and most important thing[8].

Please tell them that I have not forgotten anyone when I was with Our Lord for the New Year’s wishes, even though I have not written to them; I have asked for holiness of life for all and for you particularly, dear Sister; I prefer this to a long life without holiness[9].

We sometimes complain here about the lack of enthusiasm in this part of the country for retreats and we lament about it, but then I say to our sisters that the good God perhaps wants us to start with our own sanctification; since He gives us time for this, we should work seriously at it, until He gives us an opportunity of working for the sanctification of others[10].

  • Asking for the intercession of the saints

Please also, my very Reverend Mother, assure the whole Community of my fraternal affection and of my gratitude for their kind remembrance of me the good Master's feet; I shall try to return their kindness to the best of my ability by beseeching our Lord to make them take great strides in that way of holiness which we admire in the saints and which we are allowed to aspire to with all our heart[11].

Tomorrow we will pray to Saint Stanislaus for one another so that he may help us by his protection to climb this ladder of perfection and holiness which is so difficult for our poor nature, which is nothing but laziness and cowardice. But grace is all powerful, and this should encourage us[12].

As long as we are on this poor earth, we greatly need the intercession of the saints who knew how to take advantage of life's sorrows to reach holiness[13].

I deeply feel my misery, and the need that we have for the intercession of the saints to attain what they attained; when meditating on their lives one feels how far behind one is on the road to holiness where they so generously trod. I am ashamed of my cowardice - I do no more one day than another. So pray continue asking the good Master to make me a little better; I promise you to reciprocate to the best of my ability[14].

Let us pray, however, and on this beautiful solemnity let us beg the saints for the grace of knowing how to take advantage of all the means of sanctification that God puts at our disposal, as they did[15].

  • So that our houses in the Cenacle are places of holiness

Let us pray that all our houses may be so many Cenacles upon which the Spirit of God may rest, animating each one and disposing her to accomplish all the works entrusted to her in all their perfection, after that of her own sanctification, which should always be first. Let us ardently desire the Holy Spirit; where the Spirit of God reigns, holiness reigns also[16].


[1] Extract from a letter to Father Léon Couderc, her nephew, whose autograph has been lost

[2] id

[3] Letter to her nephew, Father Léon Couderc, January 2, 1877

[4] Letter to her nephew, Father Léon Couderc, December 28, 1877

[5] Letter to her niece, Marie Couderc, December 30, 1876

[6] Letter to her brother, Father Jean, December 26, 1861

[7] Letter to her brother, Father Jean, December 27, 1869

[8] To R. M. Dambuent, July 21, 1867, cf. Lassus, Woman and Saint, p. 185

[9] To Mother Pauline Petit, January 15, 1868

[10] To R.M. Dambuent Montpellier, September 8, 1866

[11] Letter to Mother de Larochenégly, Superior General, October 20, 1868

[12] To Mother Caroline de Saint-Privat, November 12, 1857

[13] Letter to R. M. Ursule Payan, General Assistant, November 18, 1866

[14] Letter to R. M. Ursule Payan, Superior in Tours, October 16, 1868

[15]To Our Mother de Larochenégly November 29, 1866

[16] To the Reverend Mother Félicie Chartier, May 21, 1863