After Blaise Pascal in June, Pope Francis dedicates an apostolic letter to Thérèse of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face, his favorite saint, whose 150th anniversary of birth is celebrated this year. Entitled It is trust, in reference to a famous formula of the great little saint of Carmel, the pontifical text highlights the heart of Thérèse’s theological doctrine: God is love, he is mercy.
He proclaimed Thérèse “doctor of synthesis”. In her “Act of offering to merciful love”, written on June 9, 1895, Sister Thérèse wanted to express her most burning desire – to love God and make him loved, and to do so offer herself to him entirely, to everyone. She understood that God is neither a bad judge, nor a whipping father, nor a moralizer. He is the one who said: “The tax collectors and the prostitutes go before you into the kingdom of heaven. » Shocking words for minds with narrow, calculating and rancid religiosity, not only at the time of the Temple of Jerusalem, but also at the end of the 19th century, when Thérèse had heard theological aberrations and guilt-inducing words in catechism to which she finally had the strength to resist and respond.
However, affirms the pope in his letter, “from heaven to earth, the news of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face remains in all its “small grandeur””. The God that Doctor Thérèse wants to make known to the world has not left us a long list of painful and meaningless prescriptions. The true God, the one of the Gospel, is in fact the one who warned us against superstitions, against the divorce between ritualism and respect for the one commandment – “What I command you is to love each other. » He is love itself, there is nothing else to understand.
Thus, “at the evening of this life,” Thérèse told him, “I will appear before you empty-handed, because I do not ask you, Lord, to count my works.” Before the religious authorities lost in their pettiness and their desire for control, who bound “heavy burdens, difficult to carry, (to load them) on the shoulders of people”, Jesus was clear: “Hypocrites, you purify the exterior of the cup and plate, but the inside is filled with greed and intemperance! »
Following Christ, Thérèse, immensely free, transmitted to us a “way of conceiving evangelization by attraction, and not by pressure or proselytism”, in the words of the pontiff. An example: in May 1889, Marie Guérin, very much of her time, very scrupulous, wrote to her cousin Thérèse that after having been titillated by nudes at the Universal Exhibition, she did not dare to take communion. Thérèse, who in the past “passed through the martyrdom of scruple”, sees clearly: “The demon must be very clever to deceive a soul like this!… but don’t you know, my darling, that it is there the whole purpose of his desires. » She therefore tells him to return to communion without fear, lustful thoughts or not, because the Lord has no use for these base temptations: “What offends Jesus, what hurts his heart, is lack of confidence! »
Thérèse’s genius clarifies our vision. Far from any accounting logic, contrary to what the proponents of moral order would have us believe, God has pity on our misery, our misfortune. He forgives without limit. This shocks us because we are incapable of it; but it is precisely there that we must recognize the supreme expression of his omnipotence. Years later, in 1896, Thérèse wrote again to Marie Guérin, who had become a nun in her turn, but who continued to be afraid: “It is trust and nothing but trust that must lead us to Love… » This is what we must constantly say, and ask for our world.