The Desires of St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Source: District of Asia

The prayer in which St. Therese of the Child Jesus tells God how in her cell at the Carmel of Lisieux she is consumed with longing for the apostolate. This prayer provides wonderful evidence of the charity which the religious life in all its forms seeks to practise perfectly with the most effective means, in so far as such perfection is possible in this world.

Jesus, it should be enough for me to be your bride, a Carmelite and, through my union with you, a mother to souls. Yet I am conscious of other callings in myself: I feel called to be a warrior, priest, apostle, doctor, martyr... I would like to do all the most heroic things, I feel I have a crusader's courage, I could die on a battlefield in defence of the Church.

Take the priest's vocation. Jesus, how I would love you as I held you in my hands when my voice brought you down from heaven. How I would love you when I gave you to souls in holy communion. But alas, for all my longing to be a priest, I admire and envy the humility of St Francis of Assisi and I feel called to imitate him by refusing the sublime dignity of priesthood.

I would like to bring light to souls as the prophets and doctors did. I would like to go all over the world and preach your name and plant your glorious cross in unbelieving lands, Beloved. But a single mission would not be enough for me what I would like to do is to preach the gospel in every part of the world, even in the remotest islands. I would not like to be a missionary for just a few years; I would like to have been one from the beginning of the world and continue so until its consummation.

Above all, I wish for martyrdom. Martyrdom was the dream of my youth and the dream has grown with me in my little cell at Carmel. But there is madness there too, for what I desire is not this kind of torment or that; it would take them all to satisfy me.

I wish I could be scourged and crucified like you, adorable Bridegroom, I wish I could have the skin torn off me until I died, like St Bartholomew, and like St John be thrown into boiling oil. I wish I could be crushed like St Ignatius between the teeth of wild animals to be made into bread it for God. With St Agnes and St. Cecilia, I would offer my neck to the executioner's sword and, like St Joan of Arc, murmur the name of Jesus while burning at the stake.

If my thoughts turn to the unheard-of torments that will be a lot of Christians in Antichrist's time, I feel my heart leap. I would like those torments to be kept for me. Jesus, open your book of life, where the deeds of all your saints are written. If only I had done all those things for you.

What answer will you make to all this madness? Is there any soul on earth smaller or more helpless than mine? Yet it was just my weakness that pleased you and made you grant to the full the little desires I had as a child. You will do as much today for other desires greater than all creation.