Story of A Soul is the autobiographical work that the Reverend Mother Agnes of Jesus (her actual sister) asked St. Therese to write. A humble young woman, her first inclination was that by doing so it may distract her heart “by too much concentration on myself.” But the Lord convinced her that simple obedience in this matter would be pleasing to Him, and she then viewed it only as one thing: “I shall begin to sing what I must sing eternally: ‘The Mercies of the Lord.'” Then she knelt before Mary’s statue and begged her guidance upon her hand “that it trace no line displeasing to her.”
Clueless of the magnitude which that tale of a girl who spent most of her life in a convent and died at age 24 would have, she thought that her story was for her “dear Mother” alone. First published in 1898, the book quickly became a modern spiritual classic, read by millions and translated into over fifty-five languages. In fact, just today I was sharing at my women’s group that God has reminded me that I don’t need to understand why He calls me to do things, but just to trust and be obedient in doing them. Therese is a true model to that end – of doing something simply out of obedience because she felt it was pleasing to Christ.
As she reflected on her thoughts about beginning this written work which took about two and a half years, she shared in her definitive childlike way:
“It seems to me that if a little flower could speak, it would tell simply what God has done for it without trying to hide its blessings. It would not say, under the pretext of false humility, it is not beautiful or without perfume, that the sun has taken away its splendor and the storm has broken its stem when it knows that all this is untrue. The flower about to tell her story rejoices at having to publish the totally gratuitous gifts of Jesus. She knows that nothing in herself was capable of attracting the divine glances, and His mercy alone brought about everything that is good in her.”
Therese embraces true humble confidence, that which hangs in such a delicate balance. Because her confidence does not stem from what she touts as her own abilities, she maintains the balance which is centered on her understanding that everything is a gift provided by the mercy of God. May we be so blessed by that realization and practice in our own lives!