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How St. Thérèse was an expert in the “science of love”

Saint Therese of Lisieux

Zvonimir Atletic | Shutterstock

Philip Kosloski - published on 10/01/22

The "Little Flower" was an expert in love, not in the worldly sense, but in loving God and her neighbor.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux was a remarkable saint. While she was confined to the walls of a cloister during her life, her writings made her an instant celebrity after her death, highlighting the depth and simplicity of her spirituality.

One of the key parts of her life was her simple devotion to Jesus and her intense love of him, even in the midst of suffering and desolation. She loved God with her whole heart and was willing to do anything for him.

Because of this intense love, St. John Paul II called her an “expert” in the “science of love” in his apostolic letter, Novo Millennio Ineunte.

Love is truly the “heart” of the Church, as was well understood by Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, whom I proclaimed a Doctor of the Church precisely because she is an expert in the scientia amoris“I understood that the Church had a Heart and that this Heart was aflame with Love. I understood that Love alone stirred the members of the Church to act … I understood that Love encompassed all vocations, that Love was everything.”

Pope Benedict XVI picked up this same theme in a general audience he gave in 2011:

My beloved Predecessor described her as an “expert in the scientia amoris” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, n. 42). Thérèse expressed this science, in which she saw the whole truth of the faith shine out in love, mainly in the story of her life, published a year after her death with the title The Story of a Soul. The book immediately met with enormous success; it was translated into many languages and disseminated throughout the world.

Pope Benedict continued in his reflection, pointing out the beauty of her expertise in love, “The Story of a Soul, in fact, is a marvelous story of Love, told with such authenticity, simplicity and freshness that the reader cannot but be fascinated by it! But what was this Love that filled Thérèse’s whole life, from childhood to death? Dear friends, this Love has a Face, it has a Name, it is Jesus! The saint speaks continuously of Jesus.”

If we are to ever become an expert in love like St. Thérèse, we must look to Jesus, to his face, and love him with our whole heart, mind and soul. Only then can we truly love our neighbor, seeing in them the face of Christ.

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