A Study in the Teachings of Therese of Lisieux

by John C. H. Wu



1 Introduction - See below
2. Preface
3. Love and Science
4. Some Types of Saints: Martha and Magdalene
5. Love: Natural and Divine
6. Sincerity as the Soul of Love
7. God as a Lover
8. The Martyrdom of Love
9. "A Baby Who Is An Old Man"
10. Emancipation Through Love
11. The Art of Life
12. A Self-Revelation
13. The Logic of Love
14. Life and Death;  and  ENDNOTES



"The mercies of God I shall sing forever!" (Psalm 88, 1). These words were  carved on the tombstone of St. Therese in the Cemetery of Lisieux and epitomize perfectly the life and ideals of the great Saint. They also form  a fitting introduction to this essay on the science of love as conceived by  the Little Flower, as St. Therese is more lovingly known.

The author of these beautiful pages, Dr. John C. H. Wu,[1] who was converted to the Catholic Faith in the winter of 1937 through the influence of St. Therese of Lisieux, can justly join the little Saint in her song of praise for the mercy of God. For it is to God's infinite mercy and love that he owes that wondrous peace which his soul now possesses through the revelation of the great truth on which the Church founded by Christ was built.

Adopting Protestantism about 20 years ago, Dr. Wu soon discovered the inconsistency and confusion of its vague theology, founded on the free interpretation of the Bible, and its appalling lack of unity and certainty.

His mind, slowly but inevitably, wandered away unsatisfied and darkened by the shadow of uncertainty and doubt. He drifted dangerously towards atheism. But when his faith was at its lowest ebb, God's merciful hand lifted the veil and brought light to his soul.

A short pamphlet on St. Therese casually picked up gave him the key to the hidden treasures of a Faith which knows no doubt and brings human souls in loving confidence into the arms of God as into the arms of a most tender mother. Then followed the reading, also casual, of Newman's essay on the Infallibility of the Pope and the Church. This banished all his final doubts. It soon became evident to Dr. Wu that a Church which had produced an Augustine of Hippo, a Dante, a Pascal and a Thomas Aquinas, was the only logical and traditional inheritor of Christ's Church. His entry into it was a foregone conclusion.

In the spiritual school of St. Therese, Dr. Wu discovered that the true Catholic conception of life is not, as it is sometimes falsely represented, a mere bargain with God, or a dry series of "don'ts" with heavy sanctions, but a simple, complete and loving surrender of the creature to its Creator, a falling in love of man with God, and, to express it in his own words, "a kiss for a kiss, or rather a small kiss for a big kiss" between the soul and its Redeemer.

It is this keynote of a life of love which impressed him most in the writings of St. Therese and led him to embrace wholeheartedly the Religion that has given the world the sweet Little Flower.

Therefore, when one of his colleagues on the Board of Editors of the "T'ien Hsia Monthly," (an English-language publication, which aims at bringing about a better cultural understanding between China and the West), asked him to write an article, he found he could choose no better subject than his newly-embraced Faith. The result was first published in the April, 1940 issue of the "T'ien Hsia Monthly," which is published under the auspices of the Sun Yat-sen Institute for the Advancement of Culture and Education, Chungking.

The reception accorded it is ample justification, if any were needed, for this booklet. In passages of surpassing beauty, we find not a theoretical study of a mystic conception of life, nor the dry analysis of a religious system, but a deeply moving interpretation of the way of Christian love. It also reveals a profound insight into a soul vibrating with life and inflamed with love, a soul so deeply human and yet so divinely supernatural: the soul of Therese of Lisieux.

In a previous article, Dr. Wu had written: "I have been searching all my life for a mother, and I have found her in the Catholic Church." And he has found in her not only a mother, but also the greatest gift a mother can give: love.

This inspired essay is his song of gratitude to the mercy of God, Who has raised him from the depths and darkness of atheism to the heights and radiant light of Catholicism.

He may well sing in unison with Saint Therese these beautiful lines from Fra Luis de Leon's poem, "The Life of the Blessed":

"From His sweet lute flow forth

Immortal harmonies of power to still

All passions born of earth,

And draw the ardent will

Its destiny of goodness to fulfill.

"Might but a little part

A wandering breath of that high melody

Descend into my heart

And change it till it be

Transformed and swallowed up, O Love, in Thee!"

N. Maestrini


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