THE FOURTH DAY (Chapter 4)
The Little Flower and Love
Why the omnipotent and all-beautiful God should love His
selfish, imperfect, utterly inadequate creatures is something
that no one will ever understand. We can only look at the
magnificence of the world which He so lovingly prepared for our
dwelling place and listen to the cry from the divine lips, "I
have loved you with an everlasting love," and then bow our heads
in grateful humility.
Wretched as we are in ourselves and unworthy as we are of
anyone's consuming affection, God loves us to the point of
Creation, Calvary, and Holy Communion.
Not all mankind are ungrateful for the love which He has
showered so lavishly upon them. The thought of that love sent
St. Paul madly across the world crying out to everyone who would
listen the greatness of Christ's attractiveness and the glorious
fact that "for me to live is Christ."
Augustine tasted all the love that the world could offer him and
found it flat and insipid when once he had touched the chalice
of God's love.
The early Christians so hated the thought that any other love
might get between them and their love for God that they fled
into the desert where undisturbed they could think only of Him
and His supreme loveliness. The men saints have loved God with a
rugged and mastering love, that made them apostles, martyrs,
tireless hunters of souls.
Women with their quick appreciation of love, have often given up
all other loves to dedicate themselves solely to the love of
God. There was no love in the life of Our Lady except the love
that welcomed the coming of the Holy Ghost, cradled the Christ
against her heart, and made the supreme offering of her Son to
God the Father. Once Magdalen had looked into the eyes of
Christ, the love that had filled her life with sin and her
fingers with jewels seemed to her as filth and ugliness.
Women saints have loved Christ so deeply that they have drawn
Him from Heaven to place a ring upon their fingers, as He did to
St. Catherine, or to show them the secrets of His Sacred Heart,
as He did to St. Margaret Mary.
Religious consecration, the eagerness with which young men and
young women dedicate themselves to God, is explained only by one
thing, their love for God. They give up earthly loves to love
God without reserve, and to dedicate their whole hearts and
souls to Him.
Hence, the nun goes to the altar dressed as a bride. Hence the
priest and the religious man take no wife, but consecrate their
lives to the only love of God.
Somehow the Little Flower seems to express concretely the
perfect love of creatures for the Divine Lover. Christ is the
great love of her life; the purest of her earthly loves is
subordinate to it. In fact, God seems to have stripped away from
this little soul all other loves. Her mother dies; Pauline, her
sister, enters the convent; an incurable shyness timidity,
emptied her heart of all loves to leave it open and ready for
the great love which God meant to pour into it. Step by step her
love for God developed. First, God was her tender and loving
Father; then she dreamed of Him as her little play-fellow; and
finally, at maturity, she dared with the daring of the saints,
to offer herself to be His bride, until, as she held Him, in her
heart, that beat so joyously on the day of her divine bridals,
she loved Him as her eternal Bridegroom.
No girl had ever been half so eager for the day of her wedding
as this girl was for the day when she gave herself utterly to
the love of Christ. No wife ever gave half the love to her
husband that Therese gave to Christ day by day in the holy house
As she knelt before the perfect symbol of disinterested love,
the crucifix, and heard Jesus cry, "Give me to drink," she felt
the deeper meaning of that thirst.
Neither water nor wine would satisfy the cravings the Saviour,
Who thirsted for the love that men and women so often waste,
squander, fling away to anyone who may ask for it.
This girl held up to Christ's parched lips the chalice of her
love. Her beautiful, intense affection moistened that thirsty
To love Him for the millions who denied Him their love was the
work to which she would willingly give her life. So for long hours she knelt pouring out her love before the crucifix. She realised the consoling truth that the love she was giving at that moment had actually been a comfort to Him when, scanning the weary centuries from that height, His eye rested with a sense of happy relief on those who would weep before the cross and love Him that hung upon it.
It was her greatest joy to stay before the tabernacle, loving
the hidden and lonely Christ for the rejection, unbelief, and
frigidity of the world.
And when after communion she held Christ in her very heart, the
moment, like the tender meeting of bride and groom, was that of
the perfect union of the loving God and one at least of His
creatures who returned His measureless affection.
Of course, love brought with it love's inevitable pain. She knew
how sin reached up and struck and crucified the tender Christ;
and because she loved Him, the blows that reached Him passed
through her soul. She felt poignantly the neglect with which those
who knew Him and believed in Him continued to hurt His Sacred
She read in the agonised face of Christ the terrible story of
the sacrileges that would accompany His continued stay in the
Loving Him as she did, all this was torture to her; for she
herself felt the sufferings heaped upon the one she loved so
dearly and tenderly. Yet, if ever love, like the love with which Mary
wrapped Him round, could solace and warm the heart of Christ, surely
it must have been the love of this innocent woman who thought a lifetime of love all too short to offer Him.
Our generation has cause for joy in the knowledge that one of
our own time gave so unselfish and comforting a love to Christ.
Perhaps the sight of her glowing face, as it was lifted to look
at Christ, will remind us that, no. matter what our work in
life, our duty and our happiness lie in loving Him for the
tremendous love He has shown us. He has loved us to the point of death. And we? At least we can be ashamed to let this girl love so deeply,
unless we are ready to kneel and promise that never through sin
will we strike the tender heart of Christ.
And when we look upon the crucifix or kneel silently in the
moments after Holy Communion, we can ask Christ to put into our
souls something of the love which the Little Flower felt for
Him. Perhaps that is one of the roses she would delight to drop
The Novena Prayers for Day 4
Three Hail Marys in honour of the Little Flower for the
intention of the novena.
Let us pray:
St. Therese, beautiful bride of Christ, God has wooed our hearts
with the numberless outpourings of His love on the cross, the
wonders re-enacted from the tabernacle.
But we know that our hearts are still closed to the voice of God
crying for love. We are cold toward Him Who is so prodigal of
His love toward us. Obtain for us, then, a little of that love
with which thou didst delight the Sacred Heart.
Make us less ungrateful toward One Who has shown an unfailing love
even while we offended Him by sin or hurt Him with long neglect. With
the flame of thy burning love enkindle at least a faint glow of love in our
Waken to a love of God, we pray, the hearts of those whom we
love the special favours we are asking during this novena.
(Here pause and silently mention the special graces or blessings
you are seeking through the novena.)
V. We fly to thy protection and intercession, O Little Flower
R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray;
O Lord, Who hast said, "Unless you become as little children you
shall not enter the kingdom of Heaven," grant us, we beseech
Thee, so to follow the footsteps of the virgin St. Therese in
humility and simplicity of heart that we may obtain the rewards
of eternity. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.
End of Chapter 4