The Context of Holiness
St. Thérèse did not grow in holiness apart from the human condition. Like all of us, she was emotionally scarred by the fragileness of life. She was deeply wounded by the death of her mother at the age of four, bedridden as the result of a neurotic episode when she was ten, struggled with debilitating scruples most of her life, and suffered an agonizing dark night of faith.
St. Thérèse was no plaster statue saint. Her life was a real life. As it unfolds before us on the pages of Story of a Soul, we see a pilgrim soul who made her way home to God through many raging storms and dark nights. The specific nature of Thérèse's trials may differ from our own, but psychological and emotional suffering are our common lot. For example, we may not have know the pain of our mother dying when we were four, but most of us have know the pain of the loss of a loved one. The sufferings that we share with Thérèse are universal - physical pain, anxiety, anger, sadness, depression, loneliness, doubts of faith, to name a few. These sufferings make doing the will of God difficult, but they are the context of our choices. They are the context of holiness.
About the Author
Marc Foley, OCD, is a Discalced Carmelite priest and the prior of the Carmelite Monastery in Washington, D.C. He has taught courses on St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Thérèse of Lisieux at Washington Theological Union on both the graduate and doctoral levels. He is an active member of the Institute of Carmelite Studies, currently serving as its chairman. Father Marc is also a spiritual director and retreat master. He is the author of nine books.