Quotes from St. Therese of Lisieux on Love

This page is a collection of sayings of Therese of Lisieux, also known as "The Little Flower," because she describes herself as a little flower for Jesus. These sayings are from St. Therese's autobiography (The Story of a Soul), from her letters, and from recollections of her sisters.

Several of these sayings are from the book Complete Spiritual Doctrine of St. Therese of Lisieux by Rev. Francois Jamart, OCD.

Love of God and Neighbor
Love alone counts
What is love - how to love
Love of neighbor
To love is to give oneself

Love and Suffering

Related texts on love


Therese on Love

Love Alone Counts

"I understand so very well that it is only through love that we can render ourselves pleasing to the good Lord, that love is the one thing I long for. The science of love is the only science I desire."

"I know of no other means to reach perfection than by love. To love: how perfectly our hearts are made for this! Sometimes I look for another word to use, but, in this land of exile, no other word so well expresses the vibrations of our soul. Hence we must keep to that one word: love."

"Merit does not consist in doing or giving much. It consists in loving much."

"How easy it is to please Jesus, to ravish His Heart. We have merely to love Him, while, at the same time, forgetting ourselves."

"Directors make people advance in perfection by performing a great number of acts of virtue, and they are right. But my Director, who is Jesus Himself, teaches me to do everything through love."

"The only good is to love God with all one's heart and to be here below poor in spirit..." (MS A, 32v, OC 121)

"There is but one thing for us to do in the night of this life and that is to love, to love Jesus with all the energy of our heart and to save souls so that He may be loved by them. O let us cause Jesus to be loved by men!"

"It is love alone that counts."

What is Love - How to Love

"You know it, O my God, to love you on earth/ I have nothing but to-day." (PN 5, stanza 1, OC 645)

"To live out of love means to banish all fear/ Every memory of past faults. / I see no mark of my sins, / In a moment love burnt everything." (PN 17, stanza 6, OC 668)

"We have merely to love Him, without looking at ourselves, without examining our faults too much."

"Justice itself, and justice even more than any other divine perfection, seems to me to be clothed in love."

"A glance of love cast towards Jesus and the knowledge of our profound misery makes reparation for everything."

therese of lisieux"I assure you that the good Lord is much kinder than you can imagine. He is satisfied with a glance, with a sigh of love... In regard to myself, I find it easy to practice perfection, because I have learned that the way to Jesus is through His Heart. Consider a small child who has vexed his mother by a display of bad temper or disobedience. If the child hides in a corner through fear of punishment, he feels that his mother will not forgive him. But if instead, he extends his little arms towards her and with a smile cries out: ‘Love, kiss me, mamma, I will not do it again,’ will not his mother press the little one to her heart with tenderness, and forget what the child has done? And yet, though she knows very well that her dear little one will misbehave again at the first opportunity, that means nothing if the child appeals to her heart. He will never be punished..."

"Even if the fire of love seemed to have gone out, I would keep on throwing fuel in it and Jesus would take care to light it up again."

"We must do all that lies in our power; we must give without counting the cost; we must constantly renounce ourselves. In one word, we must prove our love by all the good works we can perform; but, since all that we can do is very little, it is of the greatest importance that we put our confidence in Him who alone sanctifies those works and that we recognize that we are indeed useless servants, hoping that the good Lord will give us through grace all that we desire."

"My mother, how sweet is the way of love! No doubt, we are liable to fall, to fail in constancy, but love knows how to draw profit from everything. It quickly consumes anything that may be displeasing to Jesus, leaving only a humble and profound peace at the bottom of our heart."

"I do not have any other means to prove my love to you, but to throw flowers, that is to let no little sacrifice, no look, no word pass, to take advantage of all the littlest of things and to do them out of love... Hence, I pluck every flower I find on my way, for Jesus. And then as I strew my flowers before Him I desire to sing, although I have had to pluck them among thorns. And the sharper and longer the thorns, the sweeter is my song." (MS B, 4r-4v, OC 228)

"Little things done out of love are those that charm the Heart of Christ… On the contrary, the most brilliant deeds, when done without love, are but nothingness."

"You make me think of a little child that is learning to stand but does not yet know how to walk. In his desire to reach the top of the stairs to find his mother, he lifts his little foot to climb the first stair. It is all in vain, and at each renewed effort he falls. Well, be this little child: through the practice of all the virtues, always lift your little foot to mount the staircase of holiness, but do not imagine that you will be able to go up even the first step! No, but the good God does not demand more from you than good will. From the top of the stairs, He looks at you with love. Soon, won over by your useless efforts, He will come down Himself and, taking you in His arms, He will carry you up... But if you stop lifting your little foot, He will leave you a long time on the ground." ( Counsels and Reminiscences)

Love of Neighbor

"You are wrong to criticize this or that, to desire that everybody should adopt your view of things. Since we want to be little children, little children do not know what is best. Everything seems right to them."

"We must never refuse anyone, even when it costs us much pain. Think that it is Jesus who is asking this service of you; how eager and friendly you will then be in granting the favor requested." (Commentary on these words)

"I must anticipate the desires of others; show that we are much obliged, very honored to be able to render service. The good Lord wants me to forget myself in order to give pleasure to others."

"There is a way of refusing that is so gracious... that the refusal gives as much pleasure as the gift."

"I know now that true charity consists in bearing all our neighbors' defects--not being surprised at their weakness, but edified at their smallest virtues."

"If we want to live a life of love of God, we must not fail in our love towards our neighbor."

"There is nothing sweeter than to think well of one’s neighbor." (Commentary on these words)

To Love is to Give Oneself

"I am glad to recognize that when we love God our heart expands, and we can give incomparably more tender love to those who are dear to us than when our love is selfish and barren… Love is fed by and develops from sacrifice. The more we deprive ourselves of natural satisfaction, the stronger and the more disinterested our love becomes."

"He does not want us to love Him for His gifts, but for Himself alone... He is so beautiful, so ravishing even when He remains silent, even when He hides Himself."

"O my Jesus, You know well that it is not for the reward that I serve You, but solely because I love You and in order to save souls."

"I do not desire sensible affection, a love that I feel, but only a love that is felt by Jesus. Oh! to love Him and cause Him to be loved!"

"Our love for Jesus is truly great when we do not feel its sweetness. It then becomes a martyrdom... When, on the contrary, we begin to seek ourselves, true love dies away. Unfortunately, many serve Jesus when He consoles them, but few are willing to keep Him company when He is asleep."

"True love is found only in complete self-forgetfulness, and it is only after we have detached ourselves from every creature that we find Jesus."

"To live out of love is to live on your life, / Glorious king, delight of the elect.
To live out of love is to give without measure/ Without pretending wages down here.
Ah! I give without calculating, being sure/ That when one loves, one does not calculate!...
To live out of love is to keep in oneself/ A great treasure in a mortal vessel.
To live out of love is to navigate unceasingly/ Sowing peace, joy in all the hearts.
To live out of love, while Jesus is sleeping, / Is the rest on the stormy waves
To live out of love is to wipe your Face, / To obtain the forgiveness of sinners.
To live out of love is to imitate Mary, / Bathing in tears, in precious perfumes, / Your divine feet...
To love you, Jesus, what a fruitful loss!...
To die out of love is a sweet martyrdom/ And it is the one I would like to suffer.
Behold my Heaven… behold my destiny: / To live out of love!!!..." (From PN 17, OC 667-670)

"To love is to give everything and to give oneself." (PN 54, stanza 22, OC 755)

Therese on Love and Suffering

"What a joy to be able to suffer for Him whom we love!"

"Let us be consumed by love! ... St. Francis de Sales says, "When the fire of love is in the heart, all the furniture flies out the windows". Oh! Let us leave nothing ... nothing in our heart but Jesus!
Do not believe that you can love without suffering, without suffering a great deal... It is our poor nature that is there! And it is not there for nothing! ... This is our wealth, our livelihood! ... It is so precious that Jesus came to our earth in order to make it his own. Let us suffer bitterly, without courage! "Jesus suffered with sadness! And without sadness does the soul suffer!?" And we would like to suffer generously, nobly!... Celine! What an illusion! that would be!" (LT 89, 26. April, 1889)

"Dear Celine, sweet echo of my soul! ... If you knew my misery! ... Oh! ... If you knew... Holiness does not consist in saying beautiful things, it does not even consist in thinking them, in feeling them! ... It consists in suffering and in suffering everything. «Holiness! It has to be conquered at the point of the sword, one has to suffer… one has to agonize!... »" (LT 89, OC 390)

"If you wish to feel and to have an attraction for suffering, you are in search of your own consolation, for when we love anything, pain disappears."

"My joy is to love suffering, / I smile shedding tears/ I accept with gratitude/ The thorns mixed with the flowers." (PN 45, stanza 2, OC 733)

"Just think that if the good Lord gave us the entire universe, with all its treasures, it could not be compared to the lightest of sufferings." (LT 65, OC 360)

"To suffer and to be despised – what bitterness, but what glory!" (LT 81, OC 380)

"What ineffable joy to carry our cross FEEBLY." (LT 82, OC 380)

"The grain of sand wants to start working, without joy, without courage, without force, and it is all these titles which will facilitate its enterprise: it wants to work by Love." (LT 82, OC 381)

"Take heart, Jesus hears even the last echo of our pain." (LT 85, OC 384)

Let us see life in the true light... It is a moment between two eternities... Let us suffer in peace... [...] In order to suffer in peace it is enough to really want everything that Jesus wants..." (LT 87, OC 386)


Abbreviations: OC = Oeuvres Complètes; MA = Manuscrit A

Therese discovers her vocation in love - On her words "my vocation is love"

Texts of Therese - Story of a soul (her autobiography) and letters

Other texts on love - by St. Francis de Sales, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, and Br. Lawrence of the resurrection

 

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