Complete Spiritual Doctrine of Thérèse of Lisieux
François Jamart, OCD
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Over a century ago, there lived a Carmelite nun, Thérèse of Lisieux. Although she was young and seemed to have no authority, she taught “a Little Way very straight and short” which would lead people to perfection. Others had declared that sanctity was hard to attain, but she said that it was easy. Thérèse maintained that in order to become holy, it was not necessary to engage in manifold practices, to perform rigorous penances, or to receive extraordinary graces. What was needed was simply that we acknowledge our “nothingness” and approach God with love and confidence. “Sanctity,” she proclaimed, “is an interior disposition which makes us humble and little in God’s arms, conscious of our weakness and trusting even to audacity in the goodness of our Father.”
Thérèse did not reveal new truths, nor did she teach new means for attaining perfection. Her doctrine was not a revelation of a new kind of sanctity, but a new way of revealing sanctity to us. What she teaches flows from the knowledge of God as He is revealed in the Gospel; she invites us to return to evangelical simplicity. The Church has endorsed her doctrine at the highest level: in 1999, Pope John Paul II declared her a Doctor of the Church.
Some fifty years ago, Father François Jamart, OCD, became concerned about a number of incomplete and distorted accounts of St. Thérèse’s teachings. He had spent many years studying ascetical and mystical theology, and he was well-qualified to present her doctrine in an orderly and systematic way. But this was not enough for him. He wanted this book to be read not only by the initiated few, but by all Christians seriously interested in finding a sure and easy way to Christ.
In the Complete Spiritual Doctrine of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, he presents her teachings in their original beauty, simplicity, and practicality. According to the judgment of the Carmelite nuns of Lisieux, this work “represents the pure doctrine of Thérèse — without deviation.”
Since this book first appeared in French in 1958 and in English in 1961, it has established itself as a classic. Although many fine studies on St. Thérèse have appeared in more recent years, the Complete Spiritual Doctrine of St. Thérèse of Lisieux is still an indispensable guide to the Little Way.