• Pontifical Mission Societies
  • Pontifical Mission Societies
  • Pontifical Mission Societies
  • Pontifical Mission Societies
  • Pontifical Mission Societies
  • Pontifical Mission Societies

Mission Moment in the Year of Faith…

 

“In this Year of Faith, we hope to inspire others by the writings of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, through which she taught about the faith and supported missionaries in the work of evangelization,” explained Father Andrew Small, OMI, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States, as the first-time tour of the writing desk (écritoire) of the saint began a multi-city tour of the country.

This is the first time this precious souvenir of the Little Flower – which she used almost daily between 1894 and her death from tuberculosis in September 1897 – has ever been allowed outside the Carmelite convent in France. The desk contains as well the pen and inkwell used by the saint, in writing her letters, poems, and prayers, and her autobiography, Story of a Soul (see more information to the right, “With Pen, Inkwell, Writing Desk – and Loving Heart.”

Coordinated by the national office, the journey is hosted by diocesan offices of the Pontifical Mission Societies in each location.  The tour began in Las Vegas (August 27 and 28), and next traveled to San Diego (August 30).  Stops include:  Seattle, Orange (California), San Antonio, St. Louis, Kansas City (Kansas), Toledo, Newark, Passaic (Byzantine), and Venice; the visit of the writing desk will end in October, “Mission Month.”

“During this Year of Faith, and in collaboration with the Carmel of Lisieux, we are delighted to be part of this unique moment for evangelization in the United States,” said Father Andrew.  “This holy tour will help us all prepare for the celebration of World Mission Month, beginning October 1, which is the feast day of St. Thérèse.”

Read more about the tour of the writing desk of St. Thérèse – including the dates and places for the visit – by clicking on the links to the right.

picresized th_1377885985_Writing Desk

Please click here to see related information.

Our Patroness PDF Print E-mail
Article Index
Our Patroness
Uniting Their Hearts With St. Thérèse
Out West, ‘An Encounter with St. Thérèse’
St. Thérèse and Fulton Sheen
The Schedule for the Journey
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With Pen, Inkwell, Writing Desk – and Loving Heart...

 

The writing case (écritoire) of St. Thérèse making its journey through the United States, through October, was used by the saint almost daily between 1894 until her death from tuberculosis in September 1897. The case also contains the pen and inkwell she used. Using these instruments, St. Thérèse composed her spiritual master work, Story of a Soul. Additionally, she wrote seven of her eight plays, 47 of her 62 poems, 95 of her 266 letters – including those to the two missionaries with whom she corresponded — and 16 of her 21 prayers.

“I ask that a nun devote herself particularly to the salvation of my soul, and obtain for me the grace to be faithful to the vocation God has given me, that of a priest and a missionary,” wrote then seminarian Maurice Barthélémy Bellière to the Carmel in Lisieux on October 15, 1895, signing his note, “aspiring missionary.” The letter was opened by Mother Agnes of Jesus, the Prioress at the time.  She knew exactly who the “good nun” would be – her beloved sister, who longed to be a missionary but whose poor health prevented such a physical possibility.  “I shall always be happy to call myself your unworthly little sister,” Thérèse wrote in her first letter.  “I am asking Him that you may be not only a good missionary but a saint on fire with the love of God and souls.”

“Whatever good I shall do I shall owe to her,” Maurice wrote to Mother Agnes, after learning that his request had been granted.  “I shall only be the instrument; it is you, my sister, who will do the converting.”

In a letter on the day after Christmas in 1896, Thérèse affirmed their mission collaboration: “Let us work together for the salvation of souls.... Let us stay united in prayer and suffering, close to the crib of Jesus.”

In the two-year period, right up until the time of death in September 1897, the two would exchange 21 letters in total – 11 from Maurice, 10 from Thérèse (all written on the writing desk on tour by the Pontifical Mission Societies in collaboration with the Carmel in Lisieux).  The letters reveal another side of the spirituality of the saint who is today co-patron, with St. Francis Xavier, of the Church’s missionary work, while confirming her true missionary heart.

While Thérèse  remained at the Carmel, her final months filled with great suffering, Maurice’s life transitioned – from seminarian to priest to missionary.  The exchange ended as he left for Algiers with the Missionaries of Africa on September 29, 1897, the eve of her death.  Eventually, Father Maurice was sent as a missionary to Nyasa in Africa (now Malawi).

When he learned of her death, he was already serving as a missionary in Africa.  He wrote to the Carmel in October 1897:  “I did not realize she had died, but since I have been here I have experienced a certain calm, a joy I did not know before, which has kept me from even a moment’s worry or regret.  I was wondering to what I owed this happiness. Now I wonder no longer. The saint was near me with her comforting tenderness and strength.”

A Dieu, dear little Brother,” Thérèse wrote in her last message to the missionary, “May He give us the grace to love Him and save souls for Him.”

St. Thérèse was declared a Doctor of the Church by Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1997. “At the heart of her grace-filled life is the teaching of the faith embodied in her writings,” noted Father Andrew Small, OMI, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States.  “In this Year of Faith, we hope to inspire others by the writings of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, through which she taught about the faith and supported missionaries in the work of evangelization.”

For photographs from the journey of the writing desk of St. Thérèse, please visit our Facebook page.



 

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