Pope Francis Publishes Apostolic Exhortation "C'est la Confiance" Dedicated to Saint Therese of Lisieux

Pope Francis Publishes Apostolic Exhortation

Vatican City - “It is confidence and nothing but confidence that must lead us to love.”, the words of Saint Therese herself is behind the inspiration of the new Apostolic Exhortation titled "C'est la Confiance" ("It is the Confidence") by Pope Francis, The exhortation dedicated to Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, emphasizes the importance of love and trust in God's mercy, drawing inspiration from the Saint’s many writings.

Pope Francis said this statement penned in September 1896 by Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, encapsulates the essence of her spirituality and justifies her recognition as a Doctor of the Church.

This release is significant for its timing; the Holy Father intentionally chose to publish it on October 15, not directly tied to a specific date in Saint Therese's life. He explained that this decision aims to ensure that her message transcends mere celebrations and becomes a lasting part of the Church's spiritual heritage. October 15 marks the feast day of St. Teresa of Avila, with Saint Therese being considered the "mature fruit" of the spiritual tradition of this Spanish saint.

Pope Francis traces the recognition of Saint Therese's spiritual witness by various popes, starting with Pope Leo XIII, who allowed her to enter the convent at the age of 15. Later, she was proclaimed a saint by Pius XI in 1925 and named the patron saint of missions in 1927. Saint John Paul II further honored her by declaring her a Doctor of the Church in 1997. In 2015, Pope Francis canonized her parents, Louis and Zelie. During this time, he also dedicated one of his weekly General Audience talks to her.

Central to Saint Therese's spiritual journey was her deep love for Jesus, which led her to a profound missionary calling. She entered the Carmel order with a mission to save souls, viewing her consecration to God as inseparable from her commitment to the well-being of others. She expressed her missionary spirit by stating, "I feel that the more the fire of love burns within my heart, the more the souls who will approach me." This burning love, she said, would draw others closer to their Beloved.

At the core of Saint Therese's spirituality is her "little way," a path of spiritual childhood characterized by trust in God's grace rather than personal merit. She trusted in the infinite mercy of a God who loves unconditionally and already provided everything through the Cross of Jesus Christ. Saint Therese never focused on becoming a saint in the conventional sense; instead, she placed her trust in God's mercy.

Pope Francis emphasizes on the significance of trust and abandonment in God in a world often filled with fears and the desire for control. Saint Therese's teachings promote a release from constant worry about the future, as trust in God's limitless love allows believers to overcome any challenges that come their way.

Saint Therese faced her own trials and struggles, particularly during a period of "trial against the faith." At that time, atheism was on the rise, and she often prayed for atheists, trusting in God's mercy and ultimate victory over evil. Her trust even led to the conversion of a multiple murderer.

Pope Francis underlines that Saint Therese practiced charity in simplicity and the everyday aspects of life, drawing inspiration from the Virgin Mary, who taught her that "to love is to give everything" and "to give oneself."

From St. Teresa of Avila, Saint Therese inherited a profound love for the Church. She believed that the Church had a burning heart of love, a symbol of its humble and merciful nature, rather than a triumphalistic institution. This discovery of the Church's heart, Pope Francis says, offers a source of light for the faithful, allowing them to see beyond the Church's limitations and sins.

Saint Therese's interior trials led her to prioritize the good of all and to continue her mission even after death. Her ultimate synthesis of the Gospel revolved around trust, love, and abandonment for the sake of others, as she believed that only love truly matters.

The Apostolic Exhortation emphasizes the central aspects of Saint Therese's "little way" as relevant in a time marked by self-interest, individualism, and the obsession with power. It promotes the beauty of making life a gift, values simplicity and littleness, and prioritizes love over legalistic or moralistic approaches to Christian life.

The Holy Father calls upon theologians, moralists, and scholars of spirituality to draw practical and pastoral conclusions from Saint Therese's insights. Her teachings guide us towards what is essential, indispensable, and central in our spiritual journeys.

The Apostolic Exhortation ends with a prayer, asking for God's help to imitate Saint Therese's "little way" of holiness, reminding all that ultimately, only love counts.

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