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    How to Love Complainers

    By Thérèse of Lisieux

    January 2, 2022
    • Lynda Foster

      This touched my heart. What a treasure ! This will help my meditation today. Thank You, Lynda Foster

    I remember an act of charity with which God inspired me while I was still a novice, and this act, though seemingly small, has been rewarded even in this life by our Heavenly Father, “who seeth in secret.”

    Shortly before Sister Saint Peter became quite bedridden, it was necessary every evening, at ten minutes to six, for someone to leave meditation and take her to the refectory. It cost me a good deal to offer my services, for I knew the difficulty, or I should say the impossibility, of pleasing the poor invalid. But I did not want to lose such a good opportunity, for I recalled our Lord’s words: “As long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.” I therefore humbly offered my aid. It was not without difficulty I induced her to accept it, but after considerable persuasion I succeeded. Every evening, when I saw her shake her sand-glass, I understood that she meant: “Let us go!” Summoning up all my courage I rose, and the ceremony began. First of all, her stool had to be moved and carried in a particular way, and on no account must there be any hurry. The solemn procession ensued. I had to follow the good sister, supporting her by her girdle; I did it as gently as possible, but if by some mischance she stumbled, she imagined I had not a firm hold, and that she was going to fall. “You are going too fast,” she would say, “I shall fall and hurt myself!” Then when I tried to lead her more quietly: “Come quicker … I cannot feel you … you are letting me go! I was right when I said you were too young to take care of me.”


    Photograph by Jade Stephens

    When we reached the refectory without further mishap, more troubles were in store. I had to settle my poor invalid in her place, taking great pains not to hurt her. Then I had to turn back her sleeves, always according to her own special rubric, and after that I was allowed to go.

    But I soon noticed that she found it very difficult to cut her bread, so I did not leave her till I had performed this last service. She was much touched by this attention on my part, for she had not expressed any wish on the subject; it was by this unsought-for kindness that I gained her entire confidence, and chiefly because – as I learnt later – at the end of my humble task I bestowed upon her my sweetest smile.

    For a long time my place at meditation was near a sister who fidgeted continually, either with her rosary, or something else; possibly, as I am very quick of hearing, I alone heard her, but I cannot tell you how much it tried me. I should have liked to turn round, and by looking at the offender, make her stop the noise; but in my heart I knew that I ought to bear it tranquilly, both for the love of God and to avoid giving pain. So I kept quiet, but the effort cost me so much that sometimes I was bathed in perspiration, and my meditation consisted merely in suffering with patience. After a time I tried to endure it in peace and joy, at least deep down in my soul, and I strove to take actual pleasure in the disagreeable little noise. Instead of trying not to hear it, which was impossible, I set myself to listen, as though it had been some delightful music, and my meditation – which was not the “prayer of quiet” – was passed in offering this music to our Lord.

    The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, trans. Thomas Taylor (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, 1912).

    Contributed By

    Thérèse of Lisieux became a French Catholic Carmelite nun at the young age of fifteen. She battled many obstacles in her life including doubts and illness. She wrote about her life in the book Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. She died of tuberculosis at the age of twenty-four.

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