Book Review: Living the Little Way of Love with Therese of Lisieux, by John Nelson

spiritedStarred Page By spirited, 8th Sep 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Books>Religion & Spirituality

This article reviews a book written about a great Saint. The book is written with a great insight into this extraordinary woman. Her short life has lived lengthily since then.

Her life was all about trusting in God's love. This is what her "Little Way of Love" was all about.

This review is reviewing the title as shown, but the original title was this one:

"The Little Way of Saint Therese of Lisieux: Into the Arms of Love."

Spiritual living, by way of loving living

This book talks about the spirituality of Saint Therese.

Her spirituality is a simple uncomplicated way in one respect, as when you love totally, your life simplifies, and it only goes in God's way for you then.

But it is also hard for most of us to do too this, because most of us are not yet totally loving in our lives, and by our not doing so, our life is complicated, and it becomes more complex when we try to live our way, instead of our solely only living the way of love.

What does the title of this book refer too?

What is meant by the title, “Living the Little Way of Love”?

Has it perhaps got something to do with humility?

The way of love is of course not little, but when you love in a big way, you yourself then become little in a way to this love. Love takes you over, and you all but disappear, as you become love, and as you live from love totally, and love totally too.

"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."

This is a quote from Saint Therese.

We must detach ourselves from every creature, and from ourselves too!

Photo credit:

The photo used in this section has been taken by me, the writer of this article. I have my own copy of this book.

Total dependence on God, by surrendering to his will

“Do not rob the little violet of it’s scent, nor the daisy of its simple charm.”

This is another quote from Saint Therese.

Saint Therese of Lisieux was a Carmelite (a Roman Catholic religious order) nun for a period of about nine years.

She was only 24 when she died of tuberculosis in 1897. She is considered to be a great saint. She spent a lot of time in contemplative prayer, which she considered a form of love for God.

The emptiness of love is fulfilled again by the flowering of the person, not holding onto the love, but allowing it to blossom forth truly in them being themselves for God. Flowers do this, and so should we.

Saint Therese stated that she had, “forgotten her self, and did not re-seek her self in anything”.

This apparently brought her peace, because she was giving herself by forgetting herself, and so not wanting anything else of herself, or even of God. She wanted to give to God, not take from him. Even in her prayer, she sought only to give her self to God, and she never asked him of anything.

Was her approach to God entirely right though?

The Christian bible actually tells us to ask God for things in this couplet of verses from Saint Matthew's gospel, chapter 7, verses 7 and 8.

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”

We should ask of God with a great faith, and this type of asking is a gift as well then, she understood this and by not asking directly but by just giving her love, she was given all because love gives all.

Most of us cannot yet do this though, so we must ask of God and God will give all we ask for from his love, until we too can obtain all we need from this love more directly because we are full of his love too.

Saint Therese talked often of

“Simplicity of heart through dependence on God.”

Are we really meant to be dependent on God though, or are we meant to be more self freed, to be ourselves independently of God, but still of or in God, so to speak?

This supposed independence that I have just spoken of is a false one, and I think that Saint Therese is right here.

Dependence on God merely means to love God totally.

Any independence of God shows that you are loving yourself separately and following your own path, rather than God's path for you, and this sets you up for sin, or of not loving simply from your heart, but using your mind first to direct this energy of love in some other way, other than solely in God's way for you.

Photo credit for the photo used in this section:

This photo is from Wikimedia Commons, and requires this attribution:

"Ballarat Roman Catholic Church 001" by Mattinbgn (talk · contribs) - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Don't let your love ever become wooden!

Therese had some type of a mystical experience at the tender age of only fourteen.

She stopped trying to live for herself, and started fully living only for God. The rest of her short life was spent by her staying as close as she could to God's love.

Apparently, as she died, her last words were these ones:

"My God, I love You!"

The little way of love is the practice of the action of love.

This type of love is a selfless love that gives God's love through your self-emptying of any false pretences of what this love really is all about.

We need Jesus in our lives to help us empty ourselves of these self-pretences that try to make us think that we are the ones loving. When we claim the credit for any loving, this is a type of sin. We are claiming we own love, and are equal to God in our loving.

We can never be equal to God in our loving if it only comes from ourselves isolated away from God, but when we love from God within ourselves we love as God, and then our love is total like God's is too.

If we become too introverted, we isolate ourselves from our soul, by taking on this inner form of covering, that she tells us most forcefully, "sterilises our soul".

We need to continually renew our spirit and our faith, otherwise, "we are wasting our time" (as she so poignantly put it).

If we become too introverted, living too inwardly, (and ignoring our outer life) we sterilise our soul.

She did not mean I think in the purifying sense of the use of this word, but more in the words other meaning, that is we are stripping ourselves of any real substance, or power, by our doing this. In other words, we are devitalising ourselves.

To sterilise your life is to live from the letter of the law as Jesus Christ put it, and not from the real spirit of the law. This is what I think that she meant here.

Saint Paul stated this in his letter to the Corinthians like this:

"He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter (of the law) but of the Spirit (of the law); for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life."

This verse comes from the New Testament book of the bible, second Corinthians, chapter 3, verse 6.

The author of this book, John Nelson has done a great job here in demonstrating how even we might follow this, "Little Way of Love".

John Nelson is an English writer who has also written another book on Saint Therese as well.

This second book is a companion volume to the one being reviewed here.

It's title is, "The Little Way of Saint Therese of Lisieux. Readings for Prayer and Meditation".

The book being reviewed here was published in 1999 by New City Press. The book has 192 pages, and is a most worthwhile read for anyone to undertake.

Photo credit:

The photo used in this section of this article has been freely sourced from the free public pages of the free media site, Wikimedia Commons.

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author avatar Carol Roach
9th Sep 2015 (#)

yes it does sound like good book

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author avatar spirited
9th Sep 2015 (#)

Yes, thanks Carol, it's well worth a read.

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author avatar Retired
10th Sep 2015 (#)

Great review. Thanks for sharing.

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author avatar spirited
10th Sep 2015 (#)

thanks Joyesh

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
10th Sep 2015 (#)

Spirited, excellent writing as always! This is a wonderful review of this book. There are so many lessons to be learned here. I truly believe that life is a lesson. If we can learn along the way about love, peace and serenity we have accomplished what we are here for. Congratulations on the shiny gold star.

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author avatar spirited
10th Sep 2015 (#)

thanks Nancy,

"I truly believe that life is a lesson."

I sort of think this too, but I often ask myself who is it that is meant to learn the lessons, our ego, our heart, our soul, and who is the teacher setting these lessons anyway.

Our heart knows, our soul teaches, our ego learns the lessons then.

Only our ego can be broken, not our heart then, but is this idea right, or not?

Our ego is a tool for learning which entails/includes the mind as well.

The ego pushes the mind in its own way until it learns that pushing just pushes love away, then when it lets the lessons of love just be, it finally learns that love teaches us, just as much as we live in love, and not in fear.

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
10th Sep 2015 (#)

Spirited, thanks for the awesome response. I loved it!

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author avatar spirited
11th Sep 2015 (#)

Thanks for your kind words of appreciation Nancy.

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author avatar brendamarie
12th Sep 2015 (#)

Spirited sounds like a great good.

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author avatar spirited
12th Sep 2015 (#)

Yes, I enjoyed it, thanks brendamarie

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author avatar Kingwell
14th Sep 2015 (#)

Sounds like as interesting book. Blessings.

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author avatar spirited
15th Sep 2015 (#)

thanks Kingwell

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
29th Sep 2015 (#)

Sort of total surrender to God's love with zilch ego and pretense. I follow much the same way, but with a practical take (having a family to support!)

Thanks Spirited for bringing such noble souls to our midst - siva

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author avatar spirited
29th Sep 2015 (#)

Thanks for commenting here siva, you haven't written one yourself for a while.

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