SO3519 Fraternal Charity in St Thérèse of Lisieux

Course Title: Fraternal Charity in St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Professor: Fr. Joseph Spence, FFm

Justification: Much has been said and written about Thérèse’s “Little Way” of trust and abandonment to God’s merciful Love. At the light of Jesus’ two-fold commandment of love for God and for neighbour, the deepening of Thérèse’s fraternal charity imposes itself on scholars and devotees of Thérèse. This course is based on the conviction that Thérèse’s love for neighbour is a valid message and a prophecy for today’s world, so torn by war and conflicts.

Goals: Provide an initial knowledge of fraternal charity in St. Thérèse of Lisieux, with a special attention given to first-hand contact with her writings; stimulate interest in the students for Thérèse; offer a method for the critical analysis of theological texts, in particular those of Thérèse.

Content: The content of the course will be focused on how Thérèse lived fraternal charity, on various levels: toward her family members, her friends, her nun-sisters, priests, sinners, and all men and women, even the holy souls in Purgatory and in Heaven. It will also explore the link between Thérèse’s love for God and for her neighbour.

Method: In the first hour of our lessons, I will give a lecture for 30 minutes on one of the themes mentioned above, regarding fraternal charity in Thérèse; the lecture will be followed by 15 minutes of discussion and dialogue with the students. In the second hour, we will read together and discuss some selected texts of Thérèse concerning fraternal charity.

Criteria for evaluation: The usual examination modality will be that of an oral exam (10-15 minutes); a written paper (not more than 7-10 pages) may be prepared, in alternative to the oral exam, upon request.

Time distribution: 24 hours of classroom lectures and discussion; about 25 hours of personal study; about 26 hours of personal study for the oral exam (or written paper), for a sum total of 75 hours of study time.

Essential bibliography (articles and other materials will be supplied on the Moodle Platform)

  • Descouvemont, P., Thérèse de Lisieux et son prochain, Les Éditions du Cerf, Paris 2003.
  • Descouvemont, P., Thérèse of Lisieux and Marie of the Trinity. The transformative relationship of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and her novice Sister Marie of the Trinity, Alba House, New York 1997.
  • Official Site of the Carmel of Lisieux Archives (translation available in English):
  • O’Mahony, C., St. Thérèse of Lisieux by those who knew her. Testimonies from the Process of Beatification, Veritas Publications 1989.
  • Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, Story of a Soul: Study Edition; Letters of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. General Correspondence, Volume I (1877-1890) and Volume II (1890-1897); The Poetry of St. Thérèse of Lisieux; The Plays of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. “Pious Recreations”; The Prayers of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. The Act of Oblation; Her Last Conversations, (M. Foley – J. Clarke et al.), ICS Publications, Washington, D.C. 1977-2014.
  • Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face (Céline Martin), My Sister Saint Thérèse, Tan Books 1997.