The Plays of St. Therese of Lisieux
Translated by Susan Conroy and David Dwyer
This book is now available from Amazon in Book or Kindle format or direct from the publisher.
ICS Publications, Washington DC

     

     Over a period of about three years toward the end of her life, St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897) was asked by her Carmelite superiors to compose eight “theatrical pieces” for special occasions in her convent. She did not consider them mere trivial amusements. On the contrary, Thérèse invested herself wholeheartedly in the writing and performance of these little dramas, which provided a welcome opportunity to articulate her growing spiritual insights and share them with her religious community. Here we find echoes of her great themes, some developed at greater length than anywhere else in her writings: Mary of Nazareth and Joan of Arc, humility and the “little way,” confidence and love, and so much more.
     In the present volume, for the first time, all eight of her “plays” (or “pious recreations,” as they are sometimes called in the French) are published together in their entirety for English-speaking readers. They open a new window onto the message of the Church’s youngest “doctor.” Also included is a masterful general introduction by the noted Thérèsian expert, Bishop Guy Gaucher, O.C.D., as well as individual introductions to each play explaining its context and significance.

  • The Mission of Joan of Arc
  • The Angels at Jesus' Creche
  • Joan of Arc Accomplishes Her Mission
  • Jesus at Bethany
  • The Divine Little Beggar of Christmas
  • The Flight into Egypt
  • The Triumph of Humility
  • Saint Stanislaus Kostka
     

Thérèse was delighted when her sister, Agnes of Jesus (Pauline) was elected prioress in succession to Mother Marie de Gonzague in February of 1893. Pauline asked Thérèse to write verses and theatrical entertainment for liturgical and community festivals. Included were two plays about Saint Joan of Arc, "her beloved sister", which she performed herself with great feeling and conviction.

Thérèse, Her Life at Lisieux Carmel from the Society of the Little Flower
 

She wrote a verse play about the Venerable Joan of Arc, and took the title role herself. "I want to offer my neck to the sword of the executioner and, like Joan of Arc, murmur the name of Jesus at the stake." She even dreamed of being a priest: "How lovingly I'd carry you in my hands when you came down from heaven at my call; how lovingly I'd bestow you upon men's souls."

Illuminating Lives: Thérèse of Lisieux by Beth Randall
 

"When I was beginning to learn the history of France, the account of Joan of Arc’s exploits delighted me; I felt in my heart the desire and the courage to imitate her”

St. Thérèse of Lisieux quoted on the 2007 Calendar published by StTherese.com
 

Thérèse was so convinced about how much we need to love the love that is mercy - instead of some twisted, inept infatuation with justice - that she made it the theme of a little Christmas play she wrote and performed for the community in 1894.

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower and Doctor of the Church By Paul Zalonski
 

In "The Divine Child begging at Christmas", the Christ Child is depicted as subject to all human needs, all of which are equally love's needs, and may be satisfied by love in its different forms. This same thought constantly recurs as the leitmotif of "Jesus in Bethany": "Yes, it is your heart that I desire," says Jesus, "I came down to it from Heaven, leaving infinite glory for the sake of it. You have understood the mystery which brought Me down to earth: the interior soul is much more precious to Me, much more precious than the Glory of Heaven." God is the beggar of love. It means that love of man is transformed into the pure service of God's love, and this service extinguishes the last remnants of self-seeking in human love, in Christian love even. Faith, hope and charity become what Christ wills them to be: a living re-presentation of the Father, which means the pure service of the Father's will.

St. Thérèse's Little Way by Hans Urs von Balthasar
Saint Therese of Lisieux portraying Joan of Arc

Saint Therese of Lisieux portraying Joan of Arc

Saint Therese of Lisieux portraying Joan of Arc
All photographs of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, O.C.D., are copyright (c) Office Central, Lisieux France.
 
This book was reviewed in The Catholic Historical Review - Volume 96, Number 2, April 2010, pp. 381-382
 
Check out this performance of The Triumph of Humility on YouTube by St. Therese Catholic School of Faith and Mission in Bruno Saskatchewan Canada and another translation of that play by Reverend John Russell, O.Carm. and Professor Helen Bailey. Also more excerpts from the plays have been set to music on the StThereseMartin YouTube Channel.
 

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