The Way of Trust & Love: A Retreat Guided by St. Therese of Liseux by Jacques Philippe


“Efforts to change ourselves are bound to fail; the courage we need is that of persevering in the kind of fruitful disposition that opens us up effectively to God’s action” 

St. Therese’s Secrets:

1. The Secret of Daily Life

  • Everyday insignificant events can be transformed into prayer and great opportunities for progressing in sanctity.
    • Offer up hours of work, assignments, holy hours, acts of charity, times of prayer for other people.
  • Live in the Present Moment
      • All I have today is to love & serve God.
  • Ask God:
    • What is the ‘yes’ you are asking me for today?
    • The little act of courage and trust you’re calling me to make today?
    • What is the little conversion, the door that opens to let in the Holy Spirit?

2. The Secret of Desiring to Be a Great Saint

  • I do not want to be half a saint” ~ St Therese.
  • God finds so few willing to endure such heroic work” ~ St. John of the Cross
  • St. Therese’s Little Way – She didn’t want to waste time, she wanted a short & straight way to Heaven, a completely new way. Bold! The elevator to holiness is Jesus’ arms.

3. The Secret of Accepting Your Own Inner Poverty

  • Recognize and peacefully accept it.
    1. St. Therese consider her “inner poverty” her greatest treasure b/c our Lord will come running to find us and transform us into a flame of Love.
    2. I expect to discover new imperfections in myself every day” ~ St. Therese

3. The Secret of Never Getting Discouraged

  • Discouragement is the #1 danger of the spiritual life.
  • Children fall all the time, but so small that they aren’t hurt and get right back up = so don’t be discouraged by faults. The Father cannot resist a child with great trust & love in Him.

4. The Secret of Acts of Courage

  • Deny yourself small things every day.
  • It is impossible to progress in sanctity with attachments.
  • You must be willing to give up everything for love of God.
  • Ex: St. Therese didn’t cry when she heard it would be her last Christmas being spoilt with presents.
  • Ex: She would cling to the handrail to prevent herself from sharing joys to the Superior.

5. The Secret of Gratitude

  • Never let an opportunity pass by where you are not giving thanks to God and others.

6. The Secret of Living with Others – Perfect Charity

  • Surest way to love God is to love the people around us & those hardest to love.
    • Only when you accept them & their weaknesses will they begin to change.
    • Don’t waste your time trying to “fix” others.
    • Look to give a spiritual banquet of friendly joyful charity.
  • Perfect Charity consists of:
    • being other’s faults – never reveal other’s weaknesses, pray & intercede for them.
    • do not be surprised by their weaknesses.
    • be edified by the tiniest acts of virtue you see in others.

7. The Secret of Penance

  • Jesus, punish me with extra graces so that I will never offend you again!
  • Jesus, punish me with a kiss!
  • For penance, be joyful and happy to everyone, and thank God for everything!!
  • Ex – story of 2 sons who did wrong, 1 runs away, 1 run to his Father embraces him and asks punishment of a kiss – catch God by His Heart!

8. The Secret of Little Works of Love

  • When we feel far from God and weak (spiritual slump) –> practice little works of love – forget yourself and make life good for others!

9. The Secret of Prayer

  1. We are called to be faithful to prayer, not to pray well.
    1. If we are faithful to our times of prayer, little by little we will be given peace and the lights we need outside the times of prayer. The rubbish will be cleared away.
    2. Perseverance through prayer leads to a purer love for God, more genuine & free & less selfish.
    3. Consolation is irrelevant to prayer
      1. God deposits treasures in our hearts for the times when we will need them. In prayer it’s enough to stay humbly in God’s presence. God instructs us in secret without our being aware of it. In prayer it’s enough to stay humbly in God’s presence.

10. The Secret of Trust

  • If our trust disappears when we do wrong, it shows that our trust was based on ourselves, not on God.

11. The Secret of Gratitude 

  • If we thank God, He will give us 10x more = our hearts, through gratitude, open up to more graces.

12. The Secret of Responding to Trials

  • Every trial, no matter what its causes and characteristics are, is a trial of faith or of hope or of love.
  • Essential question to ask –> What attitude does God want me to have toward this situation?
    • What act of faith am I being invited to make in this situation?
    • What attitude of hope am I being called to live by?
    • What conversion in relation to love, leading to a love that is truer and purer, am I being summoned to undertake?
  • The point is to move from “Why?” to “How?” The real question isn’t Why is this happening to me?” but “How should I live through these things?”
  • St Therese saw her “dark night of the soul” as a purification of hope and an invitation to pray for atheists, she said “May my darkness serve to enlighten other souls!”

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