St Therese dressed as Joan of Arc

“Sanctity! It must be won at the point of a sword!” said the little warrior St Therese. If anyone has read her Story of a Soul and gave it up as a sentimental exercise in French bad taste they should pick up The Last Conversations. The first book might just put folks off with the cute stories of Daddy’s little girl who went to the beach and saw her name written in the stars. They might get a bit fed up with her childish petulance and can’t help drawing the conclusion that maybe  just maybe just a little bit this is a spoiled baby girl of the family.

So let them read The Last Conversations. This extraordinary document is the record her sisters kept of her final months and at last, in great detail, her final days and hours. Here every conversation is recorded. Every look, every smile, every gasp of agony as she coughs up her lungs with consumption. Here we see the brave agony of a young woman who is determined to make sense of her suffering and absolutely determined to go through her agony with amazing courage and fortitude.

Here is the story of a saint to inspire the weakest among us. No wonder she was a great influence on so many other saints. No surprise that the other hero St Maximillian Kolbe credited her with his great accomplishments and looked to her for the courage and good humored hard work that brought him in the end to Auschwitz and the self sacrifice and the starvation and finally the injection of carbolic acid.

Do you want to be a saint? Be prepared to be a warrior. There is no other way forward. Remember your spiritual life is going either up or down. We like to think we remain the same. Wrong answer.

You’re going up or down. If you’re coasting you an only coast in one direction. Down. If you want to go up you must climb.