Carmelite Conversations

Lessons from St. Therese of Lisieux on Death and Dying

November 1, 2016

As we approach All Saints Day and All Souls Day, our thoughts turn to the topic of “Death & Dying.” Many people try to avoid thinking about that topic, as it brings on feelings of anxiety…or gloom…or fear. The fact of the matter is, we gain much wisdom by pondering death during our life. As the old saying goes: “The art of living well is in knowing how to die well.” What is death? How does one prepare for death? How do we confront our fear of death? St. Therese of Lisieux was confronted with death early in her life, from hearing about and seeing death all around her and especially in the death of her own mother when she was only 4 ½ years old. These occasions, rather than causing her to flee from the subject, enticed her throughout her life to ponder them deeply and seek the treasures of wisdom hidden therein. Yes, St. Therese had her own fears to confront. She confronted the meaning of death. She grasped the seed of faith in her belief in Heaven, beyond even her feelings. God allowed her to be purified especially in the last 18 months of her life. Her faith and embrace of God’s will and plan for her life surged forward in an ever- deeper surrender and abandonment to God. St. Therese shares her wisdom with us on this all-important topic which will help us today to prepare for that final day of this exile.


Scripture:  1 Thes. 5:2; 1 Cor 2:9; Ps. 23:4;

Catechism of the Catholic Church:  #1016

“The Most Insightful St. Therese of Lisieux Quotes on Death” by Catherine Birri,

Books:“Story of a Soul: the Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux,” Study Edition, Trans. by John Clarke, OCD; Prepared by Marc Foley, OCD; ICS Publications.

“Living on Love!...” and “What I’ll Soon See for the First Time!...” found in “The Poetry of St. Therese of Lisieux,” Trans. by Donald Kenney, OCD; ICS Publications.

“The Letters of St. Therese of Lisieux and Those Who Knew Her: General Correspondence, Vol. 2,” Trans. from the critical edition by John Clarke, OCD; ICS Publications.

“St. Therese of Lisieux: Her Last Conversations,” Trans. from the critical edition by John Clarke, OCD; ICS Publications.

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