Therese of Lisieux carried with her the burdens and responsibilities of a powerful mystic vocation. Since early childhood, Therese sought an intense closeness with God above everything else. At age 11, on a visit to the Pope, she requested to join the Carmelite order early, refusing to leave the Pope's presence until guards were forced to carry her out of the room. The only obstacles to her spiritual ascension, in her mind, were the torments of her own inherent sin. And yet her path was not one of achieving perfection through acts and practices; her fate rested completely on forces beyond her. Humans did not earn perfection; it was a gift from above, subject completely to a supernatural Grace.
As she grew up, deepening her inner struggle with each oncoming year, Therese suffered greatly - scruples, illness, the death of her parents -- and suffering became for her a means through her sin, a doorway to transcendence and divine freedom. She had, at the end of her life, suffered to the point that suffering no longer existed. It was all "sweet," she exulted on her death bed. Jesus had made a ladder for her up to heaven -- the only possibility for a soul incapable of cultivating illumination through self-will. This premise, her "little way," marks her in history as one of the most beloved saints of all time. Rebelling against social vanity and pretense, driving always onward towards an honest encounter with God through love, Therese promised to spend her time in heaven helping souls on earth. Since her premature death at age 26 in 1897, Therese has not left our planet in the wake of absence. The thousands of reports of miracles achieved through her intercessions (after her death) were indeed a big reason why her canonization process culminated so quickly. Across the world now, Therese is showering humanity with roses both literal and spiritual; and the lovers of the Little Flower do not hesitate to testify on her behalf.