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Heaven and the Religious Life

Before reaching the goal of our pilgrimage, we had to go through Switzerland, with its towering mountains, whose snow-capped peaks were lost in the clouds, with its waterfalls and its deep valleys, rich with giant ferns and purple heather. This profusion of nature’s loveliness did so much good to my soul, raising it to the God who had poured such wonders on a land of exile destined to endure for but a day. At one moment we were high upon the mountainside, with yawning chasms at our feet, ready to engulf us; at another, passing through a charming village with flimsy clouds lazily wandering over its chalets and graceful spire; then by a broad lake with calm, clear waters mingling their azure with the crimson of a setting sun. I cannot say what an impression the magnificence and grandeur of these scenes made upon me; it was a foretaste of Heaven’s wonders.

Then I thought of the religious life as it really is, with its restrictions and its little hidden sacrifices every day, and I saw how easily one might become so taken up with oneself that one might forget the glorious purpose of one’s vocation. I thought to myself: “Later on, in the hour of trial, when enclosed in Carmel, I shall only be able to see a little corner of the sky; I will look back on today and be encouraged: the thought of God’s majesty and greatness will put my own small troubles in their place. I will love Him alone and not make myself unhappy by being taken up with trivialities, now that I have caught a glimpse of what He has reserved for those He loves.”

This article is taken from a chapter in The Story of a Soul by St. Thérèse of Lisieux, which is available from TAN Books.

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