Thursday, May 6, 2010

Maurice & Thérèse: The Story of a Love

After having read books and articles about Thérèse of Lisieux, I was interested in reading her personal correspondence knowing that letters show a window into the soul that other forms of communication often lack. Even approaching this book expecting to be moved, I couldn’t fathom the intimacy and agape kind of love that a “saint among saints” and a seminarian who eventually becomes a priest and missionary would express for God and one another.
A very small excerpt from one of these letters which a brother in Christ e-mailed me when he was reading the book before lending it to me, has remained in my mind and drawn me closer to the Lord.  I could never have imagined the affection that developed between a dying cloistered nun and a young man who during the course of their correspondence went from being a struggling seminarian to a suffering priest.
I’m not sure why I was struck that someone with the profound humility and desire to save souls that St. Thérèse possessed would not only correspond with, but also be a source of hope and encouragment for Maurice Bellière while “the Little Flower of Jesus” was facing the advanced stages of tuberculosis and her imminent death. Of course someone so united to the Source of all Love, who aspired “to be Love in the heart of the Church,” would agree to uplift through prayer and writing a stranger seeking guidance and consolation. It makes more sense to be amazed rather than surprised that St. Thérèse would be a conduit of familial love, hope, and inspiration while going through a dark night of the soul and in the midst of intense physical pain.
The author, Patrick Ahern, who is said to be one of the top experts on the spirituality of Thérèse, has done an amazing job of putting the letters together and connecting them with valuable historical and spiritual information and insights. It would be far too easy to miss some of the significant lessons St. Thérèse shares with Maurice if Ahern weren’t so adept at pointing out the elements of the “little way” in his commentary in between each of the letters.
The only thing that disappointed me was reading about Maurice’s rather sad and tragic life once St. Thérèse died. I’m not sure if it’s that Maurice’s life seems rather pitiful after delving into the legacy of his spiritual sister, or if the lack of more detailed information about his emotional and spiritual state in his ministry instead of just at the end of his life makes his life seem melancholic and insignificant for someone who had the lessons, love, and prayers of a great saint behind and within him.
Maurice & Thérèse is an incredibly powerful love story that illustrates the deep bonds that can form between a man and a woman centered on God.  You can purchase this book here.
I wrote this review of Maurice & Thérèse for the Tiber River Blogger Review program.  Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.  I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.


  1. Great post and great book! I especially like your last sentence about the relationship. Though I wish you had included that quote from your brother in Christ!

  2. Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find. Here's the quote my brother in Christ sent which inspired me to read this amazing book: “For those who love Him and after each fault come to ask pardon by throwing themselves into His arms, Jesus trembles with joy. He says to His angels what the father of the prodigal son said to his servants ‘put his best robe on him and put a ring on his finger, and let us rejoice.’ Ah! My brother, how the goodness of Jesus, His merciful love, are so little known!” (pg. 189)


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