Patrick Ahern cherished Thérѐse’s writing and example so much that he went to the trouble of learning French when he was 70 for the sole purpose of being able to read the original manuscript and other works written by scholars in her native tongue. That to me shows a profound respect for the written word and the desire for an even deeper understanding of a saint he loved dearly.
One of the most beautiful and inspiring books I’ve ever read about Thérѐse is one that Bishop Patrick Ahern wrote that was published in 1998. It is a heartfelt story based on the correspondence between Thérѐse and a young seminarian. Their letters to one another are filled with love, wisdom, and affection. Both of them were tireless in serving the Lord and in doing whatever they could to spread His Love in the world. Maurice and Thérѐse: The Story of a Love is a remarkable example of how two people of faith can pray for and encourage one another a great deal—even if they are miles apart, never meet in person, and have very different lifestyles due to the specifics of their vocations.
I love Three Gifts of Thérѐse of Lisieux: A Saint for Our Times all the more knowing the tenderness and affection Ahern recognized Thérѐse had for Maurice, her sisters, her family, those in her religious community, and the entire world. Thérѐse suffered a great deal of loss, illness, disappointment, as well as a very dark night of the soul, yet she remained cognizant all the while that even she could be useful for God if she would live out the daily tasks given to her with supreme love and selflessness.
One of my favorite personal stories from Ahern’s faith journey is included in this book. It involves a brief stop at a candy shop that changed everything for him. What he thought of and saw as weakness in a friend turned out to be an act of faith so profound that it changed the course of his life (and no doubt his friend’s as well). I enjoy how much Ahern appreciates and embodies what Thérѐse experienced and described as the “Little Way.”