Posted on January 14, 2019 19:56 Article Rating

St. Benedict Joseph Labre and St. Therese of Lisieux Patron's for our Times

For years now, I have had a devotion to both 

St Benedict Joseph Labre and St. Therese of Lisieux.

As I have traveled around different places in Europe and especially to Italy in particular, I learned that the Bishop of Loreto during the Jubilee Year of 2000 wrote a pastoral letter in which he spoke of both of these saints as "the patron's for the new millenuium".  I have the document in my possession and it will be translated; I hope to place it in my blogs soon.

A member of our Advisory board, Marianne Komek recently wrote an article for us on St. Therese which is posted below. 

Please send us your comments to:

Timothy Hughes Duff

Guardian/ Co Founder of the Guild of St Benedict Joseph Labre

Saint Therese of Lisieux—A Saint for Our Times

By Marianne Komek

I suffer from bipolar disorder. Thanks to professional medical attention and medication, it has been 20 years since I have had a manic episode. However, I remember that in 1990, after ten years of normalcy, I had a manic attack which was brief, however it was followed by a period of depression that was most debilitating.  Although I had struggled through dark moods before, this was particularly bad in that for the first time, even the simplest decisions were impossible for me to make. That, coupled with insomnia made it extremely difficult for me to function because lack of sleep is always the first sign that accompanies mania with me and I was worried about experiencing that again.

Enter Saint Therese. I found a beautiful picture of her right in the pew where I sat for daily Mass. There was a novena prayer attached to the opposite side. My aunt had once told me that she promised to send a shower of roses to those who sought her intercession after her death. I decided to take Saint Therese up on her offer and said the prayer faithfully each day. She graced me with her presence. I also decided to learn about her and was delighted and fascinated by her autobiography, The Story of a Soul. In it, she explains her method of spiritual childhood, that of doing simple things for God with great love and relying on his mercy.

She is a very descriptive writer and it is filled with charming words that capture the heart.

I determined to discover all I could about her life. On one trip to the library when searching for a commentary about Therese, I found the aisle, and the book quite literally fell off the shelf onto the floor without my reaching for it!

Saint Therese, although born into a financially well-off family, had to endure the death of her mother at an early age. She then “adopted” her older sister, Pauline, to take the place of her mother. However, she entered a Carmelite convent which left Therese motherless again. During this time, at eight years old, Therese experienced a violent nervous attack in which she experienced a type of psychological delirium and physical delusions. It seems odd, and I have read this in commentaries on her life, that no one in her family seems to have realized that it was the severing of maternal attachments which most likely caused this.

The physician was unable to provide a remedy. Louis Martin, her father, was devastated that his “little queen” should suffer so. Crying after seeing her, he gave his elder daughter money to donate for a novena to Our Lady of Victories to help Therese.  She proceeded to have another violent attack in which she did not recognize her eldest sister, Marie, who was serving as her nurse. Marie, together with Celine and Leonie, her other sisters, brought the statute of Our Lady of Victories to Therese’s bedside and knelt, fervently praying that she be released from the illness. Therese later said that she looked at the face of Mary who smiled at her and that cured the girl. The nervous condition was gone and Therese was restored to normalcy.

Carryl Houselander in her book, Guilt, says that Therese is a saint who “does not fit our own preconceived idea of what a saint should be like.” The author adds that before the average Englishman can accept her as a saint, “he will concentrate as exclusively as he can on the hardness of her hidden life, the iron that was driven into her soul, and very likely he will flatter himself that by his own insight he has discovered things that she was not able to tell him herself. He will go so far as to say that the exterior things of her personality tell him nothing about her, and might well be suppressed. He imagines that he is scandalized by her, but the fact is that he is scandalized by Christ, for choosing to become Therese Martin because Therese Martin had a suburban mind, and was true in every detail to what she was, a very sentimental little French bourgeoise.”

“The imagery which she uses to describe her life of contemplation is not like that of St. Teresa of Avila, descriptive of the gorgeous passion of a mature woman, but rather of the immature romanticism of a genteel French girl, for whom a marriage {as the bride of Christ} to which she willingly consents has been arranged by an adored father. When it is realized that she did in fact endure almost unbroken, lifelong aridity, and that on her side the surrender to divine Love was really a countless multiplication of acts of will, it seems to suggest that her life was an arranged marriage with Heaven.” {She did endure aridity at the end of her life, but not lifelong aridity as Houselander says}.

“These things are baffling to the mediocre, and we try to ignore them by saying that they tell us nothing of the essential saint. Their tremendous importance, is, however, not what they reveal or conceal about Therese Martin, but what they tell us about Christ.”

“Not that Therese wills to become Christ, but that Christ wills to become Therese,” Houselander says.

At the end of her life, Therese suffered from tuberculosis, and with it a deep depression.

She says in Story of a Soul, “He {Jesus} allowed my soul to be enveloped in utter darkness.”

“This trial did not last merely a few days or weeks; it went on for months, and I am still waiting to be delivered from it. It is impossible to explain what I feel—I only wish I could. I am in a dark tunnel, and you would have to go through it yourself to understand how dark it is.” She compares it to a fog which obscures all sunlight and joy.

Throughout this period, Therese makes many acts of faith in God and offers up her sufferings to “open unbelieving eyes” that they may hope in Jesus.

Her sisters also had to endure the heartbreak of their beloved father, Louis Martin’s dementia, when he was placed in a Catholic mental institution for three years. Therese had a mystical premonition that this would happen to him when she was a child. Of this, Therese says, “Words could not express my agony” when she learned of it. She then says that the three years of what she calls her father’s martyrdom were the most dear and fruitful of her life: “Our father must be greatly loved by God since he has so much to suffer. What a joy to share in his humiliation.”

Houselander says of Therese, “What Benedict Labre did for the victims of the war {the refugees and homeless of World War II} she did for the victims of civilization, the neurotics of our generation—for the neurotics and mentally suffering people that are now in such a great majority. She sanctified that worst of all suffering in herself, and without realizing the vast significance of what she did, entered into it in an acceptance of her father’s mental affliction as well as her own suffering.”

Houselander sums up Therese’s life by saying, “Thus the indomitable forerunner of our neurotic age accepted not only that man’s suffering, but the mental suffering of all those today who like him must be greatly loved by God, because they have so much to suffer.”

 About Marianne:

Marianne wants to combat the stigma that surrounds the disease. She has done this by reaching out to friends and cousins with the illness, encouraging them not to be ashamed and to seek medical assistance. She has written a Catholic novel about a teenage girl who has bipolar disorder, Promises to Theresa, which was recently released and is available on Amazon. Marianne wishes, through fiction, to offer a sympathetic portrait of a family’ s struggle to cope with mental illness with courage and faith in God. She is a journalist who would like to publicize the work of the Guild of St. Benedict Joseph Labre to help the mentally ill and overcome the stigma. She especially likes the fact that it is a spiritual apostolate with 40-hour adorers. Marianne has found the strength to cope with her illness by her faith in Jesus and love for the Blessed Sacrament. She is a daily communicant and is an active member of her parish, serving on several committees and is a Rosarian. Marianne is also a consecrated member of the international Marian Apostolic Movement of Schoenstatt.

She studied psychology in college and has read books on the topic such as cognitive therapy, codependence, and Carl Jung’s work, but has not had formal training in psychological methods. However, she is living proof of how good psychiatric care and the love and support of family and friends can help many mentally ill people to live a good life and contribute to society. She has been married to her supportive husband, Cabbar, a professional photographer, and media artist, for thirty-three years.

Professional Experience

Freelance Catholic Journalist: Articles have appeared in the National Catholic Register, the Catholic News Service, and The Catholic Spirit, the official newspaper for the diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey.

Perth Amboy, New Jersey Adult School:  English as a Second Language (ESL) substitute instructor

Essex County College, Newark; New Jersey: Remedial English Grammar and Writing Skills Tutor

Human Sciences Press; New York City: Production Editor

The CPA Journal; New York City: Editorial Assistant


The College of New Jersey; Ewingville; New Jersey: Bachelor of Arts in English Literature

The Institute of Paralegal Studies; Rahway, New Jersey: Paralegal Certification

We are currently searching for Advisory Members to the Guild

If you are intersted please contact Tim at:

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