“I wondered for a long time why God has preferences, why all souls don’t receive an equal amount of graces. I was surprised when I saw Him shower His extraordinary favors on saints who had offended Him, for instance, St. Paul and St. Augustine, and whom He forced, so to speak, to accept his graces….I was puzzled at seeing how Our Lord was pleased to caress certain ones from the cradle to the grave, allowing no obstacle in their way when coming to Him.…
“Jesus deigned to teach me this mystery. He set before me the book of nature; I understood how all the flowers He has created are beautiful, how the splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the Lily do not take away from the perfume of the little violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose her springtime beauty, and the fields would no longer be decked out with little wild flowers.
“And so it is in the world of souls, Jesus’ garden. He willed to create great souls comparable to Lilies and roses, but He has created smaller ones and these must be content to be daisies or violets destined to give joy to God’s glances when He looks down at his feet. Perfection consists in doing His will, in being what He wills us to be.
“….It is with great happiness, then, that I come to sing the mercies of the Lord with you, dear Mother. It is for you alone I am writing the story of the little flower gathered by Jesus.”
St. Therese of Lisieux, Story of a Soul
I was very struck by this passage when I first read it, because I was working on Forty Ways to Look at JFK, and thinking a lot about why Kennedy was so beloved, and Nixon so despised. Even before Watergate, both leaders deserved a great deal of criticism for their actions. Kennedy, however, had a kind of grace that Nixon lacked. Nixon’s resentment at the fact that JFK nevertheless got away with things that stuck to him helped build the bitterness and paranoia that led to Watergate. I was interested to see how Therese had thought about the mystery of character.