September 23rd marks the beginning of our novena to St. Therese of the Child Jesus. Over 100 years after her death, St. Therese is as popular and lovable as ever. Some attribute it to her winning personality and her ability to attract people of different personalities from different cultures, making her the "greatest Saint of modern times." But Therese was not just a charming little girl or a good Religious, or a deeply Catholic young woman, her spiritual doctrine is attractive because it speaks to the core of every man and woman's heart: that even in our weakness, and especially because of our weakness, God loves us. "It is so good to know that I am weak and in need of God's mercy", she exclaimed. "I am not afraid of the justice of God because justice is giving to someone his or her due, and God knows we are nothing but dust." In Therese, we see our own weaknesses, our deep desires and longings. Her scruples were our struggles, her victories and failures mirror our own. She gives us hope because she proves to us that hoping in God will yield fruits, and that our hope will never be in vain. She saw the misery of man, embraced it in faith, hope and love, and showed us that weakness is not a hindrance to union with God. She was a breath of fresh air to a world which saw perfection and heroic deeds as standards of greatness. Therese redefined the essence of perfection and elevated it to perfection in love. It is not what we do for God which matters, it is what God does in us and through us. It is not doing extraordinary deeds which matters, it is doing something ordinary in an extraordinary way. In Therese, love alone counts. "It is love alone which attracts me." And yet, hers was a love defined not in sweetness and consolations, not in flowers and rainbows. She proves to us that true love, true charity, is borne in true knowledge of the person of Jesus, nurtured in aridity and spiritual darkness, effected by the act of the will, and bears fruit in complete self forgetfulness and sacrifice. She was a true daughter of St. John of the Cross who said: "He who seeks not the Cross of Christ, seeks not the glory of Christ." Therese can be easily misunderstood because of the flowery, romantic words and phrases she used to express herself. But if one tries to get pass the language, one will find a treasure and source of inner peace in her writings. As we begin to honor her with nine days of prayers, let us get to know her again by re-reading the story of her life. Many of us have read the Story of A Soul so many times. But just like the life of Christ, we can always glean new insights and learn new lessons from the experiences of this girl who called herself "Little Therese."