Excerpted from Edward T. Oakes's post, "Are Protestants Heretics?"
the Catholic Church in the nineteenth century – especially in France – represented a kind of subterranean Jansenism fused to a bourgeois “ledger morality” of Do’s and Don’ts. It was in this hothouse atmosphere that Ste. Thérèse of Lisieux was raised. Although brought up in a thoroughly Catholic household, and pious to an almost preternatural degree, she was assaulted toward the end of her short life (she died at the age of 24 of tuberculosis) by fierce temptations to atheism, which she could only resolve when she came to these “Lutheran” insights, four months before her death:And in her Offrande à l’Amour miséricordieux, she prays to Jesus thus:
I am very happy that I am going to heaven. But when I think of this word of the Lord, “I shall come soon and bring with me my recompense to give to each according to his works,” I tell myself that this will be very embarrassing for me, because I have no works. … Very well! He will render to me according to His works for His own sake.
In the evening of this life I shall appear before Thee with empty hands because I do not ask Thee, Lord, to count my works. All our just acts have blemishes in Thine eyes. Therefore I want to wrap myself up again in Thy justice, and to receive from Thy love the eternal possession of Thee Thyself. (All emphases added.)
Sometimes, when I’m in an impish mood with the seminarians in my class, I like to quote something out of character from someone famous and have the students guess who said it. When I read these quotes from Thérèse, they’ll take a stab and say it’s from Martin Luther in one of his more pious moods, or John Calvin, or maybe Karl Barth. Imagine the shock when I tell them it came from that “Lutheran Carmelite,” the Little Flower![-snip-]
"Are Protestants Heretics?"