From the autobiography of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus
(MS B, f. 3r-3v: ed. J. Clarke 1975, pp. 193-94)
In the heart of the Church I shall be love
My desires caused me a veritable martyrdom, and I opened the Epistles of Saint Paul to find some kind of answer. Chapters Twelve and Thirteen of the First Epistle to the Corinthians fell under my eyes. I read there, in the first of these chapters, that all cannot be apostles, prophets, doctors, etc., that the Church is composed of different members, and that the eye cannot be the hand at one and the same time. The answer was clear, but it did not fulfill my desires and gave me no peace. Without becoming discouraged, I continued my reading, and this sentence consoled me: Yet strive after the better gifts, and I point out to you a yet more excellent way. And the Apostle explains how all the most perfect gifts are nothing without Love. That Charity is the excellent way that leads most surely to God.
I finally had rest. Considering the mystical body of the Church, I had not recognized myself in any of the members described by Saint Paul, or rather I desired to see myself in them all. Charity gave me the key to my vocation. I understood that if the Church had a body composed of different members, the most necessary and most noble of all could not be lacking to it, and so I understood that the Church had a heart and that this heart was burning with love. I understood it was love alone that made the Church’s members act; that if love ever became extinct, apostles would not preach the Gospel and martyrs would not shed their blood. I understood that love comprised all vocations, that love was everything, that it embraced all times and places... in a word, that it was eternal!
Then, in the excess of my delirious joy, I cried out, “O Jesus, my Love... my vocation, at last I have found it... My vocation is Love!”
Yes, I have found my place in the Church and it is you, O my God, who have given me this place; in the heart of the Church, my Mother, I shall be love. Thus I shall be everything, and thus my dream will be realized.