I just finished watching the movie Therese for the second time since it was given to me. For the second time since it was given to me, it has made me cry. If you want to be provoked, this is a movie worth watching. It is not exactly the most expensive, the best produced or best acted film out there, and I admit it’s colored through the glowing admiration that biographical works tend to portray. But right now, I really don’t care. It is an absolutely lovely film that pierces me every time.
For those who haven’t seen it, the central character is Therese of Lisieux, a young woman in who lived in France in the late 1800’s who became a Carmelite nun. Her autobiography is a spiritual classic in Catholic writings. This is a girl who really gave herself to loving Jesus by living out the Sermon on the Mount.
Two particular parts of this movie get to me. The first is when she is entering into the monastery at age fifteen. I have cried both times here, identifying a little too closely with what it’s like to leave my father’s house to pursue my calling in God. But that’s not primarily the part I wanted to blog about.
What strikes and provokes me most is the very end of the film. [Spoiler warning…] In the movie, as well as historically, Therese of Lisieux died in her early twenties of tuberculosis. The scene depicts her in her deathbed, her sisters gathered around and praying. She hasn’t been able to swallow for days, with pain having to refuse the communion bread during her last rites. She’s coughing up blood and gasping for every breath. She is frightened and in agony — but the words that keep coming out of her mouth are, “I love Him. He is good. I love Him.” Just before her final breath, she sees the Lord. Her eyes widen in wonder, and her breathing relaxes. In a voice that is tender and filled with awe, as she’s gazing at a Man only she can see, her last words are: “My God… I love You.”
And that’s when I start crying.
I want that. Not the dying of tuberculosis part. But the part where, in the middle of even the most adverse, confusing circumstance, what comes out is, “I love Him. He is good. My God, I love You.” Whether I die or whether I am caught up to meet Him in the air, I want my last words in this unglorified body to be, “I love You.” I want a heart that is so fully alive, so fully consumed with the love of God, so committed to loving Him that it flows from my lips no matter what the situation. I don’t want it to be something I have to conjure up. I want it to be the automatic overflow of my soul.
God, let love abound in us still more and more. Give us grace that the ultimate testimony of our lives may be one of pure, holy love to the very end.