Saint Joan and Saint Thérèse, together they are the most beautiful color in the heavens.
This is a motto of mine that describes my feelings about both of these saints individually as well as in their blended spiritual kinship. I love and propagate devotion both to St. Joan and St. Thérèse as well as to St. Joan with St. Thérèse. Each saint is individually her own remarkable and unique color imbued in the magnificent, metaphorical spiritual landscape that is the Kingdom of God; yet, together their souls create a colorful collage of even more astonishing beauty.
We could aptly extend this metaphor of the Kingdom to say that they are like flowers in that same landscape, each with individual brilliance; yet, together they form a set of blossoms that dazzles even more wonderfully our spiritual senses. Furthermore, as we raise our eyes, we see that this bed of flowers is itself part of a larger, unified ensemble of trees, meadows, lakes, rivers, hills, and mountains comprising that one landscape. If we are able to contemplate this scene as one who stands quietly on a hilltop overseeing this remarkably edifying panorama, we will then begin to appreciate God’s work of supernatural art that is the spirituality of Sts. Joan and Thérèse.
We also begin, in this contemplative image, to be enlightened as to the substance of their spirituality, both individually and as an amalgam of two souls. For individual spirituality, as presented in this metaphor whereby individual elements make up one beautiful landscape, receives its beauty and grandeur from the ground in which it is planted or established. Flowers only grow to perfection in the right soil with the right sunlight and the right amount of fresh water. A river only looks masterfully rich and powerful in the right location. Meadows only receive a pristine elegance in the context of their surroundings made of lakes, forests, and mountains. Just so, Sts. Joan and Thérèse lift our souls to heavenly heights with their spiritual beauty by being uniquely inspiring within their combined, authentic context that elevates the dignity of the larger picture.
It is the latter point that is so often misunderstood or even ignored when contemplating these two great saints. To be beautiful in oneself is one thing, but to actually have that beauty be appropriately proportional to an even higher principle representing a unified wholeness of all parts is to reach perfection. Our spiritual perfection cannot be attained in a vacuum. By the very nature of what it means to be perfect, our spirituality must, while retaining our individuality, be moved outward from ourselves toward the authentic whole. Being a beautiful flower is wonderful. Being a beautiful flower in a meadow which sits by a rushing river with majestic mountains in the distance is perfection.
St. Thérèse herself spoke of how Jesus taught her this very thing. He opened her spiritual eyes through the mystery of nature to observe how not every soul in the metaphoric landscape of His Kingdom is created equally to be a mountain, or an oak tree, or even a fragrant rose. Each soul is created differently and proportionately by Him for the purpose of magnifying the glory of God in the unified oneness of the end Principle which is Himself.
Thérèse could see that this is comparable to how beautiful individual elements in nature together glorify the whole landscape. Each can be seen in its individual wonder while at the same time all are lost in the magnificence of the unified whole. Whether one is a rose or a small violet, an oak or a shrub, our perfection comes in being that for which we were designed that we may all celebrate as one family the beauty of the whole. This is the glory that is the Kingdom of God, that is, unity in Principle while still astonishing in individual variety.
Using this general scheme, we see a mystery unfold in the particular with Sts. Joan and Thérèse as they retain their individual spiritual beauty but still blend together in that flower bed of dazzling array. Stepping further back we contemplate that dazzling array as it brings to life a unique beauty that glorifies the entire Kingdom. It is this perfect ordination which moves us as a unified family to glorify God that we celebrate.