Years later, I picked up the Little Russian Philokalia of Seraphim of Sarov. In those pages, I discovered that same humility and littleness that St. Therese had espoused, albeit in an Eastern context. Seraphim was a simple hermit living in the woods and loving God with all his heart - he left barely any writings, but what survives is edifying. What struck me most was that Seraphim always referred to others as "my joy", and treated them as though they were ambassadors from Christ Himself.
These aspects of his life led me to reconsider the littleness of St. Therese and her writings. Much like St. Seraphim, she is so humble and lowly that it is almost painful - one wants to just embrace them both and tell them they are such wonderful and good human beings.
When I came back to Story of a Soul after having spent time in the deep Russian forests with Seraphim, every word of St. Therese's work began to almost launch itself off the page at me. Suddenly, what I had previously thought was nothing more than a sentimental biography was so rich with wisdom and the love of God that I can now barely put it down. She sits alongside Seraphim of Sarov, that beloved Russian Orthodox saint, on my special bookshelf reserved for the works I quote from and read the most.
I know some will disagree, but to me, it says so much about the complementary nature of the Christian East and West. I have read that there are many Catholics who privately venerate Seraphim, and conversely, I have read that St. Therese is privately venerated by some Orthodox as well.
Of course, with this writing, I am not pretending that they are alike in many particulars - Seraphim was influenced by St. Isaac the Syrian and the Cappadocians; St. Therese by St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, and The Imitation of Christ. In St. Therese, the Passion is much more emphasized in her spirituality, whereas with Seraphim, it is the Transfiguration. Both St. Therese and Seraphim, in my opinion, truly lived out the Passion and the Transfiguration in their own ways, respectively.
But in St. Therese and in Seraphim, I find a simple spirituality that is endearing - for me, it took Seraphim to help me come back to St. Therese and give her another chance.
To be honest with you, I am not sure if St. Therese listens to my prayers - I ignored her for so long, that I only expect her to do the same to me. I suppose that shows how much I know about the saints. Regardless, it is due to her, and to that wonderful Orthodox saint, Seraphim of Sarov, that I am slowly but surely learning humility.