In Carmel - The Early Years

On New Year's day, 1888, the prioress of the Lisieux Carmel advised Therese she would be received into the monastery, but that she had to be patient and wait a little bit longer. On April 9, 1888, an emotional and tearful, but determined Therese Martin said good-bye to her home and her family. She was going to live "for ever and ever" in the desert with Jesus and twenty-four enclosed companions; she was fifteen years and three months old. The only cloud on her horizon was the worsening condition of her father, Louis, who had developed cerebral arteriosclerosis. Celine remained at home to care for their father during his long and final illness. The good father was growing senile. Once in June of 1888, he wandered from his home at Lisieux and was lost for three days, eventually turning up at Le Havre. In August, after a series of strokes, Louis became paralyzed.

Many years earlier when Therese was a little girl, she would peer out of an attic window. Therese loved reveling in the glory of the day. One day however while her father was in Alencon on business, she suddenly saw in the garden below the stooped and twisted figure of a man. She froze in terror. "Papa, Papa" she cried out. Her sister, Marie, who was nearby, heard the unmistakable note of panic in Therese's cry and ran to her. The figure in the garden disappeared. Marie assured her it was nothing and told her to forget everything that had happened. But the vision continued to cling like a sad portent in the corner of Therese's mind for the next fourteen years. Now, with her father paralyzed, the meaning of Therese's vision in the garden so long ago had became apparent at last.

Louis however, rallied his strength, and managed to attend the ceremonies of Therese's clothing in the Carmelite habit on January 10, 1889. Shortly thereafter, on February 12th, Louis was taken to the hospital after an attack of dementia. Seeing her father's humiliation hurt Therese deeply. "Oh, I do not think I could have suffered more than I did on that Day!!!" With that, Therese began to understand the sufferings of the mocked Christ, the Suffering Servant foretold by Isaiah. Therese's father made one last visit to the Carmel in May, 1892. He died peacefully two years later, in 1894, with Celine at his side. Celine then joined her three sisters at Carmel in September of 1894.©2015