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
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.