Thérèse Recieves the Carmelite Habit
of the Child Jesus was happy with her lot, but everyday life in
the Carmel had its problems too: the clashes of communal life,
the cold, the new diet and the difficulties of prayer (two hours
prayer and four and a half of liturgy). First a postulant and
then a novice, she took the Carmelite habit on January 10, 1889
after a retreat marked by a deep sense of inner barrenness. She
had her own good reasons for adding "of the Holy Face"
to her name in religion.
In the meantime, a further shock came on the family front when
her beloved father developed cerebral arteriosclerosis and suddenly
disappeared from Les Buissonnets in June 1888.
February 12, 1889
was a black day for the Martin family. After an attack of dementia,
the "Patriarch" was taken to the Bon-Sauveur hospital
in Caen. "Oh, I do not think I could have suffered more than
I did on that day!!!" Seeing her father's humiliation hurt
Thérèse deeply. She began to understand the sufferings
of the mocked Christ, the Suffering Servant foretold by Isaiah.
She was also affected
by the spiritual atmosphere in the community, which was still
tainted by Jansenism and the vision of an avenging God. Some of
the sisters feared divine justice and suffered badly from scruples.
Even after her general confession in May 1888 to Father Pichon,
her Jesuit spiritual director, Thérèse was still
uneasy. But a great peace came over her when she at last made
her profession on September 8, 1890, although taking the black
veil (a public ceremony) on September 24th was a day "veiled
It was the reading
of St. John of the Cross, an unusual choice at the time, which
brought her relief. In the "Spiritual Canticle" and
the "Living Flame of Love", she discovered "the
true Saint of Love". This, she felt, was the path she was
meant to follow. During a community retreat (October 1891), a
Franciscan, Father Alexis Prou, launched her on those "waves
of confidence and love" on which she had previously been
afraid to venture.