In Carmel
Thérèse Recieves the Carmelite Habit


Sister Thérèse, 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.

The Carmel
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 in tears".

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.©2015