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St. Therese of Lisieux
Transcript of St. Therese of Lisieux
Katrin Renyer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Therese_of_Lisieux Soon after her birth in January 1873, the outlook for the survival of Thérèse Martin was very grim. Enteritis, which had already claimed the lives of four of her siblings, threatened Thérèse, and she had to be entrusted to a wet nurse, Rose Taillé, who had already nursed two of the Martin children. Rose had her own children and could not live with the Martins, so Thérèse was sent to live with her in the forests of the Bocage at Semallé. On Holy Thursday April 2, 1874, when she was 15 months old, she returned to Alençon where her family surrounded her with affection. http://salesianity.blogspot.com/2012/05/saint-therese-of-lisieuxs-parents-and.html http://onetinyviolet.wordpress.com/living-the-little-way-beautifully/ http://www.littleflower.org/ "All my life, God surrounded me with love. My first memories are imprinted with the most tender smiles and caresses...Those were the sunny years of my childhood." Little Therese was blond, blue-eyed, affectionate, stubborn, and alarmingly precocious. She could throw a giant-sized tantrum. Her bubbling laughter could make a gargoyle smile. In a note, Zelie advised her daughter Pauline: "She (Therese) flies into frightful tantrums; when things don't go just right and according to her way of thinking, she rolls on the floor in desperation like one without any hope. There are times when it gets too much for her and she literally chokes. She's a nervous child, but she is very good, very intelligent, and remembers everything." On August 28, 1877, Zélie Martin died of breast cancer, at age 45. Thérèse was only 4 1/2 years old. Her mother's death dealt her a severe blow and later she would consider that the first part of her life stopped that day. She wrote: "When Mummy died, my happy disposition changed. I had been so lively and open; now I became diffident and oversensitive, crying if anyone looked at me. I was only happy if no one took notice of me... It was only in the intimacy of my own family, where everyone was wonderfully kind, that I could be more myself." Three months after Zélie died, Louis Martin left Alençon, where he had spent his youth and marriage, and moved to Lisieux, where Zélie's pharmacist brother Isidore Guérin lived with his wife and two daughters. http://www.dcbuck.com/Dialogues/photos/Therese/index.html Thérèse was taught at home until she was eight and a half, and then entered the school kept by the Benedictine nuns of the Abbey of Notre Dame du Pre in Lisieux. Thérèse, taught well and carefully by Marie and Pauline, found herself at the top of the class, except for writing and arithmetic. When she was nine years old, in October 1882, her sister Pauline who had acted as a "second mother" to her, entered the Carmelite monastery at Lisieux. Thérèse was devastated. She understood that Pauline was cloistered and that she would never come back. "I said in the depths of my heart: Pauline is lost to me!" The shock reawakened in her the trauma caused by her mother's death. She also wanted to join the Carmelites, but was told she was too young. Marie Martin, the oldest daughter of the family, joined her sister Pauline at the Lisieux Carmel in 1886. Leonie Martin entered the Visitation Convent at Caen the following year. Therese then sought permission from her father to join Marie and Pauline at the Lisieux Convent. He granted her request. She was not yet fifteen when she approached the Carmelite authorities again for permission to enter. Again she was refused. The priest-director advised her to return when she was twenty-one. "Of course," he added, "you can always see the bishop. I am only his delegate." Therese visited the office of Bishop Hugonin of Bayeux with her father one rainy day and put her surprising request before him. "You are not yet fifteen and you wish this?" the bishop questioned. "I wished it since the dawn of reason," young Therese declared. Although charmed by her, Bishop Hugonin did not immediately grant Therese's request. He wanted time to consider it, and advised Therese and her father that he would write them regarding his decision. Therese had planned that, should the Bayeux trip fail, she would go to the Pope himself. Thus in November, 1887, Louis took his daughters, Therese and Celine, to Italy with a group of French pilgrims. Catholics from all over the world were journeying to the Eternal City, to celebrate Leo XIII's Golden Jubilee as a priest. On Sunday, November 20, 1887, "they told us on the Pope's behalf that it was forbidden to speak as this would prolong the audience too much. I turned toward my dear Celine for advice: 'Speak!' she said. A moment later I was at the Holy Father's feet....Lifting tear-filled eyes to his face I cried out: 'Most Holy Father, I have a great favor to ask you!....Holy Father, in honor of your jubilee, permit me to enter Carmel at the age of fifteen. Oh, Holy Father, if you say yes, everybody will agree!' He gazed at me speaking these words and stressing each syllable: 'Go - go - you will enter if God wills it.'" On April 9, 1888, an emotional and tearful, but determined Therese Martin said good-bye to her home and her family. 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. In August, after a series of strokes, Louis became paralyzed. However, he rallied his strength, and managed to attend the ceremonies of Therese's clothing in the Carmelite habit on January 10, 1889. Shortly after, on February 12th, Louis was taken to the hospital after an attack of dementia. Seeing her father's humiliation hurt Therese deeply. She began to understand the sufferings of Christ, the mocked Suffering Servant. Therese's father made one last visit to the Carmel in May, 1892. He died peacefully two years later, with Celine at his side. Celine then joined her three sisters at Carmel in September of 1894. Therese's fellow Sisters recognized her as a good nun, nothing more. She was conscientious and capable. Sister Therese worked in the sacristy, cleaned the dining room, painted pictures, composed short pious plays for the Sisters, wrote poems, and lived the intense community prayer life of the cloister. Superiors appointed her to instruct the novices of the community. According to her fellow sisters, there was nothing remarkably special about Therese. The harsh winter of 1890-1891 and a severe influenza epidemic killed three of the sisters, as well as Mother Geneviere, the Lisieux Carmel's founder and "Saint". Therese was delighted when her sister Pauline (Agnes of Jesus) was elected prioress in succession to Mother Marie de Gonzague in February of 1893. When Celine joined Therese at Lisieux Carmel in September of 1894, she brought her camera. Through this, they were able to enliven their recreation periods. Pauline asked Therese to write verses and theatrical entertainment for liturgical and community festivals. Included were two plays about Saint Joan of Arc, which she performed herself with great feeling and conviction. "It is impossible for me to grow up, so I must bear with myself such as I am with all my imperfections. But I want to seek out a means of going to heaven by a little way, a way that is very straight, very short and totally new." Thérèse entered the Carmel of Lisieux with the determination to become a saint. But, by the end of 1894, six years as a Carmelite made her realize how small and insignificant she was. She saw the limitations of all her efforts. She remained small and very far off from the unfailing love that she would wish to practice. She understood then that she must use this very littleness to get closer to God. The Lord, it seems, did not demand great things of her. But Therese felt incapable of the tiniest charity, the smallest expression of concern and patience and understanding. So she surrendered her life to Christ with the hope that he would act through her. She mirrored perfectly the words of St. Paul, "I can do all things in him who strengthens me." 'All things' consisted of almost everything she was called upon to do in the daily grind of life. Therese's Little Way consisted of many different things:
doing the harder chores for her fellow sisters
helping Sister St. Pierre, "a crotchety, older nun who refused to let old age keep her from convent activities"
keeping her wild temper under control when the other sisters annoyed her After observing a rigorous Lenten fast in 1896, she went to bed on the eve of Good Friday and felt a joyous sensation. She wrote: "Oh! how sweet this memory really is!... I had scarcely laid my head upon the pillow when I felt something like a bubbling stream mounting to my lips. I didn't know what it was." "Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love." The next morning she found blood on her pillow and understood. Coughing up of blood meant tuberculosis, and tuberculosis meant death. "I thought immediately of the joyful thing that I had to learn, so I went over to the window. I was able to see that I was not mistaken. Ah! my soul was filled with a great consolation; I was interiorly persuaded that Jesus, on the anniversary of His own death, wanted to have me hear His first call!" In July of 1897, she made a final move to the monastery infirmary. On August 19, 1897, Therese received her last communion. She died on September 30, 1897 at the young age of 24. On her death-bed, Therese is reported to have said: "I have reached the point of not being able to suffer any more, because all suffering is sweet to me." Therese Martin's last words were, "My God, I love you!" Thérèse was buried on October 4, 1897 in the Carmelite plot in the municipal cemetery at Lisieux, where her parents had been buried. In March of 1923, however, before she was beatified, her body was returned to the Carmel of Lisieux, where it remains.