St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face (1873-1897)

January 2, 1873–Born

Boston-Carmel_002aZelie Martin, (Therese’s Mother), to her sister-in- law:

“My little daughter was born yesterday, Thursday, at 11:30 at night. She is very strong and very well…I am very happy. However, at first I was surprised, for I was expecting to have a boy! I imagined this for two months because I felt the child to be much stronger than my other children…” –Extracts  Letters of  St. Therese Volume ll 


1877–Childhood

PC2_St-Therese_576x434 Zelie to Pauline at school. She died soon after…

“The poor little one (Therese) makes up all our happiness: she will be good. We already see the seed, and she speaks only about God. She would never fail to say her prayers. I would like you to see her reciting little fables, never have I seen anything so pleasing. She finds by hers elf the expression she must give and the tone, but it is especially when she recites; “ little child with blond hair, where do you believe God is? When she comes to the words : “He is up in the blue heaven,” she raises her eyes above with an angelic expression, so beautiful that we never tire of having her say it. There is something so heavenly in her eyes that we are enraptured by it!…” –Extracts, Letters of  St. Therese Volume ll


1877–Therese’s Memories of Home

Boston-Carmel_005a“What shall I say of the winter evenings at home, especially the Sunday  evenings. Ah! How I loved, after the game of checkers was over,  to sit with Celine on Papa’s knees. He used to sing, in his beautiful voice, airs that filled the soul with profound thoughts, or else, rocking us gently,  he recited [poems that taught the eternal truths.” –Story of a Soul


1879–Prophetic Vision

St.-Therese-ChildbSr. Marie of the Sacred Heart’s Testimony (Marie Martin):

“When she was about six years old, Therese had a prophetic vision in which she saw the ordeal that was in store for our good father. I was in the room next to hers, when I heard her call out with a trembling voice :’Papa, Papa!’ I understood that something extraordinary was happening because my father was away for several days.  She had seen father walking in the garden, but as if bent with age, and wearing a kind of veil over his head. It was only later in Carmel, that God fully enlightened us concerning this vision: when our father was subjected in the last years of his life to a grievous and humiliating ordeal brought about by cerebral paralysis. ..our poor father used to cover his hear with a hankerchief, just as the Servant of God (Therese) had seen in the vision of 1879, ten years before the event.”  –St. Therese of Lisieux, By Those Who Knew Her.  


1883–School

“At this time in my life nobody has ever taught me how to make mental prayer, and yet I had a great desire to make it. … One day, one of my teachers at the Abbey asked me what I did on my free afternoons when I was alone. I told her I went behind my bed in an empty space which was there, and that it was easy to close myself in with my bed curtain and that ‘I thought.’   “But  what do you think about?” she asked. ‘I think about God, about life, about ETERNITY…I think!’ I understand now that I was making mental prayer without knowing it and that God was already instructing me in secret.” –Story of A Soul


May 8, 1884–First Holy Communion

3ca5d5730c65f29abf9a23be5edfadd8Sr. Agnes of Jesus  Testimony (Pauline Martin):

“She made her first holy communion at the Benedictine Abbey…I was already in Carmel…it was Marie who prepared her for this. I gave her a little notebook in which she was to write down every evening her sacrifices and little acts of love for Jesus. Her total for the three months was 818 sacrifices, and 2,773 acts of love or aspirations. She was confirmed at the same abbey on June 14,1884.” –St. Therese of Lisieux By Those Who Knew Her.  


To Save Souls

“One Sunday, looking at a picture of Our Lord on the Cross, I was struck by the blood flowing from one of the divine hands. I felt a pang of great sorrow when thinking this blood was falling to the ground without anyone’s hastening to gather it up. I was resolved to remain in spirit at the foot of the Cross and to receive the divine dew. I understood I was then to pour it out upon souls. The cry of Jesus on the Cross sounded continually in my heart: “I thirst!” (John 19:25). These words ignited within me an unknown and very living fire. I wanted to give my Beloved to drink and I felt consumed with a thirst for souls.” –Story of a Soul


Nov. 1887 Audience with the Pope Requesting Permission to Enter Carmel at 15 Years

Therese before enteringSr. Agnes of Jesus Testimony

“Pope Leo Xlll’s answer was ‘Do what the superiors tell you to.’  But she insisted: ‘But Holy Father, if you were to say yes, they would all agree.’ ‘ Come, come,’ he replied, ‘You will enter if God wills it.’ She wanted to insist further, but the vicar-general and the guards cut short the audience by dragging her away from the Holy Father’s feet.

Here is an excerpt from a letter she wrote to me after the audience:

‘I think I have done God’s will; there is nothing for it now but to pray. My heart is full, but I know that God cannot give me trials beyond my strength. He has given me courage to bear this one. Oh! Pauline, this is a very great trial, but I am the Child Jesus’ little ball; if he wants to break his toy he is free to do so. Yes, indeed; I want only whatever he wants.’”  –St. Therese of Lisieux By Those Who Knew Her.


April 9, 1888–Entrance to Carmel

St. Therese relates:

“The day chosen for my entrance into Carmel was April 9,1888, the sameLouis-Martinb day the community was celebrating the feast of the Annunciation, transferred because of Lent…I knelt down before my matchless Father for his blessing, and to give it to me he placed himself on his knees and blessed me, tears flowing down his cheeks. It was a spectacle to make the angels smile, this spectacle of an old man presenting his child, still in the springtime of life, to the Lord!”  –Story of a Soul


1893–Maturity

Therese07J2Mother Marie de Gonzague wrote to the Visitation Convent as Le Mans:

“Tall and robust, with a childlike face, and with a tone of voice and expression that hide a wisdom, a perfection, and a perspicacity of a woman of fifty…She is a little innocent thing to whom one would give Holy Communion without previous confession, but whose head is filled with tricks to be played on anyone she pleases. A mystic, a comedienne, she is everything! She can make you shed tears of devotion, and she can as easily make you split your sides with laughter during recreation” –Her Last Conversations


The Presence of God

Sr. Martha of Jesus Testimony, a  novice under the instruction of St. Therese:

No one who came into contact with Sister Therese of the Child Jesus could fail to be overwhelmed by a sense of the presence of God. Her way of speaking about spiritual matters was such that you never tire of listening to her. She spoke with such feeling that you had the impression there was a fire ceaselessly devouring her. Everything about her commanded respect; when in her presence you felt that her soul was always united to God, that she never ceased being conscious of his presence. The sight of her humble, modest, and recollected bearing in choir was a source of edification; she seemed totally absorbed in God. She had not the slightest interest in the affairs of this world; everything left her indifferent except what concerned the glory of God and people’s spiritual welfare. –St. Therese of Lisieux By Those Who Knew Her 


1896–Dream

Venerable-anne-of-jesus-lobera-carmelite-At the first glimmerings of dawn I was (in a dream) in a kind of gallery and there were several other persons, but they were at a distance. . . Suddenly, without seeing how they had entered, I saw three Carmelites dressed in their mantles and long veils. It appeared to me they were coming for our Mother, but what I did not understand clearly was that they came from heaven. In the depths of my heart I cries out “ Oh! How happy I would be if I could see the face of one of these Carmelites !  Then, as though my prayer were heard by her, the tallest of the saints advanced toward me: immediately I fell to my knees…I recognized Venerable Anne of Jesus, Foundress of Carmel in France. Her face was beautiful but with an immaterial beauty… Venerable Mother’s glance and smile was FILLED with LOVE…I dared..”O Mother! I beg you, tell me whether God will leave me for a long time on earth. Will He come soon to get me? Smiling she whispered; ”Yes, soon, soon, I promise you.” “Mother, tell me further if God is not asking something more of me than my poor actions and desires. Is He content with me?” “God asks no other thing from you. He is content, very content.”-Story of a Soul


Her Prayer

Quoted numerously in the Catechism of the Catholic Church,  St. Therese defined prayer as a surge of the heart: it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy. ( CCC 2558) 

“Outside of the Divine Office which I am very unworthy to recite, I do not have the courage to force myself to search out beautiful prayers in books. There are so many of them it really gives me a headache! And each prayer is more beautiful than the others. I cannot recite them all and not knowing which to choose, I do like children who do not know how to read, I say very simply to God what I wish to say, without composing beautiful sentences, and He always understands me.“ –Story of a Soul


Humility

Celine_martin_1-137x180Sr. Genevieve  of the Holy Face, (Celine Martin) Testimony:

“She was completely convinced of her own impotence. One day the Father Superior came to see her, and he said: “ You think you are soon going to heaven, but you are not; your crown is not finished yet; you have only begun it.” With that angelic look of hers she replied: “That’s very true Father. I have not made my crown; it was God who made it.” –St. Therese of Lisieux By Those Who Knew Her.    


As St. Joan of Arc

ST.-Therese-as-St.-Joan-of-Arcb“One day, we were having an entertainment for Mother Prioress’ feast and the Saint was representing Joan of Arc at the stake. Through an act of imprudence on the part of another, the thing caught fire, and our Mother, in order to protect her, ordered Therese not to budge. While the nuns were trying to smother the flames which were crackling at her feet, my dear little sister stood perfectly calm while offering the sacrifice of her life to God, as she told us later.” –My Sister Saint Therese, Sr. Genevieve of the Holy Face, (Celine Martin)


April 3, 1896 –The First Hemoptysis--Tuberculosis

“On Good Friday, Jesus wished to give me the hope of going to see Him in heaven.”


September 13, 1896–The Little Way

Letter to Sr. Marie of the Sacred Heart:

…I understand so well that it is only love that can make us pleasing to God …Jesus is pleased to show me the only road which leads to this divine furnace, and this road is the abandonment of the little child who sleeps without fear in his Father’s arms…”Whoever is a little one, let him come to me.” Said the Holy Spirit through the mouth of Solomon…In His name the Prophet Isaiah …whose inspired glance was already plunged into the eternal depths, cried out in the Lord’s name; “ As a mother caresses her child, so will I comfort you; I will carry you on my bosom, and I shall rock you on my knees.” Oh, dear Godmother, after language like this, there is nothing to do but be silent and weep with gratitude and love. –(Manuscript B) Story of a Soul


1897–Infirmary

Sickbed-Photob“In the evening of July 8, she was taken down to the infirmary where she stayed until her death. These quarters were very small. In one corner there was an iron bed closed in by brown curtains to which Therese pinned her favorite holy pictures, namely, The Holy Face of Christ, the Blessed Mother, her “dear little” Theophane Venard, etc. On the same day that Therese was brought to the infirmary, the statue of the “Virgin of the Smile” was installed there… Mother Agnes about this time wrote… Mother Agnes: “Are you afraid now that death is close? Therese: “Ah! Less and less!” Mother Agnes: “Do you fear the thief? This time He is at your door?” Therese: “No. He is not at the door: He had entered. But what are you saying Mother? How can I fear one whom I love?’” -Her Last Conversations


April 1896-1897–Trial of Faith

July 11,1897, Sr. Agnes of Jesus Testimony:

I remember one day during her last illness the temptations against her faith were troubling her more than usual, and she kept repeating these lines from one of her poems:

Since the Son of God wished his Mother
To undergo darkness and heartfelt anguish,
Mary, is it therefore a good thing to suffer here on earth?
Yes, to suffer out of love is purest happiness.
Jesus can take back everything he has given me,
But tell him never to get angry with me.
He can hide if he likes, and I will wait for him
Till that undying day when my faith will cease to be.

St. Therese of Lisieux By Those Who Knew Her. 


September 30, 1897–Dying

Mother Agnes relates:

“I was alone with her about 4:30 in the afternoon. For more than two hours the death rattle tore her chest. Her face was flushed, her hands purple, and her feet were as cold as ice. She was shivering in her limbs. Huge beads of perspiration stood out on her forehead and rolled down her cheeks. It was becoming increasingly difficult for her to breath…at 6PM Therese siged, “ Mother! Isn’t this the agony? Am I not going to die?”  “Yes poor child, but God perhaps wills to prolong it for several hours.” “Well, all right! Ah! I would not want to suffer a shorter length of time.”– Her Last Converstaions


1897–Death

Boston-Carmel_028aThe prioress has the infirmary bell rung…”Open all the doors,” Mother Marie de Gonzague ordered. Hardly had the community knelt at her bedside when Therese pronounced very distinctly, while gazing at her crucifix “ Oh! I love Him! And a moment later: “ My God , I love You!” Suddenly her eyes came to life and were fixed on a spot just above the statue of the Blessed Virgin. Her face took on the appearance it had when Therese enjoyed good health. She seemed to be in ecstasy. This look lasted for a space of a “Credo.” Then she closed her eyes and expired. It was 7:20 in the evening.-Her Last Conversations


May 17, 1925–From Canonization Homily Pope Pius Xl

Pius XI“The new saint, Therese, had thoroughly learned this teaching of the Gospels and translated it into her daily life. Moreover, she taught the way of spiritual childhood by word and example to the novices of her convent. She set it forth clearly in all her writings, which have gone to the end of the world and which assuredly no one has read without being charmed or without reading again and again with great joy and profit…In her catechism lessons, she drank in the pure doctrine of faith; from the golden book of The Imitation of Christ, she learned asceticism; in the writings of St. John of the Cross, she found her mystical theology. Above all, she nourished heart and soul with the inspired word of God, an which she meditated assiduously, and the Spirit of Truth taught her what he hides as a rule from the wise and prudent and reveals to the humble. Indeed, God enriched her with a quite exceptional wisdom, so that she was enabled to trace out for others a sure way of salvation.” –Two Sisters in the Spirit


October 19,1997–From Homily at Mass proclaiming St. Therese a Doctor of the Church

Blessed John Paul ll:

“The core of her message is actually the mystery itself of God-love, of the triune God infinitely perfect in himself. If genuine Christian spiritual experiences should conform to the revealed truths in which God communicates himself and the mystery of his will (cf. Dei Verbum 2), it must be said that Therese experienced divine revelation. Going so far as to contemplate the fundamental truths of our faith united in the mystery of Trinitarian life. At the summit, as the source and goal, is the merciful love of the three divine Persons, as she expresses it; especially in her ‘Act of Oblation to Merciful Love’. At the root, on the subject’s part is the experience of being the Father’s adoptive children in Jesus; this is the most authentic meaning of spiritual childhood, that is, the experience of divine filiation, under the movement of the Holy Spirit. At the root again, and standing before us, is our neighbor, others whose salvation we must collaborate with and in Jesus, with the same merciful love as his.” –Saint Therese of Liseux, Doctor of the Universal Church


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