Saint Teresa de Jesus
St. Therese of the Infant Jesus
When people enter the religious life they take new names to signify
their calling from God. When she entered the Carmelite Monastery
Marie Francoise Therese Martin chose the religious name
'Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face'. Therese
had great devotion to the Infant Jesus. Her spirituality was a
childlike simplicity trusting in God's love. The Carmelite Monastery
of Lisieux held great devotion to the suffering Holy Face of Jesus
reflected on the veil of Veronica. There was even an outdoor shrine
in the cloister garden. St. Therese of Jesus is said to
have constantly searched for the hidden Holy Face of Jesus in
everyone and everything, So she took 'The Holy Face' as the second
part of her religious name. She explained: "I desire that,
like the Face of Jesus, my face be truly hidden that no one on
earth would know me. I thirsted after suffering and I longed to
On Christmas, just a few days before St.Therese fourteenth birthday,
she experienced what she described as "my conversion."
Legends tell that Saint Therese of the Child Jesus wanted
to enter the Carmelite convent but knew she must learn to handle
her emotionally outbursts first. She prayed but received no answer
until Christmas Day of 1886. It was a Christmas custom in France
that children left their shoes by the hearth so their parents
would fill them with gifts. By the age of fourteen most children
outgrew the custom but one of the older sisters did not want Therese
to grow up so the family tradition continued. That day as she
and her sister climbed the stair after returning home and leaving
their shoes by the hearth heard their father sigh, "Thank
goodness that's the last time we shall have that kind of thing."
Theresa's expected tantrum never occurred. She swallowed her tears
and accepted the gifts as if she had never heard her father speak.
Later Theresa of Jesus wrote of the incident in her autobiography,
"The Story of a Soul" published in 1898 after
her death: "On that blessed night the sweet infant Jesus,
scarcely an hour old, filled the darkness of my soul with floods
of light. By becoming weak and little, for love of me, He made
me strong and brave: He put His own weapons into my hands so that
I went on from strength to strength, beginning, if I may say so,
'to run as a giant."
An indelible impression had been made on this attuned soul; she
claimed that the Holy Child had healed her of undue sensitiveness
and "girded her with His weapons."
After midnight Mass, Christmas, 1886, the shadow of self-doubt,
depression and uncertainty suddenly lifted from Therese of the
Infant Jesus, leaving her in possession of a new calm and inner
conviction. Grace had intervened to change her life as she was
going up the stairs at her home.
The third and last period of her life was about to begin. Therese
of the Child Jesus called that third period her life's "most
beautiful" when she embarked on her "Giant's Race".
She was consumed like Jesus with a thirst for souls. "My
heart was filled with charity. I forgot myself to please others
and, in doing so, became happy myself".
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