Saint Therese's "complete conversion"
1887: "The ideal of happiness"
"It was December 25, 1886, that I received the grace of leaving my childhood, in a word, the grace of my complete conversion . . . I felt charity enter into my soul, the need to forget myself and to please others; since then I've been happy!" Read Therese's account of this "Christmas grace." In 1887 Therese grew rapidly, blossoming in many different ways. In May she confided to her father her desire to enter Carmel, and he gave his permission.
One Sunday in July, after Mass at St. Pierre's Cathedral, closing her missal, Therese saw a holy card of the Crucified protrude from the edge of the book in such a way that only one hand of the Savior was visible. "
I was struck by the blood flowing from one of the divine hands. I felt a great pang of 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 gather up this divine dew. I understood I was then to pour it out on souls."
Her apostolic desires manifested themselves in her ardent concern for the murderer, Henri Pranzini, for whom she prayed ardently. When he kissed the crucifix just before his execution, Therese understood that God had given her the gift of his salvation, and later she called him "my first child." The ecclesiastical superior of the Lisieux Carmel, Canon Delatroette, considered Therese too young to enter. On October 31 Louis took Therese to Bayeux, where she asked for permission from Bishop Hugonin. In November her father took her and Celine on a diocesan pilgrimage to Rome in honor of the priestly jubilee of Pope Leo XIII. Therese begged the Pope for permission to enter, but he told her to do what the superiors decided, and the Swiss Guard had to drag her away from the Pope's feet. (See a short film showing the veil Therese wore for the Papal audience, made of Alencon lace created by her mother). After Christmas the local bishop gave his permission for Therese's entrance, which was postponed till after Lent. Read about Therese's life as a Carmelite postulant from April 9, 1888 until January 10, 1889.
(Photo of St. Pierre's Cathedral by Tintinian. Used with permission).