|Our Lady of the Smile|
Three years later, a Christmas conversion experience instilled in Therese a new-found maturity and a sense of reflection, and she resolved to join two of her older sisters - Pauline and Louise - who had entered the Discalced Carmelite Monastery in Lisieux. She pleaded repeatedly with her father, and after finally obtaining a special dispensation to do so from her bishop, Therese entered the monastery in April 1888 at the age of 15-years-old; she professed vows on September 8, 1889. (A fourth sister - Celine - later entered the same Carmel)
Therese acclimated well to religious life but faced challenges with a few of the other nuns who treated her condescendingly because of her age. Her sister, Pauline, was elected prioress (superior) of the monastery, and Pauline had a sense that there was something special about her younger sister. The prioress ordered Therese to write her autobiography, which the novice reluctantly did. It proved to be providential, as it was through this document that the world first came to know of the greatness of Therese’s soul.
In her writings, Therese referred to herself as a “little flower of Jesus”, and she laid out her personal plan on how she was going to sanctify her soul. Fully aware of her limitations and frail health, she resolved to be childlike in her spirituality; to grow in holiness not by aspiring to do grand things for Jesus, but rather, by conscientiously doing “little” things for Him and accepting suffering in its various forms with all the love that she had to offer God. Therese once wrote:
|A beautiful stained-glass window, depicting|
St. Therese, in the Cathedral-Basilica of Honolulu.