Going back to Therese, she was self-described as somewhat stubborn and overly-sensitive as a child, characteristics which became more pronounced after her mother passed away from breast cancer when she was still a girl. A few years later, a debilitating illness brought her close to the brink of death, but she was miraculously cured through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin. This experience instilled in Therese a new-found maturity and a sense of reflection, and when two of her older sisters entered the local Discalced Carmelite Monastery, she resolved to one day join them. She pleaded repeatedly with her father, and after finally obtaining a special dispensation to do so from her bishop, Therese entered Carmel in 1888; she was 15-years-old.
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 came to know 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 weaknesses and her frail health, she resolved to be childlike in her spirituality and to grow in holiness not by aspiring to do great things for Jesus, but rather, by conscientiously doing “little” things for him with all the love that she had to offer… and with the intent of spiritually uniting herself to God. Therese once wrote: