Father Anthony Ho

Therese meets the bishop 

Voices March 7, 2018

When told she was too young to enter the Carmelite convent, Therese of Lisieux wore her hair up to make herself look older in a meeting with the bishop. (From the Pews photo)

Therese of Lisieux experienced the power of prayers on several occasions, including when she was cured of illness while her sisters prayed for her, and when she experienced great peace after praying to her four siblings in heaven concerning her scruples.

In Christmas 1886, Therese experienced her “conversion.” Out of consideration for her father, she controlled her emotion during a disappointment, and in that moment, the Lord granted her the self-mastery she seemed to lose at the death of her mother when she was four.

This “conversion” marked the beginning of a new phrase in the life of Therese. Her love for God grew and she decided to become a religious in the Carmelite convent.

On Pentecost in 1887 Therese told her father of her decision to enter Carmel, and obtained his consent. However, there were obstacles due to her young age. When Therese told her uncle of her decision to enter Carmel, he declared that to enter such a severe Order at the age of 15 seemed to him against all common sense. He said he would oppose it in every way possible and nothing short of a miracle would make him change his mind.

Therese turned to prayer and a few days later her uncle's attitude was changed. He told her the miracle was no longer needed. He had prayed God to guide his heart aright, and his prayer had been heard. He embraced Therese with fatherly affection, saying with much feeling: “Go in peace, my dear child, you are a privileged little flower which Our Lord wishes to gather. I will put no obstacle in the way.”

However, after receiving her uncle's consent, Therese encountered another disappointment. She was told that the superior of the Carmelites would not allow her to enter until she was 21. Therese went with her father to lay her request before the superior. He received her very coldly, and could not be induced to change his mind. But he added, “Of course, I am only the bishop’s delegate; if he allows you to enter, I shall have nothing more to say.”

Therese's father promised her that, if she wished, he would take her to Bayeux to see the bishop. So, on Oct. 31, 1887, they went to Bayeux, where Therese told the bishop of her desire to enter Carmel. She said, “I have wished to give myself to God from the time I was three.”

The bishop decided that before giving Therese an answer an interview with the superior was absolutely necessary. Therese was disappointed and shed tears in the presence of the bishop, who was touched and comforted her kindly.

He said, “All is not lost, little one, but I am very glad that you are going to Rome with your good father; you will thus strengthen your vocation. Instead of weeping, you ought to rejoice. I am going to Lisieux next week, and I will talk to the superior about you. You shall certainly have my answer when you are in Italy.”

The bishop took Therese and her father to the garden, and her father told the bishop that to make herself look older, Therese had put up her hair for the first time that very morning.

The bishop did not forget this, and even after Therese became a nun, he loved to repeat the story about the hair.

Therese wrote, “I must say I should prefer my little secret to have been kept.”

The vicar-general who assisted the bishop remarked that such a thing had never been seen – a father as anxious to give his child to God as the child was to offer herself.







即使得到舅父的同意,小德蘭仍面對另一阻滯:聽得加爾默羅修院代表主教的長上要她等到二十一歲時,才准許她加入修會。雖然小德蘭和父親去見長上,卻遭到冷淡的對待,他亦不會改變主意 ── 但他加說:「當然,我只是主教的代表;若然他准許你入會,我將無話可說。」


主教把小德蘭和她父親帶到花園。父親對主教說 小德蘭特意當天清晨,把頭髮紮起為使自己看去較年長一些。主教難忘此事,在小德蘭成為修女後,仍常提這事,並津津樂道。小德蘭寫著:「我會寧願我的小秘密被保守著。」協助主教的副主教說他從未見過一位父親如此渴望把孩子奉獻給天主,就如孩子渴望把自己奉獻給天主。