Father Anthony Ho

Therese welcomes Celine to the convent

Voices April 10, 2018

Therese with her father at age 15 before she joined the Carmelite convent. After his death, Therese strongly desired that her sister Celine would enter religious life, writes Father Anthony Ho. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

For the last two years of Therese’s father life he was completely paralyzed and was looked after by his daughter Celine. During his illness, Louis Martin visited his other three daughters at the Carmelite convent.

It was at first a joyous occasion for the daughters to see their father, but the reality of his bad health really came to light when they witnessed for themselves how frail he really was emotionally and the tears started to flow.

At the moment of parting, as the daughters said goodbye, he raised his eyes, and pointing upwards said in a voice full of tears: “In heaven!” All of them understood that this visit marked the end of their union together on earth.

On July 28, 1894, Louis suffered his last heart attack. On July 29 at 7:45 a.m., Celine noticed that Louis was turning ice cold. After asking God what she should do, she spoke aloud: “Jesus, Mary, Joseph, I give you my heart, my soul, and my life … Jesus, Mary Joseph, assist me in my last agony … Jesus, Mary, Joseph, may I breathe forth my soul in peace with you.”

Louis looked upon her with a loving glance showing her that he understood everything without saying a word. By 8:15 a.m. his breathing slowly came to an end. Immediately after he passed away Celine stood over him, placed her fingers over his eyes closing them forever, and gave him her last loving kiss.

The expression on his face after his death gave her the peace she needed. Celine described in a letter to her sisters: “Papa is in heaven … his expression was that of happiness and profound peace. My heart burst at the last moment, and a flood of tears bathed his bed. But underneath I was really glad for his happiness after the terrible martyrdom which he has undergone and which we have shared with him.”

That night Celine was having trouble sleeping. She got up and looked out her window. She saw a “luminous globe” disappearing into the heavens. It was an affirmation for her that her father had made it to heaven.

After the death of their father, Therese strongly desired that Celine would enter religious life. However, there were obstacles and oppositions. Hence, one day after Holy Communion Therese prayed, “You know, dear Jesus, how earnestly I have desired that the trials my father endured should serve as his purgatory. I long to know if my wish is granted. I do not ask you to speak to me, I only want a sign. You know how much opposed is Sister N. to Celine’s entering; if she withdraw her opposition, I shall regard it as an answer from you, and in this way I shall know that my father went straight to heaven.”

The sister who opposed Celine’s entrance was the first person Therese met after her thanksgiving, and, with tears in her eyes, she told Therese that she had changed her mind and would gladly welcome Celine into the monastery with open arms. Eventually, Celine entered Carmel on Sept. 14, 1894.

Upon entering the convent, Celine knelt before her sister Pauline, who was then the prioress. She was then introduced to the religious sisters. Since, Therese was the assistant novice mistress, Pauline handed over the responsibility of showing Celine around the monastery to Therese. Therese had the honour of being the first one to tell Celine that her new name in religion would be Sister Marie of the Holy Face.






父親的遺容,給了席琳所需要的莫大平安。她給姊妹們寫信道:「父親已在天堂了 … 他的表情流露著喜樂和深深的平安!在未一刻,我的心破裂,淚水濕透父親的病榻,但心底卻為他在我們與他分受的可怕殉道之苦後的快樂而感到喜悅。」

當晚,席琳輾轉不能入睡,望向漆黑的夜空,竟然見到一輪發光的圓球,慢慢地升上天上 ── 她肯定父親的靈魂,被提升到天堂去。