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B.C. Catholic Staff

Therese's father influenced her greatly

Voices Feb. 8, 2018

St. Therese and her father. She had a vision of him as a child that foreshadowed his approaching poor health.

In Lisieux, little Therese took a walk each day with her father. One day they came upon a poor old man who dragged himself painfully along on crutches. Therese went up to give him a penny. The old man looked at her for a long time, and then, shaking his head with a sorrowful smile, he refused her alms.

Therese's father bought her a cake. She wished very much to run after the old man and give it to him, but she was too shy to do it. Therese felt sad, but then she remembered having heard that one obtains all the favours asked for on one’s First Communion Day. Thus the six-year-old Therese said to herself: “I will pray for my poor old man on the day of my First Communion.” Five years later she faithfully kept the resolution.

To prepare for Therese's first confession, her sister Pauline said, "Therese, darling, it is not to a man but to God himself that you are going to tell your sins." During confession, the priest exhorted Therese to have a tender devotion towards Our Lady, and Therese passed the priest her Rosary to be blessed. As soon as Therese got to a street lamp she stopped and took the newly blessed rosary out of the pocket and turned it over and over. “What are you looking at, Therese, dear?” asked Pauline. “I am seeing what a blessed Rosary looks like.”

Therese loved to go to confession for all the major feasts. She also loved the procession of the Blessed Sacrament. She wrote, "What a joy it was to strew flowers in God’s path! But before scattering them on the ground I threw them high in the air, and was never so happy as when I saw my rose-leaves touch the sacred monstrance."

Therese had a special love for Sunday. At church, she listened to sermon attentively. She recalled: "A sermon on the Passion of our Blessed Lord was the first I understood, and it touched me deeply. I was then five and a half, and after that time I was able to understand and appreciate all instructions. If St. Teresa was mentioned, my Father would bend down and whisper to me: 'Listen attentively, little Queen, he is speaking of your holy patroness.' I really did listen attentively, but I must own I looked at Papa more than at the preacher, for I read many things in his face. Sometimes his eyes were filled with tears which he strove in vain to keep back; and as he listened to the eternal truths he seemed no longer of this earth, his soul was absorbed in the thought of another world. Alas! Many long and sorrowful years had to pass before heaven was to be opened to him, and Our Lord with His Own Divine Hand was to wipe away the bitter tears of his faithful servant."

During family night prayers, Therese stayed close to her father. She wrote, "I had only to look at him to know how the saints pray."

One day, while Therese's father was away at Alençon, she experienced an extraordinary vision regarding the future hardship her father would endure. It was about two or three o’clock in the afternoon, and Therese was alone at the window, looking on to the kitchen garden. She saw a man dressed exactly like her father, of the same height and appearance, but more bent and aged. The man advanced slowly, with measured step, along the little garden.  The vision left a deep impression on the memory of Therese. The vision foreshadowed the cross of poor health which her father would carry.

                                                      小德蘭和父親一起祈禱

在立斯定居時,小德蘭每天都和父親散步。一天,一名貧瘠的老人倚著拐杖,蹣跚迎面而來,小德蘭趨前,要給他一小小的施捨;老叟打量了她良久,最後還是搖搖頭,苦笑著拒絕她的好意。

父親給她送來了片蛋糕,小德蘭很想給了剛才的老翁,但感到不好意思,躊躇了,她卻又很難過。想起初領聖體的求恩,必會實現;六歲的她,決定初領聖體的一天,特別為那可憐的老人祈禱。五年後,初領聖體日,小德蘭實踐了心中諾言。

姐姐寶琳向準備初辦告解的小德蘭說:「親愛的德蘭,你不是向一個人告罪,而是向天主告罪。」告解時,神父鼓勵小德蘭熱心敬禮聖母,她遞了一串玫瑰經唸珠給神父祝聖。之後,她在街燈下把那串玫瑰經唸珠從口袋拿出,在小手中翻來覆去,仔細察看。寶琳奇怪地問:「親愛的德蘭,你在看什麼?」德蘭天真地答道:「我看祝聖了的玫瑰經唸珠是怎樣的。」

每逢重要瞻禮慶日,德蘭總愛辦修和聖事,亦喜愛參與聖體出遊。她寫著:「我看到天主行經的路上播撒鮮花,成到很高興!但在把它們撒到地上前,我把鮮花拋到高高,並很高興看到我的玫瑰花葉接觸到聖體豪光。」

德蘭鍾愛主日。在彌撒中,她很留心神父講道。她回憶說:「我首個聽得懂的講道,是有關基督苦難的道理,我深受感動。我當時五歲半,亦自始都能掌握每次講道內容。如果神父講道涉及聖德蘭,父親會低下頭,輕聲提醒我:『小皇后,留心!在說到你的主保聖人哩!』我記得我是留神聽道,但會注視父親,多於注意講道的神父,因為我在父親的面上看到很多事理。有時他忍不住流下淚水;當他聽到永恆真理時,他好像飛脫離開此世,他的靈魂集中於另一世界的思想中。唉,父親要經歷長年的傷痛,才能抵達為他敞開的天堂大門,吾主要親手抹去祂這位忠僕的眼淚。」

家庭誦唸晚課時,小德蘭要依附父親身旁,她說:「我只要看著他便知道聖人們如何祈禱。」

有一天,父親去了阿朗松,小德蘭得了一個奇特的預景:父親會有一個難受的將來。時下午約兩三時,小德蘭獨自倚凭窗前,看著廚房對出的花園,突然看到貌似父親的人,高度衣著與父親無異,只是更有老態、彎腰、步履艱辛,提著重重的腳步,踱進花園 … 。這一幕印象深刻,也預告了小德蘭父親將要面對惡劣的健康。