Sorry that I have not written for the past week. I have been quite busy with a writing project that has been very jealous of my time. Well, I’m back now so let us continue learning about Therese.
May 13th is a very special day for several reasons. It is the day that the Blessed Virgin appeared to three shepherd children, Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco, at Fatima in 1917 looking like a “woman brighter than the sun”. The apparitions occurred on the 13th day of six consecutive months and foretold World War II, the turning of Russia to Communism, and the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981.
A Turkish assassin by the name of Mehmet Ali Agca shot Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981, the 64th anniversary of the beginning of the apparitions at Fatima. The Pope was critically wounded and he attributed his survival to the protection of Our Lady of Fatima. The Pope visited his would-be killer in prison and publicly forgave him. The Holy Father truly lived out the words spoken by Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount, “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” (Matthew 5: 44-45)
Lastly, Therese received her miraculous cure from the Blessed Virgin on May 13, 1883 and was completely cured of her mysterious malady. Therese related how she began to get constant headaches at the end of 1882 shortly after her sister Pauline entered Carmel. The headaches persisted for the next several months until Easter 1883 when she suffered a bout of uncontrollable shaking.
The doctor was summoned the next day and deemed that Therese was suffering from a very serious illness. She was confined to bed and enjoyed only one respite from her sufferings on April 6th when she was able to visit her sister Pauline at the Carmel on the day Paulne received the Habit. Her sickness resumed immediately following the special occasion.
Therese described years later how she was almost always delirious during her sickness and suffered from great fears. She related that, “I believe the devil had received an external power over me but was not allowed to approach my soul nor my mind except to inspire me with very great fears of certain things, for example, very simple remedies they tried in vain to make me accept.” (Story of A Soul, p. 63) She remembered that she had been afraid of everything and that her bed seemed to be surrounded by steep cliffs and that the walls appeared to have charred fingers on them.
This terrible ordeal tormented both Therese and her distraught family. Therese described how her cure finally came about. “Finding no help on earth, poor little Therese had also turned toward the Mother of heaven, and prayed with all her heart that she take pity on her. All of a sudden the Blessed Virgin appeared beautiful to me, so beautiful that never had I seen anything so attractive; her face was suffused with an ineffable benevolence and tenderness, but what penetrated to the very depths of my soul was the “ravishing smile of the Blessed Virgin.” At that instant, all my pain disappeared, and two large tears glistened on my eyelashes, and flowed down my cheeks silently, but they were tears of unmixed joy.” (Story of A Soul, p. 65-66) Therese was to remain emotionally delicate for some time after her miraculous cure, but the strange illness was gone forever.
Of course, May 13th also happened to be Mother’s Day this year. Happy Belated Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there and especially to my Mom!