In the Lisieux infirmary
Sr. Thérèse of Saint-Augustine: “Tell me, have you had any struggles?”
St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus: “Oh! yes, I have had some. I’ve had a nature that wasn’t easy going; this wasn’t apparent exteriorly, but I know it well, and I can assure you that I wasn’t a day without suffering, not a single day.”
Sr. Thérèse of Saint-Augustine: “But some think you had none. “
St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus: “Ah! the judgments of creatures! Because they don’t see, they don’t believe!”
Sr. Thérèse of Saint-Augustine: “There are some Sisters who believe you will experience the fears of the dying. “
St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus: “These haven’t come to me as yet. If they should come, I’ll bear them; but if I should have them, they would not be sufficient to purify me, they would be no more than bleach. What I need is the fire of love.”
Sister Thérèse of Saint-Augustine was the one nun of whom St. Thérèse wrote, “There is in the Community a Sister who has the faculty of displeasing me in everything, in her ways, her words, her character, everything seems very disagreeable to me. And still, she is a holy religious who must be very pleasing to God.” (Ms C 13v)
She played an instrumental role in assisting St. Thérèse through her dark night of faith. In January 1897 Sister Thérèse of Saint-Augustine had a prophetic dream of a dark apartment with a heavy black door “under which a very bright ray of light came through.” On the other side of the door, she could hear a voice calling from the light asking for St. Thérèse. When Sister Thérèse of Saint-Augustine awoke from her dream, she was convinced that the saint soon would die.
A few days later, Sister Thérèse of Saint-Augustine shared her dream with St. Thérèse. The saint’s response gives us a striking indication of the depths of her crisis of faith.
“How beautiful! It’s not a dream, it’s a fantasy and it’s for me that you had it. (…) If you knew what good you do for me; haven’t I spoken to you about the state of my soul? (…) I don’t believe in eternal life, it seems to me after this earthly life, there is nothing more. I can’t describe to you the shadows into which I’ve sunk. What you just told me is exactly the state of my soul. The preparation they are doing with me and especially the black door is really the picture of what is happening in me. You saw nothing but red in that door that is so dark, that is to say, that all has vanished for me and there is nothing left but love. Your dream is my only ray of light, I have no other. I know it by heart down to the smallest details.”
Months later in the infirmary, when Sister Thérèse asks if her dying companion has had any struggles, January’s dream certainly must have been on her mind.
Learn more about Sister Thérèse of Saint-Augustine here.
Read more of her last conversations with St. Thérèse here.