It’s a Carmelite week. We entertained a Tertiary and his wife last night; a wide-ranging conversation. We didn’t say much about Thérèse but I found another passage about her as a toddler:
I’ll go back to Maman’s letters where she wrote about Céline and me; it’s the best way to help you understand my character. Here’s a passage where my faults shine out: ‘Céline is playing at building blocks with the little one, they quarrel from time to time. Céline gives in to earn a pearl in her crown. I have to correct the poor baby who throws herself into almighty tantrums; when things don’t go her way she rolls on the ground like one in despair, believing all is lost. Sometimes it is too much for her, it suffocates her.
She’s a nervous child, but cute and very intelligent, she remembers everything.’
I’m not convinced that tantrums need be more than a stage we go through. I’ve watched them in my own children and in teenagers I’ve worked with. Thérèse is hard on her infant self, but her tantrums are one with the stubbornness that opened the door of Carmel to her when she was officially under age, the determination that saw her live the cloistered life to the end. Some fault, Thérèse! Or an echo of Paul (2Cor 12:9)
‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’