Was it heroic of St. Therese to hide her illness?

I don’t understand why St. Therese of Lisieux’s (1873-1897) choice to hide her tuberculosis until it was too advanced to be treatable is presented as a postive or admirable act. This was about 1890 or so – there were treatments available that might have saved her, and by hiding her illness, she put all the other sisters at the Lisieux Carmel at risk. Her seeking medical attention wouldn’t have been an act of selfishness or weakness. This just doesn’t make any sense.

I very much doubt St. Therese knew that there was a possibility of spreading her illness to her sister nuns. If she had known, she very likely would have done what was necessary to protect the others.

We must remember that the first signs of St. Therese’s final illness came almost immediately after she made her self-oblation (i.e., self-sacrifice) to merciful love. She wanted to offer up her life in the service of love and saw the illness (which providentially manifested itself during Holy Week) as God’s acceptance of her oblation. To have made known her suffering or to seek to stop the suffering would have, for her, negated the gift. That is why her choice was seen to be an act of heroic virtue.

Recommended reading:

The Passion of Therese of Lisieux by Bishop Guy Gaucher

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