My friend Ellie and I pray a novena once in a while and it has always been a very fruitful time for the both of us. For nine days we call each other up, pray and talk out our highs and lows of the day. Sometimes we might skip days if we are busy or can’t coordinate our schedules but we finish what we began and that is always a great feeling. For two girls struggling with personal discipline it is a triumph!
These last couple weeks (we skipped quite a few days), we prayed a novena with St. Therese of Lisieux. We asked for her prayers, guidance and support with our personal struggles and those of our loved ones and then we’d thank God for the witness of St. Therese and ask Him to inflame our hearts as he did hers. It is not uncommon for people asking for the intercession of St. Therese to be given roses in some way or form during the of prayer in keeping with St. Therese’s claim that she would, “send down a shower of roses from the heavens” after her death. She means spritual graces of course, but if you’ve ever read her biography I’m not surprised she sends real roses too.
If you’re cringing at the thought that this just sounds superstitious let me assure you the church condemns superstition but not signs from God. I’ve heard many stories firsthand from people who’ve asked Little Therese to pray for them and in some way roses come into play in the answered prayers.
However, roses were far off from my mind when I started the novena. I had just experienced a renewed love for St. Therese and her witness and I thought it would be proper to thank her and ask her for her prayers.
I remembered about the possibility of roses only a couple of days before we finished. I told Ellie, “Look for roses!” And I reminded both of us that our prayers had been heard whether or not we saw them or got them.
The last day of our novena I had forgotten it was our last day, but Ellie made sure to call early in the day so you know St. Therese would have time to place our roses somewhere. Anyways we prayed and we went about our day.
I was busy in the evening. I visited a couple of my friends who are consecrated virgins studying at Mater Ecclesiae College. I had cancelled on them the week before and it had been months since I’d seen them. I didn’t want to miss it and disappoint them again. They invited me to dinner but they said if I got there just a little earlier I’d catch the end of adoration. I remember thinking I probably wouldn’t get there in time. I did not plan on leaving work all that early but I thought what the heck, it’ll be nice not to rush.
I got to their college and like they said I caught the tail end of adoration. I walked in the chapel, kneeled down and looked at the Blessed Sacrament. The lovely girls were praying in Spanish as they did on Mondays. I took in the scenery and saw that the Eucharist was adorned by overflowing bouquets of pink roses. And then I saw that the statue of the Blessed Mother on the right was adorned with pink roses as well.
“Lord are these my roses?” I asked.
I looked at them hard as if they would tell me. I took in the Eucharist and the roses again. And then I thought, “This is your answer. You asked for healing and peace and joy this is where you will find it.”
Crap. I thought. That is the right answer.
I started quarrelling with God then. These might not be my roses; I mean flowers decorate altars all the time. The answer can’t be that simple, I mean it is that simple, but I just want a solution that will solve everything right now.
And then I looked at the Eucharist covered in roses that were a beautiful pink, full and overflowing like the fruits he might work through me if I let him.
In the words of J.R.R. Tolkien
”Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament…..There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth, and more than that: Death: by the divine paradox, that which ends life, and demands the surrender of all, and yet by the taste (or foretaste) of which alone can what you seek in your earthly relationships (love, faithfulness, joy) be maintained, or take on that complexion of reality, of eternal endurance, which every man’s heart desires.” (The Letters of J.R.R Tolkien, no. 43)
Thank you, St. Therese that was the right answer.
Now if you’re wondering if my friend Ellie received her roses she did. Her mother came back home with a rose she was given at work as a gift of appreciation and her little sister came back with an assignment to draw roses. She told me that she thought St. Therese was letting her know that taking care of her family right now was the right thing to do, and since one of the things she prayed for was direction we both thanked Jesus with girly laughs. Gah! The communion of saints is a crazy, wonderful thing.
- Fabiola Garza draws and writes @ Catholic Colors