The Wedding Feast at Cana miracle is a manifestation of more than just Christ’s power. The story also allows us to see our Blessed Mother’s intercessory influence, Jesus’ approval of human marriage, and His care for humanity to the point of assisting us even with the more mundane items such as wine at a wedding reception.
I have come to know these truths through personal experience in my life. When I was 22 years old, I was totally head over heels in love with a girl. We began our courtship with a double date to see the movie Bella with Italian food afterwards. She was the star of my evening sky and I could barely take my eyes off her.
At the time, it was the best month of my life. I was always thinking about her. More so, I had already mentally and emotionally committed to love her for the rest of my life. However, unbeknownst to me, she was not as excited about me as I was about her.
She broke up with me and I was pretty disappointed. Ok, absolutely devastated. I really had thought she was the one. We had a good friendship formed in the months before we went on that first date, so, while I still failed tremendously at guarding my heart, I had plenty of reasons stored up on why I found her to be so special. Moreover, I had thought that God had wanted us to be together and when she ended it, my newly-returned-to-the-faith heart was fairly confused as to what went wrong.
I thought that I was doing everything right, but I would soon see that I needed to mature in my faith. I would learn to truly discern what God wanted for me in my life and how much He was interested in my happiness. Kicking off the lessons, I met with my spiritual director who suggested I pray a novena to St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
By praying the Novena, I would ask the Little Flower to intercede for me and guide me to know whether I should wait for this beautiful woman to come back to me or move on to find someone else. The novena would either finish with a sign, typically a rose for St. Thérèse, or nothing. The sign would signify whether I should wait.
Needless to say I was terrified. Absolutely. I really wanted to wait for her. But, I desired what God wanted more, so I prayed the first day’s prayer. The prayer was beautiful and I enjoyed praying it as it seemed to help even in that situation. However, the next night the internet went out at my parents’ house and I gave up the novena. It was either the next day or the next that my spiritual director convinced me to pick up where I left off.
I did with great hope, but still some trepidation. It was winter, but I started seeing roses each day. However, it was the ninth day that counted. Furthermore, it seemed like the readings at Mass and the sections of the Imitation of Christ that I was reading at the time were speaking to me vividly in my heartache. There was no doubt that God was speaking to me to console and guide me.
I woke up on the ninth day, prayed the prayer for the novena, and committed myself to only do what others asked me to do. This was to help escape confusion of whether I made the sign happen or if it came from God. Honestly, it would have been super easy to just head over to the supermarket flower aisle.
A college friend was staying with us for Christmas break and I found him in the living room on my way to breakfast. He wanted to share with me something that stood out to him in the morning prayer that day. He said it really helped him with what he was going through. He read it to me:
“Trust in God with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge Him in all your ways and He shall direct your path.” —Proverbs 3:5,6
We talked about it and I shared with him that I found this helpful for my own life. Later, while enjoying my bowl of cereal, I could not take my mind off whether I would see a sign. I specifically had the thought that I would definitely not see it at my parents’ house as I had been living there and had never seen any roses or even rose-like items.
I stood up and walked over to pass a side table and saw something I had never seen before. Whether it had always been there or just placed there that week I could not tell you, but on the table was something I found quite remarkable. A ceramic cross with a rose on each end with the words of Proverbs 3: 5,6 inscribed in the center.
I was blown away. “Was this the sign?” I was not sure, but I had a good feeling. The plan for the day was morning Mass and then assisting a group preparing for a Medical mission to Africa with loading a container with supplies. I wondered if there would be more from God in confirming whether I should wait for this girl.
Needless to say, there was. It was January 2 and even though we were in the bleak midwinter, the statue of Mary in the sanctuary where we celebrated morning Mass was bedecked with roses including a rosary made of roses. I believed this was it. I was amazed by God’s love for me and desire to help me with my love life.
Furthermore, when looking back to this amazing moment in my life several years later, I found out that January 2 is the birthday of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. I can now think of the ninth day of my novena as specially chosen by St. Thérèse to show me that it would be God’s will for me to wait. And on that day, January 2, 2008, I set my face like flint toward my coming spring semester with the divinely-affirmed plan to give this woman the time she needed to come back to me.
Truth be told I thought that it would only be a few weeks. She had just begun to study at my small Catholic Liberal arts school in the south and so I was still able to see her and try to be just friends. Very difficult, but I never told her about the novena.
I also never tried to make any moves on her. Somehow, I believed that she would come back to me and I should not pressure her. However, God was so good to me and let us spend time together sharing in grand memories, such as many meals amongst friends in the school cafeteria, going to a 90’s themed party closer to Atlanta where everyone assumed that we were still going out, and even traveling to New York to see Pope Benedict XVI at the Youth Rally. (An extraordinary moment in our lives. Both of us left Georgia without a ticket, yet were provided for in the end).
I was always careful not to come on too strong or express my feelings to her. I knew she needed total freedom to come back to me without my help. It was a long Fall semester, but I truly grew up and closer to God. I also found myself willing to accept His plan whether it did include my lady or not. He helped me to see that I had already had all the love I needed from Him.
And yet He gave me more. It was Monday December 8, 2008, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception when she came to talk to me in the school cafeteria to invite me to help a mutual friend move. Something seemed different that caused me to wonder… was this it? I had lead the Rosary each night in the school chapel at 9:45 pm and she started to show up each night. Sometimes it was just her, me and Jesus.
I would walk her back to her dorm and we would talk, but I still kept my secret. Furthermore, I learned my lesson and kept my heart guarded. It might have been the most mature I have ever been in my life.
The last day of finals was Friday December 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. School was over and there was nothing left to do but relax. She and I shared a long conversation about life, school, and God amidst a greater group of friends who were all talking. However, it was as if it was just us, and it was very clear that we liked each other. We were together the whole evening.
That weekend we were at the house of the friend who had just moved and we had another conversation. The friend knew us both fairly well and he encouraged me to share my novena with her. I shared everything, but she did not seem as surprised or shocked as I thought she would. It was I would be surprised after I heard what she told me next.
She told me that she realized she had regained feelings for me back in November, but did not want to hurt a friend of hers who had feelings for me as well. To figure out what to do she prayed a novena to St. Thérèse of Lisieux. On the 8th day of her novena her friend gave her a medal of St. Thérèse without knowing about the novena or the reason for it being said.
However, it is the 9th day that really blew me away. Just before Mass she was praying on her knees before a statue of Mary in the chapel asking Mary what she should do. Right at the moment she asked Mary to let her know if she should move forward with her feelings, I came in and knelt right beside her. Truly remarkable as that was the first time we had ever knelt before that statue together.
She doubted though, went to her seat and continued her petition. Once again, at the moment she asked Mary to again make it clear, I sat down right next to her. To make this more amazing, this is something that I had never done since she stepped foot on campus. So for maybe 200 Masses, I had never sat near her, but sat right next to her on the ninth day of her novena, right when she asked Mary to make it clear whether she should move forward.
So move forward we did. We started to spend more time together and talk more. It was on January 20, 2009 that we agreed to officially be a thing again. God had kept His promise. And He showed me that whole year that He was truly interested in my love life.
Looking back He was there the whole time. At times it was painful, but I grew up a lot and learned to trust in Him more. Furthermore, I grew closer to Mary and St. Thérèse, learning that I could rely on them as well.
After a year of courtship and a year of engagement, my wife and I married on January 1, the feast of Mary, Mother of God. We have been outrageously blessed with 3 incredible children and cannot even imagine a better life.
The most amazing part about this story is that I am absolutely average. Your normal high school Theology teacher, nothing spectacular about me. I truly believe that God is not only interested in my love life, but everybody’s. Particularly, the love life that He brings. He wants to lead all people to His plan for them and bring them joy.
This is what Jesus did for the couple at Cana. Furthermore, I have known many other people who have been brought to their vocations in a similar way as I was. God is interested in our love lives and will help us with them if we ask.