Tag Archives: the little flower

The Little Flower

On my pilgrimage in France: I find it funny that most people come to France primarily for the Paris attractions. Not for my group though — being in Paris was just an added benefit. Our main purpose was to visit Lourdes, where Saint Bernadette received apparitions of Mary in a small grotto next to a river in 1858. Such humble beginnings have transformed the site into a grand shrine devoted to Our Lady of Lourdes. This shrine has been a place of numerous miracles over many years, especially of healing. The water has become famous for its healing properties. Every single day people flock to this site with the hope of being healed by bathing in the water.

We started the day early to catch a flight from Paris to Lourdes. Anticipation filled the air with each one of us holding special intentions in our hearts, secret hopes that we desire Mary to answer. I confess my deepest desires were rather selfish. I intended to bring the desires I have had since I was a child: to find a loving husband and to start a family. Simple in nature but it is something I have felt is my true vocation. This is also a desire I have feared might never come to fruition. However, as I sat in the line awaiting my time to enter into the water, the more I drew closer, the more my mind, heart and soul began to shift. It felt wrong to place my prayer intentions only for myself. To be honest I already had the faith that Jesus would fulfill my deep desires with or without receiving the bath, and there might be more urgent prayer intentions to focus on.

Yesterday, we visited the Sanctuary of Lisieux where we devoted our time to learning about the life of Saint Thérèse and her family. It was also Consecration day for the Pilgrims who went through 33 Days to Morning Glory by Father Gaitley. For those who don’t know, Marian Consecration is a way to give yourself entirely to Jesus through Mary. Through this Consecration, you surrender your entire self to Mary for her to use in whatever way she wishes to further glorify the kingdom of God. This can be difficult to do, especially for me; I naturally want to maintain control. Nevertheless, I sincerely felt called to France to do this. After my Consecration, I ended up in the gift shop filled with Saint Thérèse souvenirs. I was drawn to a simple key chain. A small pink rose, a symbol of Saint Thérèse. I heard a quiet voice tell me to buy it. I struggled with this at first. I knew it would be hard to give this key chain to the person it was meant for. She is a sweet and in some ways very innocent girl but she is a victim of this fallen world. While she appears as a girl herself, she has a daughter and is addicted to marijuana. Before leaving on this trip, she asked me to bring her back a French husband. She was serious about it too, listing off all the attributes this husband should have. I promised I would bring her back something even if it was not a husband. I have been working with her for some time but Mary was definitely working to strengthen our relationship during the weeks leading to this trip. Throughout this trip, Mary continued to place her on my heart. In that gift shop and after my Consecration I saw why.

Sitting waiting to go into the bath I released my selfish intentions and placed all my time and devotion on this girl. I truly believe that Mary will be able transform her and her life for good. When the time came to enter the bath I was asked to say my prayer intentions. I prayed for her and went down into the water. There are no coincidences and I believe that through the graces I have received, Mary wishes to reach this girl with the help of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. Oh and by the way, this girl’s name is also Therese.

___

Originally posted at Kitty in the City.
Image: Saint Thérèse dressed as Saint Joan of Arc.

Tidbits from St. Therese: Anecdotes, Books, and Prayer

When I was little, I decided that I was going to take a new and unusual saint for my confirmation patron. I wanted to stand out from the crowd and show off my knowledge of hagiography at the same time. But when confirmation time did come, I didn’t know how I could choose anyone other than my sister in Heaven, St. Therese of Lisieux. I wouldn’t stand out—about half of the girls I know chose St. Therese as their confirmation patron—but a relationship was more important to me than a name. From an early age I had read about St. Therese- I was attracted by her self-sacrificing humility (which was something I definitely needed) and struck by her genuine love for God and everyone around her. She is especially famous for her “little way”, a path to sainthood. Last week, October 1st, was the feast day of St. Therese, and this post is in remembrance of her.

St. Therese anecdotes

Many people now know the story of the little girl who entered the convent at 15 and, despite her early death, lived a life filled with love. I always enjoy learning more about her, and hearing some of the lesser-known stories from her time on earth.

  • St. Therese was baptized Marie Therese Francois, after the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Theresa of Avila, and St. Francis Xavier. Therese was never able to fulfill her wish to be a missionary in foreign lands like her patron St. Francis Xavier. But today, she and he are the patron saints of the missions.
  • St. Therese admired St. Joan of Arc and even wrote a play about her life. Therese herself acted in the title role.

    Therese12Jc
    St. Therese as Joan of Arc
  • Eclairs were a favorite treat of St. Therese (who had a sweet tooth). They weren’t served in the convent, though, and Therese ate whatever was given to her.
  • St. Therese went to Rome to ask the Pope for permission to enter the Carmelite convent at an earlier age than usual. She was told not to speak to the Pope, but her resolve to enter the convent was so great that she did. In fact, Therese had to be dragged from the audience room when she wouldn’t stop pleading with the Pope for her intention.
  • “Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, or even at their difficulty, as at the love with which we do them.” St. Therese once said that even picking up a pin off the floor could save a soul, if it was done with love for God. She would offer up every small thing this way. When Therese was once erroneously blamed for breaking a vase, she offered it up and asked for forgiveness rather than try to correct opinions.
  • One story from near the end of St. Therese’s life is (I think) very typical of her. As Therese lay in bed, she often suffered too much pain to sleep, so she prayed silently instead. One of the sisters asked her what she talked to Jesus about during these times. Therese replied, “Nothing. I just love Him.”
  • The Story of a Soul, St. Therese’s autobiography, was alternatively titled by her as The Story of the Springtime of a Little White Flower. It was written under obedience, and Therese would not have had it otherwise. In fact, she advised another of the nuns against writing memoirs, saying, “You cannot do it without permission…It is more humble not to write anything about oneself.”

But under obedience, St. Therese’s book was written, and so many more were written after her death that people of nearly every age group can be introduced to St. Therese.

Books about St. Therese

  1. “Catholic Treasure Box” series, edited by the Maryknoll Sisters- For children ages around 3-8, with crafts, stories, and poems. In the beginning of the first six issues are simple stories about St. Therese.
  2. The Little Flower by Mary Fabyan Windeatt- For ages 7+, this biography of St. Therese is told in first person, similarly to her autobiography.
  3. Olivia and the Little Way by Nancy Carabio Belanger- Written for tweens. The story is about Olivia, a girl who builds a friendship with St. Therese amid the challenges of her new school.
  4. The Story of a Soul– St. Therese’s autobiography. Its sweetness and profoundness in its simplicity have made this book a Catholic classic, and its author is now beloved around the world. (There are also several letters and poems of St. Therese which are easily available to read through an Internet search.)
  5. I Believe in Love by Fr. Jean d’Elbee- Wonderful spiritual reading for teens and adults, this is an insightful discussion of love, humility, faith, and more, highly influenced by St. Therese’s “little way”.

Prayer to St. Therese

rnimagesFor me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward Heaven; it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.

Many are also familiar with Therese’s promise that after her death, she would “let fall from Heaven a shower of roses”. The novena to St. Therese, to be prayed every consecutive day for nine days, is quite powerful. When you pray it for a specific intention, St. Therese will sometimes send roses your way to assure you. Now even when I am not praying the novena, seeing a rose makes me smile and think of her.

I encourage all of you to pray for the intercession of St. Therese in your lives and get to know her better. I know that she will help you and me, as she has helped many others, to approach sanctity and a more perfect love of God.

 

 

Our Lady of the Smile: A Reflection

Special thanks to my sister-in-Christ, Liesl Grace Dowd, for helping me with this reflection! Her words are towards the end.

Our Lady has many titles, of which only some are official. That doesn’t mean the unofficial titles are invalid—and I found this particular title brought warmth to my heart. It’s so unknown that the first mention of it was strange but beautiful. Our Lady of the Smile is a title given to the Blessed Mother by St. Therese of Lisieux, in loving honor of the miracle that healed her from illness.

O Thou who cam’st to smile on me at dawn of life’s beginning! / Come once again to smile on me. / Mother! the night is nigh.
From St. Therese’s poem, 
Why I Love Thee Mary

Just hearing the title Our Lady of the Smile made me feel safe. It sank in how directly she is involved in our happiness. She intercedes for us to be full of joy! This is a comfort when we struggle to see the positive side of things. Even when life gets hard, with Our Lady there is always hope. We should find comfort in the unending promise of happiness!

She wants to share with us the joy that’s given in our Savior. We’re told in the Bible so many times to rejoice in Him! Even when times are hard, it’s possible to rejoice, and there’s no reason not to. Everything will work out for those who love and serve Him. So the Blessed Mother wants to share the joy she kept in her heart throughout His life. She intercedes for it, and her intercession is strong–take comfort in that joy is always within reach.

The Blessed Mother not only intercedes for the sake of my joy; she IS my joy. Jesus loves His mother dearly and wants us to do the same; to not only love and honor her, but to venerate her. She is so holy and pure, and deserves great recognition. Mother Mary helps me in every situation, and every time that I receive reconciliation, I can feel the Blessed Mother praying for me, as well as my sins being lifted from my soul, and washed away with the precious blood of Christ.

The Blessed Mother, I believe, is the reason why happiness exists, because she prays for all of her children, that they would all be filled with the joy and the love of her Son. Every time I laugh, I thank Mary for her prayers and for interceding, for through her faithfulness in God, we are given the gift of happiness. She is the Queen of heaven, and the Queen of happiness.

I believe we should spread devotion to Our Lady of the Smile. If anyone can intercede to make the world joyful again, it’s Mary. If we’d just turn to her and ask for happiness–or in other words, ask for Jesus–everything else will come to us in pleasant unexpected ways. There’s nothing to be lost at all! Here is a prayer to Our Lady of the Smile, and may St. Therese intercede for your spiritual happiness today.