Above we have the first page of the papal announcement of Therese's beatification, and a painting by her sister Celine (Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face), made at the request of the Vatican as a model for a painting to be used at the beatification.
This is the day the Lord has made - it is 100 years today since Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face (Therese of Lisieux) was beatified! Let us rejoice and be glad for 100 years of the Church's recognition that Therese is our powerful intercessor and guiding star in Heaven!
And now, before anything else, let's begin by finishing our novena asking for that intercession:
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Guardian angels, please present to our sister St. Therese all the intentions of our hearts, those commended to our prayers, those for whom we have promised to pray, those who need our prayers, those which spring readily to our minds again and again as well as those forgotten in our littleness. Little Flower, in this hour, show your power!
Novena to St Therese
O Little Therese of the Child Jesus
Please pick for me a rose from the heavenly garden
and send it to me as a message of love.
O Little Flower of Jesus,
please ask God to grant the favors
I now place with confidence in your hands . . .
St. Therese, help us to always believe as you did,
in God’s great love for us,
so that we may imitate your “Little Way” each day.
And while we're praying, I can't resist sharing this wonderful prayer from the time of the beatification of Thérèse:
O Blessed “little Thérèse”, use now more than ever your powerful credit with God, in favor of those who love you! By glorifying you, as we know, the Church invites us to follow this path of spiritual childhood which He once came to reveal to the world and whose wake you have luminously traced. So attract all souls to humility, by the scent of your sweet perfumes, and lead them, simple and trusting, into the arms of their Heavenly Father.
+ + +
And finally, here is a marvelous blessing from Pius XI, the one who beatified Therese:
We recommend to her, not only Our poor and humble Person, not only the works of evangelization entrusted to the Order of Carmel and all the Missions that were so dear to her and which inspired in her such fervent accents and such high aspirations, but also the whole Church, all the immense family that the heart of God has deigned to bequeath to Our heart; and from that heart, We draw down the warmest and most abundant blessing for each and every one of you, for everything that occupies your spirit and your heart, in order that that blessing may enter in wherever your thoughts and your affections enter.
Amen! We here at Miss Marcel's Musings (and that would include Therese and Marcel) join this great pontiff in asking God's blessing to enter in wherever your thoughts and your affections enter! May she who loves to "come down" and help us know God's love, come down especially today with roses in abundance to draw us and all those we love back up with her into our Heavenly Father's loving embrace.
And now, a little more on miracles . . . I know I can never get enough of miracles, and I think it's because they show us not only the power of God, but especially His tender solicitude, as well as the love of His saints who have interceded for us. That they, in Heaven, care for us is a HUGE part of Therese's doctrine. She wrote to her spiritual brother, the future missionary Maurice Belliere, about the genuine concern of the saints for us because he was concerned that they - and soon Therese in particular - knowing our weakness and perhaps even our sins, would think the less of us from their position in glory. Therese found it super important to correct him and wrote:
"I have to tell you, little brother, that we don’t understand Heaven in the same way. You think that, once I share in the justice and holiness of God, I won’t be able to excuse your faults as I did when I was on earth. Are you then forgetting that I shall also share in the infinite mercy of the Lord? I believe that the Blessed in Heaven have great compassion for our miseries. They remember that when they were weak and mortal like us, they committed the same faults themselves and went through the same struggles, and their fraternal tenderness becomes still greater than it ever was on earth. It’s on account of this that they never stop watching over us and praying for us."
Therese had her ways of proving her words, and on the very day of her beatification, thirty remarkable favors were recorded and sent to the Carmel of Lisieux! This was in addition to the little miracle of the splendor of her beatification, as if in eager anticipation of her complete glorification and canonization - Fr. Taylor, her fervent Scottish apostle, wrote in Saint Therese of Lisieux, The Little Flower of Jesus [1927 edition]:
"On April 29, 1923, the Venerable Therese of the Child Jesus was enrolled among the Blessed, to the great joy of the Catholic world. It was the first Beatification by Pius XI [this was slightly more than a year after he became pope]. The attendant crowds, recruited from all parts of the globe, resembled those to be seen at a great Canonization. No one who took part in the ceremony could forget the enthusiasm of the multitude, or the great Te Deum, reserved solely for a Canonization, and intoned on this occasion by a happy mistake."
But back to her shower of roses . . . Therese had told her sisters they would find consolation in the mailbox, and sure enough, the letters that arrived recounting miracles (and asking favors, and requesting relics) grew from hundreds to thousands in short order. In 1910, the Carmel of Lisieux received nearly 10, 000 letters from 5 continents! By the time of Therese's beatification, 100 years ago today, to her canonization two years later, the Carmel received between 500 and 1000 letters EVERY DAY! Whew!
One might think these letters were mostly requesting favors. In fact the Carmel didn't even think to keep the letters recounting the first favors, but once they began, the miracles piled up! The first published "Shower of Roses" with stories of miracles was an appendix at the back of the 1907 edition of Story of a Soul. After that the Carmel published 7 volumes of Showers of Roses, up until 1925, which totaled more than 3,000 closely printed pages! All simply accounts of miracles thanks to Therese's intercession!
With all this talk of miracles, I think I'd better share one of my favorites . . .
In 1910, there was a poor Carmel in Gallipoli, Italy - I mean destitute - and after reading Story of a Soul (which had been sent around as Therese's circular obituary letter to Carmelite convents in France and had reached these nuns in Italy, in an unofficial Italian translation around 1908), the mother superior led the sisters in a novena to Sister Therese. Though she was but relatively recently deceased, these nuns were no dummies and saw that she was obviously a Saint. They were praying a novena to Therese who was not yet even Blessed nor Venerable, and their devotion and confidence cheers me when I think of our love here for little Marcel Van (also neither Blessed nor Venerable at this time, but a very dear brother of our Sister now Saint Therese).
Well, listen to what happened to this innocently unprepared mother superior when she prayed to little Therese for financial relief.
Therese showed up in the mother's bedroom and had Mama Superior follow her to the cash box, which had been bare like Mother Hubbard's cupboard, when what to her wondering eyes should appear but MONEY in the box!? Mother thought she was dreaming and in her dream when the little Carmelite whom she'd first mistaken for Teresa of Avila (which made the dreamy nun laugh and say, No, I am little Therese) started to walk away, Mother said, "But you might lose your way," because it was dark except for the light streaming from little Therese. The shining angel-of-a-nun smiled back at her and said, "No - my way is sure."
In the morning, waking up in her own bed, Mother was understandably addled. Her sisters pressed her and she told them of her dream. The other nuns led her to the cash box and sure enough - MONEY! Later the Bishop got involved: he was much impressed by the words, "My way is sure," and as he suspected, these words meant a great deal to the novices and nuns in Lisieux. More miracles occurred (more money) until with their 15 minutes of fame, these poor Carmelites came to the attention of those who could help support them with alms from earth. For her part, Therese had been true to her word, and left no one in doubt: her way is sure.
When Therese's sister Pauline, now Mother Agnes of Jesus in the Carmel of Lisieux, received this letter, it touched her deeply. She wrote back to the Mother Superior in Gallipoli:
“My good and reverend Mother, imagine with what joy we received your most interesting report. Therese told us when she was down here: ‘If my way of trust and love is suspect, I promise not to leave you in error. I shall return to tell you and, if this way is safe, you too will know’. And now to you, dearest mother in Jesus, this angel comes to say how things stand: ‘My way is safe and I was not wrong.’ Perhaps you gave only a literal meaning to this phrase, but here things are different. What makes me marvel, still, is that Therese has come to tell us this precisely when her cause is being dealt with, where her “way” is being studied. Oh, Mother, since her death my little Therese has worked many miracles, but none has struck me like this latter."
We who have had 100 years of her Little Way being held up by the Church as a sure model can only imagine what joy Mother Agnes felt to have Therese's reassurance as they awaited the Church's verdict. Let us rejoice with her that little Therese didn't want them to have to wait to trust all she had taught them. We, too, can trust Therese, now on the highest authority, and let us, too, not wait any longer to allow her to fill us with her trademark confidence in God. "It is confidence, and nothing but confidence, that must lead us to Love!"
Pope Pius XI confided on the evening of April 29, 1923, that this day of Therese's beatification was the happiest day of his life. As for Therese's sister Celine, her happiest day was when the previous Holy Father, Benedict XV, had proclaimed Therese's heroic virtue a few years earlier, because on that day he spoke to the whole world about her Little Way of Spiritual Childhood, recommending it to everyone.
And so, in honor of this anniversary and these "happiest days," let's conclude with the Little Way, which is one of the great gifts God has given us through his little Doctor, Therese, and one of her most life-changing roses for us. In Therese's own words describing this Little Way for Mother Agnes:
"It is to recognize our nothingness, to expect everything from God as a little child expects everything from its father; it is to be disquieted about nothing, and not to be set on gaining our living. Even among the poor, they give the child what is necessary, but as soon as he grows up, his father no longer wants to feed him and says: 'Work now, you can take care of yourself.'
"It was so as not to hear this that I never wanted to grow up, feeling that I was incapable of making my living, the eternal life of heaven. I've always remained little, therefore, having no other occupation but to gather flowers, the flowers of love and sacrifice, and of offering them to God in order to please Him.
"To be little is not attributing to oneself the virtues that one practices, believing oneself capable of anything, but to recognize that God places this treasure in the hands of His little child to be used when necessary; but it remains always God's treasure. Finally, it is not to become discouraged over one's faults, for children fall often, but they are too little to hurt themselves very much." (from her Last Conversations)
I hope you haven't been discouraged recently. It happens so easily, not only when we fall, but when our novena doesn't yet obtain every miracle we've requested, and when we blame ourselves for not praying well enough. Let's be little children and keep tugging at our daddy's coat and asking Him for everything, and when He seems busy and His face is turned away, let's take refuge in our sister's arms, and take her advice about how to get His attention. Maybe He would like some roses too, our roses of a little sacrifice - a smile or kind word when we feel churlish, holding back a harsh word (or apologizing for it after it slips out!), or even the sacrifice of offering up our self-criticism and being more gentle with ourselves! Turn on a favorite song and dance - it's so wonderful to see little children dance! And by all means, don't forget to eat a cupcake, drink a cup of tea or glass of wine, and rejoice in our dear sister Therese's 100 years of making herself known to us as Blessed!
This day also is the feast (in the new calendar) of St. Catherine of Siena, for it is the day of her death on this earth, the day on which she entered Heaven. St. Catherine, pray for us that we may follow your advice and be who God meant us to be so that we may set the world on fire!
And little St. Therese, named Blessed on this day, obtain for us the fire of His love and the illumination of the Holy Spirit that we may do His will in joy today and every day, with that extra gift of childlike surrender you so exemplified.
May the roses in your life - and the miracles they represent - be plentiful!
Draw me, we will run!
P.S. I found this wonderful statement from Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart (Therese's oldest sister and godmother Marie) from her testimony at the beatification process. It is so lovely, I had to share it with you!
Marie is asked, "Do you especially love the Servant of God?" and responds:
"Obviously; I wonder how someone can ask me this question. I love her because one naturally loves her sister, but more because she struck me as an angel. I very much want her to be beatified, because we will see what she wanted us to see: that we must trust in the mercy of God which is infinite and that holiness is accessible to all kinds of souls. I think much more than that, but I don't know how to say it. I also want her beatification because she will be able to realize her desire to do good on earth even better, souls having more confidence in her."
Oh yes, now that Therese has been not only beatified, but canonized, made patroness of the Missions (with St. Francis Xavier), patroness of France (with St. Joan of Arc), and a Doctor of the Church (with St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, St. Francis de Sales, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and St. Catherine of Siena, et al.) - let us believe her that we can and must trust in the mercy of God which is infinite, that He can make us holy, and finally, let us help her realize her desire to do good on earth, let us have confidence in her intercession which has proven itself countless times over. Yes, we may still have more favors to ask, but she has more roses of grace to bestow, so we can say with perfect truth that little Therese in Heaven and the likes of us on earth make the perfect match! May she obtain for us the conversions, healings, reconciliations, mercy, peace, joy, and love that we seek for ourselves and all those we love. And thank You, dear Jesus, for giving us such a friend to lead us straight to You! Alleluia!
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