9 Days to 100 Years (and Happy Easter!)
Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen, as He said!
As you can see, little Therese wants to make sure we get our Easter greetings in and celebrate the Great Feast of the Resurrection and our Salvation before we move on to celebrating anything else! So Happy Easter, and may this image of Our Risen Lord greeting and consoling Our Blessed Mother be a consolation for you too!
But now we're just in the nick of time to get ready for another feast - lesser, but exciting nonetheless! We are a novena away from the 100th anniversary of the Beatification of our Sister St. Therese, and we at Miss Marcel's Musings couldn't let the opportunity pass without seizing the day and presenting your petitions to one so known for showering roses and miracles.
Yes, it's almost here - this April 29 (Feast of St. Catherine of Siena, a fellow Doctor of the Church) will be 100 years since Pope Pius XI beatified St. Therese in 1923! And since I love ending a novena on the day we are celebrating, today is our day to start asking Therese for every single thing we can think of for ourselves and all those we love.
I'm eager to tell you about the two miracles that were approved to make way for Therese's beatification, but shall we pray first? That way if anyone gets distracted and wanders off as this post continues, the main work will have been done - and as with every novena here, we are happy to include your multitude of intentions (those you remember and those you don't!) as our novena continues . . .
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, and 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 now, as we anticipate our own miracles (or rather those which we confidently expect Therese to obtain for us), let's hearken back to 1923 and what was happening in the minds and hearts of those who had gotten to know Therese in the short time since she'd entered eternal life.
It's really nuts to realize she was only 24 when she finished her earthly life. She had lived very quietly with her family in a small town, then entered a small Carmelite monastery at age 15, then died 9 years later. That's it. Or so it seemed . . . but from her earliest years, Therese had known God's love, and she had responded with love from her own overflowing heart. So we can say that while she was only on earth physically for 24 years, those were years packed with love and intimacy with God, and therefore what looked like a little and inconsequential life was really the highest and fullest kind of life anyone could have lived, no matter how many years they spent in this world.
Our Lord says that by their fruits you shall know them, and it is in the fruits (and flowers) that follow Therese's life that we know her.
First there was the fruit of her Story of a Soul - the memoir her sister Pauline (Mother Agnes in the Carmel) put together from Therese's writings to serve as an obituary circular to the other Carmelite monasteries in France, but which by the force of its truth and beauty quickly spread throughout the world to teach Therese's Little Way of Spiritual Childhood everywhere.
But next was the fulfillment of the promises Therese had made before leaving earth for Heaven. She had told her sisters she would Come Down. She had promised to spend her Heaven doing good on earth. And more specifically, she had promised to let fall a shower of roses. These roses signified graces, but also came (and continue to come) in the form of - well, simply, roses! Actual roses, images of roses, fragrances of roses - all of these she has sent in profusion from 1897 until now, and she intended to keep showering them "until the last trumpet sounds," so we have over a hundred years of miracles behind us to help us believe in the many miracles ahead!
Here are some words from the wonderful Scottish priest Fr. Thomas Taylor, the first to suggest to her sisters that Therese ought to have a cause for canonization, and the compiler of the many editions of her autobiography and other writings in English. From the 1927 edition of St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower of Jesus:
"Another marked characteristic is the familiar footing on which she stands with those who love her. She lives with them on terms of closest intimacy, assisting them in the smallest details of the daily round, a sure guide and a compassionate friend. Thus the strewer of roses spends her eternity, supremely happy in Heaven with her divine Spouse, and supremely busy on His behalf upon earth. A selection from the countless records of her favours already fills seven volumes [at the Carmel of Lisieux], and the harvest is by no means completely garnered. We may apply to this new autobiography what St. Therese said of the old: 'Many of its pages will be read only in Heaven.' But those we are privileged to read reveal to us a heart burning with compassion for every phase of human misery, physical or moral, and wonderful in its sympathy with the lowly and the poor."
100 years ago, beatification required 2 miracles. For Therese, 6 were submitted to Rome, and 2 were selected for investigation. The first was from 1906, just 9 years after Therese died. A seminarian from Lisieux was dying of tuberculosis, and his friends first thought to pray a novena to Our Lady of Lourdes, but through St. Therese's intercession. Nothing changed after this novena, so they decided perhaps they ought to single out St. Therese and say a novena to her alone, so that if she obtained Charles Anne's healing, his priestly vocation could owe itself in some way to her. Charles had been the great champion of Sister Therese among his fellow seminarians, and now, after things started looking even worse in his illness (after a terrible hemorrhage, in fact), he called out to her, "I did not come here to die! I came to work for God! You must cure me!" Then, as Fr. Taylor relates, Charles "fell asleep, clutching a relic of the saint which just then came mysteriously into his hands. When he awoke, he was perfectly cured." Delightfully, 17 years later, Father Charles Anne assisted at Therese's Beatification ceremony in St. Peter's!
Did you notice how it took two novenas before Charles was healed? The second miracle approved for Therese's beatification gives us even more reason to think that whatever happens, we ought to just TRUST and KEEP PRAYING!
Sister Louise of St. Germain, who lived in southern France, had been ill since she entered the novitiate of her order (The Daughters of the Cross at Ustarritz), suffering throughout 1911 and 1912. Then in early 1913 they found she had a terrible stomach ulcer. When she was on death's door, in 1915, they gave her the Last Sacraments and said a novena to Sister Therese, and Sister Louise would periodically breathe in a celestial fragrance that wafted about to remind her of Therese's nearness. Well, one guesses at least some of the sisters were hoping for Louise's healing, but not every prayer is answered immediately, and so it was another year later, in September of 1916, that Sister Louise started another novena to Therese. Her persistence was rewarded: Therese appeared to her on the night of September 10 and said, "Be generous with God. I promise you, you will soon be cured." And then, the roses! Fr. Taylor relates, "Next morning the floor around the bed was found thickly strewn with rose petals of various colors. How did they get there? No one could explain." And then, I love this, "Sister Louise grew worse, but was occasionally comforted by the same heavenly perfume as before. Then, after a fearful crisis, she slept peacefully all night, and woke on the morning of September 25 completely cured, and quite able to join her community that same day. It was a veritable resurrection." And a famous surgeon from Paris wrote a paper to prove her miraculous cure!
Did you notice the dates, though? Therese appeared to Sister Louise during her novena on September 10, which means that when Therese finally obtained Louise's healing on September 25, the novena was long over! (Not to mention the sisters had been praying to Therese for over a year already . . .) Which says to me, and I want to tell you too: We gotta never give up! These Saints, even the best of them, are waiting on God as we are, and sometimes it takes a few extra days (or longer) - but the roses will come!
And if your days are packed (or empty) and your head and heart are packed too (or, alas, empty!), don't worry about standing on ceremony. Just keep turning to our sister Therese and say simply, "Hey, you promised! Let's see some roses, please, and these miracles . . ." Or you can say the short, easy prayer that I learned from dear friends - and which I was later totally surprised to find originated about 100 years ago too, not in the 1960's! - but which does the job of boldly reminding Therese of her promises and her history and her future. God started it by loving her, and she continued it by loving Him and then us, so let's keep the miracles flowing and the roses showering by doing our part too:
Little Flower, in this hour, show your power!
Draw me, we will run!
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