A Little Bouquet of Devotion
My husband had a t-shirt for decades (really!) with a "photo" of the Madonna of the Streets on the front and a Mother Teresa quote on the back. The Mama Teresa quote was perfect and said, "How can there be too many children? That would be like saying you have too many flowers."
Marcel and Therese and I are big fans of that sentiment, the implication of which is that you could never have too many flowers. See Therese in heaven above, handing her cross-turned-to- roses nosegay to little Jesus in the arms of Mary, with good St. Joseph looking on, flowers of his own in hand? Ah, how good the Saints are - a chip off the old block (our Heavenly Father). I was relieved to find this exactly-right picture for our opening gambit today. Trying to choose among flower pictures was too much - like trying to choose the right tokens for a charm bracelet, like trying to order the right milkshake at Steak-N-Shake, like trying to choose the flowers for the nosegay I promised to help you collect, St. Francis de Sales' style, from our novena. Whew! I'm not good at making decisions!
One trick I've discovered to make decision making easier (and I do believe my first memory has to do with trying to make a decision in Gemco with my Nana. That was a complete disaster (let's not tell the story - let's go pick flowers!), but I've learned since then that the secret to making decisions is not to make them alone. There's a brilliant 12 step concept that "Participation is the key to harmony." So true!! And even if a friend is unavailable to help at the moment of decision (and how many times will I make the dopey mistake of choosing the waitress as my friend in a crucial decision, asking her, "What's your favorite among the entrees?" as if she's not going to have radically different taste-buds than Miss Marcel's!).....even if a friend is unavailable, there is always a heavenly friend to be had! I nominate St. Anthony for helping you (as he helps me) "find" the right one among many when it's time to choose.
Let's recruit his help now, then, when we are re-entering the garden of our novena in order to choose the flowers we want to carry with us to keep us refreshed and delighted by our darling trio of Jesus-Marcel-Therese. I can see Marcel between Jesus and Therese. He is the littlest and they're holding his hands to swing him! You see, they're no help at all. As Mary pointed out when having to clean the room of Marcel's soul (especially of those sticky cobwebs - his silly worries, i.e. his worries, since they are all, like ours, unfounded), those three are useless when it comes to work - they will play from sun-up till sundown if you let them (and she always does, sweet enabling Mother that she is :).
St. Anthony, you see we need you! Come to our aid! Anto!
(and then you respond "Padua!")
One last reflection before I present you with our flowers.
I planned to go to 9 a.m. Mass yesterday, but God had other plans, and I found myself beside my younger son and a good friend in a pew at noon Mass. (Can you believe I'd lost track of time writing yesterday's post in the a.m.? I was grateful because wait to hear what happened next!)
The priest, a wonderful Peruvian with a great love for Jesus and the Church, brought together in his brief homily the Alleluia verse and the Gospel in a way that exactly suited my heart. I'd been jolted out of my usual distractions by the Alleluia - it was exactly the verse I wanted to find last week or before from St. Paul about the word of God. Here it is:
The word of God is living and effective, able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.
The wonderful priest took a thought from our Holy Father (emeritus) Pope Benedict (or Papa Ben, as we at MMM think of him) to explain that usually our process is to first think, and then use words to express those thoughts. You can imagine the distress this caused my blonde soul! But wait, Jesus is so gentle. Father then explained that in the liturgy, the opposite happens. First the words - the words of God; and then our thoughts! Whew, what a relief! I've been doing it right after all . . . He said that our minds are formed by God's word, and then we can discern. Through His word, our own words, thoughts, and hearts discern and are formed, are formed and discern. Since the word of God is alive, this is a participative and harmonious process, we might say! Or in simpler language, it's a conversation, a really grace-filled, divinely inspired conversation. In yet other words, as the big Teresa puts it most beautifully, it is prayer: "nothing other than an intimate sharing between friends; taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us." Thank you, Father, for telling me exactly what I needed to hear!
And now, as promised, a flower or two from each day of our novena . . . If you, dear reader, are joining us today without having been part of our novena, be assured your intentions have been included in it. God is out of time (well, He has all the time in the world, but He's also above it, in cool God fashion rather than L'Air du Temps!), and so we happily include - retroactively as it were - your needs, your hopes and dreams, your loved ones - in our Novena to end all Novenas. And feel free to scroll down and participate in it as you're able, like a do it yourself retreat. Well yourself, Jesus, Mary, Therese, and our own Servant of God the little Marcel Van.
Flowers from Day 1:
If one doesn't want to be bothered by this unceasing desire to do more for these people, there's only one way out: don't become a missionary. In other words, don't love. Be like stones. (Blessed Clement Vismara)
Patience! Only God can do it. Leave a bit of work for those who come after. (Blessed Clement)
Yes I know that He is a Father with an infinitely kind heart, that He leaves His children completely free to come and importune Him unceasingly, and that He finds His happiness in this since He can then show them His goodness and His mercy . . . (Marcel)
Flowers from Day 2:
One thing comforts me: it is that by a simple glance thrown at Your love I can fascinate You, dazzle You. I cast my glance, therefore, on Your love, I confide myself to Your love. I am certain that Your love will never abandon me, that it will never be saddened by my weaknesses. (Marcel)
I deliver myself to Love with the certitude that Love will never refuse to welcome the glance of a little weak soul like mine. (Marcel)
"You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride,
you have ravished my heart with a glance of your eyes . . . " (Jesus)
Flowers from Day 3:
Let not your hearts be troubled or afraid . . . Whatsoever you ask the Father in my name, He will give it to you. (Jesus)
No more worrying, any more, ever. (Jesus)
I kiss you unceasingly, and the more I give you, the more I wish to give you. (Jesus)
Everything pleases Me about children. (Jesus)
Flowers from Day 4:
When you do not know how to express yourself, leave it to Me. (Jesus)
Yes, Marcel, you are inclined to fear things that are not worth the trouble. (Jesus)
How can we spend even one single day without listening to Jesus when He says: "I love you, ______." (Mother Teresa)
My children, you don't have to be different (from what you are in reality) for Jesus to love you. Believe simply that you are precious to Him. Bring your sufferings to His feet and simply open your heart so that He loves you the way you are, and He will do the rest. (Mother Teresa)
No matter what happens, remain peaceful . . . do not worry. I remain always with you, yes, always, always. It is impossible for Me to leave you, even for half a second. Remain tranquil, you are always very pleasing to Me. (Jesus)
Flowers from Day 5:
I assure you that, when the Lord calls me, I will say to Him, "Lord, I shall remain at the gates of Paradise. I shall enter only when I see the last of my spiritual children enter. (Padre Pio)
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change;
(Gerard Manley Hopkins)
O blessed Jesus, give me stillness of soul in You.
Let Your mighty calmness reign in me.
Rule me, O You, King of Gentleness, King of Peace
(St. John of the Cross)
Flowers from Day 6:
Draw us, we shall run!
No doubt, she will remain at Jesus' feet as did Mary Magdalene, and she will listen to His sweet and burning words. Appearing to do nothing, she will give much more than Martha who torments herself...(St. Therese)
Flowers from Day 7:
For simple souls there must be no complicated ways;
as I am of their number, one morning during my thanksgiving,
Jesus gave me a simple means of accomplishing my mission.
I decided to choose at random the life of a saint, a life which would fall into my hands . . . With my eyes tightly closed I mixed the books together, higgledly-piggledy, and waving my arms three times, I let my hand fall on the pile of books and, as agreed, I would read the book upon which my index finger landed firmly. While following this procedure I recited a kind of magic formula to the Blessed Virgin to guide my hand on to a volume which was, at least, interesting. It's done . . . I opened my eyes, not knowing what was happening, and I did not know what to do. I had just put my hand on a book . . . that I had not yet read, but had already dismissed as containing nothing unusual. I took hold of it and read the title: The Story of a Soul. (Marcel)
Flowers from Day 8:
Here is the teacher that I am giving you; He will teach you everything that you must do. I want to make you read in the book of life, in which is contained the science of Love.
We can never have too much trust in the Good Lord, who is so powerful and so merciful!
We obtain everything from Him according to the measure with which we hope for it! (St. Therese)
On finishing the preface, I felt my soul immediately relieved and overflowing with happiness. I comforted myself in this way: "So, to become a saint is not only to walk by the path of 'saints of bygone days.' There are many paths leading to holiness." (Marcel)
I understood that God is love and that Love adapts itself to all forms of love. Consequently, I can become holy by means of all my little actions: a smile, a word, a look, provided that all are motivated by love. What happiness! Therese is a saint who corresponds totally to the idea I had in my mind of holiness. From now onwards, sanctity will no longer frighten me. (Marcel)
Flowers from Day 9:
What a maroon! (Bugs Bunny)
Why do I have to choose many apostles for the expansion of the reign of my Love? Because it is necessary that there should be some for every category of person. You, for example, you must use a certain manner of speaking, while another will have to use a different one, which responds to the feelings of his audience. (Jesus)
No more worrying, any more, ever. (Jesus)
If we take our quotes as so many petals from a flower-a-day, that equals nine flowers. Which means we need three more to fill in the gaps up to a dozen - not only the number of roses pictured above, but also the number of baskets left over after Jesus fed the multitudes (really big multitudes). That's perfect because I happen to have three more roses to share with you. They've just bloomed, and they are full of heaven's sweet scent.
First, I wanted to share the rose that was offered to a new friend of mine. Some time ago she was in the holy Sanctuary of Chumayo, New Mexico. She was at Mass there, and just before Communion a woman in front of her turned around and offered her a rose. Accepting it, she went up to receive Communion. When she returned to her pew, there was no sign of the mysterious woman who had given her the rose . . .My friend thought this seemed suspiciously like St. Therese . . .
Second, I received a delightful rose of an email from our birthday gent, Jack Keogan. He wrote that he was quite overwhelmed by the generous outpouring of prayers for him on the occasion of his 87th birthday. Not to be outdone in generosity, he wanted us to know that when, in July, he makes a pilgrimage to many of the holy places in France (Lourdes, Marseille, Paray le Monial, Dijon), he will speak of us to Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Bernadette, St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, and The Sacred Heart, St. Margaret Mary and St. Claude de la Colombiere. This goes for all who kindly prayed for him via our 9 days of posts, and he asked that I pass on his gratitude and the promise of his prayers to anyone who thought of him during the "big novena".
This feels like the hundredfold Jesus promised! We are overwhelmed, too, good Jack, and we thank you for your promised prayers and the torrent of graces they will unleash. May the angels accompany you and make your travels safe and delightful!
And finally, the moment we've all been waiting for: the last rose of the dozen . . . pray our signature prayer with us (which was included as a petal above, but is really much more than even just one whole rose (and surely more than one petal) - pray this rose with us and find yourself swept into a veritable sea of roses!
Draw me, we shall run!
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