October 1st marks the Feast Day of one of the more popular Saints of our Church, Saint Therese of Lisieux.
Oftentimes referred to as “The Little Flower” and typically depicted with a bouquet of roses in her arms, devotees of this great Saint have experienced many miracles through her glorious and powerful intercession. Legend has it that from time to time she will reveal herself to the faithful by virtue of one single rose. Which leads me to my story.
Many years ago, my mother, while still a young woman in her early 20s, was told that her father was suffering from internal bleeding and hemorrhages throughout the lining of his stomach wall. They had grown so severe that there was nothing more that the doctors could do for him. It would merely be a matter of time before he would pass away. My mother’s oldest sister Mary ~ my mother was the 2nd youngest of 11 ~ began to pray a Daily Novena seeking the intercession of St. Therese of Lisieux for their father, who was not only considered terminal, but suffering terribly.
One fall afternoon while sitting on the stoop of the apartment house in Brooklyn where she lived, my mother noticed a large bridal party that suddenly came pouring out of the apartment house next door, the women all excitedly rushing down the stoop towards the long, shiny black Lincoln Continental that awaited them on Lafayette Avenue, each with bouquets of flowers in hand. She noticed one single red rose that had fallen from one of the girl’s bouquet as the limo drove away, and promptly picked it up and brought it in to her sister Mary who, coincidentally enough, was praying the Saint Therese Novena at that very moment. Over the next few weeks, my mother’s father’s health began to take an inexplicable turn for the better.
He would go on to live another 19 years.
Fast forward some 30 years later, wherein my mother found herself working for a man named Jim who was struggling tremendously in a job that he was abruptly and involuntarily transferred into, a job which he was mightily disinterested in and, by his own admission, equally unqualified for. It was affecting his health, his mental well being, his marriage, and virtually every other facet of his life. Perhaps some of you have been there. My mother proceeds to tell Jim that she will begin to pray a Daily Novena to St. Therese of Lisieux on his behalf, in the hopes that something ~ anything ~ would happen to relieve this tremendous burden in his life. She also gave him a thorough tutorial on the Little Flower and her “little way” in the process. Jim had put in for a new job but was told he was “non-transferable” by his boss, a man who was as personable as a hungry diamondback rattlesnake at feeding time. Coincidentally enough, I happened to know Jim’s boss.
About a week or so later, on a Monday Morning, a huge Organizational Announcement came out in which major changes swept through the Company. Included among these changes was not only the announcement of Jim’s transfer, but his promotion, directly into the job he coveted. When my mother swung by Jim’s office to congratulate him, he had looked like he’d seen a ghost. When she asked him what was wrong, Jim explained that on the ride home from work the previous Friday Afternoon, he was cut off on Route 287 by an elderly woman in a big Cadillac with a vanity license plate, which he happened to notice as she sped harmlessly away. What was the inscription on the Cadillac’s Vanity License Plate you ask?
”Little Flower of Jesus, give us all your childlike faith, to see the face of God in people and experiences of our lives, and to love God with full and total confidence. Help us to always believe as you did in God’s great love for us, so that we might imitate your ‘little way’ each day.” Amen