A Rose from St. Therese

[Last week’s post was destroyed by the re-format monster. This is the second attempt.]

Exactly two months ago, I arrived at the monastery, thus marking the beginning of my Benedictine postulancy. I won’t say too much about my experience; but I would like to briefly share one experience with you.

Adopted by St. Therese and Her Family

Fr. Paul of Moll once remarked that life is full of crosses, and that the easiest path – and the most fruitful – is to do everything for the love of God. The Cross, writes Bl. Dom Columba Marmion, is the root of all fecundity.

Before entering the monastery, I was well aware that I was going to encounter the Cross. I think it was Marcelline Pauper who had a vision of numerous crosses of shapes and sizes, which represented the trials and tribulations that were ahead of her. I think we can all relate to this.

For me, the biggest cross that I have faced in the last 2 months is homesickness. All I will say is this: I wept like a baby in an onion factory. Twice. Or was it thrice? I actually don’t remember; I was a mess. Jetlag doesn’t help either – especially when combined with fatigue, sorrow for one’s sins, and a longing for Heaven that cannot be satisfied in this valley of tears.

Amidst all this, I felt inspired to send up a prayer to St. Therese and her family. (I have been reading the Letters of St. Therese in my spare time, and I must confess my love for St. Therese and her family; they are so pure in their faith, so affectionate, so simple, and so loving).

As I was lying on my bed one day, homesick (though to a much lesser extent than previously!), and reading the Letters of St. Therese, I felt inspired to offer one year of Masses in honour of St. Therese, her recently canonized parents, and her entire family. Immediately after making this intention and offering it to God and these holy souls, I felt inspired to  ask St. Therese and her siblings to adopt me as their little brother. I also asked St. Louis and St. Zelie to adopt me as their son. Then I forgot about it.

‘Longing to Belong’

The following day, I was in the scriptorium/library, which is home to some 3000 books (a rough estimate). I didn’t have much time for reading, so I picked up a random book that caught my eye, and started flicking hastily through the pages. A certain picture stood out. It was a beautiful photo of St. Therese and her family (actually it was a collection of photos that were framed under the heading, ‘Le Martin Familie’ or something French like that). I thought nothing of it at the time.

It was only later than night that I recalled my prayer the previous day. Then I considered the likelihood of stumbling upon a picture of the Martin family… in a book about a Benedictine monk.

“They have adopted me!” I thought. Now, you might think I jumped the gun a bit; but I experienced an overwhelming sense of joy at what seemed to be an answer to prayer.

Then the thought occurred to me: “Why is there a picture of the Martin family in a book about a Benedictine monk? … I wonder if he asked the Martin sisters to adopt him?” I don’t know why, but I half-expected the this. I wanted to check the book to find the answer, but I had to wait another day.

Thursday came, and I entered the scriptorium, full of anticipation and curiosity. I picked up the book (‘Longing to Belong: The Life of Dom Mayeul De Caigny’), and this is what I read:

“It is interesting to note that Sr. Marie du Sacre Coeur [Marie Martin, sister of St. Therese] always addresses Dom Mayeul [born March 29 – the day I arrived at the monastery] as her “brother.” At some early date, Dom Mayeul had asked the Martin sisters if they would accept him as their ‘adopted brother.’ The Martin family consisted of five girls, but no boys. They seemed very happy to welcome Dom Mayeul into the family circle as a surrogate ‘brother.’ (p. 348)

Long story, short: I was thrilled!

[I also discovered, one week later, that the day I made that prayer was May 17, the 91st anniversary of the canonization of St. Therese. How this little one looks after me! I expect the same from my new little family, too!]

That is all I have time for today!

+ Pax +

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13 thoughts on “A Rose from St. Therese

  1. Hi Ben,
    Yes, thank you, let us pray for one another!
    Oh how good it is to be part of the Communion of saints!
    Pax,
    Boo (Bernadette)

  2. Wow – thanks for sharing, Julie! Amazing stories!

    Yes, I have not forgotten my little mother! I was actually going to mention you (and my Mum) in this post, but I was so rushed that it slipped my mind!

    Your prayers and support (and that of others) means so much to me. In thanksgiving, I offer the Mass for you, your husband, and all the readers of Littlest Souls, every day.

    +PAX+

  3. Hey Rachel,

    Yep! I think she probably likes her acts of charity to go unnoticed, too (sometimes, anyway)! She becomes a sister to all those who invoke her intercession with faith.

    +PAX+

  4. Dear Ben, My soulmate (of 40 years) and I first met and married only 5 months later. After 8 months of marriage we volunteered for a mission at a Catholic school system in British Columbia. Oh were we homesick for the blue sky and open spaces of Arizona!! Such a homesickness really brings a very sharp edge to the even deeper homesickness for heaven. Instead of having roots, you feel like you are on a raft on fast moving waters. There is no hope of ever steering, only a desire to avoid overturning or ramming up against boulders and splintering to pieces. YES, this is very conducive to spiritual growth. That single two year experience was so powerful, that it has directed the entire course of the rest of our lives. Just imagine the spiritual blessings to be heaped upon all of us when your “mission” is of a life long nature!

    After my dad died, my mother was having a very hard time. During the Christmas holidays she asked the Little Flower to help her cope. Christmas eve she received a letter in the mail. Her niece had found it in an old cookbook. It was a letter my dad had written to his mom 40 years earlier expressing his love for my mother. On each old yellow piece of stationary was a large red rose! (The kicker to this story, is that my daughter, who was 11 at the time, had a dream only weeks before on thanksgiving. My dad had come from heaven to talk to her. He told her to tell my mom that he loved her very much. When my daughter asked “Who will ever believe that I talked to you? This is a dream!” He told her “Don’t worry, I’m sending her a letter.”)

    My aunt, mom’s sister, had died two years before. She had a fast acting cancer and was gone in only six weeks. My cousin was stunned with grief. Angry with God, she told Him “If you do exist, I want you to tell me!” Then, as my aunt also had a great affection for the Little Flower, my cousin asked for a single red rose to be sent. She then proceeded to tell everyone she knew not to send flowers. She gave no reason. She simply asked that donations be made to the hospice agency which had cared for her mother. No single rose came. My cousin was sure that God did not exist and that the Little Flower was bunch of fooie. The only flowers at the service were purchased by my cousin, and were laid across the coffin. Just as the funeral service ended, a mortuary staff person, took a single red rose out of the coffin wreath. He said “For some reason, I feel that I’m supposed to give this to you.”

    Ben, you have many brothers and sisters, on the spirit side, and on this site. Do not forget, I also have adopted you and hold you up in prayer each Tuesday and Friday. Thanks be to God for your vocation. Many souls will be saved by your prayers and crosses born with such fortitude. God bless you and keep all of us in your prayers during these tumultuous times! With affection as always. Julie

    >

  5. What an absolute joy to read! What a beautiful sign from the Martins who would rejoice in letting fall their ‘shower of roses from heaven’ on you. This post has made my day. May blessing and consolation be multiplied in you as your post has been blessing and consolation to me (and others). Pax!

  6. “Then I forgot about it.” Oh, that made me smile! That prayer was inspired by the Holy Spirit and went straight to the throne of the Most High… no need to remember, since I am certain that St. Therese and all her family filled heaven with a resounding “Yes!” I will continue to join them in their prayers for you, that you will grow in the strength and power of the Holy Spirit, which is love!

  7. St. Therese always answers my many little (sometimes easily forgotten) prayers. Then when the answer comes, I remember that I had asked her about it. :)She never forgets to reply!

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