Today is the feast day of St. Therese of Lisieux. When St. Therese died, she promised that she would send down a shower of roses from heaven. It has become a devotion in the Catholic Church for novenas to be offered to St. Therese in time of discernment, requesting that a rose be given to guide the faithful. As it happens, both my Knight and I each prayed such a novena at separate times. Here are our stories...
Paul: Every St. Therese story has its unique spin; mine even more so. As a young man I was uncertain about the path God was calling me to. Did he want me to become a priest? Was he calling me to the married life? The single life? The path of vocations was unclear to me. My family frequented the local St. Therese shrine for Holy Hours on a weekly basis. At the time I had been going through a sort of discernment crisis, I felt called to the married life but being 19 I really wasn't certain what could come of that at that time. I had liked several girls but nothing seemed to ever work out, or if things seemed like they would work out, they would only open the door to more complicated situations. I was stumped.
As I knelt praying during the Holy Hour, my eyes glanced down to a small pamphlet: a novena to St. Therese. I opened it and read that if my request was to be answered, St. Therese would respond with a rose. I decided that I would pray for a particular request. If God wanted me to pursue the married life, he would send me a rose signifying that the girl I liked was the right girl for me.
As I prayed the novena, I was so caught up with the thought that the girl I had liked was the right girl, that I was shocked when no rose arrived. A week passed, two weeks, and months. Time went on and I felt that that girl was not an answer to my prayers.
During all of this time I had developed many online friends on a forum; one of which was Amanda. She was a particularly close friend who I would chat with regularly and write letters back and forth with. As time progressed I met her at one of the Get-Togethers for the forum members, and our friendship continued. She went off to college, and being in college myself, we were able to keep in contact and talk about our experiences. As 2011 came around, we both met again at the Get- Together. This time some friends worked to set us up. Amanda and I soon found ourselves enjoying each other’s company and nearly inseparable throughout the Get-Together. The Get-Together came to an end and went back our separate ways; she returned to Illinois and I returned to Rhode Island.
Soon after I wrote her a letter asking her to be my girlfriend. The rest is history.
Having read this you are probably asking how this relates to a St. Therese story. The truth is that I only realized St. Therese’s little work only months into my relationship Amanda, when after some thoughts and prayers during a Holy Hour, my thoughts drifted to the novena I had prayed several years back. I questioned its legitimacy since I never did get my rose, or did I?
Suddenly, one strong thought resonated with me. Amanda, the girl who I had befriended online over the years and who I found myself in a relationship with across 1,000 miles, would always go by a particular username on the forum. It was a username that carried into reality, and became a sort of nick name and way of addressing her.
St. Therese had answered my novena, and I had never even realized it. St. Therese literally gave me a rose, THE Lady Rose; A beautiful sign and gesture from above. As I trudge through the dreary 1,000 miles this relationship has placed between us, I always refer back to this beautiful thought. Many people receive physical roses as answers to their prayers to St. Therese; I was blessed with rose that I had received under my very nose without even realizing.
St. Therese, Pray for Us.
Amanda: It was the winter of my freshman year in college, and I was nearly 19. For four years now I had known that I was called to the married life. God had given me knowledge of my vocation fairly early in my life... and knowing that, I figured that the next step couldn't be too far in the future. I was getting a little impatient - impatient and increasingly confused as I found myself in the position of liking two boys at the same time. One boy was Catholic, the other was not. It should have been an easy choice. But... but... one was at my school, and he was so nice... the other one was 1,000 miles away... deep down in my heart, I knew I liked him more... I had liked him for nearly three years, but he was so far away. Could anything really happen between us? Maybe I should settle for the more realistic of the two.
One of the first thoughts that came into my mind was to pray a novena to St. Therese, asking her to send me a rose to guide me in the right direction. I put it off... and put it off again. The time just didn't seem right. At last I began the novena. I suppose I could have asked to know which boy I should pray about a relationship with, or who to begin a more in depth discernment about. Yet for reasons I cannot recall, I wrote out an intention asking that St. Therese would send me either a white, red, or yellow rose to guide me in the direction of the man who would be my husband. I prayed the novena, which ended - without any planning from me - on Ash Wednesday. I took this as a sign that I was doing the right thing.
My novena finished, I waited patiently for a sign. I didn't receive one right away, but I was alright with that. I had asked, I knew God had heard me, and when the time was right I knew that He would give St. Therese a rose for me, and she would let me know. White roses did seem to be popping up frequently... but in my heart I knew they weren't my rose. A few weeks passed, my birthday arrived, and among my gifts was a CD of Irish folk songs by one of my favorite bands. (Trust me - this is relevant to my story!) I also received the book When God Writes Your Love Story by Eric and Leslie Ludy. I read it, fell in love with the message, and became truly peaceful and content to wait for however long God thought I needed to. He could make me wait for years, and I knew I could be at peace with that.
Only a day or two after I finished reading that book, I went downstairs to my basement to iron an outfit. I was humming some tune as I did so. As I finished and was preparing to head back upstairs... the first words of the refrain to another song popped into my head. The song went "Red is the rose, that in yonder garden grows..." I knew at once that St. Therese had answered my novena. It stopped me in my tracks, because I truly was not expecting that. I had thought I would get a physical rose... I'm pretty sure my second thought was "Wait! Hold on! I'm getting an answer already? I just decided I was happy to wait for it!" - yet I knew beyond a doubt that this was my rose. God had answered my prayer, and pointed out the right man for me.
In my novena intention, I had asked St. Therese that if the man for me was the boy I had known mostly through the internet, who lived 1,000 miles away from me, that she would send me a red rose. Yes, that man was my Knight... and not four months after I received my rose, I received a letter from him asking me if I would be his girlfriend.
Thank you St. Therese.