In my previous post, I shared about my special relationship with St. Thérèse of Lisieux, plus some tidbits of our history together. But even as I wrote that post, while it is true that she will always have a special place in my heart, I knew that for the past few years, it hasn’t, I haven’t, been the same with her. Yes, it was an easy decision to name my eldest daughter after her, and I smiled inside when I found out that the new neighborhood we moved to 2 years ago belonged to the Parish (now Shrine) of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus. But gone are the days of long conversations, of sweet little nothings (in today’s technology, I would have likened these to tweets or text messages to Heaven), of constant connecting. I didn’t just pray to her–I spoke to her as I would any person I shared a spiritual friendship with.
I once heard someone say that you’ll know a true friend when, even after spending years apart, you’re able to pick up right where you left off . Writing about Thérèse and how intimately we knew each other before planted a desire in me to rekindle our friendship.
Apparently, Thérèse was way ahead of me.
The same day I published the post, I went to hear mass at the aforementioned Shrine of St. Thérèse. I had grown used to attending weekday masses at this beautiful church the past few months, and yet had failed to recognize the significance of an important feature of the Shrine–to the left of the altar (facing it) is a reliquary in which a primary relic of Thérèse is enshrined.
How many masses had I attended, aware that the relic was there, but never truly realizing what this was supposed to mean to me? I’d see other church-goers fall in line to pray before her relic after the mass, but for whatever reason, I never did. My dearest friend had deliberately moved to where she could be so close to me, and yet I had never bothered to take advantage of this new proximity to catch up, to get to know her all over again.
I decided that for the first time, I would finally make my way to say a prayer in front of the reliquary. But as the mass ended, I was surprised when they started praying a Novena to St. Thérèse, and after everything, there was no way I could miss staying for this. What a beautiful novena it was! Twenty-four Glory Be’s for every year of her blessed life, and a Litany that reminded me again of why I look up to her, why I love her:
St. Thérèse, victim of the merciful love of God,
lover of the will of God,
consumed with divine love of God,
doing good upon earth,
lover of holy chastity,
lover of voluntary poverty,
teaching us the sure way,
…pray for us.
An even more pleasant surprise was when, while singing the Hymn of St. Thérèse, the ushers began distributing long-stemmed white roses that were blessed right before the novena. As I reached out to receive the rose being offered to me, I felt an overwhelming feeling of love in my heart. It was my old friend, who had been here all along, waiting for my heart to remember her. That white rose felt like her arms embracing me, not at all judging me for forgetting, but genuinely thanking me for having written that blog post about her, about us.
As long as you believe,
Roses shall rain from the skies.
(You Fill My Heart/Hymn of St. Thérèse)
Thérèse, thank you, again, for always remembering. Pray that I may always believe.